7 Ways to Choose the Right Kitchen Backsplash

right kitchen backsplash kitchen cabinets with solid blue backsplash tiles

The right kitchen backsplash blends into your kitchen or makes it stand out—and both options are right! So how do you choose the backsplash that’s perfect for your space?

Before exploring how to choose the right kitchen backsplash, it’s important to know the options. Kitchen backsplash typically is available in these options:

  • Solid Stone
  • Mosaics
  • Subway Tile
  • Glass Tile
  • Stone Tile

With so many different options for a kitchen backsplash, it can be hard to choose the right kitchen backsplash (or combination of them). Here are five things to consider when sorting through the options.

mosaic tile backsplash over stove in kitchen

Pattern vs. Solid Color

A backsplash can be a standout feature of a kitchen or a coordinated feature that blends with counters and cabinets. The right option for a kitchen depends on where the homeowner wants to make a statement. If too many parts of a kitchen stand out, it can look like too many design elements are fighting with each other.

For those who do want to make a statement via their backsplash, there are many backsplash options. A bright-colored tile stands out from neutral cabinets and countertops. Tiles with patterns or mosaics coordinate with other design elements while standing out.

Fortunately, there are also neutral tiles that create a show-stopping neutral effect. Neutral tiles that “match” with kitchen cabinets and countertops make a room feel larger and airy. Backsplash options, like a stone slab, blend into the room while adding an upscale touch.

Stone or Tile

Homeowners can typically choose between stone or tile, or a combination of both. A stone slab creates an upscale and cohesive look (though it is typically one of the most expensive backsplash options). Stone is also available in a tiled look, such as a stone mosaic or subway tile that looks like marble.

In some kitchens, the right answer is a combination of stone and tile. This look can be achieved with an inset of tile or stone over the stone or a statement wall over the sink or stove (or both).

Tile Installation Options

In addition to deciding between stone and tile, and between a pattern or solid color, homeowners should also decide on tile installation options. While a stone slab is typically installed horizontally, tile (glass, mosaic, or stone tile) can be installed in a herringbone pattern, or diagonally or vertically for a unique look. Vertically installed tile makes a kitchen appear taller and adds depth and height to a room. A herringbone pattern adds an upscale touch, though it is harder to install. (Contact an experienced local tile installer for more complicated patterns and installs.) For a more traditional look, homeowners should consider a classic horizontal tile installation.

Same or Mix and Match

Homeowners can choose the same tile for a strong, cohesive look or a combination of tiles for a unique statement. The combination of tiles can be mixed by adding an inset above the stove or sink, installing a combination of tiles in a pattern, or putting a different tile on an entire feature wall. The latter effect can also be achieved by installing a statement tile behind the stove and sink, and choosing a more neutral tile for the rest of the backsplash.

Right Grout

Even grout is part of the backsplash design. A contrasting grout can make a statement, such as a dark grout with a light and bright subway tile. For a more neutral and seamless look, homeowners should select a grout that is similar to the color of the kitchen backsplash tile. Homeowners should ask their local tile professional to recommend the right color grout or show different options when selecting the right kitchen backsplash.

Maintenance

Homeowners should also consider the cleaning and maintenance needs of the tile. A stone slab is easy-to-clean because there are no grout lines, but some kinds of stone may be porous. (Ask a local tile professional about a durable stone backsplash.) If there is a high risk of spills, homeowners can also opt for darker-colored tile and grout which hides the mess better.

kitchen backsplash tile design with clear tile

Budget

Some backsplash tiles and stone are more budget-friendly, such as ceramic tile. Most stone backsplashes tend to cost more, but there are many ceramic tile styles that imitate stone without imitating the high price tag. Homeowners can also “mix and match” inexpensive and more expensive tiles to make the project more affordable. For example, an expensive glass tile can be paired with an inexpensive subway tile for a budget-friendly, striking effect. More expensive kitchen backsplash tile and stone can also be installed in a small inset, on a feature wall, or behind the sink and stove, while inexpensive tiles are installed throughout the rest of the kitchen.