A backsplash is more than just the panel behind a stove or sink. It’s a design opportunity as well. You need one to protect your walls from spattering water droplets or cooking oils, but it can also be decor.
Learn about bathroom and kitchen backsplash ideas of all types, including tile, glass, brick and paint. This guide will also give you backsplash ideas and inspiration according to decor, era, design and cabinet color.
Backsplash Color Terminology
Before we get into the many types of backsplashes, let's talk design terminology. Here are a few terms you’ll come across:
Monochromatic: This means lots of shades and tones in the same color family. In a blue monochromatic pattern, you might have light sky blue, deep navy blue, classic blue and teal. A monochrome design always looks classy and put-together. You can do it yourself, too. Just keep to lighter and darker versions of one color.
Neutral: A neutral look includes black and gray, white and cream, or shades of beige and brown. All these colors are considered neutral. You can use them as a base to set off brightly colored designs. Neutral tiles might also make up your modern kitchen backsplash.
Color theory: This uses a color wheel to explain how colors work together.
- Colors that are side-by-side on the color wheel are monochromatic.
- Opposite colors, like purple and yellow, are complementary colors and can be considered clashing. Tone one of them down for a striking and energetic design, like a royal purple and light gold.
There’s much more to color theory, of course. For our purposes, those are the basics we’ll be using when brainstorming backsplash ideas.
The kitchen is the most common place to have a backsplash. You may have a backsplash behind your kitchen sink as well in back of your stove.
As it’s often in a well-used part of the home, the kitchen backsplash is a place to make a statement. They can be made of almost any material you can imagine, but tile is the most common. If you’d like to stretch your imagination, a backsplash can be a focal point for the kitchen. It's a great place to express creativity.
Bathroom backsplashes are an excellent addition behind a vanity or bathroom sink. You can save your wall from speckles of moisturizer, soap or water. A behind-the-vanity backsplash also adds personality to your bathroom. A glass backsplash provides a stunning shine. Match the backsplash to the existing floor tile or redo your decor to go with it.
Wall tile, glass, faux wood, mirrors, marble or even vinyl wallpaper are all excellent bathroom backsplash ideas. You want a surface you can wipe clean. Keep in mind that any porous material, such as natural marble or some ceramic tile, would need sealing for extra protection.
Coffee Nook Backsplash
Although most people picture the backsplash behind your cooking range, they’re useful anywhere you need to protect a wall. Add a protective backdrop to a workplace caffeine corner or your home coffee nook.
You could use neutral tones to allude to the color of coffee beans or freshly brewed tea. An off-white backsplash lets you ease into your day as you get your coffee. Or maybe you’d prefer cheery pops of color to brighten your day. Match or contrast your kitchen’s decor.
In a rec room or basement bar room, match your bar backsplash to your theme. To get pumped for the big game, choose your team’s colors or logo for a backsplash. Maybe go retro with bottle caps incorporated into mosaic tiles. Try hanging old license plates mounted as accents among subway tile. This is the place to go big with your design.
If you have a stunning display of bottles or other decor, keep the backsplash neutral. A subtle bar backsplash lets your collection grab the spotlight.
Tile is one of the most popular backsplash options. Tile backsplashes come in various styles, shapes and colors. You can create almost any design you can imagine. Purchase tile by the case or on a per tile basis for more intricate designs.
Backsplash tile options are so numerous that it may be hard to know where to start. We’ll cover standard and unusual tile types here. Choose from ceramic, porcelain, glass or recycled glass tiles. This includes a lot of common tile backsplash ideas. Many tile backsplashes are peel-and-stick, so installation is simpler than it's ever been.
Subway Tile: Often seen on renovation shows, these long rectangular tiles are used for modern kitchen backsplashes. However, you can get a different look by laying them vertically or choosing a different size. They come in an array of colors, not just white. Use colored grout for a subtle hint of hue.
Chevron Tile: These narrow rectangular tiles come together to make a zig-zagged arrow design. This energetic look is perfect for a focal point backsplash.
