Kitchen Backsplash Tile Layout Designs Best Layout Options

A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function. Not only does it protect the walls from splashes and stains, but it offers a fun way to add visual interest to your kitchen. With so many kitchen backsplash tile options to choose from, deciding on a layout can feel overwhelming. Should you do a full tile backsplash or just a small backsplash? What tile shape and pattern will look best? Read on as we break down the most popular kitchen backsplash tile layouts and design options to help you choose the perfect look for your space.

Popular Kitchen Backsplash Tile Layouts

Full Tile Backsplash

Going from counter to ceiling with a backsplash tile creates a bold, seamless look. It makes the space appear larger and draws the eye up. Full backsplashes work well in contemporary, modern, transitional, and even some traditional kitchen designs. Be sure to choose a tile that complements your cabinetry and countertops rather than competes. White subway tile and mosaic tile patterns are two classic full backsplash options that pair well with many kitchen styles.

Some pros of a full backsplash layout include:

  • Creates a clean, streamlined look
  • Makes kitchen appear more spacious
  • Allows for bolder tile choices like mosaics
  • Provides more protection from water and stains

Some cons to consider:

  • More expensive than a small backsplash
  • Dark tiles can make kitchen feel dark and cramped
  • Cleaning and maintenance required at taller height

Overall, a full backsplash tile layout is a great choice for anyone looking for a modern, seamless look. The key is choosing the right tile style to match your kitchen’s existing features and aesthetics.

Partial Backsplash

A partial backsplash, also called a small backsplash, only covers a portion of the wall between the countertops and cabinets. Typically a partial backsplash will extend 4-6 inches up the wall above the counters or range. The most popular partial backsplash height is 4 inches.

Partial backsplashes work well for more traditionally styled kitchens. The small area of accent tile provides a classic touch without going overboard. It’s also a budget-friendly way to add some tile work without tiling an entire wall.

Some pros of a partial backsplash layout:

  • Less expensive than a full backsplash
  • Allows you to just accent work areas like behind stove
  • Easier to clean than a full backsplash
  • Lets you use bolder tiles since it’s a smaller space

Some cons to consider:

  • Can look incomplete compared to a full backsplash
  • Doesn’t fully protect walls from splashes and stains
  • Patterned or mosaic tiles don’t get shown off well

Overall, a partial backsplash is ideal for anyone wanting just a touch of tile without the cost and maintenance of tiling an entire wall. It’s a great way to highlight your favorite materials behind your range or sink area.

Mosaic Tile Backsplash

Mosaic tiles are small (1 inch or less) tiles that come mounted together in a mesh sheet. The most common are glass, ceramic, or stone. Using mosaic tiles allows you to create busy patterns and designs in your backsplash.

Some pros of a mosaic tile backsplash layout:

  • Provides tons of design flexibility and options
  • Small tiles create unique visual textures and shapes
  • Mesh sheets make installation easier than individual tiles
  • Reflective glass mosaics add radiance and depth

Some cons to consider:

  • Busy patterns can feel overwhelming in small kitchens
  • Grout between small tiles requires more maintenance
  • Not ideal for traditional kitchen aesthetics
  • Can lack cohesion if mosaic pattern isn’t planned out

Overall, a mosaic tile backsplash is a great choice for contemporary and eclectic kitchen styles. The key is choosing a mosaic pattern that aligns with your overall design vision. Careful planning ensures it ties together instead of feeling chaotic.

Herringbone Tile Pattern

The classic herringbone tile pattern arranges rectangular tiles in an alternating upside down and rightside up zigzag pattern. The result is visual movement, interest, and texture.

Some pros of a herringbone backsplash tile layout:

  • Timeless, classic pattern works with various styles
  • Elongated shape makes kitchen feel more spacious
  • Interesting visual texture adds depth without feeling busy
  • Easy for DIYers to install in a grid pattern

Some cons to consider:

  • Rigid pattern may not suit more modern or rustic styles
  • Grout lines more prone to staining and discoloration
  • Could compete visually if cabinets or flooring have similar lines
  • Difficult to cut border and edge pieces

Overall, a herringbone backsplash tile layout brings lovely visual interest through line and shape. Keep grout color in mind as contrasting grout can make the zigzag pattern really stand out. It’s an eye-catching yet classic choice.

