What’s the Best Backsplash for Kitchens?

Choosing the right backsplash is one of the most important decisions when remodeling or designing a kitchen. The backsplash serves both form and function – it protects the walls from splashes and stains while also acting as a decorative focal point. With so many backsplash options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide what is truly the best backsplash for kitchens. This article will examine the pros and cons of various popular backsplash materials to help you determine the best backsplash for your needs and style.

Tile Backsplashes

Tile is one of the most common and versatile backsplash materials. It comes in a huge range of styles, colors, patterns, textures, and prices.


  • Extremely durable and stain resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Long-lasting if properly sealed
  • Available in countless colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns
  • Can match any design aesthetic
  • Creates a high-end, polished look


  • Grout lines can get dirty if not properly sealed
  • Installation can be tricky for DIYers
  • Tile can crack or chip if subjected to hard impacts
  • Some types of tile like subway tile are ubiquitous

Here are some of the most popular tile backsplash options:

Ceramic Tile

A budget-friendly option perfect for cottage, farmhouse or vintage kitchens. The color possibilities are endless.

White ceramic subway tile backsplash

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tiles are very durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean. Great for both modern and traditional kitchens.

Black and white geometric porcelain backsplash tile

Glass Tile

Glass tiles make a glossy and radiant backsplash. Available in endless colors and finishes from sleek and modern to ornate and decorative.

Teal glass subway tile backsplash

Natural Stone Tile

Backsplashes made of granite, marble or other natural stones have unmatched elegance. Each piece is uniquely patterned.

White Carrara marble backsplash tile

Metal Tile

Intricate metal tiles like copper, tin, nickel or stainless steel make a dramatic, glamorous statement.

Hexagon copper penny tile backsplash

Glass Backsplashes

Glass backsplashes are a stunning choice that can completely transform the look and feel of a kitchen. Glass adds refractive light and gleaming elegance.


  • Sleek, polished aesthetic
  • Radiant, eye-catching appearance
  • Easy to thoroughly clean
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Customizable sizing and color options
  • Several textures and finishes available


  • Expensive compared to tile
  • Can break if impacted
  • Fingerprints and water spots show easily
  • Not great for traditional or rustic kitchens

Some popular options for glass backsplashes include:

Glass Sheets

Large panes of tempered glass in various colors and finishes. Can cover an entire wall with minimal seams.

Turquoise blue glass sheet backsplash

Glass Subway Tiles

Small glass subway tiles offer great versatility. Available in every color imaginable.

Iridescent glass subway tile backsplash

Glass Mosaic Tiles

Tiny glass mosaic tiles form beautiful patterns and images when pieced together.

Blue and white glass mosaic tile backsplash

Metal Backsplashes

Metal backsplashes bring an industrial vibe through the use of stainless steel, copper, bronze, and more.


  • Highly durable and dent-resistant
  • Easy to thoroughly clean
  • Visually interesting textures
  • Matches modern and industrial aesthetics
  • Metals like copper provide antimicrobial properties


  • Cold, hard appearance isn’t for everyone
  • Metals like copper will patina over time
  • Can be expensive
  • Not great for traditional kitchen styles

Some metal backsplash options include:

Stainless Steel

A classic choice that pairs well with stainless steel appliances. Brushed or polished finishes available.

Brushed stainless steel backsplash


Copper backsplashes accentuate any kitchen with a warm, metallic glow. Will patina over time.

Antique copper metal backsplash

Metal Tiles

Intricately designed metal tiles in tin, nickel, bronze, and more can mimic patterns like fish scales, diamonds, and hexagons.

Overlapping silver metal tile backsplash

Stone Backsplashes

Natural stone backsplashes lend organic texture along with durability. Popular choices include granite, marble, and travertine.


  • Extremely durable and heat resistant
  • Natural material offers unique colors and veining
  • Withstands scratches, stains and etching
  • Timeless, classic material that doesn’t go out of style
  • Many finish options like tumbled, polished, or honed


  • Expensive compared to ceramic or glass tile
  • Some stones require yearly sealing
  • Porous stone can stain from oil, juice, or wine
  • Challenging for DIY installation

Some natural stone backsplash options include:


Elegant marble comes in white, gray, black and other swirled colors. Must be sealed carefully.

White Carrara marble subway tile backsplash


Travertine has rustic appeal with its natural indentations. Available in tan, cream, rust and gray shades.

Ivory travertine subway tile backsplash


Granite backsplashes are extremely durable with unique speckled patterns. Requires sealing.

Black speckled granite subway tile backsplash


Quartzite combines the durability of granite with marble’s elegant appearance. Neutral tones.