Herringbone Tile: A layout similar to chevron but with staggered breaks, a herringbone pattern is a woven pattern. This backsplash is common in neutral tones. Herringbone would make a beautiful backsplash for white cabinets or dark cabinets.
Penny Tile: This backsplash idea can use actual pennies or small tiles that are about that size. We’ll refer to the second option here. Penny tiles usually come on a webbed peel-and-stick backing. That means you won’t have to set individual tiles, as the tiny tiles are together as a bigger piece. Choose from gorgeous glass penny tiles in any tones you can imagine. Cut apart the larger tiles to mix and match the colors.
Multi-Colored Tile: Can’t choose just one tile color? Multi-colored tiles are a cheerful option for a kitchen with solid-color cabinets. This versatile look can be a pop of rainbow color or monochrome tile. Although the title calls to mind bright colors, you can also find a range of shades and tones of one color.
Hand-Painted Tile: These carefully decorated tiles can create a vibrant or cozy look. Choose brightly detailed tiles for an eye-catching backsplash. Go with a larger tile that almost looks printed for a different look. Cultures all over the world paint tiles, so you’ve got many options for your tile vibe. Some tiles are intricate, others simpler. With so much variety, you’re sure to find a color scheme that speaks to you.
Fish Scale Tile: This organic shape echoes nature. These tiles are shaped like ginkgo leaves, stylized fans or fish scales. The curves give a gentler look than straight lines do. It’s a great compromise if you’re torn between rounded and geometric tiles.
3-D Tile: These tiles aren’t perfectly flat. The angles add dimension and interest to your design. Concave tiles fall into this category too. Geometric tiles are sometimes cast in 3-D. It’s a specialty tile, so you’ll need to look for it specifically.
Painted-Over Tile: If you like the layout of your current tile but not the color, just paint over it. Choose a shiny paint with a hard coat, like an epoxy instead of latex, for a professional look.
Tile Backsplash Shapes
Tile backsplashes come in many different shapes as well. Tile shapes and materials both influence the final look of your backsplash. Combine shapes for patterns and designs. Mix and match big and small tiles, or use the same tile in different colors. Try monochromatic tiles of different sizes for a classic look. Contrasting color tiles give a modern and energetic feel.
Penny Tiles: Tiny round tiles are often called penny tiles. They’re a popular choice when considering kitchen backsplash ideas.
Rectangular Tiles: Big and small elongated rectangles are referred to as subway tiles. They come in the traditional large size, but smaller multi-colored versions are perfect for a backsplash too.
Hexagonal Tiles: These six-sided angular tiles are a more retro option. You see the black and white hexagons as floor tiles in vintage storefronts, but they work on your walls as well. Find hex tiles in a variety of sizes, from large 12-inch hexagons to small 2-inch hexagons. The smaller ones are usually on a webbed background. That makes them easier to install. Try mixing hex tiles with herringbone or triangle tiles for an interesting design.
Triangle Tiles: More versatile than you’d expect, triangle tile is an unconventional choice. Flip every other one to form a straight line or arrange them in hexagons. They work with angular tiles such as hex tile, subway tile and herringbone tile.
Herringbone Tile: As mentioned above, this tile is made of small rectangular tiles placed in a woven pattern. For energetic tile backsplash ideas, try matching herringbone with triangle or hex tiles. Alternatively, lay an entire backsplash with just herringbone tile for a delightful design.
Tile Backsplash Colors
Create different backsplash moods with color. Here are some basic ways to use color on a kitchen or bathroom backsplash:
- Monochromatic tones are always classy.
- Complementary colors bring energy and movement.
- Cool colors, such as blue, purple and green, are calming.
- Warm colors, like red, orange and yellow, give a vibrant and cheerful vibe.
- Try neutrals for a calm kitchen or to let bright appliances shine.
- Use dark tiles to hide dirt in a busy kitchen.
