Backsplashes are an essential design element in any kitchen. Not only do they protect your walls from water damage and stains, they also add visual interest and tie your space together. When choosing a backsplash, you’ll want to consider factors like material, color, pattern, and budget. With so many options to pick from, finding the right backsplash can feel overwhelming. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about buying a backsplash for your home.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a protective wall covering installed directly behind sinks, stoves, ranges, and other kitchen appliances that see a lot of water exposure. Backsplashes are typically made of tile or metal and extend 4-6 inches vertically from the countertop to protect the wall from water, grease, food stains, and other cooking messes.
In addition to protecting walls, backsplashes serve an important design function by bringing color, texture, and pattern to the kitchen. Backsplashes can be simple solid tiles or intricate mosaics, rustic natural stone or sleek metal, traditional or modern. The material, color, and style of your backsplash will have a big impact on your kitchen’s overall look and feel.
Benefits of Installing a Backsplash
There are several great reasons to install a backsplash in your kitchen:
- Protects walls from water damage: Backsplashes prevent moisture from seeping into drywall and causing stains or mold growth. Tile and metal backsplashes repel water.
- Protects walls from stains: Backsplashes keep oil splatters, tomato sauce splashes, and other cooking messes off your painted walls. The surface is easy to wipe down.
- Adds visual interest: Backsplashes bring color, texture, and pattern to your kitchen decor. It allows you to add some personality.
- Ties the space together: A coordinated backsplash can pull together your countertops, cabinetry, and flooring into a cohesive look.
- Easy to clean: Unlike drywall, backsplash surfaces like tile and metal wipe clean easily.
- Increases resale value: Updating an outdated backsplash or adding one to your kitchen can increase the value of your home.
- Affordable: Backsplash projects can be completed relatively inexpensively, especially when using DIY installation.
Where to Buy Backsplash Tile and Materials
When ready to purchase your backsplash materials, you have several excellent options for convenient shopping:
Home Improvement Stores
Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have an extensive selection of backsplash tile, metal sheets, and stone slabs. You can easily browse the aisles, see materials up close, and speak with knowledgeable sales associates. Often you can find great sales on tile and accessories. Keep in mind, selections are often limited to what’s in stock. Ordering specialty tile could take several weeks.
Tile specialty shops have a wider array of unique, high-quality tiles and mosaics you won’t find at the big box stores. Products are beautifully displayed so you can visualize how tile will look installed. Tile pros at these showrooms can offer expert recommendations. Custom ordering is also available. Just keep in mind that pricing is usually higher.
Online retailers like Wayfair and Amazon offer backsplashes delivered conveniently to your door. Search thousands of in-stock tiles filtered by material, color, price, and pattern. Read reviews from fellow shoppers. Drawbacks include not seeing tile in person and potentially higher shipping costs for heavy materials.
Big Box Home Improvement Websites
In addition to physical stores, websites for home improvement chains like Lowes.com and HomeDepot.com have a huge online selection of backsplash tile and metal sheets. You can filter by material, size, color, price, and more. Arrange free in-store pickup or delivery.
Some backsplash material manufacturers, like large tile brands or metal companies, sell direct to consumers through their own websites. This opens unique options not found at regular retailers, like extra large formats or semi-custom materials. Use manufacturer site search tools to locate authorized local dealers.
How to Select a Kitchen Backsplash
With endless backsplash possibilities to consider, choosing the perfect product for your kitchen requires thoughtful decision making. Follow this backsplash selection guide:
Set Your Budget
The cost of backsplash tile ranges wildly from $1 per square foot for basic ceramic to $50 per square foot for high-end tile. Determine how much you can reasonably spend before falling in love with a pricey material! Shop clearance sections and measure precisely to get the best deal.
Match Your Style
Think about the overall style you want for your kitchen when choosing a backsplash. For contemporary spaces, sleek glass or metal tiles work well. Farmhouse kitchens call for classic subway tile. Your backsplash should complement your cabinets, counters, appliances, and flooring.
Consider Ease of Maintenance
Look at how heavily your backsplash area gets used along with your cleaning habits. For low maintenance, porcelain and glass are virtually stain-proof. Natural stone and ceramic tile are beautiful but more prone to staining. Metal sheets clean up in a snap.
Factor in Your Skill Level
DIY installation can save substantially on labor costs. If you’re inexperienced with tiling, avoid intricate patterns or natural stone, which is harder to cut. Mosaic sheets take the guesswork out of spacing and alignment.
Look at Durability
Your backsplash endures heavy use and moisture over time. Look for resilient materials like porcelain, ceramic tile, or stainless steel. Stay away from high-end wallpapers or fabrics that could stain, mildew, or peel in a kitchen setting.
Assess Water Resistance
Since backsplashes take the brunt of splashing water, oil and grease, liquid-resistant materials are a smart choice. Porcelain tile beats natural stone or grout lines, which can absorb stains. Metal backsplashes resist moisture damage well.
Review Texture and Finish
Consider your everyday use of a backsplash and how easy it will be to wipe clean. Highly textured tile hides fingerprints and splatters well. Too much texture collects grime in grout lines. Glossy finishes have glassy smooth wipeable surfaces.
