30 Amazing Design Ideas for a Kitchen Backsplash

Charlotte Granite Kitchens
granite-charlotte/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
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    Introduction

     The days when a kitchen backsplash was simply a continuation of whatever surface was on the countertop are long gone. And a simple painted wall as a backsplash? Forget it. Today, the backsplash is regarded as a key design element in a kitchen, and a great deal of thought and planning go into the choice of materials and the design of the surface. 

    Traditional ceramic tile certainly still has its place--especially when it is stylishly planned with striking colors. But in today's kitchens, a...MORE large variety of non-traditional tiles are also possible, ranging from natural stones to glass and metal tiles. 

    Have a look at these thirty great ideas for a kitchen backsplash that makes a design statement. 

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    4" x 4" White Tile Set Diagonally

    Charlotte Granite Kitchens
    granite-charlotte/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    When you're talking kitchen backsplash ideas, it doesn't get much more simple and easy than this. You can introduce a nice crisp, clean, and traditional style to your kitchen for bargain prices with this great design.

    How It's Done

    Run 4"x4" white tiles four rows high along the back wall of your countertop. These 4"x4" tiles are the true workhorse of the tile world, usable in bathrooms and floors as well as kitchens 

    But too many of these "four by" white tiles is...MORE too much of a good thing. With no accents, you risk having a kitchen backsplash that looks like a men's locker room. In this case, we have added a sixteen-inch offset of 1 1/4" black tiles as an accent.

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    Tile Medallions

    Kitchen Backsplash Behind Stove
    Kitchen Backsplash with Tile Medallion Over Stove. Photo ©/Courtesy of Steve Cole / Getty Images

    Now, this is one kitchen backsplash idea that goes way beyond the basic concept of "splash."

    Backsplashes can run the entire length of the counter, as well as just the area behind the sink. In this case, a rich Tuscan look is achieved with cream tiles offset by a tile centerpiece or medallion. This medallion was built from scratch by the tile-setters, highlighted by setting it within a field of tiles set diagonally to distinguish them from the surrounding tiles.

    How It's Done

    Not...MORE interested in building your own tile medallion? You can also buy ready-made tile medallions that can be mortared into place, saving you the considerable work of creating such a complex tile design.  Kitchen designers recommend that tile medallions highlight some major feature of the kitchen--in this case, the stove.

     

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  • 04 of 31

    Tiny Subway Tiles

    subway tile kitchen backsplash
    Subway Tile Backsplash. Photo ©/Courtesy of Steven Miric / Getty Images

    You're looking at tiles that are individually 1" high and  2" wide, giving your kitchen backsplash more visual "length." They are also something of a conversation piece since subway tile layouts typically use much larger tiles.

    How It's Done

    These 1"x 2" tiles come in 12" sheets attached to a mesh backing for easy installation. This makes for an easy installation that looks like it took hours of work. To finish off the bottom and prevent water intrusion, this...MORE homeowner has installed a 3" marble border.

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    Bold Purple and Pink

    bold colors for backsplash
    Brilliant, Colorful Kitchen Backsplash. Photo © and Courtesy of Jean Maurice / Getty Images

    Here's a bold idea:  install 6" tiles in multiple colors. This homeowner has a contemporary IKEA ​kitchen cabinet design, so she chose to install purple and pink tiles in vertical columns.

    How It's Done

    The actual Installation is just like installing any ceramic tiles--easier, in fact, because you are dealing with bigger tiles and thus have less grouting to contend with. The challenge here is in choosing the right colors and arranging them in a pleasing way. Some preliminary sketching...MORE is a good idea when you are thinking outside the box like this. 

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    Glass Mosaic

    Glass Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash
    Glass Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash. Photo © Daltile

    For a remarkably sophisticated look, this is a seriously easy kitchen backsplash design. This example shows Daltile's Egyptian Glass Series, Mediterranean Blue. In the field, each tile is 1" x 1", but don't worry: these come pre-mounted on mesh backings that are 1 ft. square 

    How It's Done

    Measure the width and height of your backsplash area. Don't omit any cut-outs (i.e., electrical outlets) unless they are more than a few feet square. Then install the mosaic sheets as you...MORE would any ceramic tile. 

