What’s a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a protective surface installed on the wall behind a sink, stove, or other appliance and countertop in a kitchen or bathroom. Backsplashes serve both decorative and functional purposes, providing an accent wall that enhances the visual appeal of the space while also protecting the walls from splashes, spills, and stains.


Backsplashes have become a popular design element in recent years, allowing homeowners to add personality and character to their kitchens and bathrooms. With a wide variety of materials, colors, patterns, and textures to choose from, backsplashes provide an opportunity to showcase your personal style.

From sleek glass or tile to textured stone or patterned wallpaper, backsplash options are almost endless. Many homeowners opt for materials that coordinate with their countertops and cabinetry, while others use the backsplash as an opportunity to introduce contrasting colors, bold patterns, or unique textures.

In addition to aesthetic appeal, backsplashes also serve important practical functions:

Protecting Walls

By installing a backsplash behind appliances and sink areas that see a lot of moisture, splattering, dripping, and spills, the walls are shielded from damage that can lead to stained surfaces or growth of mold and mildew. The easy-to-clean surface of a backsplash prevents this type of damage to vulnerable wall areas.

Creating a Focal Point

Backsplashes draw attention, especially when using eye-catching materials like handmade tiles or natural stone with distinctive veining. This creates visual interest and gives the eye a place to focus within the active kitchen or bath space.

Increasing Resale Value

Tastefully designed and professionally installed backsplashes are an investment that can increase resale value. They show buyers that care and thought were put into the home’s design.

What’s a Backsplash?

A backsplash refers specifically to the section of wall behind a countertop, stove, sink, or other kitchen or bath installation extending upwards to meet the upper cabinets. Typically ranging from 4 to 6 inches in height, the backsplash stripe covers the vulnerable wall area that is most susceptible to splatter, condensation, and spills.

Backsplashes are usually made of water-resistant and easily cleaned materials to perform their protective function. However, aesthetic appeal has become equally important. The entire range of wall covering materials can be used for backsplashes, including:

  • Tile (ceramic, stone, glass, mosaic)
  • Stainless steel
  • Tin or copper sheeting
  • Granite slab sections
  • Marble, travertine or other stone slabs
  • Recycled glass tiles
  • Patterned wallpaper or textured vinyl sheets
  • Painted glass panels
  • Laminate or tempered glass panels
  • Beadboard, wood planks, shingles
  • Fabric, vinyl, leather tiles
  • Metal tiles or sheets
  • Stone agglomerate sheets

The options are virtually endless when selecting a backsplash material that aligns with your overall kitchen or bath design and achieves the desired decorative effect. While function is important, today’s backsplashes make a bold style statement.

Backsplash Installation

Installing a backsplash is a relatively straightforward home improvement project that can produce dramatic results. With careful planning and some DIY skills, you can tackle a backsplash install yourself and save on labor costs. Here is an overview of the process:

Selecting Materials: Choose backsplash materials that are moisture-resistant, non-porous, and easy to clean. Take into account the style, color scheme, and pattern you want to achieve. Purchase extra tiles or sheets to account for breakage and cutting.

Preparing the Surface: The wall surface must be cleaned, smoothed, and primed before installing the backsplash. Remove any old wall covering or texture, fill holes, and sand rough areas.

Mapping Layout: Map out the backsplash design and pattern before installing. Measure the area covered and mark a level line at the desired height. Some materials like tile require a starter board.

Applying Adhesive: Spread thinset mortar adhesive on the backsplash area using a notched trowel. Check thinset consistency and tooth size for the specific tile or material.

Cutting and Setting: Cut tiles, panels, or sheets to fit using the proper tools. Set materials in the prepared thinset and use spacers for consistency.

Grouting and Sealing: After tiles are set, grout floor to ceiling. Wipe away excess. Use caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop or upper cabinets. Seal grout after drying.

With the right materials, tools, and preparation, you can achieve an eye-catching, functional backsplash installation that enhances your kitchen or bath. Consider consulting a contractor if you lack experience with tile, wiring, or plumbing.

Backsplash Ideas and Design Inspiration

Backsplashes present a blank canvas that can transform the feel of your kitchen or bathroom. These design ideas showcase the range of looks possible:

Modern Glass

Sleek glass tile or mirrored panels reflect light beautifully behind sinks or stoves while contributing to a contemporary style. Mix glass mosaic sheets or metallic tiles for added pop.

Rustic Charm

Natural stone slabs with visible veining have an organic feel, while reclaimed barn wood adds rustic warmth. Handmade ceramic tiles lend artisanal charm.

Vintage Flair

Vintage finds like antique mirrors or salvaged tin ceiling tiles recreate a heritage kitchen feel. Patterned wallpaper evokes retro diner styling.

Coastal Style

Shades of tranquil blue and green glass or ceramic tile conjure a coastal vibe. Add nautical rope trim or driftwood slices for beachy appeal.

Eclectic Mix

Unexpected materials like faux bricks, recycled leather tiles, or handpainted panels create an artsy statement. Mix and match shapes, colors, and textures.

Bold Patterns

Make a vibrant style statement by using colorful patterned ceramic or glass tile or handpainted motifs. Intricate mosaics or custom designs add visual wow.

Whether your taste runs modern, eclectic, or traditional, the backsplash offers a splash of personality that defines the overall decor. Consider hiring a designer to create a custom look that reflects your style.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplashes

What is the standard height for a backsplash?

The typical backsplash height is 4 to 6 inches. However, you can install a full splash reaching all the way to lower cabinets for a bolder look. Standard backsplash height is based on protecting the wall area most prone to spills and moisture.

What’s the best material for kitchen backsplashes?

Easily cleaned ceramic, porcelain or glass tile, stainless steel, and durable laminates work best for heavy-use kitchen backsplashes. Consider moisture resistance and cleanability along with your design goals.

How do I cut backsplash tile?

Use a wet saw with a diamond tile blade to accurately cut ceramic, porcelain, or glass backsplash tiles. For sheet materials, a utility knife and straightedge work well. Follow material-specific cutting techniques.

Should backsplash tile match countertops?

Matching or coordinating your backsplash with countertop materials creates a cohesive, seamless look. Contrasting colors and textures can add interest. The choice comes down to personal preference.

How much does a kitchen backsplash installation cost?

Backsplash installation costs range from $10 to $70 per square foot depending on the material and complexity of the design. Simple ceramic tile averages $25 per square foot. High-end materials like marble and professional installation increase costs.


Installing a backsplash behind kitchen and bathroom countertops serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. While shielding walls from daily wear and tear, backsplashes also provide an opportunity to showcase your personal style. With the wide range of backsplash materials and designs available today, you can find the perfect option to complete your space with a touch of decorative flair.

Backsplashes not only enhance visual appeal but also boost resale value and create a focal point within the busiest areas of the home. By taking advantage of this blank canvas to express your tastes with color, texture, and material, you can create a truly unique kitchen or bath design. With proper planning and preparation, a dramatic new backsplash can be achieved with a manageable DIY installation project. Let your backsplash reflect your vision and complete the look you love.