How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Backsplash

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When it comes to modern kitchen design inspiration, the backsplash can often be an oversight. You probably plan your countertops, appliances, and kitchen cabinets out well in advance, but so many homeowners forget about the backsplash.

Although a kitchen backsplash is mainly a practical tool used to stop your walls from getting dirty, it can also serve as an aesthetic backdrop and a focal point in your kitchen, depending on the design. But what style of backsplash should you choose?

This Kitchen Infinity review will take a look at different styles of kitchen backsplash and tell you how to choose the right one for your home!

What are the different types of kitchen backsplash?

Although your brain probably goes straight to tiles, there are actually many different types of backsplash to choose from, evoking both classic and modern kitchen design styles. Some of the best kitchen backsplashes include:

Subway Tile

Undoubtedly one of the most popular kitchen backsplash tiles you will come across, the simplicity of the subway tiles design makes it a great way to tone down busy kitchens.

This tile is normally laid in a staggered brick-like fashion, but some unique contemporary designs are laying the tiles vertically or diagonally instead. The tile color can vary, but most of the time you'll find that these tiles are plain white, creating a nice minimal look.

subway tile
Subway Tile by Kitchen Infinity

Stone Slab

Not a fan of tile? A big slab of granite could be the answer!

If you've got stone countertops (i.e. granite, quartz, marble, etc.) then you might want to consider extending the stone upwards once it meets the wall. This creates stone kitchen backsplashes that matches the exact design of your countertops. However, this looks a little over-the-top for some types of stone, so it depends on the design.

Some people use a stone slab with distinctive veining as a focal point in their modern kitchen, especially if the countertops and kitchen cabinets are minimal or white. This can create a very dramatic look when juxtaposed with an otherwise toned-down space and will give a completely new look to your kitchen after you are done with kitchen remodel.

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tile kitchen backsplashes are fairly common and can be made from a wide variety of materials, though they're normally made from ceramic, clay, or porcelain. These tiles are very similar to field tile. Mosaics are small tiles that are usually 2 inches by 2 inches or smaller.

Oftentimes they will be 1 inch by 1 inch or smaller.

This kitchen backsplash tile tends to be quite busy, so it's a good option for creative types and perfect for creating a complex focal point. You'll often see mosaics laid out in interesting patterns to catch the eye with a very unique design style.

Backsplash tile
Mosaic Tiles by Kitchen Infinity

Glass Tile

You wouldn't think it would be a good kitchen backsplash, but glass is 100% impervious to water, so it's an excellent tile backsplash option if you have a lot of steam, moisture, and splashes in your kitchen.

And no, it won't crack or shatter easily, don't worry.

Glass tile comes in a wide range of colors and the natural translucency creates a dazzling shiny effect like no other. Most of the time, the glass will also be reinforced and scratch-resistant too.

However, because glass is translucent, you will be able to see any poorly-done grouting beneath it, so a professional installation is a must. No one wants to stare at their glass style tile and see grout or adhesive staring back at them!

Stainless Steel

Although stainless steel kitchen backsplashes are more commonly associated with restaurant kitchens, this unique style of kitchen backsplash is becoming more and more common in residential kitchens around the country.

It's used in professional kitchens for a reason!

Stainless steel tile comes in a range of sizes and shapes, though you can also get large sheets of steel that are embossed with intricate designs too.

Although it's maybe not the classiest-looking kitchen backsplash material in the world, stainless steel is incredibly durable and very easy to clean. It's also great around hot pots and pans.

Peel & Stick Tiles

If your kitchen's walls are adhesive, you might want to consider a “peel and stick” tile design for your kitchen backsplash adventure.

Cheap and often easy to install by yourself, peel and stick kitchen backsplashes are great for DIY projects and save you some extra bucks in your kitchen remodel. Peel and stick tiles also give you the option to replace your backsplash easily whenever you get bored of the design or color.

You can often find these cheap backsplash stick-on tiles at hardware stores like Home Depot.

Choosing the right backsplash material

Every kitchen design is unique to the homeowner's vision, but there are many design tips you can follow to stop the space from looking too busy, too clinical, or simply in poor taste. If you're planning on selling your home in the future and doing a kitchen remodel, it's also important to choose a timeless backsplash that won't look dated quickly.

Here are some tips for choosing the right kitchen backsplash for your home:

1. Height

The “standard” height for a kitchen backsplash is 4 inches high. For a lot of people, this is way too low and the walls are still easily exposed to splashes and damage. Many people raise the backsplash to the height of their wall kitchen cabinets, leaving no wall exposed above the main countertops.