    The accent that really gives this kitchen backsplash some character is the 6" offset composed of Daltile Cristallo Glass Peridot Torello, made from 12"  mesh squares cut in half.  

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    Copper Slate Tiles

    Kitchen Backsplash Idea - Daltile Copper Slate
    Daltile Copper Slate. Photo © Daltile

    The 4" x 4" real stone tile comes from Daltile, and it's called Copper Tumbled Slate. The "tumbled" part means that the edges and corners are rounded off. The surface of this tile has a rough, pitted appearance--very attractive for some kitchen styles.

    How It's Done

    Part of the charm here is in the alcove-like setting of this backsplash. This is actually a constructed offset--a simple structure of dimensional lumber, ​drywall, and shelf purchased from a home improvement...MORE store. It can be built in a couple of weekends for the ambitious DIY homeowner.

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    Metal Ceiling Tiles

    Stainless Steel Backsplash
    Stainless Steel Backsplash from American Tin Ceilings. Photo © of American Tin Ceilings

    Even easier than the tile installations already described is this: a metal kitchen backsplash. Normally, stainless steel is not something a DIYer wants to handle--it's hard to cut, hard to fabricate. 

    How It's Done

    But this version is fabricated with ordinary metal ceiling tiles and applied with construction glue straight to the wall behind the counter. It's a super-clean installation technique that doesn't use a messy thinset mortar. 

    American Tin Ceilings has an excellent...MORE installation guide, and they recommend patterns of 6" or less--which is a good idea with any kind of kitchen backsplash.

     

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    Indian Slate

    Stone Kitchen Backsplash
    Stone Kitchen Backsplash. Photo © Merola

    This is stone tile backsplash from Merola, featuring 4" square Indian slate tile.

    How It's Done

    Slate or any other stone tile requires special cutting tools to shape--normally a wet saw--but is applied to the wall with the same kind of thin-set adhesives as regular ceramic tiles. Slate is a fairly porous stone, though, and in a location such as a backsplash it must be sealed against stains. Check with your tile source for recommendations on how to seal the stone. 

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    Harlequin Tile Design

    Kitchen Tile Backsplash
    Kitchen Tile Backsplash from American Olean. Photo © of American Olean

    This bold design is from American Olean. The main feature of this backsplash is a pair of coordinated harlequin (diamond-shaped) tiles, called Mink and Smoky Sky. Each tile is 6" vertical and 3" horizontal. The bottom border is Sylvan Accent Strip Rattan, 4" x 8".

    Harlequin is a lively tile pattern that requires some forethought to avoid making it feel too busy. Muted colors like the ones featured here (as opposed to stark black and white) are a good way to go about that.

    How It'...MORE;s Done

    In application, this design is applied like any other ceramic tile. Layout is the most critical task, along with a lot of cutting of tiles--not the row of half tiles that begin the layout. 

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    Classic Subway Tiles

    Subway Tile
    Subway Tile. Photo © of SomerTile

    If you've ever waited in the fetid heat or bone-chilling cold of a New York subway station, you've probably viewed classic subway tile. But subway tile, removed from the subway itself, can be a great design look. Your basic subway tile is 3" x 6" or 2" x 6" and is white, although variations abound. With white grout, subway tile is a clean and crisp kitchen backsplash idea that complements modern or traditional home styles.

    Grouted in gray or black, subway tile no longer...MORE recedes into the background: it pops forward and announces itself, although some homeowners find that black grout creates a look that is too grid-like.

    How It's Done

    A standard ceramic tile installation, but take care to keep the staggered joints carefully aligned. Perfect geometry is critical to the look here. 

     

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    Glass 4" Tiles

    Kitchen Backsplash
    Kitchen Backsplash from American Olean. Photo © American Olean

    From a distance, this kitchen backsplash looks like regular ceramic tile of three different colors. But on closer examination, you can see that we're actually dealing with a glass tile backsplash made of 4 1/4" tile. The advantage? Glass tile catches light like no other tile, practically glowing under indirect lighting.  

    How It's Done

    If you're uncomfortable cutting glass tile, then have a tile installer do the job. Other than the cutting, it's a fairly straight-forward backsplash installation.

