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Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

When creating a new kitchen, don’t ignore the backsplash, meant to spice up the area under your discount kitchen cabinets and above the countertops or stovetop. Installing a beautiful and functional backsplash in this area adds visual interest and makes the area much easier to clean, adding looks and value while making a practical addition to the room. There are dozens of materials that can be used as backsplashes and a myriad of ways to install the products. Here are three of the most popular, along with pros and cons for each.

Ceramic Tile Backsplash

Ceramic tile is one of the most popular materials for a backsplash. Easy to find in a variety of colors and designs, it can be installed in many different patterns. This means tile can be used to create a backsplash that complements any kitchen cabinet or design style. Ceramic tile is also easy to clean, an important factor to consider when installing a backsplash. On the downside, it does crack relatively often, and the grout can stain. A darker grout stains less than a lighter grout, so consider using a darker grout if choosing ceramic tile.

Stainless Steel Backsplash

Stainless steel is another popular choice for backsplashes, primarily because of its functionality. It is easy to clean, extremely durable and never cracks or stains. Stainless steel also fits in well with the popular stainless steel appliances, tying the kitchen look together. Decorative stainless steel comes in diamond, checkerboard and diagonal patterns for more visual interest, and homeowners can choose from matte, satin or glossy finishes. Stainless steel does tend to show scratches easily, and blends best with contemporary colors, fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Look for stainless tiles in a variety of sizes rather than sticking with a sheet of stainless steel for a backsplash.

Natural Stone Backsplash

Natural stone creates a distinctive look in a backsplash, and creates a powerful statement in a contemporary or urban kitchen. Stone can absorb liquid spills and splashes, however, which can cause it to stain. If a homeowner chooses river stone or pebbles rather than stone tile, they will also deal with food and other substances getting caught between the stones, causing difficulty with cleaning.

Other Materials

If none of these materials creates the exact look you want, consider glass tiles in large sizes or small sizes, painted bead board or grooved board, bricks, stamped concrete, tin (stainless steel) tiles, harlequin shaped (diamond) tiles, granite or marble. Each has a unique look that can be customized to a particular kitchen.

After deciding on a material, consider these other factors when installing a backsplash:

  • Material Cost - The cost of a material will influence decisions on backsplashes. Ceramic or glass tiles, for example, can be inexpensive, ranging from under 50 cents for a 4 x 4 inch square to several dollars for each tile. Decorative tiles with embossed or painted patterns will also cost more than plain materials. Marble or granite sheets can be expensive, but 12 x12 inch tiles in granite or marble are more cost efficient.
  • Ease of Installation - Some small tiles come pre-set on 12 x 12 inch mesh sheets, which are much easier and faster to install than the tile types that require individual placement. Paneling or groove board also makes for easy installation since it is possible to cover a large area at a time. Marble or other stone in 12 x 12 inch squares are also easy to install.
  • Cabinetry and Flooring - If kitchen cabinetry and flooring is simple, solid colored or contemporary, then a colorful, intricately patterned backsplash can be the perfect complement. However, if cabinetry or flooring is patterned or has a complex design, then a single-colored backsplash will look better. The flooring, cabinetry, backsplash and appliances all need to work together harmoniously.
  • Consider Design - The kitchen design and the overall home design will affect the materials choice for a kitchen backsplash. For example, if a home has a casual, country kitchen, then sleek, glass tiles will look out of place for a backsplash. Many country kitchens use wood panels, painted brick, stamped concrete or marble, while contemporary kitchens favor materials such as small polished glass tiles, stainless steel, and marble.


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