It's a smart idea!

Some kitchen designs even have the backsplash go all the way up the ceiling (a “full-height” backsplash) to help the design on the space feel more seamless.

If you're going to create a lot of mess in your kitchen, opt for a taller kitchen backsplash. If mess isn't a huge factor for you, the 4-inch standard size might just be big enough.

2. Countertops

Your countertops and your backsplash meet in the middle, so you need to make sure that they complement one another and work in harmony together. If your countertops and your backsplash clash, it's going to throw off the design of your entire kitchen.

We don't want a clash.

Choose a backsplash color that complements the countertop – it might create contrast or it might be in the same color story. The basic rule is that you shouldn't have a “busy” countertop with a “busy” backsplash. If you want one of these features to be a focal point, you should choose one or the other.

For example, if you have granite countertops with strong veining, you'd want to go for a simple, minimal kitchen backsplash. On the other hand, if you've got a plain white countertop, then you might choose a vibrant tile backsplash in an accent color.

3. Budget

When you're looking at kitchen backsplash tiles, you're going to pay around $8-$20 per square foot on average. However, if you start venturing into glass, stainless steel, and more expensive materials, then this price is going to go up and up.

We're not all made of money.

If money is tight and your kitchen walls are adhesive-friendly, you might want to consider a cheap peel-and-stick backsplash design featuring a “fake” tile that can be removed and replaced whenever you want.

On the other hand, if you're looking to spend some big bucks, then one of the backsplash options you could go for is opulent scratch-resistant glass style tile backsplash that gives the space an elegant aesthetic while protecting the walls from moisture.

4. Focal points

Having a focal point to a room is one of the basic tenets of interior design.

Most kitchen designs will revolve around a focal point that catches your eye as soon as you walk in – you need to decide whether you want to make your backsplash the focal point or not.

A backsplash can actually make a brilliant focal point, especially if the rest of the space is minimal. For example, a mosaic tile pattern or brightly-colored subway tiles could be the pop of color and excitement that your kitchen needs. Mosaic tile is particularly great for creating an artistic focal point.

On the other hand, if your kitchen already has one or more focal points, it's probably best to opt for a minimal backsplash design that doesn't draw the eye – mosaic tile with a busy kitchen could quickly become an assault on the eyeballs.

5. Practical considerations

Though different materials have different aesthetics and price points to consider, you also need to think about your needs in the kitchen.

How do you cook? What types of meals do you prepare? Do you create a lot of moisture, splashes, and mess when you're cooking? Do you use the stove more than the oven?

These are important questions to ask yourself.

For example, if you're the kind of person who makes a lot of mess when they're cooking or you often have hot pans spitting oil and grease out all over the place, then you need a relatively tall kitchen backsplash made from a durable material like ceramic, stone, or stainless steel.

On the other hand, if you produce a lot of water and steam when you're cooking, you might want to try a material like glass tile which is 100% resistant to water, thereby preventing problems with damp.

What is the most popular kitchen backsplash?

The most popular kitchen in recent years is definitely the white subway tiles.

Usually found in white in a classic brick-like staggered joint pattern, the white subway style tile is a brilliant way to tone down your kitchen backsplash design in a busy kitchen while still feeling fresh and modern. These white kitchen backsplash tiles never seem to go out of fashion!

Should your kitchen backsplash match your countertop?

Your kitchen backsplash should complement your countertop, but they don't need to match exactly. Most of the time, countertops and kitchen backsplashes will be different colors/designs from one another, contrasting or complementing each other in some way.

It all depends on the design of the space at large!

The main time that you find matching kitchen backsplashes and countertops is when the kitchen has a clinical all-white look, or when the homeowner extends their granite countertop upwards to create a granite backsplash.

What is the easiest kitchen backsplash to install?

The easiest kitchen backsplash to install is the peel-and-stick backsplash tile that you can find at most major hardware stores. This tile sheet material can be attached to adhesive-friendly kitchen walls, giving you a tile design that is very easy to install even if you have limited DIY experience.

Peel-and-stick tile sheets are also very cheap and easy to replace, so they're perfect if you want to easily change the tile color or tile design style in the future.

Conclusion

Whether you go for a subway-style tile backsplash, a glass tile backsplash, or a huge stone slab, we hope that you find the right kitchen backsplash design for your needs that perfectly complements the aesthetic of your kitchen and turns it into your dream kitchen.

Kitchen backsplashes need to be both practical and good-looking, so make sure you opt for a tile style that looks good, prevents damage, and is easy to clean.

Good luck!

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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