Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Backsplash Tile

A stunning tile backsplash is an easy way to make a big impact in your kitchen. Let us help you sort through the materials, terms, and trends.

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A kitchen backsplash is an ideal area to add a punch of color, a dash of personality, or a bit of pattern to an otherwise straightforward room. Now, more than ever, kitchen cabinets are simple and clean, so your backsplash is the perfect place to take some liberties and add style. The most common type is a tile backsplash. Its durability and wipe-clean surface makes it an easy sell, but tile is also highly customizable. Kitchen backsplash tiles in all shapes, sizes, and colors can be configured into one-of-a-kind backsplashes.

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Mosaic Tiles

Mosaics are a popular choice because of the range of colors and styles available. A mosaic is a grouping of tiles—often glass, stone, or a combination of the two—arranged in a pattern and adhered to a piece of mesh. The mesh helps the tile go onto the wall faster and ensures a consistent pattern. Unlike placing individual tiles, mosaics on a mesh backing are perfect for a new do-it-yourselfer.

How to Tile a Backsplash

Subway Tile

Subway tile kitchen backsplashes are a classic choice for both residential and commercial applications. White subway tiles are one of the most popular colors and are often applied in a railroad—or staggered—pattern. Since the tiles are manufactured and sold individually, the design options are practically endless. A wide variety of color options are available, making it a good choice for any style of kitchen. Peel and stick options are available, making installation a breeze.

Intricate patterns are seen less often in kitchens, but the beauty and craftsmanship can stop you in your tracks. Patterns such as a basket-weave, listello, Versailles, or herringbone can dramatically change a kitchen from work-horse to wow. Subway tile lends itself well to large-scale patterns, while smaller tiles can be used to create patterns such as herringbone pattern and basket-weave.

8 Ways to Arrange Subway Tile

Natural Stone

Natural stone such as marble, travertine, and slate work great as kitchen backsplashes since they aren't hardworking surfaces and mainly serve as decoration. Many of the mosaic backsplashes incorporate glass and natural stone tiles into the designs, creating drama and interest.

Penny Tile

Penny tile has been around for decades but is becoming popular for people who want to instill some vintage charm into their modern space. The classic choice is a white porcelain penny tile with dark grout, but bright colors are available for those wanting to make a splash.

How to Grout Tile

Arabesque Tile

Arabesque tiles are a great twist on the classic white tile kitchen backsplash. These ceramic tiles mimic a simplified damask pattern and bring softness with curved bulbs within the shape. While white tiles with white grout is a good basic feature, arabesque tiles are also available in different colors and materials.

Glass Tile

Go all out on a glass tile kitchen backsplash. A backpainted glass panel provides a backsplash surface with no (or very few) seams. Many glass providers can color match backpaint to other existing colors for a cohesive kitchen look. Since most glass is non-porous, this material is very easy to wipe down and keep clean. You can also find glass tile in mosaic and subway shapes, making it easier to add a hint of shimmering reflection to your backsplash.

Patterned Encaustic Tile

Patterned backsplash kitchen tile adds interest to an otherwise utilitarian space. Most decorative tiles are ceramic and come in either matte or glazed finishes. There are also tile companies that make custom patterned tiles. Encaustic tiles feature two or more colors of clay inlaid together before being fired. Find them in pretty Mediterranean patterns for backsplashes and other tile applications.

Metal Tile

Use metal tile for a more modern twist on traditional kitchen backsplashes. Metal kitchen backsplash tile comes in various styles, colors, and finishes. A stainless-steel panel gives a kitchen a clean and industrial look, while brushed bronze tiles can give a space a rustic vibe. Easy clean-up is just an added bonus.

Brick

Take a different approach to the stone tile kitchen backsplash trend. Exposed brick makes for a rugged and warm backsplash. No bricks to expose? Look for thin-brick veneers that can be installed as an interesting backsplash with architectural appeal. While brick is more difficult to clean than smooth tile, it also shows fewer spots and stains.

Custom Cut Tiles

Get a beautiful and unique backplash with an intricate mosaic tile kitchen backsplash image, like flowers or vines. This type of design doesn't necessarily adhere to a pattern, but fills the space with different colors, textures and shapes. Depending on the design, there will be more exposed grout with this kitchen backsplash option.

Mixed Tile Materials

Don't feel limited to one type of tile when it comes to choosing backsplash tile for the kitchen. Create a custom look by combining patterned tiles, solid tiles, and pencil trim tiles for a framed design above the stove. Feel free to mix materials as well, like combining ceramic, clay, and metal into one design. As a DIY project, this type of backsplash requires careful tile cutting.

How to Cut Tile

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