Backsplash Designs, Materials, Patterns and Styles for a Beautiful, Unique Kitchen Backsplash

A stunning backsplash can take your kitchen from drab to fab! With so many options for materials, colors, textures and patterns, selecting the perfect backsplash may feel overwhelming. This ultimate guide on backsplash bonanza will walk you through everything you need to know to create a jaw-dropping, customized backsplash that expresses your personal style. Let’s dive in!

An Introduction to Kitchen Backsplashes

A backsplash is a vertical surface protected against splashes and spills in a kitchen, typically located on the wall between the countertops and kitchen cabinets. While a backsplash serves the functional purpose of shielding your walls from stains, it also provides an excellent decorative opportunity to add visual interest, color, texture and personality to your kitchen design.

When selecting a backsplash, consider how it will coordinate with your cabinetry, countertops, flooring and other kitchen elements. You’ll also want to factor in your lifestyle, budget and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve. Do you cook often and need serious stain protection? Is easy maintenance a priority? Are you willing to take on a weekend tiling project to get the backsplash of your dreams? Asking these types of questions will help you narrow in on the best backsplash options for your kitchen and style.

From gleaming subway tiles to ornate mosaics, bold stone slabs to shimmery glass sheets, there are countless gorgeous materials to elevate your backsplash design. Keep reading to uncover helpful backsplash ideas and tips for infusing this functional space with your personal flair!

Backsplash Materials: Pros, Cons and Considerations

The material you select for your backsplash will impact aesthetics, durability, ease of maintenance and installation. Review the benefits and drawbacks of popular backsplash materials below to decide which is best suited for your kitchen.

Ceramic & Porcelain Tile

Pros: budget-friendly, readily available, durable, easy to clean, range of colors/patterns/textures, DIY friendly

Cons: grout may stain, can chip if struck, labor-intensive installation

Best for classic and contemporary kitchens alike, ceramic and porcelain tiles offer endless possibilities. Subway tiles, mosaics, decorative accents and more provide a mix of function and style. Glazed tiles resist moisture and wiping clean is a breeze.

Glass Tile

Pros: reflective surface, variety of colors and finishes, mosaic patterns, modern look

Cons: prone to cracking/chipping, grout may discolor, professionally installed for best results

Sleek glass backsplash tiles catch the light beautifully. Often used in mosaics, they create shimmery focal points behind sinks or stovetops. Select tempered glass for strength and avoid dark grout which shows dirt.

Natural Stone

Pros: one-of-a-kind natural patterns/colors, heat resistant, holds up to heavy use

Cons: porous and stains easily, cool surface temperatures, heavy so professional install advised

For organic texture and durability, natural stone like marble, travertine, granite and onyx make striking backsplashes. Sealant is essential to prevent staining in the pores. Limit polished stones to low-use areas.


Pros: reflective surface, industrial vibe, available in range of finishes like copper and stainless steel

Cons: prone to scratches/dents, loud acoustically, stains if unsealed

From tin ceiling tiles to modern stainless steel sheets, metal backsplashes inject an urban edge. Consider hammered copper, galvanized tin or mosaic penny tiles. Keep the rest of the kitchen subtle to avoid an overly metallic look.

Brick, Wood & Concrete

Pros: natural rustic charm, uniquely textured accents

Cons: high maintenance, prone to damage from moisture/impacts

Rustic kitchens can benefit from a partial wood, brick or concrete backsplash. Limit these fragile materials to low-use decorative areas, seal properly and pair with highly durable surrounding counters/tiles.

Backsplash Ideas: Colors, Patterns and Textures

Now that you’re familiar with the most common kitchen backsplash materials, it’s time for the fun part – selecting eye-catching colors, patterns and textures to elevate your design!