Calculate Quantity Needed
Measure your backsplash area length and height in inches. For square tile, divide width by tile size to estimate pieces needed. Allow 10% extra for cuts or waste. Use online calculators to determine how many tile or metal sheets to purchase.
Choose Coordinating Colors
Pick backsplash colors that match your cabinets, countertops, flooring, paint colors, and any existing kitchen decor.Neutrals like white are easy to match. Go bold with an accent wall in a bright complementary hue.
Incorporate Pretty Patterns
Patterns and decorative shapes add eye-catching flair. Subway tile laid in chevron adds modern style. Classic patterns like herringbone work in transitional kitchens. Mosaics create artistic focal points behind cooktops.
Check Sample Size and Availability
Before finalizing your backsplash choice, verify that you can get enough tile to complete the job. Delays are common with specialty tile. Order 5-10% extra in case of cuts or breakage. Ask about current inventory and lead times.
Read Product Reviews
Read buyer reviews on retail sites to learn from other customers’ experiences. Check if materials scratch or stain easily or have excessive color variation. Reviews also tell you about retailers’ customer service.
Where to Buy Backsplash Tiles by Material
Now that you know how to choose a backsplash, here are some of the best places to buy popular backsplash materials:
The rectangular shape and slim proportions of classic subway tile lend a clean, streamlined look. White is a top choice, but subway tiles come in every color.
Where to Buy: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wayfair, Floor & Decor
Carrara Marble Tile
With its grayish-white background and elegant veining, Carrara marble tile brings timeless style to kitchens. Real marble has variations that add depth.
Where to Buy: Marble Online, The Builder Depot, Stone Source
For a Mediterranean vibe, rustic travertine brings warm, earthy tones with natural stone holes and grooves. The surface texture hides messes.
Where to Buy: The Tile Shop, Floor & Decor, Bedrosians Tile
Sleek and ultra-modern, glass backsplash tile offers brilliant gloss and iridescent colors. Durable glass cleans up easily and resists stains. Metal accents add modern style.
Where to Buy: Glass Tile Oasis, Emser Tile, Mutual Materials
Stainless steel, copper, bronze and other metals bring industrial edge, shiny good looks, and durability with minimal maintenance to kitchen backsplashes.
Where to Buy: DecoratorsBest, Chic Metal Tiles, Modern Metals
Peel and Stick Backsplash
Budget-friendly peel and stick backsplash tiles offer an easy update. These self-adhesive vinyl tiles install directly over existing walls with no mess or special tools required.
Where to Buy: Amazon, Wayfair, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart
Where to Buy Backsplash Tile by Color
Backsplash tile comes in every color of the rainbow. Here are some top retailers to shop the most popular backsplash color options:
White Backsplash Tile
Bright white backsplash tile is a classic choice that pairs beautifully with any cabinetry and countertops. White tile keeps spaces feeling clean and cheerful.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Home Depot, Floor and Decor, Bedrosians
Black Backsplash Tile
For modern edge, black backsplash tile pops against stainless, white cabinets, or brass fixtures. Dark shades elegantly hide cooking messes.
Where to Buy: Clé Tile, Wayfair, Overstock
Gray Backsplash Tile
Subtle gray backsplash tile brings an airy, neutral palette to the kitchen. Gray resembles concrete or wood and blends with any style decor.
Where to Buy: Lowe’s, Bedrosians, DecoratorsBest
Blue Backsplash Tile
From pale sky blue to dramatic navy, blue backsplash tile adds soothing color. Match cool blues with white for a beach cottage look.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Home Depot, Lowes
Green Backsplash Tile
Verdant green backsplash tile ranges from sage to emerald. Accent the space with natural elements like plants and wood accents.
Where to Buy: Clé Tile, Bedrosians, Wayfair
Beige Backsplash Tile
Warm beige backsplashes work perfectly in traditional Tuscan-style kitchens. The natural neutral tone suits any cabinet finish beautifully.
Where to Buy: Daltile, Emser Tile, Wayfair
Popular Backsplash Styles and Where to Buy Them
Beyond material and color, backsplash tile comes designed in endless styles. Here are ideas and where to find some most popular backsplash looks:
The zigzag pattern of classic herringbone tile brings visual intrigue. Rows interlock for chic dimension.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Home Depot, Overstock
Subway Tile Backsplash
Running horizontally along the counter, affordable subway tile delivers clean lines. Go all white or add classic blue for a timeless backsplash.
Where to Buy: Floor & Decor, Lowes, Wayfair
Glass Mosaic Backsplash
Tiny glass mosaic tiles form artistic patterns perfect for accent walls behind stoves or sinks.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Home Depot, Clé Tile
Marble Hexagon Backsplash
Interlocking marble hexagon tile sets create a geometric honeycomb statement. The dimensional shape adds depth.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Bedrosians
Mixed Metal Backsplash
Mixing metal finishes like brass, copper, and nickel makes for an eclectic industrial backsplash. Metals are durable and easy to clean.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Overstock
3D Tile Backsplash
Cube, diamond, fish scale, and other 3D tiles add dimensional depth for modern appeal. Glossy finishes reflect light.