Brick Tile Pattern

The brick tile pattern has a classic staggered brickwork look. Rows are offset half a tile width from the row below in a half-bond pattern. This layout is often done with subway tiles, but can be adapted to other rectangular tile shapes and sizes as well.

Some pros of a brick backsplash tile pattern:

  • Classic, versatile look complements various styles
  • Offsetting rows add subtle visual interest
  • Long rectangular tiles make kitchen feel open
  • Easy for DIY backsplash project, just a offset grid

Some cons to consider:

  • Fairly simple compared to more complex patterns
  • Grout lines may look dirty or distracting over time
  • Thinner grout lines less suitable for higher traffic areas
  • Fewer design possibilities than mosaic or herringbone

Overall, the brick tile pattern is a safe, classic choice that subtly breaks up a tile wall without going overboard on design. It’s particularly well suited to farmhouse and traditional kitchen aesthetics.

Stacked Tile Pattern

The stacked tile pattern lives up to its name by installing tiles in a stacked layout rather than offset. Tile rows simple stack directly on top of one another. This creates clean lines and rectangles of color.

Some pros of a stacked tile backsplash pattern:

  • Clean, modern aesthetic suits contemporary styles
  • Allows bold use of color blocking
  • Easy installation in straight vertical rows
  • Emphasizes height and draws the eye up

Some cons to consider:

  • Can create a flat, boring look without variation
  • Grout lines run uninterrupted top to bottom
  • Not suited for distressed or traditional aesthetics
  • Requires very straight, level installation

Overall, the stacked tile layout creates a sharp, bold backsplash perfect for modern and contemporary kitchens. Varying tile sizes and colors within the stack adds a bit more interest while maintaining the clean lines.

Diagonal Tile Pattern

Laying tile on the diagonal creates fun visual movement and interest. Angled tile also makes spaces appear larger. The diagonal pattern works best on a full backsplash but can be adapted to a small backsplash as well.

Some pros of a diagonal backsplash tile layout:

  • Adds visual motion and depth
  • Makes kitchen feel more spacious and open
  • Creates almost a zigzag effect without hard angles
  • Distinctive layout stands out from basic grid

Some cons to consider:

  • Challenging layout for DIY install
  • Severe angles can make walls look awkward
  • May not suit traditional aesthetics
  • Pattern and busyness can overwhelm small kitchens

Overall, a diagonal layout feels fresh and innovative while still working within classic tile shapes. Carefully plan the tile cuts and focal points to keep the overall aesthetic clean and cohesive.

Subway Tile Patterns

Subway tiles offer tons of classic backsplash layout possibilities. The simple rectangular shape installs easily in various designs.

Some top subway tile backsplash layouts include:

  • Stacked: Clean, graphic lines
  • Brick: Offsetting rows, versatile style
  • Herringbone: Vintage zigzag appeal
  • Basketweave: Interwoven rows, dimensional
  • Penny Rounds: Circular accents within grid
  • Mosaics: Mini subway tiles create patterns

The sleek, contemporary look of subway tiles pairs well with most kitchen aesthetics from modern to farmhouse. Simple layout alterations provide plenty of design flexibility.

Geometric Tile Patterns

For a more bold, modern backsplash, consider using graphic geometric shapes like hexagons, triangles, or chevrons.

Some pros of a geometric tile backsplash:

  • Captures contemporary, cutting-edge aesthetics
  • Makes a dramatic design statement
  • Inspires thoughtful use of color and texture
  • Adds visual interest to minimalist styles

Some cons to consider:

  • Strong design feels overpowering in some spaces
  • Complex patterns require very precise installation
  • Lack of cohesion can look haphazard or chaotic
  • Difficult to make changes once installed

Overall, a geometric tile backsplash has serious wow-factor. Carefully plan the design to complement the rest of the kitchen. Scale down pattern size in small spaces to keep it elegant.