Backsplash Color Considerations

While white and neutral backsplash tiles are classic options that match any décor, don’t shy away from infusing color for extra drama. Here are tips for choosing a colorful backsplash:

  • Tie in accent cabinet colors: Coordinate your backsplash color with accent cabinet finishes for a pulled-together look. For example, bring in soft blue, mint or sage glass tiles if you have painted lowers in the same cool, inviting tones.
  • Play off countertops: Contrast or complement your countertop material and color palette. For instance, creamy marble countertops could pair nicely with bold navy or deep green tile. Stainless steel counters pop against vibrant orange glass mosaic.
  • Echo flooring: Select backsplash tile in the same tone family as your kitchen flooring so the elements visually flow together. Similar warm wood or neutral earth tone floors and backsplashes promote harmony.
  • Make appliances pop: Vibrant backsplash tiles draw the eye to surrounding stainless, black or white appliances for a focal point. Turquoise or tomato red mosaics really make equipment stand out.
  • Consider lighting: Certain backsplash materials and colors like glossy tile or dark hues will reflect more light around the kitchen. Factor in how your lighting (or lack thereof) interacts with the backsplash colors.

No matter which backsplash colors catch your eye, limiting yourself to just one or two complementary tones will keep things from veering into overstimulating territory.

Backsplash Patterns & Textures

In addition to captivating colors, don’t overlook the visual impact of interesting backsplash patterns and textures.

  • Subway tiles: This rectangular shape arranged in a bricklaid pattern is a classic choice that offers tons of sizing, color and finish options for endless customizable looks. Mix and match subway tile dimensions, colors and sheen for contemporary flair.
  • Herringbone: The zigzag herringbone pattern brings dimension and movement to subway tiles, bricks, wood and other materials. It makes for an eye-catching yet still subtle backdrop.
  • Geometric mosaics: For a pixelated, futuristic vibe, geometric mosaics use tiles cut into circles, triangles, diamonds and other interlocking shapes. Metallic tiles enhance the ultra-modern effect.
  • Moroccan & Spanish: Intricate mosaics drawing from Moroccan, Spanish and other influences often feature colorful handmade clay tiles in floral and nature motifs for loads of personality.
  • Penny Round: The classic penny tile shape interlocks to create a retro zigzag pattern. Use real vintage pennies or faux copper tiles for chic vintage charm.
  • 3D Tiles: Lend depth and visual intrigue with 3D tiles sculpted in dimensional bubble, fishscale, subway and other natural shapes. Reflective polished or iridescent glass 3D tiles create tactile, eye-catching backsplashes.
  • Stone: Honed travertine, marble, lava stone and other natural textures add organic contrast. Blend stone mosaic sheets with ceramic tile patterns for multidimensional style.
  • Scalloped: Scallop-edged ceramic tiles generate fluid, undulating lines and visual motion. Use scallops sparingly for maximum impact as an accent border or focal area.
  • Metallic: Mirror-finish metal tiles in zinc, copper or stainless steel administer industrial edge with light-reflecting dazzle. Combine metallic mosaics with glass tiles for amplified shimmer.

With limitless ways to combine colors, patterns and textures, the key is thoughtfully blending selections that express your unique kitchen vision.

Backsplash Ideas for Specific Kitchen Layouts

Now we’ll dive into backsplash ideas tailored to several common kitchen layouts to spark inspiration for maximizing your workspace.

Galley Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

Galley kitchens feature two parallel stretches of cabinets and counters that lend themselves to long runs of uninterrupted tile. A few galley backsplash ideas:

  • Subway tiles covering the length of both walls provide clean lines and symmetry. Continuing the same tiles on the end wall ties the space together.
  • Try a backsplash “rug” – floor-to-ceiling tiles contained on one focal wall behind the sink, stove or prep space. Contrast those statement tiles with simple white on the surrounding walls.
  • Or take the opposite approach with eye-catching mosaic tiles on both walls, unified by mini accent tiles bordering the focal area and edges for a finished frame.
  • Install open shelving on one stretch of wall to break up an expansive backsplash. Shelves show off decorative cookware while introducing material contrast.

