How to Add a Backsplash to Your Kitchen

By Erin Hynes | Nov. 14, 2016 1:49 pm PST

Improve your kitchen with a new backsplash

A backsplash home improvement project helps add visual interest to your kitchen.

A kitchen backsplash can add just the right pop of color to warm up the space, or it can be used to tie the different elements of the room together. And backsplashes are fast becoming a popular part of kitchen improvement and home design.

The Options Are Endless

“In the past, people would use the same material as the countertop or use a solid color for their backsplash,” says Dave Lincon, a kitchen and bath expert for Sears Home Services. “But there’s such a variety of materials these days, you can choose a great pattern to tie in with other areas of the kitchen—the cabinets, the flooring—rather than choose something monochrome and matching.”

Especially with today’s trend for white or generally monochromatic kitchens, a backsplash behind the sink and/or stove offers an opportunity for pops of color and texture, and a way to showcase your own unique style.

Here are some kitchen backsplash ideas and tips for how to add them to your kitchen.

Create Movement

There are so many backsplash material options to fit your style — porcelain, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, concrete, stone, slate. Even if you like the look of a single color, think about creating a backsplash design or pattern with different-sized tiles, suggests Adam Gibson, owner of Adam Gibson Design in Indianapolis. “Maybe do a few rows of 2-inch tile and then a row of 4- or 6-inch tile. The stacking provides texture.”

Glass tile has become popular and gives a sense of movement and depth. You can create mosaic patterns with backsplash tiles of varied types, like mixing marble and glass in linear patterns.

And slate and stone are naturals for texture because each piece can vary in thickness from its neighbors, creating interesting shadowing and depth.

“I like to use a rough-hewn natural stone for texture and randomly insert little accent pieces like a stamped bit of steel or aluminum, or squares of glass,” Gibson says.

To get a good sense of how your backsplash might change the look of your kitchen, upload a photo and try out our kitchen visualizer tool.

The Perfect Space

No window above your sink? Empty space over your stove? Those are great spots for an accent piece backsplash, Gibson says. He likes to create a sort of picture frame of individual tiles with a design in the center.

You’ll want to light your backsplash properly for maximum effect. “It will enhance the textures,” Gibson says. “Under-cabinet lighting can help light the work area, but it should also wash the backsplash.”

Thinking DIY?

In most cases, installing backsplash tile isn’t difficult — just tedious. You can purchase or rent a wet saw and lay out the pattern yourself, but be meticulous about making level, straight lines.

“You’ll be surprised how once the grout is applied, it pulls everything together,” Gibson says.

It’s a lot more difficult to match a pattern between pieces — especially when you’re using different sizes of tile. For complex designs, you might want to bring in a professional.

“But if you’re going to do this yourself,” Gibson warns, “make sure the outlets and switches are all level within 1/16th of an inch — and move them if they’re not — because the tile lines need to be straight, and it will be unsightly if they’re off.”

If you’re planning on selling your home, a new backsplash should enhance salability — as long as you don’t do anything too daring.

Just watch out for that slippery design slope. Lincon sees it all the time: Once you do your backsplash, you’re going to want to get a nice new countertop to go along with it.

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