Where to Buy: The Tile Shop, Wayfair
Stone Mosaic Backsplash
Irregular stone pieces form artistic mosaic patterns full of natural texture. Great behind rustic kitchen islands.
Where to Buy: Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wayfair
Moroccan Fish Scale Backsplash
Linked diamond, circular, and oval ceramic “fish scale” tile blankets walls in a pretty mosaic, reminiscent of Moroccan design.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Overstock
Chevron Tile Backsplash
Row upon row of zigzag tile point together in an eye-catching chevron pattern. Works great behind cooktops.
Where to Buy: Wayfair, Lowe’s, The Tile Shop
Where to Buy Backsplash Accessories & Supplies
In addition to tiles, you’ll need backsplash installation supplies like grout, caulk, and metal edging trim. Shop conveniently for all accessories and tools at tile retailers:
- Mastic and mortar: Stick backsplash tile to walls using mastic adhesive or mortar. Check labels to ensure bond strength.
- Grout: Available in multiple colors, unsanded grout is best for narrow tile joints up to 1/8 inch wide. Grout seals the installation and finishes joints.
- Caulk: Kitchen-and-bath silicone caulk seals gaps at edges near the counter, window sills, or cabinets. Choose caulk color to match the grout.
- Metal trim: L-shaped trim conceals exposed edges along countertops or at corners. Often color matched to popular appliances like stainless or white.
- Tile spacers: Plastic spacers ensure consistent grout line spacing between tiles for a pro-looking finish.
- Sealer: Tile and grout sealer protects porous natural stone from stains. Some stone needs sealing regularly.
- Tile cutting tools: Specialty wet saws cut ceramic and porcelain tile cleanly. Tile snips nip smaller cuts without chipping. Use safety gear.
- Adhesive mat: Applied under tiles, adhesive mesh sheets make a permanent, stable base layer for DIY installations.
How Much Does a Backsplash Cost?
The cost of a backsplash varies considerably based on the materials and installation methods selected. In general, expect to pay:
- ceramic or porcelain tile – $3-$20 per sq. ft.
- glass tile – $8-$40 per sq. ft.
- natural stone tile – $15-50 per sq. ft.
- metal – $15-$50 per sq. ft.
- DIY peel-and-stick tiles – $0.50-$3 per sq. ft.
A typical 10 sq. ft. backsplash costs $100-$400 for materials to DIY. Hiring a contractor to install professionally averages $600-$1,000 including labor. High-end materials, extensive backsplashes, decorative designs, and specialized installation increase overall project costs.
Should I Install a Backsplash Myself or Hire a Pro?
For an experienced DIYer, installing backsplash tile may be a doable weekend project. Gather tools, watch online tutorials, layout carefully, and take your time. Novices are often better off hiring a tile pro to ensure proper installation and waterproofing that will last.
Consider hiring a backsplash installation expert if:
- You don’t have tiling experience. Mistakes are costly and permanent.
- The area is complex with uneven walls, tricky built-in-appliances, or cutouts.
- Choosing natural stone, marble, or intricate patterns best worked by a pro.
- Wanting seamless finish of mitered edges and built-in lighting sconces.
- Your time is limited. Pros work fast! Weekend diy projects often stretch into weeks.
If attempting a DIY backsplash, reduce headaches by starting with:
- Tile sheets made for beginners with built-in spacing
- Subway tiles, easiest shape to align
- Stain-proof porcelain or ceramic, rather than porous natural stone
- Outsource specialized tile cuts to big box store pros
Backsplash Installation Tips
Follow these pro tips when installing a new backsplash tile project:
- Carefully measure the area and create a layout plan to minimize cuts and waste. Allow for extra tile.
- Clean the wall thoroughly and sand glossy paint so the adhesive bonds tightly.
- Apply painter’s tape vertically along the edges to keep the area tidy while working.
- Mix thinset mortar adhesive to manufacturer’s instructions for use on walls or purchase premade adhesive mats.
- Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of adhesive on one small section at a time.
- Set tiles into the adhesive firmly in place following layout lines. Use spacers for even grout width.
- Let adhesive fully cure 24-48 hours before grouting according to manufacturer directions.
- Grout lines should complement tile size, keeping width consistent 1/8” to 1⁄2” is typical.
- Apply grout using a rubber grout float. Hold at a 45° angle pressing into joints to fill completely and evenly.
- Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge, cleaning diagonally across tiles to avoid pulling grout from joints.
- Once grout dries, seal grout and porous tile with a penetrating sealer formulated for that material.
- Lastly, caulk along countertop, cabinets, edges with matching silicone caulk for a polished look.
Backsplash Maintenance Tips
A well-installed quality backsplash should last at least 10-15 years with proper care. Follow these maintenance guidelines:
- Always use a cutting board, never cut directly on tile. This can scratch, chip, or crack fragile surfaces.
- Clean backsplashes frequently using