- White tile backsplashes enlarge the space and bring an airy feel to the room.
A brick look can give your kitchen backsplash industrial or vintage appeal. Rather than the weight and expense of real bricks, choose brick wall panels. These interlocking panels are thinner and easier to install. They’re also more budget friendly. For less cleaning, choose faux brick panels that are stain- and moisture-resistant.
If you’re wishing your kitchen had rustic indoor brick but you're currently looking at drywall, you’re in luck. Brick veneers can even be whitewashed and weathered to give them the perfect finish.
Eye-catching and versatile, limestone tiles add natural warmth and organic texture to a room. Use limestone as a backsplash to give the kitchen a refined, yet rustic feel. Compared to other stones, limestone is the most economical. However, it requires a bit more upkeep than artificial materials.
Natural stone tile backsplashes such as granite have recently become more popular. Take the style of your room into account when you’re picking stones to complement your decor. Choose warmer-colored stones for a more European look. Cooler-colored ones have a very minimalist feel.
Artificial stone or veneer stone reduces the amount of stress on your wall, as it’s lighter. Sandstone tile is another excellent option.
Stack small round stones for a rustic style of brick wall. This layout would be perfect for a cottage kitchen. Alternatively, lay them flat for a natural version of penny tiles. Depending on your stone color, that stone backsplash would fit a country French or farmhouse style kitchen. Pebble tile comes on a mesh background for easy installation.
Faux Wood Tile Backsplash
Wood-look tiles give you the durability and look of real wood. The plus side is these are more affordable. Faux wood tiles can also handle moisture, as opposed to actual wood. Imitation wood tiles are easy to clean and don’t require oiling or special upkeep.
Tiles that look like wood are made of many materials, including parquet, vinyl, porcelain or ceramic. They’re available in a host of color schemes, grains and designs. Choose a cool maple for a relaxing feel. Try petrified oak for an intriguing look or deep walnut planks for a worldly vibe.
An interesting choice for a coffee nook, bar or bathroom backsplash, small mirrors reflect light to enlarge a space. Combine mirrored tiles with mosaic tiles for a truly custom look. A mirrored backsplash may shine brightest in a space where the backsplash doesn’t get wet often. This way, the cleaning is kept to a minimum.
A glass backsplash is a simple and airy choice. It tends to feel lighter than a ceramic tile backsplash. Choose from glass tiles in all shapes and sizes.
If you want a minimalistic backsplash, go with one giant piece of glass. You can use smooth glass that’s tinted or clear. Reflective glass is an interesting backsplash that’s not as flashy as a mirror, but still modern.
This usually refers to the small penny tiles that come ready to install in large squares. However, if you’re patient and artistic, you can tile a penny backsplash with actual pennies. Use shiny ones for a bright copper finish and the tarnished ones for a dark green or bronze. Plan your design to use a range of copper colors for a unique backsplash that’s all your own.
A beadboard backsplash is an affordable choice for cozy kitchens and beachy bathrooms. Beadboard is a style of wooden decorative wall paneling that has a very recognizable design. It has narrow paneling separated by evenly spaced indentations called beads.
This decorative style is usually installed vertically, but it can also be horizontal. It's seen in homes with a cottage or coastal vibe. Beadboard can be painted any color or distressed for a shabby-chic look.
Choose your era for a vintage backsplash. Try angular shapes for 1920s Art Deco, boomerang shapes for a 1950s look or install circular tiles for a 1960s feel. Research your chosen era. Then use those shapes and colors to bring a vintage or retro feel to your backsplash. Use tile, stencils on a painted wall, themed wallpaper or create a mosaic.
If you’d like a less involved solution, black and white hex tiles are great for a vintage look. Get inspiration from the floor tiles on a vintage storefront, then design your backsplash.
Pressed Tin or Metal Tile Backsplash
If you’re looking for a stately or old-fashioned backsplash for your kitchen, try installing tin panels. They’re like the pressed tin panels on antique tin ceilings.