Mixed Tile Patterns

Don’t feel confined to just one tile shape or material. Mixing and matching tile designs opens up countless backsplash possibilities.

Some mix and match tile layout ideas include:

  • Accent mosaic within subway tile grid
  • Geometric decorative trim tiles with classic base
  • Contrasting shapes like circles with squares
  • Varying natural stone colors and textures
  • Metallic glass tiles paired with matte ceramic

When combining tile designs, adhere to the 60-30-10 rule for aesthetics:

  • 60% dominant tile
  • 30% secondary tile
  • 10% accent tile

Follow this formula as you mix and match to ensure your backsplash appears thoughtfully planned rather than haphazard.

Factors that Influence Backsplash Tile Layout

Many factors will help determine which backsplash tile layout works best for your kitchen. Assess the following to select a design aligned with your space:

Kitchen Size

Smaller kitchens do best with simpler tile layouts like a basic brick pattern. This helps the space feel open instead of cluttered. Larger kitchens can handle busier backsplashes with mosaics, multi-tile designs, and strong focal points. Adapt the scale as needed.

Kitchen Style

Contemporary kitchens favor modern, sleek tile layouts like stacked. Traditional kitchens tend towards classic patterns like herringbone and penny rounds. Choose a backsplash design that complements the overall aesthetic.

Tile Shape

Long, rectangular subway tiles and mosaics install well in vertical layouts. Larger tiles like hexagons may require a straighter horizontal layout. Let the tile dimensions guide the possible layouts.

Tile Finish

Glossy, metallic, patterned, or handpainted tile serves as an instant focal point. Pair these with simple layouts to avoid an overwhelming feel. Save busy patterns for more subtle matte tiles.

Kitchen Use

Home chefs and messy cooks benefit from easy-to-clean full backsplashes with grout kept to a minimum. High-traffic kitchens also require durable material like natural stone.


Larger and more intricate backsplash tile designs impact the budget. Save money with smaller accents or by limiting tile to prime focal areas like behind the stove.

Personal Style

Consider your own personal style preferences and what will make you happy in your kitchen. Your backsplash should complement your cabinets, counters, appliances and overall aesthetic.

Analyzing these factors will guide you to smart backsplash decisions tailored specifically to your kitchen space and needs.

Design Tips for Kitchen Backsplash Tile Layouts

Follow these simple tips when planning a kitchen backsplash tile layout:

  • Draw inspiration from kitchen design magazines or Houzz photos with looks you love. This gets ideas percolating.
  • Gather tile samples and lay them out on the floor to visualize patterns and placement before installing.
  • If using more than one tile design, pick a dominant tile to set the tone, keeping accents secondary.
  • Limit accent tiles to strategically draw attention to key areas like behind stove or sink.
  • For mosaic sheets, map out the tile cuts needed around corners and edges.
  • Keep grout lines minimal with mosaic sheets to avoid a gridlocked look.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended tile spacing and grout width.
  • Use your focal point like a ventilation hood or window as a guide for tile placement.
  • Align horizontal lines in tile layout with countertops and cabinetry to elongate the space.
  • Install tile in lighting fixture boxes before doing the rest of the backsplash.
  • Use leveling tools, spacers and other installation aids for tricky tile patterns.

Proper planning and preparation ensures your kitchen backsplash tile layout aligns with the rest of your design for a cohesive look you’ll love enjoying for years.

Kitchen Backsplash Tile Layout Ideas

Need some inspiration on ways to lay out your kitchen backsplash tile? Here are a few creative yet classic backsplash tile layout ideas to spark your creativity:

Framed Accent Backsplash

Create a framed backsplash look by bordering bold accent tiles with simple white subway tile. The framing effect grounds the bolder tile while letting it shine. It’s a fresh take on the typical kitchen backsplash.

Mini Diamond Pattern

Tiny, pebble-shaped mosaic tiles installed in a diamond pattern add tons of visual texture. The mesh backing makes this doable DIY project. Just cut the mesh to fit around focal points like outlets.

