How to Select the Perfect Kitchen Backsplash

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Selecting the perfect kitchen backsplash can be overwhelming. Getting it right is important and with so many options what should you choose? The right kitchen backsplash can have a significant impact on the overall design of your kitchen. Let me break down some kitchen backsplash options to help you make your decision.

Whether you prefer timeless styles like marble and subway tile, or want something really on trend like the popular hand crafted and glazed Moroccan tiles known as Zellige, there’s something out there for every budget and style.

brass faucet at kitchen sink and marble kitchen backsplash

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Determine Your Overall Kitchen Design Style

Sure…you can do anything you want for your kitchen backsplash, but you will want to consider your overall design style of your kitchen. Consider the color of your cabinets, kitchen island, countertops, hardware and flooring. This will help you decide on what you will use for your backsplash that will complement the rest of your kitchen.

When we began considering options for our upcoming kitchen remodel; we laid everything out and began making selections based on our overall design goal.

kitchen design elements for a white and wood kitchen design

Kitchen Backsplash Budget

Backsplash options come in a wide range of prices; therefore, it’s important to consider your budget when considering your selection. Shop around to find your best price as you might be surprised what you can find and snag a good deal. Understanding your overall budget for your kitchen backsplash will help you decide if you have the budget for a marble slab, handmade tile or a basic subway tile.

Select a Kitchen Backsplash that is “Timeless”

While nothing is truly timeless, I do believe there are elements that are more timeless than others. By looking at historical design you can select elements that are considered to be more “timeless.” Subway tile is timeless and has been around a long time. Marble is also timeless; just look to Italian and French kitchens as well as monuments and statues that have been around for centuries.

Think long term – at least something that will work ten years from now. You want to pick a backsplash that you are going to be happy with for years to come as changing it isn’t easy nor cost-effective. Choose something you will be happy with for several years.

I know that we never plan on remodeling this kitchen again, so it was important that we chose a backsplash that would stand the test of time. My husband made the suggestion to use the marble slabs for the backsplash as well as the counters, and while I wasn’t initially on board I am so glad I listened to him. I LOVE the marble backsplash!

Tile can also be timeless too; just ensure you select something that is not on trend unless you plan on changing it out in the next few years.

marble kitchen backsplash and cutting boards with bowl of lemons and marble kitchen backsplash

Focal Point Kitchen Backsplash

Maybe you want your kitchen backsplash to be the focal point of the entire kitchen or just a portion; such as behind your stove. You will need to determine if you want your backsplash to blend in with the rest of the kitchen design or stand out. This is also a design decision.

I opted for the marble slab to flow with the countertop for a seamless look. This look can feel more modern, but paired with my cabinets, island and decor; the marble feels classic and timeless.

I love this kitchen by Jenna Sue Design and how the backsplash is such a gorgeous focal point. It’s not overdone but it is definitely an obvious design focus of this kitchen. Amazing!

soft green kitchen cabinets with wood ceilings and mosaic kitchen backsplash Jenna Sue Design
Provided by Jenna Sue Design

Coordinate Your Backsplash with the Countertops

No matter what type of backsplash you chose; you should ensure it coordinates with your countertops. Design is about how all elements go together or compliment one another. You want to chose a backsplash that compliments your countertops or else it will look cheap and unintentional.

Consider the overall style of your kitchen, including the color of your cabinets, countertops, and flooring. This will help you decide on the style and color of tile that will complement the rest of your kitchen.

Before you select your countertop; you should have gathered some backsplash samples to look at in your space. It will be hard to visualize how something will work without actually being able to hold it in your hands and see what works together. Do not select your countertop and backsplash in isolation; this is a joint effort.

When shopping for countertops; unless it is quartz, you don’t have the option to bring a sample home with you. While on the hunt for your countertop, bring samples of possible backsplash options with you and a cabinet door front to ensure that your cabinets, backsplash and countertop all work together.

If you already have a countertop chosen, purchase backsplash samples to try along with your countertop to ensure it coordinates. Careful not to just purchase something without considering how it flows with the kitchen countertops.

white kitchen with sink looking out over window with rug on floor and green plant on counter with tile backsplash

Kitchen Backsplash Options

Most people think that tile for a backsplash is the only option. With all the gorgeous tile options the possibilities are endless. However, there are other materials when it comes to kitchen backsplashes if you want to think outside the box. You can create gorgeous designs with tile, but let’s consider a few other ideas too.

Backsplash Options:

  • NATURAL STONE – Marble, Granite, Quartzite, Soapstone
  • TILE – subway, handmade, pattern, porcelain, ceramic, glass and more
  • BEADBOARD – budget friendly option you can paint to coordinate with your cabinets
  • BRICK – gives a rustic, industrial look
  • PRESSED TIN – budget friendly and diy, create the timeless look with pressed tin
  • STONE – just like tile; stone options are endless too
  • STAINLESS STEEL – provides a modern, industrial look and is also good for commercial kitchens

Tile Kitchen Backsplash Types

There are many types of tile that can be used for a kitchen backsplash as discussed including ceramic, natural stone, glass tile, or even opting for a slab of quartz or marble instead of traditional tiles. Each option has pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your needs and budget. A simple subway tile can run at only $.40 each, whereas more expensive tiles can be $30.00 a square foot.

