5 Design & Planning Tips for a Beautiful Kitchen Backsplash

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If you are designing a new home, or at that phase in home ownership where it is time to makeover a few details, one of the easiest things to incorporate into your home design is a kitchen backsplash. Adding a backsplash to your kitchen is a great way to add color and personality to a room, create a balance between different design elements, and create an interesting focal point within the room. Use our helpful tips and design ideas to plan for a new backsplash in your space.

1. Layout

What kind of kitchen layout do you have? U-shape? L-Shape? Enclosed? Or Open Concept? Your backsplash design will be determined based on your kitchen layout and where your appliances are installed.

Once you understand your layout, you determine where you want to install your new backsplash. You can create a decorative accent wall, or only install it above your stove.

Three different kitchen backsplashes: tile, pattern, and colored glass
Left: Traditional kitchen by Philadelphia General Contractors Buckminster Green LLC. Middle: Contemporary kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers 450 Architects, Inc.. Right: Midcentury kitchen by South West Architects & Building Designers DHV Architects

Keep in mind, your backsplash doesn’t have to go all the way up the wall. This kitchen has a 6×6 tile backsplash above the countertop, accented by simple white walls. A shorter backsplash is a great, budget-friendly way, to update your kitchen.

If you have other architectural details in the space, like the shelves in this Bristol, UK home, install the backsplash in tandem with that layout. This colored glass backsplash fits perfectly between the shelf and countertops.

By deciding on your layout early on, you can more easily plan for material requirements as well.

2. Measurements & Material Requirements

Tin kitchen backsplash
Traditional kitchen by Santa Barbara Interior Designers & Decorators Jessica Risko Smith Interior Design

Installing a kitchen backsplash can be a relatively quick and easy process, so you want to make sure you have the appropriate amount of material on site when the time comes. Be sure to take your measurements and add at least 10-15% as a cutting allowance, depending on the kind of design you have decided upon. Make sure you also incorporate material for any special patterns, nosing, and border material you want to use in the design. Your installer should be able to help you identify the amount of material you need so be sure to use him or her as a resource.

If you are a DIY-er, in addition to the tile you want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies, just a few include:

  • Ditra
  • Mortar
  • Grout: there are tons of different colors so be sure to coordinate it with your tile, for the desired look
  • Relevant Installation supplies

For a complete list of materials and tools, and step by step instructions check out this article from HGTV.com.

3. Designs Considerations

Similar to understanding the layout of your kitchen, you need to understand the overall style and design of your kitchen.

Do you have a style, and is it one you want to maintain? You can use your backsplash to give your room a more modern or rustic touch. Consider whether your home or kitchen, has a particular theme? For example, if you like the outdoors, flowers, plants, the beach…you might consider installing a pattern, inlay or painted tiles that speak to that.

2 pattern kitchen backsplashes
Left: Contemporary kitchen by Austin Kitchen & Bath Remodelers Capitol Design, LLC. Right: Traditional kitchen by Seattle Tile, Stone & Countertops Norberry Tile & Plumbing Studio.

There are many other design elements in your home that you must consider into your backsplash design. This includes your kitchen cabinets, wood floors, countertop, wall covering and the color and type of material you will be using for each. This contemporary kitchen from Capital Design features dark wood flooring coupled with white and gray on the cabinets, countertops, and backsplash — it’s a perfect balance of color.

4. Pros & Cons

Each type of material you could use for your backsplash has its own pros and cons. Here are a few to consider.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles tend to be the least expensive, extremely versatile, and durable. It is also easy to clean. As this tile is made of a mixture of clay, minerals, and water the tiles will have an endless array of variation so don’t expect it to be monochromatic, or predictable, by any means.

2 tile kitchen backsplashes
Left: Over the stove accent in a contemporary kitchen. Right: Eclectic kitchen by New York Architects & Building Designers Incorporated
Granite kitchen backsplash in a modern pattern
Boho contemporary kitchen by Melrose Interior Designers & Decorators Justine Sterling Design

Glass tile tends to be almost double the price, but the look is spectacular. They are perfect for more modern spaces, kitchens that demand a lot more color, or if you desire a customer, mosaic design. Glass tile can have more color consistency, and therefore a more predictable overall look. Depending on the color of the glass the adhesive underneath may also be visible so you want to consider that in the overall design. Your installer could make a mock up for you so you know what it will look like before you begin.

If you are installing granite countertops you can also continue the granite all the way up the backsplash. This creates a nice seamless look. Like glass, granite will be more expensive. Like ceramic and porcelain tiles, however, granite is a natural product and will have unexpected variation so don’t expect there to be 100% consistent look.

Other materials for your backsplash include wood flooring, especially antique barn wood or beadboard (you’ll see examples of this later in the post). For something a little different try tin or copper. With all of these materials make sure they are sealed in such a way, that they are easy to clean. For the serious chef, you may want to consider stainless steel — it is simple and easy to clean.

Kitchen backsplash inspiration: copper, stainless steel and pattern tile
Right: Copper backsplash in a  Victorian kitchen by Miami Kitchen & Bath Fixtures Officine Gullo USA. Top Left: Stainless steel backsplash in a farmhouse kitchen by Other Metro Photographers Adrienne DeRosa. Bottom Right: Asymmetrical tile backsplash in a modern kitchen by Stoddard Carpet & Flooring Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

5. Inspiration

You considered your layout, you took measurements…now comes the fun part — picking out your tile! We’ll show you a few great photos to give you some design ideas.

Kitchen backsplash inspiration: tile
Left: Over the stove inlay in a  traditional kitchen by Ocean City Interior Designers & Decorators Beach Transformations. Right: Subway Tiles in a rustic kitchen by Claremont Cabinets & Cabinetry Crown Point Cabinetry
Kitchen backsplash inspiration: bright colors
Left: Colored glass in a contemporary kitchen by Melbourne Kitchen Designers & Remodelers Let’s Talk Kitchens with Allan Aitken. Right: Mosaic tile in a contemporary kitchen by Atlanta Interior Designers & Decorators New Mood Design LLC.

Wood Backsplash

There are many ways to use wood for your backsplash from rustic antique flooring to pine paneling, or why not match your backsplash to your wood floors for a very cohesive look.

Kitchen backsplash inspiration: wood
Top Left: Rustic home bar by Minneapolis Kitchen & Bath Designers The Cabinet Store. Bottom Left: Contemporary kitchen by Portland Design-Build Firms Encircle Design and Build. Right: Traditional kitchen by Boston Kitchen & Bath Designers Venegas and Company

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As with every project, proper planning will help you save money, get the best design, and a timeless look that you can enjoy for years to come. If you are not a DIY-er be sure to access your professionals for design and installation services, and book early as their schedules fill up quickly.
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