The earliest types of backsplashes were designed to be more functional than decorative. It was made out of ceramic or glass tile, and it was only four inches high. It was designed to help protect the walls from grease and water splatters and other kitchen accidents. So, it makes sense that they were only installed behind the stove and sink areas in the kitchen.
When the 1950s came around, the backsplash became both decorative and functional. They were made in bright colors, and they stretched around the kitchen and reached from the counter to the upper cabinets. This trend continued in the 1970s and 1980s with decorative and mosaic tiles.
By the time the 1990s came around, the design trends turned toward natural-looking tiles. Cream or white backsplashes were the signature look of this era, and the subway tile didn’t come into the design sphere until the 2000s. We’re going to outline the 22 most popular types of backsplashes you can install in your kitchen below.
Backsplashes are a simple and easy way to jazz up your kitchen or bathroom decor without having to remodel the entire room. Kitchen backsplash by Jesus Rodriguez / CC BY 2.0
1. Ceiling Tiles
If you want to have the durability and functionality of tile but you’re also trying to add visual interest to the space, installing antique ceiling tiles as a type of backsplash is a nice choice. This look is great for a country kitchen, and it does a lot more than simply protect your wall from splashing food or water. Ceiling tiles give you visual interest, texture, and a nice pop of color to your kitchen that can turn into a small focal point and help tile all of the decor elements in the room together. Unfortunately, because these tiles are usually older and very highly textured, it can be hard to keep them clean.
2. Ceramic & Porcelain
Both porcelain and ceramic tile can add nice designs to your kitchen area. They can mimic the look of natural stone, or you can find this type of backsplash that looks like traditional tile. It’s very easy for people to choose porcelain or ceramic tile that will match the home’s color scheme or the home’s decor. It’s one of the most popular options for backsplashes you can buy, and it’s very easy to get tile edge treatments or accessories that match your porcelain or ceramic tile.
The tiles can stand up very well to water exposure, and they won’t get damaged, even if you splash them on a regular basis. They come in a huge range of prices, and this allows you to choose the tile options that are less expensive if you’re on a tighter budget. If you want to put more money into your kitchen remodel, you can go for high-end options. One drawback of this type of backsplash is that it requires some skills for the installation if you don’t want to make a mistake when you install it.
3. Chalkboard Paint
A lower-cost option for a type of backsplash that you can install without professional help or any tile is chalkboard paint. It comes with a few benefits attached, and it also has some drawbacks to consider. However, this low-cost backsplash is very easy to use, and you can update the look of your kitchen in a matter of hours without worrying about a huge cleanup process.
People who paint the backsplash with chalkboard paint get the option of being able to write on it with chale and erase it to use it again. This gives you a handy space to write out to-do lists, menu ideas, or draw a small picture. However, chalkboard paint comes with a few drawbacks, and one big one is that it is a very dark paint that can cause your kitchen to feel smaller than it actually is. Because of this illusion, you should only consider this type of backsplash if you have a fairly large or light space. Also, this paint won’t give you the same protection level against water damage as tile.
Chalkboard paint is very popular in kid’s rooms, but you can also install it in your bathroom or kitchen for a whimsical and functional touch. Chalkboard paint by HomeSpot HQ / CC BY 2.0
Recently, penny tiles have gained a larger amount of popularity for both bathrooms and kitchens in more updated homes. This shaped tile comes in several colors and sizes, and it’s easy to pick out circular types of backsplashes that combine different colors and sizes in the same product. Not only is the shape very appealing, but it allows you to use sheets of circular tile to speed up the installation process and get a very professional look.
Diamond-shaped types of backsplashes are very popular, and you get a repeating pattern when you install it that is very pleasing to look at while being easy to create. When you pick out diamond-shaped tiles, you want to pick out ones that are big enough so your backsplash doesn’t look too busy. This is also important if you have a bigger area where you’re going to add this type of backsplash because smaller tiles can make it challenging to focus on the backsplash without straining your eyes.
6. Engineered or Manufactured Stone
Stone backsplashes are extremely pretty, and they add to your home’s value and appeal. They can actually increase your home’s asking price when you install them correctly. Unfortunately, as nice as real stone looks, it can be challenging to install and cut. It’s also incredibly heavy. This is exactly why a lot of people choose to install manufactured or engineered stone veneer to get the same look without the drawbacks of trying to install real stone.
The main problem with using engineered stone as your type of backsplash is that it is porous, and this means that it will absorb food splatters, water, and oil. This can cause stains to appear on your backsplash, and it makes cleaning it a challenge. Engineered stone is also heavy even though it’s lighter than real stone, and it has trouble adhering to the wall because of the weight. One benefit of picking out this product is that you don’t have to seal it, and this can make your installation process easier.
If you have a trendy and modern home, installing a glass type of backsplash is a great option. Because the tiles come with a reflective and bright surface that reflects the light through your room, it does a nice job of brightening up small and large kitchens. The colors of this choice are rich, strong, and they won’t fade, no matter which types of harsh cleaning solutions you use on them.
Glass is also non-porous, and this means that you don’t have to seal it after you install it. One issue with this type of backsplash is that it is more trendy, and it can get outdated in the future if you start to change your decor. It’s essential to make sure that you really want this material before you install it as your backsplash.