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    Glass Mosaic Combined with Stone Tiles

    Glass Mosaic Backsplash
    Photo © American Olean

    This backsplash consists of 4" stone tiles in two rows along the bottom, with glass mosaic sheets filling in the field behind the range hood. The glass surface is American Olean Legacy Glass Green Blend 1" x 1". One advantage of glass tiles is the ease with which grease and spaghetti sauce splatter can be cleaned away.

    How It's Done

    Generally, mosaic tiles aren't a great choice to position right behind a stove, since they have many grout lines. So if you do this, make sure to...MORE keep the grout very well sealed to avoid discoloration. Using a dark grout can also help. 

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    Ceramic "Travertine Look" Tiles

    Ceramic Travertine Tile
    Photo © American Olean

    We have seen some downright startling kitchen backsplash designs in this overview, but here's something that is sure to help you relax. Sandy Ridge: what could be more calming?

    • Sandy Ridge in Sage 6" x 6" wall field tile
    • Sage Travertine 4" x 12"
    • Natural stone accent strip and chair rail

    Compare Prices: American Olean Sandy Ridge Series Tile

    How It's Done

    This backsplash is simple to install. It's a row of 6" x 6" adjoining the kitchen counter, with an accent strip...MORE of 4" x 12" on top, then, another row of 6" x 6" tiles on top of that.

    That top row will need some cutting, but with a wet tile saw, it's a cinch. Even the ragged edges produced by a snap tile cutter should be (mostly) hidden because these edges will be tucked away against the bottom of the cabinets.

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    Urban Gray Stone Tiles

    Kitchen Backsplashes
    Kitchen Backsplash: Sahara Grigio Tile By Marazzi. Photo © Maracci

    This is a gray mosaic tile from Marazzi. Although it looks like natural stone, it is actually a through-body (not glazed) porcelain tile. Unlike stone, which requires sealing and may get stained as a backsplash material, porcelain is the ideal backsplash material.

    How It's Done

    This product is called Sahara Grigio; the sheets are 12" by 24" for quick installation. The sheets apply with standard thin-set adhesive like any tile product. 

     

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    Diagonal Mexican-Style Tile

    Kitchen Backsplash - Marazzi Saguaro
    Kitchen Backsplash - Marazzi Saguaro. Photo © Marazzi

    This warm friendly tile backsplash adds conviviality to any kitchen. A glazed porcelain stoneware, the Saguaro 6" by 6" tiles shown here are set at a diagonal, interspersed with ocotillo decorative tiles.

    How It's Done

    Begin with the bottom border and work up. Not a difficult installation, but will require a fair amount of cutting. Clear layout lines drawn on the wall will help keep your installation precise. 

     

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    Full-Wall Glass Mosaic Tiles

    Glass Mosaic Tile Backsplash
    Glass Mosaic Tile Backsplash. Photo © Marazzi

    You see this all over.  It's popular.  It's worldwide.

    But you cannot argue with success:  from Marazzi, Olive Oxfords--a glass, mesh-mounted mosaic tile backsplash. Glass is the ideal backsplash material. It easily cleans to a shimmering surface, and the color never fades.

    How It's Done

    Mosaic tiles make for perfect DIY installation, as the sheets install quickly and it is very easy to keep seams aligned. The sheets are easily cut to fit small areas or obstacles. 

     

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    Glass and Stone Mosaic

    Glass Stone Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash
    Glass Stone Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash. Photo © Marazzi

    Stone or glass?  Why should you have to make a decision, when you can have both?

    Combined here are glass and stone materials fused to mosaic tile mesh sheets. These are 12" by 12" sheets from Marazzi called Crystal, and this color is called Ivory.

    How It's Done

    Just as any other mosaic tile sheets. Consult your tile supplier for advice on the proper adhesives and sealants. While most glass tiles don't require sealing, the presence of natural stone here means that some kind of...MORE sealing will be necessary. 