White and gray quartzite backsplash


Subtle grayish-green soapstone holds up to heat, stains and etching. Gains character over time.

Dark green soapstone backsplash tile

Mosaic Backsplashes

Mosaic backsplashes use small tiles to form intricate patterns, images, and designs. Classic yet playful accent.


  • Huge variety of colors, shapes, and materials
  • Can depict images, patterns, and textures
  • Provides visual interest and artistic flair
  • Option for DIY-friendly peel-and-stick
  • Can mix different tile shapes and colors


  • Pattern mismatches can occur with grout lines
  • Small grout lines can trap dirt
  • Professional installation often required
  • Not the easiest to clean

Some mosaic backsplash tile options include:

Ceramic Mosaic

Ceramic tiles in different sizes and colors arranged in intricate patterns.

Multicolor ceramic mosaic backsplash tile

Glass Mosaic

Tiny glass mosaic tiles offer dazzling reflections and luminosity.

Metallic glass mosaic backsplash tile

Stone Mosaic

Natural stone mosaics like marble, travertine, or granite.

White Carrara marble mosaic backsplash tile

Wood Backsplashes

Wooden backsplashes provide natural visual warmth and texture. Must be properly sealed.


  • Warm, inviting aesthetic
  • Natural material with unique grain patterns
  • Rustic, country or cottage-style charm
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable
  • Durable and scratch-resistant when sealed


  • Not heat or water-resistant unless treated
  • Prone to warping and discoloration
  • Difficult to thoroughly clean and sanitize
  • Frequent re-sealing required

Some wood backsplash options include:

Wood Planks

Wide solid wood planks with visible grains for rustic style. Often made of durable oak or teak.

Wood plank backsplash

Wood Mosaic

Small pieces of end-grain wood arranged in mosaic patterns.

Wood mosaic backsplash

Faux Wood

Vinyl or PVC tiles that mimic the look of natural wood grain without the maintenance.

Faux wood peel-and-stick backsplash

Brick Backsplashes

Brick backsplashes supply texture and tactile appeal reminiscent of old-world architecture.


  • Natural, earthy material with imperfections
  • Interesting dimensional shape
  • Matches rustic, farmhouse or industrial aesthetics
  • Extremely durable and heat-resistant
  • Low maintenance


  • Heavy and may require structural reinforcement
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Cement grout can stain and discolor
  • Brick shape limits pattern possibilities

Some brick backsplash options include:

Faux Brick

Realistic-looking faux brick veneer tiles that mimic the texture of real brick.

Rustic faux brick backsplash

Authentic Brick

Salvaged or new brick for a structural feature. Best left to the pros.

Red brick backsplash

Brick Veneer Panels

Thin panels made with real brick offer the look without the weight.

Thin brick veneer backsplash panels

Concrete Backsplashes

Concrete backsplashes provide cool, contemporary texture in gray hues. Can be polished, stamped or distressed.


  • Cool, sleek, modern aesthetic
  • Mimics look of more expensive concrete counters
  • Durable, heatproof, and water-resistant
  • Textural interest from stamped or inlaid patterns
  • Neutral color suits any kitchen style


  • Can stain, chip or crack if not properly sealed
  • Unsealed concrete absorbs liquids
  • The cool tone won’t appeal to all
  • Heavy weight may require extra structural support

Some concrete backsplash tile options include:

Poured Concrete

Poured and smoothed concrete for a raw, industrial look.

Dark gray poured concrete backsplash

Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles with versatile shapes, patterns and finishes.

Gray faded concrete tile backsplash

Faux Concrete

Realistic cement-mimicking porcelain or ceramic tiles.

White concrete-look porcelain backsplash tile

Eclectic Backsplash Ideas

For the adventurous, an eclectic backsplash incorporates a fun mix of unconventional materials in bold patterns and textures. Consider using:

  • Penny tiles
  • Mirrors
  • Pebbles
  • Corrugated metal
  • Woven rattan
  • Barn wood
  • Shells
  • License plates
  • Bottle caps

The design options are endless!

Factors in Choosing a Kitchen Backsplash

With so many backsplash materials and options to consider, keep the following factors in mind when selecting the perfect backsplash for your kitchen:

  • Budget – Backsplash tile prices span the full gamut. Set realistic expectations based on what you can afford.
  • Style/aesthetics – Match your backsplash material and design to your overall kitchen decor.
  • Durability/performance – Consider how well the material withstands heat, moisture, stains, cleaning, etc.
  • Ease of installation – Weigh DIY skills vs. hiring a pro. Some materials are beginner-friendly.
  • High or low maintenance – Low maintenance materials like glass or metal make sense for busy cooks.
  • Resale value – Classic backsplash materials like subway tile retain resale value. Trendy could date your kitchen.