Island Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

Island kitchens lend themselves to creating a focal point backsplash feature since the countertops don’t extend the entire wall length. Ideas for standout island backsplashes:

  • Oversized statement tiles like 12×24” marble slab behind the range makes it the clear focal point. Contrast with classic white subway tiles surrounding the statement area.
  • Arrange rectangular tiles vertically behind the stove instead of the expected horizontal to attract attention. Bonus points for extending the tiles to the ceiling.
  • Shape the focal backsplash based on your layout – for example, a rounded end above a rounded prep area or rectangular above the linear sink space.
  • Add height with a floor-to-ceiling tiled column containing open shelving. Continuing the tiles draws the eye up and highlights display space.

U-Shaped Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

In U-shaped kitchens, you have three distinct walls to work with, offering freedom to zone the backsplash design. Recommendations include:

  • Zoning by function – small-scale mosaic behind sink, subway tile surrounds stove, open shelves along prep area.
  • Zoning by color – one wall in dramatic dark hues, the next in mid-tones and final wall with light glass tiles for soothing contrast.
  • Zoning by texture – combine glossy stone behind the range, matte brick veneer along the prep zone and metallic mosaic framing open shelving.
  • Zoning by style – contemporary patterns along one wall, rustic natural wood on the next and modern glass completing the U shape.

Thoughtfully planning zones tied to U-shaped kitchen work triangles helps differentiate spaces.

L-Shaped Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

An L-shaped kitchen offers two joining walls to personalize. Ideas include:

  • Extending the same material in different patterns on each wall – herringbone tiles along one side complemented by subway tiles on the adjoining wall.
  • Framing inside corners with mosaic tiles or trim provides polished detail. Continue the mosaics along one wall.
  • Placing open shelving on the inside corner keeps the materials visible from more angles. Shelves break up potentially overwhelming tile spans.
  • Highlight outside corners with floor-to-ceiling tile columns. Use the same tiles in the column as on the surrounding walls to elongate the layout.

Take advantage of the natural segmentation of the L-shape. Treat each section as part of a coordinating whole.

Backsplash Height and Border Options

While backsplashes typically reach 18-24” above countertops, you have creative liberty when it comes to dimensions and borders. Consider these height and border backsplash possibilities:

Partial Height: Save budget and work with a shorter focal backsplash area behind the stove or sink only. Contrast with bare wall or alternate materials.

Full Height: Extend tiles from counter to ceiling for a luxe custom built-in look. Benefits include easier cleaning with no upper gap plus fully showcasing statement tiles.

Defined Border: Frame the overall backsplash tile area with mini mosaic tiles or trim. A clean border polishes off plain tile edges.

No Border: Skipping a border and abutting tiles directly against cabinetry and walls streamlines the look. Define edges with caulk the same color as the grout.

Accent Border: Make the border tiles a contrasting color/material to the field tiles for distinction. For example, pair white subway tiles with a bold raspberry mosaic frame.

Display Border: Float open shelves along the top backsplash border for displaying cherished dishware. Shelves introduce contrasting materials.

Experiment with dimensional tiles, mosaic inserts and floating shelves to take backsplashes beyond flat expanses of tile.

Backsplash Ideas by Style

Now let’s explore full backsplash designs suited to popular kitchen decorating styles so you can find your perfect match!

Modern Backsplash Ideas

For contemporary kitchens, sleek and geometric backsplash looks hit the mark with clean lines, minimal fuss and standout shapes and textures. Modern backsplash ideas include:

  • Glossy oversized subway tiles in charcoal gray, deep blue or hunter green for bold impact
  • Frosted glass, faux metal or stone slab tiles combined in shifting stacked grid patterns
  • Angular metallic mosaic tiles forming an asymmetrical herringbone pattern
  • Vivid solid orange, chartreuse or hot pink tiles as a high-contrast pop of color
  • River pebble tiles spreading organically across the wall with an eco vibe
  • Concrete-look porcelain tiles with subtle grey striations for understated urban edge
  • Combinations of glass, stone and metal for multidimensional texture and reflectivity

Modern backsplashes make simple statements with attention-grabbing materials, cool hues and geometric designs.