     

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    Wood-Look Porcelain Tiles

    Wood-Look Porcelain Kitchen Tile Backsplash
    Wood-Look Porcelain Kitchen Tile Backsplash. Photo © Marazzi

    From Marazzi, this kitchen tile backsplash looks like wood but it's really a solid-body porcelain called Oak. Riflessi di Legno is a series of tiles with a wood-grain appearance. In addition to Oak, you will also find Ash, Cherry, Ebony, and Walnut. 

    How It's Done

    These are mosaic sheets and are installed in traditional fashion. 

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    Full-Wall Glass Tiles

    Glass Kitchen Backsplash Behind Stove
    © Florim USA

    This is an example of wall-as-backsplash. The entire kitchen wall is laid with Florim USA's Moonstone--part of its Gems collection--above the counters and even behind the stove.

    These are fairly muted, neutral colors--it's called Smoky Quartz--but the tile is far from boring. It's not obvious from this small photo, but this tile is made of glass. So even the most neutral colors sparkle and shimmer when light hits these tiles a certain way.

    How It's Done

    When this kind of look is...MORE done with individual tiles, it's a labor-intensive installation that might be best left to a professional installer. DIYers may want to limit their attempts to products available in sheets. 

     

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    Horizontal Tiles Turned Vertical

    Hampton Dunes Kitchen Backsplash from Florim USA
    © Florim USA

    Want to shake up ordinary backsplash installations? Instead of mounting the tiles horizontally, flip them 90 degrees for a vertical installation. Few installations are as striking as this look. 

    These come from Florim USA's Iced Rocks Hampton Dunes Blend series.

    How It's Done

    No problem. Just like a horizontal tile installation....but vertical.

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    Designer Mosaic

    Blue and Green Flower Pattern Kitchen Backsplash Tile
    Blue and Green Flower Pattern Kitchen Backsplash Tile. © Ann Sacks

    Why should your backsplash be a mousy shrinking violet?  How about a bold chrysanthemum instead?  

    This backsplash tile from Ann Sacks positively refuses to be ignored:  a Beau Monde glass mosaic in quartz, peridot, and jade. Peridot is a gem often called "the evening emerald by ancient Romans, who noticed that peridot's green color shone even more vividly in lamplight," according to our Jewelry Expert.

    How It's Done

    This is an expensive product that you can't afford to make...MORE mistakes with. It's best to hire an installer if you are already spending thousands on the materials. 

     

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    Continuous Mosaic Tile

    Azure Continuous Flower Pattern Kitchen Backsplash
    Azure Continuous Flower Pattern Kitchen Backsplash. © Ann Sacks

    Almost all tile installations use a repeated pattern, but for a truly gorgeous look, you might consider a continuous tile mosaic.  In the true sense of mosaic, individual sheets of tile join in a prescribed order to form an overall large picture.

    This is Ann Sacks' Azure Birch mosaic.

    How It's Done

    A tricky installation that should be attempted by only the most intrepid DIYer. A very expensive product that might be best left to an installation professional. 

     

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    Oval Ceramic Tiles

    Unique Oval Pattern Ceramic Backsplash For Retro-Modern Kitchen
    Unique Oval Pattern Ceramic Backsplash For Retro-Modern Kitchen. © Ann Sacks

    Supplementing the clean Sixties-era-yet-modern flair in this kitchen are two interlocking tiles from Ann Sacks.  Both are from the Gotham series and they give the kitchen a distinctly Googie feeling:

    • First, a 2" x 5" oval tile in alternating shades of green-blue tile.
    • Second, a starburst tile called Gotham Oval Star ( 2" x 3.75") that fits between those ovals.  You can see how it works in the magnified excerpt shown at top right. Without this complementing star, you would have...MORE large spaces between the ovals that would otherwise need to be filled with grout.

    How It's Done

    This kind of tile installation is very time-consuming for DIYers and professionals alike, so the payback is great if you can do the work yourself. The real challenge here is taking your time and getting the layout very precise. 

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    Surf-Colored Subway Tiles, Straight-Lay

    Surf-Colored Green Glass Kitchen Backsplash Subway Tile
    Surf-Colored Green Glass Kitchen Backsplash Subway Tile. © Modwalls

    These large subway tiles are arranged in a straight-lay pattern rather than the standard running-bond pattern usually used for subway tiles. 