Enhancing the Backsplash

To make the backsplash really stand out, consider adding:

  • Accent strips – Contrasting strips between tiles, or capping off the top and bottom.
  • Decorative borders – An ornate mosaic, tile or metal trim border.
  • Niche or shelving – Open shelving flanking the stove, or a niche for greenery.
  • Undercabinet lighting – Illuminates the backsplash and creates drama.
  • Exposed conduit – Highlights eclectic backsplashes like penny tile or metal.
  • Floating shelves – Stylish open shelves over the backsplash surface.

Backsplash Installation Tips

Proper installation is crucial to achieving a stunning backsplash with longevity. Tips include:

  • Thoroughly clean and prep the surface
  • Use proper mortar and grout for the material
  • Don’t skimp on grout – joints should be packed full
  • Level starting row with ledger boards
  • Use plastic tile spacers for consistent grout line spacing
  • Seal natural stone, grout, concrete, and wood
  • Caulk perimeter and change-of-plane joints
  • Take time with careful grout cleanup for best results

Maintaining the Backsplash

To keep the backsplash looking like new:

  • Use a gentle cleanser and soft sponge or cloth
  • Avoid harsh, abrasive scrubbing
  • Re-seal grout and natural stone annually
  • Use a squeegee to dry glass backsplashes after cleaning
  • Immediately clean up oil, grease etc. to prevent stains
  • Protect behind cooktops with removable splatter screens
  • Use trivets and hot pads when setting down hot pans

Achieving the Perfect Backsplash

The ideal backsplash transforms an ordinary kitchen into an extraordinary one. Thoughtfully weighing the pros, cons and considerations of each material is essential in order to select the perfect backsplash. Take into account budget, decor, cooking needs and style preferences. Luxurious marble, handmade glass mosaic, industrial stainless steel, rustic wood planks – the options are endless. An eye-catching, well-installed and properly maintained backsplash serves as the jewelry of the kitchen. With creativity and careful planning, your dream backsplash can become a stunning reality.


How do I choose a backsplash?

When choosing a backsplash, consider the overall style of your kitchen, how the space is used, your budget, and what kind of maintenance you are willing to do. Also take into account the durability and texture of materials, ease of cleaning, and moisture resistance. Determine what kind of look you want – sleek, homey, modern or traditional. Ensure the new backsplash will complement countertops, cabinets, flooring and appliances.

What is the most popular kitchen backsplash?

Subway tile is currently the most popular choice for kitchen backsplashes. The classic 3×6 white gloss ceramic design offers versatility for both contemporary and traditional kitchens. Subway tiles are affordable, easy to install, and create clean lines. But popular alternatives like marble, glass, and metal backsplashes are on trend.

What backsplash goes best with white cabinets?

White cabinets pair beautifully with nearly any backsplash material and color. Sticking with a light tile keeps the kitchen feeling open – options like white subway tile, carrera marble, glass mosaic or nickel tiles. Or go bold with a dark tile that pops against white cabinets like navy blue or charcoal. Wooden backsplashes also complement white cabinets.

What color backsplash goes with dark cabinets?

Dark cabinetry looks sharp when contrasted with light, bright backsplashes. White, off-white or light gray tiles have a nice balancing effect. Clear glass, stainless steel and silvery metals also offset the dark cabinets nicely. If you want rich color, deep red, emerald or sapphire blue tiles coordinate well.

Can you put tile backsplash directly on drywall?

It is not recommended to apply tile directly onto drywall. Drywall alone does not offer adequate support. The weight of the tile and grout could cause it to sag or detach. Water damage is also a risk. Install cement board, fiber cement board or a water-resistant substrate over drywall first to support the tile properly.

How do I choose a backsplash edge?

The edge or perimeter of the backsplash makes a statement. Continuing tile to the ceiling creates a seamless look. For definition, adding a trim like crown molding, rope decorative molding, or finishing metal trim frames the backsplash. Accent tiles along the top or bottom also highlight the edges.

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

Backsplash costs range dramatically based on material from $5 – $50 per square foot installed. Inexpensive tile or vinyl runs $5-15 per sq. ft. Stainless steel, ceramic, mosaic or faux tile costs $15-30 on average. Higher end glass, stone or concrete tile ranges from $30-50 per square foot installed. Factors like special tile shapes, intricate patterns, natural materials and professional installation contribute to cost.

In summary, thoughtfully weigh all the factors when selecting your kitchen