Use large tin pieces to emphasize high ceilings or a large kitchen. Try smaller metal tiles for an unusual way to bring some shine to your backsplash. This option tends to be geometric.
Use pieces of glass, broken tile, or other found objects to make your backsplash into a piece of art. Why let the mosaic artists have all the fun? Come up with an original design and grout your backsplash into a permanent art installation. This is a unique option for creative DIYers.
Marble adds a touch of elegance wherever it is placed. You can use real or faux marble. Complement a marble basin and countertop with a marble backsplash. Choose between marble tile or large marble slabs. The tiles are often highlighted with metal or mother-of-pearl to add contrast and depth.
Marble is beautiful but porous. That means it absorbs liquids. Seal it after installation, and always wipe it clean immediately. It may not be the best choice in a kitchen where high-spatter or staining foods and spices are used regularly.
Plywood or Wood Backsplash
If you want to update your backsplash but are on a budget, plywood may be the material for you. Simply paint it your color of choice. Be sure to waterproof it with sealer and use the correct grade of wood. Don’t use pressure-treated wood indoors.
A painted plywood backsplash can give you an industrial look if painted a dark color. Should you use a neutral or lighter tone, it also works for a cozy or rustic backsplash.
If you'd like a more finished look, go with wood paneling to make a wood backsplash. It's more expensive than plywood, but will give a different vibe. It can be cozy like a log cabin or retro, depending on your wood choice.
See a flooring option that you’d love on the walls? Take floor tile or vinyl panels and install them on the wall. Vinyl plank flooring that looks like wood costs a fraction of the price of real wood.
You may have more prep work with this backsplash if the tiles are heavy-duty. The wall needs to be strong enough that the tiles stick and the drywall won’t be damaged. However, it’s worth it if that’s the backsplash you want.
A neutral backsplash is made up of beige, tan, black, white or gray tones. The material you choose will determine how visually strong your backsplash is. A shiny backsplash in neutral tones can look stately and put-together. A stone backsplash might give a subdued feel, while a weathered faux wood exudes quiet and coziness.
You can still have patterns or different colors in your backsplash if you use neutrals. They may be monochromatic, but they don’t have to be. A neutral backsplash isn’t boring. It’s just a backsplash with simple colors that match any cabinet or appliance color.
A bright backsplash is for the homeowner who wants a focal point in their kitchen or bathroom. Hand-painted tile or glass in a mosaic or multi-color is common choice for a backsplash that pops. You can lay out your own design or go with an array of cheerful peel-and-stick tiles.
For a different feel, go with a textured backsplash such as brick. Paint or stencil it in bold colors, or incorporate small mosaic tiles or mirrors among the stone. This will create a unique combination of rough texture and bright color.
Backsplash for White Cabinets
If you need a starting point for choosing a backsplash, white provides a common backdrop. White cabinets are often in bathrooms or kitchens.
The handles on the cabinets may provide a clue to which backsplash to choose. For a modern look, pair a gray and white herringbone backsplash with minimalistic cabinet fixtures. For a vibrant look, pair simple black or metal cabinet fixtures with a mosaic, mirror or wallpaper backsplash.
Backsplash for Gray Cabinets
Gray cabinets are a neutral setting for whatever backsplash you can imagine. Go for a beachy look with muted blues and grays in a weathered faux wood. Keep it classy with monochromatic choices, or other shades of gray, black or white. Set off a bright mosaic backsplash in any color of the rainbow. The contrast will really make it pop.
Backsplash for Dark Cabinets
Unless you’re trying to make a large kitchen look smaller, go with lighter backsplashes. White tile, marble, wallpaper or mirrored backsplashes provide contrast. If you do want to make a large kitchen cozier, go with a wood, brick, stone or dark tile.
