A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function. Not only does it protect your walls from splashes and stains, but it also adds visual interest and ties your kitchen design together. With so many materials and options to choose from, deciding on a backsplash can be overwhelming. Here’s an in-depth look at what’s trending and in style for kitchen backsplashes in 2023.
Popular Backsplash Materials
The material you choose for your backsplash impacts the overall look, feel and function. Here are some of the most popular options:
Tile remains one of the top choices for kitchen backsplashes. It comes in a huge range of styles, shapes, colors, textures and patterns. Tile pros include:
- Durability – Tile stands up well to heat, moisture and everyday wear and tear. The glazed surface also resists stains.
- Easy to clean – Tile backsplashes just need mild soap and water for cleaning.
- Design options – Choose from ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal, mosaic and stone tile in endless shape and size combinations.
- Affordability – While tile can get pricey for premium stone and handmade varieties, ceramic and porcelain tile are very budget-friendly.
Subway tile and marble tile are two particular tile trends for 2023. Subway tile has a classic rectangular shape inspired by tiles originally used in subway stations. Marble tile adds elegance with its natural veining.
Natural stone like granite, marble, travertine, slate and limestone make a luxe statement. Pros of stone backsplashes include:
- Timeless, elegant look
- Heat and stain resistance
- Durability – stands up well to heavy use
- Easy maintenance – just use mild soap and water routinely
Stone tile provides a seamless, upscale appearance. Factors like veining and pits add organic texture. The downside is that natural stone costs more than ceramic or porcelain.
Glass tile backsplashes shimmer and reflect light beautifully. Today’s glass tile comes in an endless array of colors, shapes and finishes. Benefits include:
- Modern, sleek appearance
- Versatile – mixes well with other materials
- Easy to clean
- Durable and water-resistant
- Affordable – costs less than natural stone
The glossy finish of glass tile can make kitchens feel brighter and larger. Just take care to avoid heavy impacts that can crack or chip the tile.
Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper and tin add contemporary, industrial flair. Benefits include:
- Modern, eye-catching look
- Extremely durable
- Resists heat, moisture and stains
- Low maintenance – easy to keep clean
- Rustic, vintage metal finishes are also on trend
While pricier than tile or laminate, metal backsplashes make a dramatic impact. Stainless steel specifically has a hygienic, restaurant-kitchen appeal.
The warm, natural beauty of wood never goes out of style. Wood backsplashes can be made from planks, shiplap boards, bamboo, reclaimed barnwood and more. Benefits include:
- Organic, cozy aesthetic
- Stain-resistant sealants available
- Durable depending on wood type
- Eco-friendly material
- Easy installation
Wood backsplashes need occasional resealing to prevent water damage and stains. But their rich colors and unique grains bring livable sophistication.
Laminate backsplashes mimic looks like ceramic, metal, marble and wood at budget prices. Pros include:
- Affordable alternative to pricier materials
- Durable, scrubbable surface
- Easy installation – no grout needed
- Extensive style and color options
- Resists stains and moisture damage
Laminate won’t heat up like real metal or wood. But it provides an easy-care, cost-effective backsplash option.
What’s Trending in Backsplash Tile
Backsplash tile trends run the gamut from retro remixes to natural stone and shapes. Here are some of the hottest backsplash tile ideas right now:
Everything old is new again with vintage-inspired tile. Key trends include:
- Retro geometric: Funky zigzags, chevrons and mod lines harken back to the 1950s-60s. This bold, graphic style makes a lively accent wall.
- Vintage floral: Flowery ceramic tiles dating back to the 1940s-50s lend cottage charm. Faded colors and cracked glaze add to the timeworn appeal.
- Art deco revival: Sleek geometric prints revived from the 1920s jazz age bring Gatsby flair. Pair with marble counters and brass hardware for a glamorous statement.
- Moroccan fish scale: Intricate interlocking tiles form a mesmerizing mosaic, inspired by traditional Moroccan architecture. The tiles’ small scale multiplies the visual impact.
- Hexagon tile: Six-sided tiles – both vintage and new – pack an eye-catching geometric punch in kitchens. Their unique tessellated pattern has standout style.
Natural stone tiles create a clean, contemporary vibe. Choices like marble, travertine and slate flaunt the earthy beauty of raw materials. Dramatic large-scale stone slabs are especially on-trend. Veining, pitting and fossils give texture. Mixing cool grays with warm beige tones is popular for blended stone looks.
Bold Colors and Patterns
Vibrant solid tiles in crimson, emerald and sapphire blue create an exotic Moroccan flavor. Bohemian prints with global or tribal motifs also energize backsplashes. Pair bright tiles with neutral cabinetry so the colors can pop.
Geometric patterns like chevrons, hexagons and triangles make artistic backsplash focal points, often in black and white for dramatic contrast. Cubes, circles and curves impart three-dimensional depth.
Oversized rectangular, square, hexagon and fish scale tiles maximize visual impact. Extra-large subway tiles and 12”x24” styles make small kitchens appear bigger. Using just a couple oversized tiles as an accent avoids overwhelming.