There are several reasons why people choose to install marble for a type of backsplash, and one of them is that you can also get marble countertops to match. As a bonus, marble is visually stunning for a material, and it works nicely to update your space instantly. However, it does come with a higher price tag attached to it.
Marble is easy to wipe down and keep clean as long as you take time to seal it correctly and regularly. This is also an expensive material for a type of backsplash. Marble can also chip, stain, and crack fairly easily, and this might mean that all of your hard work installing it can still result in damage. Damage can destroy the marble. Marble tiles are very interesting to look at, and they’re easy to maintain as long as you are willing to commit money and time to the job.
Marble is a more high-end and expensive option that you can install in your space, but it looks very nice and luxurious. Tumbled white marble by Crocodile Rocks / CC BY 2.0
It has always been easy to find big pieces of metal to put up as a type of backsplash. Today, there are many other size options to choose from as well, and this means that you can pick from a range of different textures and finishes to create an updated and modern look.
It’s true that there are many different metal options to choose from, and it’s very important to keep in mind that it works well in modern decor styles. Generally speaking, metal backsplashes look out of place in more traditional kitchens. You should test any metal type of backsplash to see how easy it is to scratch them. Once this backsplash can get damaged, there is no way to buff or sand out the scratches.
For smaller kitchens that you want to give the illusion of space, mirrors are a nice choice. As a type of backsplash, mirrors are eye-catching and dramatic because they reflect the light and bounce it around your room. Mirrors are fairly easy to keep clean, but fingerprints can dirty up the mirror’s surface and cause you to have to clean a lot more than other materials because it shows everything. This is something you really want to think about if you have small children who are going to be in the kitchen as they can leave their fingerprints all over the surface.
11. Natural Stone
One of the big benefits of using natural stone as a type of backsplash is that it’s a very pretty material that will allow you to instantly update your room without breaking the bank. Natural stone is varied, and it can help you create a unique look in your kitchen. When you install natural stone as a backsplash, you can rest easily that you are making a change that will add visual appeal to the kitchen while raising your asking price. Also, this is a budget-friendly option that is much more budget-friendly than other picks.
However, you will have to work harder when you clean your stone backsplash because it’s very easy for dirt and scum to get stuck in the pits of the stone, the grout, and in the groves. Cleaning chemicals can stain the stone and make the color change or fade. Because natural stone is very porous, it’ll absorb stains, water, and odors in your kitchen. This is why you want to set up a sealing routine and stick to it when you first get this type of backsplash. This will keep it looking nice for years.
A lot of people love that natural stone has variations. So, you have to keep this in mind when you’re looking at samples. The stone you get versus the stone you pick out in the sample may look very different because the colors and markings vary from one to the next.
If you want to create a very dramatic look in your kitchen, wall paneling as a type of backsplash is a nice way to make a huge visual impact and fill in a bigger space with little effort. Because wall panels are available in many colors, styles, and varieties, it’s easy to find one that will work nicely for your kitchen’s decor. If you choose to install a panel right to the wall, it’s important that you get one that is easy to clean. Otherwise, your panel can start to look grungy and dirty, and this can pull down your kitchen’s appearance.
13. Peel and Stick
Homeowners who want to install a new type of backsplash in their kitchen without blowing their budget can benefit from using peel and stick tiles. Not only can you save money when it comes to buying the tile, and you also don’t have to buy the other materials that come with real tile installation, and this lowers your costs. There are several benefits to using this type of backsplash, including the ease of installation. The only thing you have to do is measure and cut the tile, peel off the back, and stick it to your wall.
This process will require wall prep to help ensure that the wall where you’re going to install the new tile is 100% smooth. Otherwise, your peel and stick tile won’t be able to stick to the wall correctly and look professional when you finish. It is available in a huge range of colors and styles, and it’s very easy to update your kitchen with a look that will improve your home’s appearance. However, ensuring that you prepare the wall correctly before you add this option is critical to the success of the project.
Peel and stick tile is a very cost-effective option that is easy to install and looks professional when you finish. Backsplash tile by Jesus Rodriguez / CC BY 2.0
If you want to have a more intricate type of backsplash without a huge amount of effort spent trying to put various shapes and sizes of tiles together, you can consider picking out randomly shaped tiles that come in sheets to make the installation process easy. This makes it easy to pick out a design and install it without having to worry about putting them on one by one in a specific pattern.
Another big benefit or a random type of backsplash is that they will help draw the eye of anyone who comes into your kitchen, and they’re a great way to improve a more plain location in your room. Also, it’s beneficial to consider installing random tiles in your backsplash because it makes it more challenging for someone to spot splashed food or stains on the backsplash at a glance.
Rectangular types of backsplashes are perfect if you want to create a repeating, offset pattern in your space. The subway has recently become very popular. It involves laying rectangular tiles end to end with all of the rows getting offset by half of a tile. This is an extremely popular look for people to use. When you have rectangular tiles, there are a lot of different styles that you can create. You don’t have to lay these tiles, and you can place the straight lines at right angles from one another to create an interlocking and interesting look.
