Bathroom Backsplash: Basics, Pictures, and Dimensions

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    Bathroom Using Tile Wall as Backsplash
    Bathroom Using Tile Wall as Backsplash. Peter Mukherjee / Getty Images

    While in a kitchen, a backsplash behind the countertop, stove and sink is a rather standard feature, in a bathroom design considerations are a little different.

    In a bathroom, the function may be partially practical, but the appeal is mainly aesthetic, leading to different ways of treating the space above the vanity sink or bathtub.

    Even though you need little more than a 2" simple tile backsplash behind a bathroom vanity sink and countertop, it can be fun to experiment with backsplashes that extend higher up the wall or even the entire surface,  and which employ more attractive materials--tempered glass, ceramic mosaic, glass mosaic, stone, and more.

    Standard Materials

    • Ceramic Tile:  Tile has long been used as a material for bathroom backsplashes or backsplash walls. The very least you need is a standard 4" tile installed with cut-side down.  When that cut side is caulked, the cut is not noticeable.  You can add 2" tiles as a border to the top, if you wish.
    • Wall Backsplash:   It is common to see an entire wall behind the vanity sink or bathtub become a full ceramic tile accent wall. In effect, the wall is the backsplash.  This offers practical advantages, since tile is easier to clean than a wall made of painted drywall.
    • Matching Countertop Materials:  Laminate, solid-surface, quartz materials, or natural stone are also used as backsplashes. Chances are good that the installation company will offer to install a backsplash of the same materials. 

    Planning and Dimensions

    Before you jump in with that mosaic bathroom backsplash, consider where you will stop it. Horizontally, the adjoining side walls are a natural stopping point.

    Vertically, you will need to purchase a material specifically designed as a stopping point. With tile, for example, the top will need to be bullnose tile, a border, listello, etc.

    The other option, of course, is to go all the way to the ceiling, or to tile the entire wall.​

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    Warm and Inviting Tumbled Stone

    Bathroom Backsplash
    Tumbled Stone Bathroom Backsplash from American Olean. © American Olean

    One danger of tile bathroom backsplashes: sterility and starkness. No such problem when you use natural stone, especially tumbled stone. Tumbled stone is just as it sounds: it is machine-tumbled until the sharp edges and corners are smoothed down.

    • American Olean Asteca Series
    • 4 x 4 field tile
    • 2 x 12" chair rail
    • 1 x 1 mosaic
    • Azteca/Mocha 1 1/4" x 12 1/4" cane accent
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    Aztec Flavoring

    Bathroom Backsplash
    © American Olean

    Here is a bathroom backsplash with authentic pizazz. Why go level and boring when you can ramp up the excitement by turning your design 45 degrees with these exciting diagonals?

    You're looking at three layers here. The diagonals are a cohesive 4" x 12" strip, sandwiched between two rows of 2" x 2" tiles called Tiger's Eye Dots.

    • American Olean Azeteca Series
    • Azteca Designer Elegance Opalscence Accent
    • Opalescence Tiger's Eye dots
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    Mosaic Bathroom Backsplash

    Bathroom Backsplash Mosaic
    Marazzi. © Marazzi

    Mosaic tile works well for bathroom backsplashes: malleable, easy to cut, attractive. This bathroom backsplash idea is more mosaic-wall-with-counter-attached than a true counter with a backsplash.

    • Marazzi tile
    • Marazzi glass mosaic tiles
    • Opalie Marfil and Beige.
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    Bathroom Backsplash or Just a Wall?

    Bathroom Backsplash for Pedestal Sink
    Bathroom Backsplash for Pedestal Sink?. © American Olean

    Question for you. If you've got a pedestal sink, do you need a backsplash? Anwer: entirely optional.

    All pedestal sinks have some type of dam designed to prevent water from spilling over the back. Some pedestal sinks, like the one pictured, have a quite substantial backer that obviates the need for a wall backsplash.

    So, is this 3" by 6" white subway tile with border at top truly a bathroom backsplash? Or is it just a wall? Only you can decide.