Blending ceramic, marble, glass, metal and even wood tile pieces creates textural, eclectic backsplash collages. Contrasting colors, finishes (matte with glossy), shapes and tile heights add interest. Offset patterns also help tiles coordinate.
Backsplash Ideas by Kitchen Style
Backsplashes and countertops should coordinate with your overall kitchen design for a cohesive look. Here are on-trend backsplash ideas for popular kitchen styles:
For a sleek modern aesthetic, try:
- Solid glass or ceramic tile in glossy black, white, gray or bold colors
- Slate or marble mosaic
- Metallic tiles like stainless steel or copper
- Horizontal planks or stacked stone tile
- Minimalist tile patterns like waves or grids
- Brick veneer backsplash
Keep contemporary backsplashes clean-lined and simple. Stick with one shape for more cohesion.
Rustic farmhouse kitchens look best with natural backsplash materials like:
- Distressed wood planks
- Mini stone tiles
- Travertine, adobe or terracotta
- Weathered tin tiles
- Reclaimed wood
Echo farmhouse sinks and fixtures with vintage-look tiles featuring chips, cracks and mottled colors.
For a versatile transitional style, try mixing:
- Subway tile with marble inserts
- Stainless steel with ceramic tile
- Natural stone with painted wood accent tiles
- Marble counters with glass mosaic backsplash
Blending modern and traditional elements creates an eclectic charm perfect for transitional spaces.
Complement classic Shaker-style cabinets with timeless backsplash tile like:
- Subway tile or running bond brick patterns
- Marble, travertine or limestone
- Tin ceiling tiles
- Weathered natural stone mosaics
- Hexagon or octagon ceramic tile
Stick to white, beige, gray and neutral hues for a traditional look. Add some antique flair with vintage art deco prints or floral designs.
Creative Backsplash Ideas
Looking to break out beyond basic backsplashes? Here are some creative twists on the classics:
Extend Backsplash to Ceiling
Take tile all the way to the ceiling for a bold, contemporary look with drama. Use just one oversized tile or a mosaic pattern. Continue the same tile or switch it up.
Install L-Shaped Backsplashes
Wrapping tile around a corner, peninsula or stove in an L-shape gives it more impact. Flanking ranges with tile protects walls and ties spaces together.
Use Contrasting Materials
Pairing materials like metal and wood or marble and glass can make unique style statements. One example is a stainless steel range hood with surrounding marble tile.
Add Inset Shelves
Frame backsplashes with open shelves on each end for handy display space. Shelves let you break up your backsplash while keeping items within reach.
Carry Backsplash onto Nearby Walls
Extend tile onto an adjacent wall space for a built-in look. This helps small backsplashes feel more expansive. Just a few courses of tile on walls add a custom element.
Use Three Different Tiles
Adding a third tile material in small accents makes backsplashes pop. Dotting marble inserts within subway tile or placing wood pieces with stone creates an eclectic mosaic.
Vary Tile Layouts
Using varied tile orientations (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) or mixing patterns like running bond brick with stack stone prevents repetition. This livens up large backsplash areas.
Contrast Grout Colors
White or gray tiles get dramatic with black grout. Or go for the reverse with dark tiles and white grout. Contrasting grout makes each tile stand out versus blending together.
Carry Backsplashes Onto Furniture
For a built-in look, bring tile onto nearby furniture like islands, drink stations or open shelving. This maximizes the backsplash’s visual presence.
Choosing the Right Backsplash Height
The optimal backsplash height depends on your cabinets, countertops and overall kitchen layout. Here are some standard backsplash height guidelines:
- For a full backsplash, tile from countertop to bottom of upper cabinets. This fully protects the wall from splatters.
- On average, backsplashes should have a minimum height of 4 inches. This guards walls from minor spills and stains.
- For single-level countertops, a 4-6 inch backsplash is common. If your countertop material is very dark or prone to stains, opt for 6 inches or more.
- With two-tiered countertops, extend backsplashes from the higher counter to the bottom of the upper cabinets.
- For open shelving instead of upper cabinets, take backsplashes all the way up to the ceiling. This creates a clean look.
- Make sure backsplashes overlap countertops at least 1/6 of an inch so spills cannot seep behind them.
Also consider your faucet and window placement. Backsplashes should protect areas at risk for water exposure. And leave 2-3 inches between backsplashes and windowsills so blinds can open fully.
DIY Installation Tips
Installing a tile backsplash is a DIY-friendly project for skilled do-it-yourselfers. Here are some key steps to proper installation:
- Gather total square footage measurements to estimate the tile and supplies needed.
- Purchase 10-15% extra tile in case you cut pieces incorrectly or break some during installation.
- Choose smaller grout lines (1/8 inch or less) for a smoother finish if installing tile on walls with uneven drywall.
- Clean walls thoroughly and fill any holes or cracks with caulk. Prime very porous drywall.