16. Stainless Steel
If you want a modern look in your kitchen that is easy to clean, resistant to higher temperatures, and durable, stainless steel is great. This is what makes stainless steel sinks so popular. This can work to tie your whole kitchen together, especially if you have stainless steel appliances. There are a few issues that can crop up if you pick out this material as your type of backsplash, including the higher price that you’ll have to pay to get a bigger piece of stainless steel. Also, acidic foods can damage your stainless steel and ruin the finish when you don’t clean the splatters off straight away.
Square tiles aren’t nearly as common as rectangular times, but they’ll still work to update your type of backsplash while adding a lot of visual interest to the space. You can’t use this tile to create as many patterns as you can with rectangular ones, but they come in varying patterns that you can place in a range of interesting patterns. Because you will not offset these tiles, you don’t have to worry about working to get your pattern even. The corners and edges can get lined up very easily, and this makes square tiles ideal for beginners working on a first DIY project.
Travertine is a natural tile that is made from stone. It’s relatively lightweight and easier to install as a type of backsplash when you compare it to other types of tile available. It’s available in a huge range of sizes that goes up to 18-inches square, but bigger tiles can look like a strange backsplash but work nice for a patio surface. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pick out tiles that are smaller. These tiles are made out of limestone that is usually pitted, so they typically get sanded so that they’re easy to clean and smooth.
Even though this type of backsplash is easy to install, it’s not a budget choice for most people because it’s easy to spend a few hundred dollars when it comes to the installation. To keep these tiles looking best, you’ll have to seal it once or twice a year, and this will increase the overall cost of the project.
Travertine is usually larger tiles that look nicer in bigger kitchens or bathrooms, but they tend to dwarf smaller spaces. Travertine by g – s – h / CC BY-NC 2.0
19. Thermoplastic (Faux Metal)
Plastic types of backsplashes are one of the easiest materials to install. You can cut it with scissors and apply it to your wall using double-sided tape. Real metal tile doesn’t always stick to the wall with tape, but these plastic tiles are so light that tape is reliable. To help the installation process along, most faux metal panels are 24.5-inches wide by 18.5-inches tall. This height is around the standard distance between the cabinets and counters.
But, because these tiles are plastic, this can be very noticeable in the J-trim along the edges of the tiles as well as inside the corner trim strips. Also, even though these tiles are Class A fire retardant, they can warp and deform in the heat gets around 140-degrees Fahrenheit. So, you can’t install them behind the stove.
Backsplashes are important because they work to protect your kitchen wall from water or other staining materials. They’re also higher-end, and they’re popular in luxury kitchen designs. One of the most popular materials for your backsplash is tile, and this allows you to create a host of different looks, depending on your kitchen style and your other decor choices. With so many tile choices to choose from, it’s possible to consider different textures, materials, and colors when you create your backsplash.
Tile offers a huge number of benefits to the homeowner, and this is a big part of the reason why it’s so popular. Tile is impermeable, and it does a great job of protecting the wall from water splashes and food particles. Also, tiles are very easy to keep clean by wiping them down with warm water and soap. Tile is generally easy to install, and this allows your average DIYer to take on this project alone.
Tiles will vary widely in price, and you’ll find this out when you start shopping. However, the sheer range of options available make it very easy to find something that has the look you want without breaking your budget. You can install each tile individually or get sheets of them.
This option is much more expensive than peel and stick tile, but traditional tile will last for decades while giving you fewer problems to worry about. One of the important considerations to keep in mind when you’re trying to figure out if this type of backsplash is better than faux options is that you have to purchase more materials. Traditional tile needs grout, tile adhesive, and money set aside to get the tools you need for installation. If the installation is shoddy, it won’t last long.
The other option is to hire a professional to install your type of backsplash for you, but this can be expensive. However, when you pick out traditional tile, you get a huge amount of protection for your wall from food spills and water. Also, there are many types of tile available, and it’s easy to pick out the right one for your needs. You can find a huge range of options in-person or online, so you can really spend a decent amount of time looking to find the perfect fit for your space.
You should have no trouble matching the appearance and decor to your home and kitchen. Real tile is extremely easy to clean, and it’ll allow you to quickly wipe the stains and spills off without using harsh chemicals or worrying about creating permanent stains on the wall.
The final type of backsplash is wallpaper, and it’s a very popular option. This can be a simple and quick way to update your space, but this type of backsplash won’t provide the protection your wall requires in the messier kitchen area. Peel and stick wallpaper that is removable is a good choice for any renters who aren’t allowed to make large cosmetic changes to the home, the heat and humidity in the kitchen can cause the wallpaper to peel off very quickly.
So, even though the wallpaper can look amazing during the installation process, you may quickly need to address it once it starts to peel at the seams. Another issue with wallpaper is that, depending on the type you pick out, it can be challenging to remove splashes and stains without causing damage. Some foods can stain the wallpaper permanently, like spaghetti sauce.
We’ve outlined 22 types of backsplashes that you can use in your kitchen or bathroom to make the space look larger, lighter, and more welcoming. You can decide which one will benefit your space the best, install it, and enjoy how it looks for years to come.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.