Rustic Backsplash Ideas

Rustic kitchen backsplashes harness natural materials and organic textures for a cozy, farmhouse vibe. Rustic backsplash ideas include:

  • Distressed wood planks made from barn siding or reclaimed roof beams
  • Mini stone tiles that mimic weathered cobblestones, pebbles and fossils
  • Matte terra cotta tiles laid in traditional patterns like herringbone
  • Tumbled travertine slabs full of naturally occurring holes and tonal variation
  • Clay tiles with visible crackle glazing and colors inspired by nature
  • Mini bricks or faux brick veneers set in irregular stacked arrangements
  • Etched raw metal tiles with patinaed and hammered finishes

Rustic backsplash options let you highlight the natural beauty of wood, stone, brick and metal elements.

Transitional Backsplash Ideas

Transitional kitchens balance classic and contemporary influences for a timeless, versatile look. Recommended transitional backsplash concepts include:

  • White, grey or almond glass subway tiles for a hint of shine
  • Beveled subway tiles laid vertically with thin grout lines
  • Whimsical pastel fish-scale tiles offer subtle retro flair
  • Multicolored Moroccan-inspired mosaics with light floral and paisley details
  • Mini hexagons, triangles and circles arranged in geometric mosaics
  • Metallic penny tiles inject subtle shine in an overlapping zigzag pattern
  • White marble or travertine insets framed with grey-glazed ceramic
  • Mirrored tiles at the focal point surrounded by matte classics

By blending traditional shapes like subway tiles with trend-forward mixed metallics, mosaics and other materials, transitional backsplashes strike aversatile look.

Farmhouse Backsplash Ideas

For cottage kitchen charm, farmhouse backsplashes incorporate vintage influences with quaint rural flair. Farmhouse backsplash options include:

  • Vintage tin ceiling tiles or reproduction tin penny rounds
  • Gently distressed wood planks in soft white and light blue hues
  • Subway tiles in faded-pastel sage green, robin’s egg blue or buttery yellow
  • Delicate floral decal tiles randomly dispersed across a white subway tile wall
  • Mini hexagon tiles in retro mint, pink, turquoise and mustard color combos
  • Rustic exposed brick or brick veneers near a cooktop or prep zone
  • Weathered unfinished wood framed by white beadboard paneling

Sweet, chippy and timeworn farmhouse backsplashes lend well-loved character and playful cottage personality.

Stylish Yet Functional Backsplash Design Tips

While aesthetics are key in backsplash design, don’t overlook practical considerations that improve durability and daily use. Useful tips include:

  • Select dense, non-porous tiles like porcelain or ceramic near cooking zones for stain-resistance. Avoid natural stone where oils may splatter.
  • Glass tiles should be tempered for added strength, especially around stoves. Avoid reflective finishes where glare could be an issue.
  • Consider eased or beveled edges on subway tiles for a softened classic look that hides grout lines. Pencil mosaics also obscure grout.
  • Install tiles vertically behind cooktops to make wiping up splatters easier. Horizontal tiles trap drips.
  • Use caulk rather than grout in corners and along borders for flexibility to prevent cracking.
  • Arrange any accent tiles, graphics or patterns in the center rather than near edges to avoid ending up with awkward slivers and cuts.
  • Select durable grouts enhanced with sealers to minimize staining in the joints between tiles.

Prioritizing functionality will help your gorgeous backsplash withstand everyday cooking and cleaning wear and tear.

Outfitting Open Shelving with Style

While not mandatory, open shelving integrated into backsplash designs remains popular for displaying beloved dishware or herbs while introducing contrasting textures and materials. Tips for terrific open shelving include:

  • Float shelves along the top backsplash border to define the transition from tile to wall. Continuous shelves provide a finished look.
  • Wood or metal ledges add warmth and an architecturally interesting element atop a tile backsplash.
  • Incorporate shelves near the oven to hold cooking essentials for easy access near the prep zone.
  • Install shelving on the ends of kitchen peninsulas or islands centered on the backsplash area.
  • Opt for stainless steel utility shelves with rails to hang cooking tools like commonly used pans and utensils.
  • Include integrated lighting, like puck lights, above open shelves to illuminate prized pieces and provide task lighting.