The Ultimate Guide to Backsplashes

Everything you need to know about the 12 most popular materials

Sure, you could go for a sexy new oven or fancy, custom cabinetry. But as far as we’re concerned, the backsplash is the place in your kitchen to really make a statement.

So what’s your style? Classic farmhouse beadboard? Modern tempered glass? DIY chalkboard paint? Check out our definitive guide to see which material is right for you.

Seventh House on the Left

Ceramic Subway Tile

Pros: This old standby is popular for a reason: It takes a beating for decades and can look demur, showy, modern or retro, depending on how you apply and grout it.

Cons: The tile itself will outlast the materials used in installation, meaning it may need re-grouting or re-caulking every few years.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $2 to $50 (for handmade artisan tile)


Natural Stone

Pros: Marble, granite and limestone can work for a traditional or modern look, depending on cut and installation.

Cons: Dark colors are more expensive than light ones, and the stone is often uneven in thickness. (If that sort of thing bothers you.)

Price/Sq. Ft.: $10 to $60

Cement Tile

Pros: Hello, conversation piece.

Cons: Cement is heavy, pricey and porous. Tiles sometimes chip during shipping, meaning you’ll want to buy a few extra.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $25 to $30


Mosaic Tile

Pros: Mesh-backed sheets are super-easy to install (there’s a reason they’re a fave among DIYers). Style options are limitless with materials ranging from stone to glass to even stainless steel.

Cons: Mosaic sheets come with the tiles prearranged, meaning you're stuck with that blue/gold/amber combo unless you want to shell out more money to adjust.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $20


Tempered Glass

Pros: The vibe is super-cool and modern and it looks fantastic with LED under-cabinet lighting. Plus, it’s easy to clean and tough to stain.

Cons: Glass can crack if the screws are too tight… and at $45/square foot, it doesn’t exactly come cheap.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $20 to $45

Tin Tile

Pros: These vintage-looking tiles will stand up to water and heat. And as long as you clean them regularly with soap and water, they truly will last as long as your kitchen.

Cons: If you have an oddly shaped area, installing the tiles without cutting into the designs can get tricky.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $4 to $18


Pros: This solid-surface option makes for a classic, country-chic aesthetic (at a relatively low price point). It’s also easy to cut and glue during installation and easy to wipe down during cleanup.

Cons: Over time, dirt, food and mold may get stuck in the grooves.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $25


Hex Tile

Pros: This Victorian favorite stands up to frequent scouring and instantly gives any kitchen a fun, period flair.

Cons: You have to seal it periodically.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $7 to $23

Walker Zanger

Clay Tile

Pros: Whether matte or glazed, chevron or brick--this stuff just looks expensive.

Cons: Tile and grout must be sealed annually, and since clay tile is often unsealed on the edges, it requires finishing with trim where it meets the wall.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $6 to $50

Sheet Metal

Pros: Nickel, zinc, copper, stainless steel. There’s a reason commercial kitchens use this stuff: It’s virtually impervious to everyday abuse.

Cons: It’s pricey and gets pricier the more you have to cut it to allow for outlets and other wall obstacles.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $20 to $160

Metal Laminate

Pros: Similar to high-pressure plastic laminate, this budget answer to the sheet metal look is available in a range of finishes and textures.

Cons: It takes less wear and tear than sheet metal and shows fingerprints like whoa.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $6 to $9


Pros: This versatile, on-trend look does double duty as the family message center. And since it goes on with a paintbrush, “installation” is a total breeze.

Cons: Keeping tabs on pieces of chalk.

Price/Sq. Ft.: $5

jillian quint
Jillian Quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...
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