- Apply thinset mortar evenly across the entire backsplash area using a notched trowel. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before adding tile.
- Follow your layout plan, using spacers between tiles for even grout lines. Cut border tiles to fit edges precisely.
- Push each tile into the thinset firmly, gently twisting it into place. Use tile leveling clips beneath tiles to keep surfaces flat if needed.
- Allow thinset to cure for 24 hours before grouting if using large format tiles like 12”x24”.
Grouting and Sealing
- Wipe away thinset residue and apply grout using a rubber float. Push it deeply into grout lines.
- Wipe grout haze away with a damp sponge once it becomes semi-dry. Rinse sponge frequently.
- Caulk along countertops, edges and the joint between backsplash and lower walls with mildew-resistant silicone.
- Finally, apply grout sealant to protect from moisture and stains.
With careful planning and patience, you can DIY a beautiful, functional backsplash that matches your personal style.
Costs to Budget For
Backsplash projects can range from a few hundred dollars for DIY materials to $5,000+ for hiring installation. Factors impacting costs include:
- Tile material – Handmade tiles, stone and metals cost more than ceramic or porcelain.
- Specialty tile shapes like subway, hexagon and mosaic tiles often add expense.
- Tile dimensions – Larger tiles tend to cost more per square foot than smaller tiles.
- Custom designs with specialty trimwork, decorative inserts, or complex patterns increase costs.
- Professional contractor fees for installation and labor if not installing yourself.
- Area to be tiled – Larger backsplashes require more tile and labor time.
- Accessories like grout, thinset, sealant and tile tools add a few hundred dollars typically.
Be sure to get contractor quotes if not doing it yourself. Also include extra supplies like grout and sealant in your tile calculations.
Backsplash Maintenance Tips
A well-installed backsplash should last for decades. Follow these maintenance guidelines to keep yours looking like new:
- Seal grout and natural stone annually to prevent staining and damage from moisture.
- Limit harsh, abrasive cleaners. Use mild dish soap and warm water for routine cleaning.
- Immediately wipe up acidic liquids like juice, wine or tomato sauce that can etch into grout.
- Re-caulk along countertops, edges and where backsplashes meet walls every 1-2 years as needed.
- Avoid putting weight or pressure on backsplashes when cleaning countertops.
- Check for loose or cracked tiles annually. Re-adhere these immediately to prevent moisture issues.
- Clean buildup from range hoods regularly so grease does not settle onto backsplashes.
With proper care, your kitchen backsplash will maintain its like-new beauty and function for many years before needing any facelift.
Backsplash Ideas by Material
Here is a more detailed look at popular backsplash options organized by material type:
Tile Backsplash Ideas
- Classic white subway tile
- Navy blue glass subway tile
- Stainless steel subway tiles
- Marble tile in carrera, hone, arabesque or hexagon shapes
- Moroccan fish scale tiles
- Geometric black and white tile
- Vintage floral motif tile
- Slate tile in grays and blues
- Terracotta tile behind ranges
Stone Backsplash Ideas
- Honed gray and white marble mosaic
- Travertine stone ledger panels
- Blue slate tile
- Sandstone stacked ledgestone
- Pebble stone mosaic blend
- Quartzite subway tile
- Limestone running bond tile
- River rock pebble accent border
Glass Backsplash Ideas
- Sea glass mosaic in aqua blue/green
- Metallic glass penny tiles
- Cloudy white textured glass tile
- Fire red and orange glass horizontal strips
- Rainbow glass blend mosaic
- Turquoise and silver glass subway tiles
Metal Backsplash Ideas
- Galvanized tin penny tiles
- Antique brass rectangular tiles
- Aged copper diamond tiles
- Stainless steel checkerboard mosaic
- Powder coated metal in navy or emerald
- Hammered copper sheet panels
- Rusted corrugated metal panels
Wood Backsplash Ideas
- Classic reclaimed barnwood planks
- Cambara wood chevron pattern
- Bamboo stick tiles
- Cedar board panels in natural stain
- Whitewashed shiplap boards
- Charred wood planks
- Weathered wood slice mosaic
Laminate Backsplash Ideas
- Black quartz laminate countertop sheet
- Faux brick pattern laminate panels
- Weathered plank-look laminate
- Scalloped edge laminate sheets
- White marble-look laminate
- Textured slate gray laminate
- Peel-and-stick metal laminate
What’s the most popular backsplash for 2023?
Subway tile remains the most sought-after backsplash style, updated with on-trend colors like navy blue, black, and dark green. Oversized subway tiles are also prevalent to make a statement.
How do I choose a timeless backsplash that won’t look dated?
Classic white subway tile, marble tile, and natural stone choices stand the test of time. Simple patterns like running bond brickwork and colors like white and black are always in style.
Can you do a backsplash on a budget?
Absolutely! Smart budget backsplash ideas include using ceramic tile instead of natural stone, installing peel-and-stick wallpaper or laminate boards instead of tile, limiting your backsplash space, or painting the backsplash area with epoxy paint.