    This 4" x 12" glass subway-sized tile is from ModWalls from its Lush series of glass tile.

    How It's Done

    This is a standard ceramic tile installation, with the only challenge being keeping the lines straight. With large tiles like this, layout is critical, because you want to avoid having to cut narrow strips of tile along the borders. 

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    Cork Tiles

    Cork Kitchen Backsplash Tile
    Cork Kitchen Backsplash Tile. © ModWalls

    Definitely one of the more unusual materials for backsplashes, recycled cork comes to the kitchen in the form of 12" x 12" sheets of individual 1" diameter "penny rounds," each about the size of a sliced-off wine cork. 

    How It's Done 

    The recommended adhesives will be particular to the product, so check manufacturer's recommendations carefully. Cork tiles do not come sealed, and it is critical that you do this immediately after installation. Once cork becomes wet or...MORE discolored, it is very hard to restore. 

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    Graphic Colors

    Green Brickwork Tile Backsplash in Kitchen
    Green Brickwork Tile Backsplash in Kitchen. © Susan Jablon

    Check out SJM's lush, rich lime-green color for these glossy tiles.  Each piece is 1" x 3" and each sheet is 1 square foot. Considering the high-style look, this small shop tile is relatively affordable. 

    How It's Done

    The band is called Accent Tile, which we'll just call MBC-3527371. It, too, comes in 12" square sheets, and here has been cut up into bands.  Each sheet gives you three bands, with only a small amount of waste. 

    Sharp-eyed shoppers may notice that one of the...MORE mosaic tessarae tiles is the accent band is the same color as the subway tile

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    Sound-Wave Effect

    Kitchen Backsplash With Sound Wave Effect
    Kitchen Backsplash With Sound Wave Effect. © Susan Jablon

    This very unusual effect uses small 1.5" x 0.75" mosaic tiles from a small upstate New York tile maker, with tiles mounted vertically and in the shape of a sound wave.

    How It's Done

    Such unique effects require an artistic eye to design the layout, then careful installation to match the design. The actual application, though, is done like any mosaic tile sheets. 

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    Fiery Orange Tile Backsplash with Cabinet Echo

    Fiery Orange Kitchen Tile Backsplash Repeated on Island
    Fiery Orange Kitchen Tile Backsplash Repeated on Island. © Susan Jablon

    The blazing orange glass mosaic tile backsplash in this kitchen has one small, but significant, tweak: it's repeated as a band on the kitchen island. It's a brilliant touch, visually tying the backsplash together with the island. And it provides a fun, lively touch to an otherwise serious Shaker-cabinet island. This tile is Orange 1" x 6" glass from Susan Jablon.

    How It's Done

    On wall surfaces, ceramic tile is best applied to a cement board backer panel, but on a wood cabinet,...MORE it can be applied directly to the wood with the same thinset adhesives used for the wall tiles. 

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    Tumbled Slate

    Slate 2" Tumbled Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash
    Slate 2" Tumbled Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash. © Bedrosian's

    Backsplash tiles are very often done with a high-gloss ceramic or porcelain tile, but there is another direction you can go:  the look of rustic, tumbled stone, a lively visual chaos that keeps things interesting. This look might be too busy for some, but the continuation of natural stone from the granite countertop into the slate backsplash makes a strong statement. The product here is 2" by 2" Butterscotch Tumbled Mosaic Slate from Bedrosian's.

    How It's Done

    As mentioned earlier,...MORE natural stone backsplashes--especially those made with porous stone like slate--must be sealed periodically to keep them from staining. 

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    Shimmery Copper Mosaic

    2" x 2" Tumbled Copper Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash
    2" x 2" Tumbled Copper Mosaic Kitchen Backsplash. © Bedrosian's

    In this example, a contrasting backsplash behind the stove range is made from a tumbled copper mosaic from Bedrosian-One. These areas are often markedly different because they perform different functions, catching ultra-messy splashes (bacon, gravy, spaghetti sauce, etc.), and hence a different backsplash treatment is often appropriate. 

    How It's Done

    Metal tiles are usually installed with different adhesives than are used with ceramic or stone tiles. Check with the tile manufacturer for...MORE recommendations for installation.