    • American Olean.
    • Ice White 3" x 6" tile.
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    Countertop Extension of Porcelain Tile

    Green Tinted Stone Look Bathroom Backsplash
    © Florim USA

    Florim USA's Bengali Verde forms the majority of this bathroom's surfaces: counter, wall, floor, and of course, backsplash. It's another prime example of wall-as-backsplash, where the two are indistinguishable.

    This is an all-purpose collection that includes a range of sizes, from 2" x 2" mosaic up to 18" squares. Even the border around the mirror is from the same collection. This type of border can be used both on the wall or floor.

    Florim USA is a budget-friendly tile brand, and Bengali Verde itself--with prices ranging between $2 to $3 per square foot--is perfect for homeowners looking for less expensive offerings from that manufacturer.

    • Bengali Verde tile from Florim USA
    • 2 x 2 mosaic
    • 18" squares
    • 1 x 2 1/4" border tiles
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    Porcelain Bathroom Backsplash That Looks Like Tumbled Stone

    The Look of Tumbled Stone for this Bathroom Backsplash
    © Florim USA

    If you like the look of stone but don't fancy maintaining stone, check out the many through-body porcelain tiles that look like stone but aren't.

    This tile is called Timbers, from Florim USA's Cumberland Plateau series. You're looking at 3" x 3" squares with faux chipped edges--to complete that stone appearance. For ease of installation, these squares come mounted 16 to the sheet with mesh backer. Lay one sheet and you've instantly laid 16 squares. This type of mosaic is a great time saver with vertical applications because the tiles are kept separate by the backing--fewer plastic spacers are needed.

    • Cumberland Plateau Series from Florim USA
    • 3" x 3" Timbers tile
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    Easygoing Mosaic With Surprise Elements

    Glitz Metal Leaf Pewter Tile Bathroom Sink Backsplash
    © Florim USA

    Hard to see from this distance, but Florim USA's Glitz Metal Leaf Pewter Tile, mounted as a wall/backsplash in this bathroom, from a distance it looks like many of the myriad earth-toned mosaics out there. But upon closer examination, you'll see that every third tessera is glinty, glitzy (thus the name) and shimmering with gold.

    • Glitz Metal Leaf Pewter tile from Florim USA
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    Large Format Stone?

    Florim USA Petrolio Jewel Bathroom Sink Backplash
    © Florim USA

    Stone or not? One would think so by looking at it. Even standing right at the sink, this backsplash looks miraculously like stone.

    You're actually looking at sheets of porcelain tile. The hi-definition graphics possible in higher-end porcelains make them look just like natural stone.

    11.54 x 23.19" Petrolio Jewel Tile from Florim USA

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    Prairie-Style Influences in Glass Tiles

    Florim Tygers Eye Glass Bathroom Backsplash
    © Florim USA

    Even though the manufacturer does not label it as such, I see definite Prairie Style influences on this bathroom backsplash, with the long horizontals and three variations of brown and tan.

    You're looking at sheets of individual glass tiles bound with mesh backing. 

    • Gems collection from Florim USA
    • 11.81 x 12.68" Gems Tiger's Eyes tile. 
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    Brilliant Gold Glass Tile

    California Gold Blend Bathroom Sink Backsplash from Florim
    © Florim USA

    You're sure to capture the attention of guests and residents alike when you install this glass tile as your bathroom backsplash, with its bold horizontal slashes of gold, hints of green, and shadows of icy-rock. Glass tiles provide one of the easiest-to-clean tile surfaces, and the transluscence positively glows with light. 

    • California Gold Blend series from Florim USA
    • 12 x 12 mesh-backed sheets
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    Pinwheel Pattern

    glitzy pinwheel pattern bathroom backsplash
    © Florim USA

    No complicated installation for this bathroom backsplash tile: it's already laid out for you in mesh-bound sheets. The pattern is called pinwheel. It provides both complex visual interest and a soothing blend of background color in shades of green and muted gold. 

    • Glitz Pinwheel Tortoise from Florim USA
    • 12" x 12" mosaic sheets