Mirrored Herringbone

Put a modern spin on classic herringbone backsplash tile by using a mirrored surface. The reflection bounces light around the kitchen for an airy, open feel. It adds just enough edge to appeal to contemporary design fans.

Geometric Modern

Make a bold style statement with large-scale hexagon tile in dramatic black and white. Use sparingly as an accent behind the stove to contrast clean lines elsewhere. The drama ties in modern elements without overwhelming.

Classic White Subway

Sometimes simple is best. The iconic white subway tile backsplash stands the test of time with crisp clean lines. Opt for groutless installation behind the stove for easy wiping. Use classic penny tile accents for a touch of old school charm.

Rustic Farmhouse Brick

Achieve breezy cottage style with brick patterned ceramic tile in muted natural tones like alabaster, salt and pepper, or linen. The soft colors and slightly imperfect glazing create rustic appeal. Contrast with bright white grout.

Coastal Blues

Bring beachy vibes to a coastal kitchen with interlocking rows of small rectangular glass subway tiles in shades of sea glass, sky blue, and aqua. Install in a brick pattern to create rhythmic waves. Coordinate with ocean-hued paint or accessories.

Sophisticated Moroccan

Intriguing Moroccan-inspired cement tiles lend global flair. Choose a colorful floral or geometric design using the traditional Moorish colors of blue, green and terra cotta orange. Install in clusters behind the stove or sink as captivating focal points.

Tiled Focal Niche

Work in functional storage by recessing a section of the backsplash to create a shelved niche. Continue the main backsplash tile into the niche for a cohesive integrated look. Sconce lighting highlights the display space.

Common Kitchen Backsplash Mistakes to Avoid

While a new backsplash can totally transform your kitchen, there are some common mistakes to avoid. Watch out for these issues to ensure backsplash success:

Choosing Trendy Tile

What’s hot today may not stand the test of time. Avoid choosing tile just because it’s a current trend, and opt for classic materials and colors instead.

Forgetting Functionality

Don’t sacrifice function just for style’s sake. For high-traffic kitchens, natural stone works better than delicate glass mosaic. Prioritize durability.

Going Overboard

Resist the temptation to use too many different tiles in too busy of a pattern. Stick to a 60/30/10 mix for a balanced aesthetic.

Ignoring Grout

Grout is part of the design. Contrasting grout can make tile shapes stand out. Be sure to consider grout color and texture.

Not Planning Out Pattern

Take time to map out the tile layout before installing. This avoids issues like chopping off focal points or ending with mismatched edge tiles.

Forgetting the Big Picture

The backsplash should coordinate with your cabinets, floors, countertops and paint. Ensure your tile choice enhances the overall kitchen design rather than competing with it.

Rushing into Installation

Don’t skip important steps like leveling the substrate and applying even mortar. Rushing through installation could lead to a crooked backsplash that ruins the design.

With careful planning and attention to design, you can avoid backsplash blunders and end up with a stunning focal point you’ll enjoy for decades to come.

FAQs About Kitchen Backsplash Tile Layouts

Still have some questions about designing your kitchen backsplash tile layout? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What is the most popular backsplash tile size?

The most popular backsplash tile size is the classic 3×6 subway tile. The elongated rectangular shape installs nicely in varied patterns. Standard subway tiles are 3×6, but sizes like 4×12 or 4×8 are options too.

What is the easiest backsplash to install?

The easiest backsplash tiles to install are mosaics mounted on a mesh sheet. This allows you to install the whole section as one grid piece. Subway tiles also install easily in a basic staggered brick pattern. Avoid intricate patterns or natural stone for beginner DIY.

Should you use subway tile vertically or horizontally?

Subway tiles look best when installed vertically. This elongates and slimlines the kitchen. Going horizontal shortens lines and makes the space feel wider. The elongated subway tile shape suits the height of most backsplashes.

How do you lay out a herringbone pattern?

Start herringbone pattern layout in the center by cutting a 45 degree angle tile. Work outwards from there in rows, alternating the tile direction with each row. Use levels and spacers to ensure even zigzags. Having the focal