Backsplash for Traditional Kitchens
For a standard kitchen with no theme, you may want to stick to a neutral or coordinating backsplash. Look to your appliances and fixtures for color inspiration. Black appliances go well with shiny porcelain tile backsplashes. Silver or gray tile, wallpaper or marble match a stainless steel refrigerator and stove.
Backsplash for Farmhouse or Rustic Kitchens
For a country or rustic kitchen, faux wood or stone backsplashes elevate that worn-but-loved feel. A limestone backsplash, hand-painted tile backsplash or wallpaper backsplash could also fit in perfectly.
Backsplash for Modern Kitchens
Although there are backsplash trends, clean and monochromatic backsplashes are always in. A white kitchen backsplash is decidedly modern. Use bright whites and shiny glass or mirrors for a modern backsplash. A variety of finishes on the same tile, ranging from matte to reflective, gives a clean look.
Backsplash for Contemporary Kitchens
For a contemporary look, try a neutral or black and white kitchen backsplash. You might do well using tile or glass that creates movement and energy. A fish scale, fan-shaped or 3-D tile gives a vibrant feeling to a contemporary backsplash.
Backsplash for Cottage Kitchens
A cottage kitchen needs a fitting backsplash for its cozy character. Depending on your other decor, you may go with stone, brick, wallpaper or a large-patterned tile for your backsplash.
If your cottage kitchen is very warm and inviting, choose a wallpaper or tile that echoes the curtains. If it’s more rustic and well-lived in, try small stones or weathered brick.
Backsplash for Industrial Kitchens
A residential kitchen with an industrial feel would do great with a distressed brick backsplash. Should your kitchen be bustling with home chefs and bakers, try a pegboard backsplash. It’s perfect to hang large utensils. You can even paint the pegboard, and then stencil or outline the kitchen tools you’re hanging.
Backsplash for French Country Kitchens
French country kitchens, or Provençal kitchens, are cozy and elegant. They tend to have a shabby-chic vibe. French country kitchens incorporate both rich accent decor and well-loved pieces.
To match that eclectic feel with a backsplash, use both detailed hand-painted tiles and glass in pale, muted colors. You might also go with a reclaimed brick look or limestone to give the impression that the home is quite old.
Backsplash for Coastal Kitchens or Beach Bathrooms
A coastal or beach backsplash is a popular theme for a bathroom. Many homeowners love that laid-back vibe. Coastal kitchens and beach bathroom backsplash ideas demand natural materials.
Try using beadboard or reclaimed boat wood for a coastal backsplash. Match the color to the rest of the decor or use the colors of the sand and sea. If you’re creative, incorporate tiny shells and beach pebbles into a one-of-a-kind mosaic backsplash. This works in a beachy bathroom or kitchen.
Backsplash for Small Kitchens
If you’d like your small kitchen to look larger, go with a light and bright backsplash. Mirrors and smooth finishes in shiny white brighten a tiny space. Pegboard is also a good choice for small kitchens that lack cabinets or shelves. You can hang utensils or pots and pans to save storage space.
Backsplash for Large Kitchens
If you have a kitchen that feels too large and you want it to seem smaller, try a dark backsplash. Charcoal gray, black or even jewel tones work well. As far as texture goes, stay with matte and non-shiny finishes. This means less light will be reflected. Stone, brick and limestone can also be painted or stained darker if need be.
If you love your large kitchen, the sky is the limit. Use other inspiration listed above to narrow down your options. Wood, tile, paint, glass or marble are all choices for large kitchen backsplashes.
Now that you’ve seen a variety of kitchen backsplash ideas, it’s time to get inspired. A unique kitchen backsplash can be quite the focal point of your kitchen, bathroom or home bar. Choose from faux wood, brick, stone, wallpaper or tile designs for a DIY backsplash like no other.
Ready to get started? We’ve got you covered. Get online orders of tile samples, grout and more delivered right to your door. It’s a snap to start piecing together the perfect backsplash for your kitchen.
If laying tile or installing a new backsplash isn’t for you, reach out to our professionals. We’ll be happy to help you with tile installation services.