Natural Stone Slab

Pro & Cons

  • Provides a seamless and luxurious look to the kitchen.
  • Popular choice in modern kitchens.
  • Durable and long-lasting with proper care.
  • Resistant to water and heat.
  • Expensive compared to other options.
  • Requires regular sealing.
  • Some types of stone are porous and can stain easily.
  • Requires professional installation.
  • Can be heavy and may require additional support.
white kitchen with wood island and runner rug on the floor and marble kitchen backsplash

Tile (Porcelain, Ceramic, Subway)

Pro & Cons

  • Can be affordable and available in a wide range of materials, colors and patterns.
  • Easy to clean and maintain.
  • Resistant to water and heat.
  • Can appear boring if not paired correctly or designed with detail.
  • Grout lines can stain over time and require regular cleaning.
wood cutting boards leaning against white subway backsplash in kitchen


Pro & Cons

  • Very durable and strong. Brick can take a lot of wear and tear.
  • No problem about contact with heat.
  • Unique and can give your home a one-of-a-kind feel. 
  • Affordable and available in a variety of colors.
  • Just like tile, it can be installed in different patterns.
  • Untreated brick is quite absorbent. It may soak in stains from liquids that splash against it.
  • Will need to have a coating of clear polyurethane sealant or it can eventually crumble over time.
  • Because of its rough texture and mortar, it can be difficult to clean.
brick kitchen backsplash behind kitchen stove with green cabinets
Provided by Tru Design Build


Pro & Cons

  • It’s inexpensive and easy to install! It can be cut to any length.
  • Great alternative to tile.
  • No grout lines to worry about it.
  • Easy to wipe clean.
  • Comes in a variety of different styles and widths.
  • Paint with a paint sprayer before installing to avoid brush marks.
  • Must be caulked well during installation or it could get water damage.
  • Use a moisture resistant beadboard.
white kitchen with island, stove and bead board kitchen backsplash
Provided by Grit and Polish

How to Decide on a Grout Color

Grout color is a personal choice and design decision. Often the tile can dictate the grout color; however, you are ultimately the one to decide.

If you are using a tile backsplash, match your tile to a few suitable grout colors and begin to narrow it down from there. Begin by looking at the colors in the tile itself to help dictate what grout colors will work best. If you’re dealing with a plain white tile, you can choose whatever grout color you want.

When we remodeled our previous kitchen, subway tile was still all the rage, everyone told me to choose a medium gray grout for easy cleaning and so the grout and subway tile would stand out.This was not the look I was going for; modern farmhouse was how it felt to me. I wanted the tile and grout to rather blend so I chose a lighter grout and I was happy I did.

copper goblets on wood tray

Best Grout Line Size for a Tile Backsplash?

What look are you trying to achieve? Start with that question first!

Larger backsplash grout lines are generally considered dated. Smaller grout lines help tile blend more seamlessly and require less cleaning. The recommendation is 1/16th inch and is what most people want for their backsplash, but some chose a 1/8th inch size for just slightly larger look. All of this is preference, but there are usually industry standards.

Kitchen Backsplash Maintenance

Everything has some sort of required maintenance; just some materials more than others. While I think considering your budget is important, it’s also key to consider the possible maintenance of the backsplash you want.

Natural stone, whether slab or tile, is going to require some type of regular sealing. While ceramic tile is going to be easier to maintain. Something to consider.

Don’t Forget to Consider Your Flooring

When you are designing anything, it is important to take into consideration all the “hard” elements that will be in a room such as cabinets, backsplash, countertop, windows, flow of the space, lighting, paint color and flooring. It all plays a role in the overall design. While we often overlook the flooring, it is important to consider for the overall flow so the room doesn’t look disjointed.

round wood table in kitchen with white cabinets and tile backsplash.

How Much Backsplash do I Need?

If you are installing the tile yourself, or purchasing the product instead of your contractor, you will need to have the right amount of tile, brick or beadboard.

Measure the width and height of the area where you want to install your backsplash. Multiply the width by the height to get the square footage, then add 10% to account for extra. If you have extra in the end you can save some, just in case, or return it to the store. Most stores will take back any extra tile; even down to the piece.

A fabricator will do all the measuring if installing a slab backsplash.

Why I Chose a Marble Slab Kitchen Backsplash

A marble slab backsplash was not even up for consideration. I was looking at a more basic subway tile backsplash and the popular Zellige tile. I was really leaning toward the Zellige tile, but the cost per tile was high and, because of where we live, the installation had me concerned. I highly considered this option and even gathered several samples.

While I think white subway tile is timeless and inexpensive and the Zellige tile, with its natural variations, are both amazing choices; neither really spoke to me. In our previous home I had a “handmade” white subway tile that I loved, but I wanted something different in this kitchen.

My husband recommended marble and I was like….”a marble backsplash…gorgeous but no!” Then, while selecting a marble countertop slab the sales girl stated, “backsplash tile styles come and go so often, but marble is always there.”

She sold me…and of course my husband really gets the credit because he wanted the marble slab from the beginning. Marble is considerably more expensive than tile, but marble has been around for centuries and still looks beautiful with all its variations. It’s also very durable, especially when sealed properly.

After I calculated the cost of the Zellige Tile, grout, installation, etc.; in the end the marble slab didn’t really cost us more than having a higher end tile installed. The marble fabricator just did all of it at one time and it was sealed and done. Now, cost will be determined by the marble slab you chose, so this is not always the case.

white kitchen with wood island and runner rug on the floor

Final Thoughts on Kitchen Backsplash

If you are beginning to plan a kitchen remodel, or you are wanting to update your backsplash; I trust these kitchen backsplash ideas have been helpful.

Many ideas you can do yourself, are cost friendly and will update a space with ease. If you are considering a full kitchen remodel I highly recommend a marble slab backsplash if it’s in your budget.

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