Kitchen Tile Backsplash Trends and Tips


Backsplashes, while once almost an afterthought, are now designed into kitchens as a focal point and a driving design element. Some new trends we are seeing range from application to color to the design/material of tiles. One new backsplash trend is taking backsplash tile all the way above cabinets to the ceiling. This “oversize backsplash” stretches the tile from countertops to ceiling and really can be considered a wall treatment. It creates great “wow” factor and the illusion of tall ceilings. In terms of color, neutrals in whites, creams or greys as well as new modern, vivid, bold colors are taking the place of “pretty”, softer pastels. For tile design and style, we are seeing trends toward linear shapes such as longer stick mosaics. We are also seeing either small or large tiles instead of medium size square or rectangles. For example, long stick glass mosaics set vertically versus horizontally “vertical is the new horizontal”. In materials, while the tumbled stones are less popular, we are seeing continued use of glass, metals, or decorative hand painted ceramics. But remember, while trends can give you ideas, keep in mind, it’s YOUR kitchen, YOUR backsplash, pick something you love that works beautifully in your design!


We compiled the following backsplash trends and tips from to guide you while exploring tile backsplash ideas.


Which backsplash tile materials and patterns are extremely “of the moment”? Are there any backsplashes that are starting to look dated?

Decorative elements-like borders comprised of assorted materials-add fresh appeal to the outdated look of plain tumbled stone backsplashes. Glass tile remains hot, and designers expect it to continue as a popular material choice for backsplashes.


What size and shape tiles are particularly popular right now?

Most rectangular and square shapes are in style and work well in backsplash arrangements. But there has been a recent trend in using either small or large tiles instead of using medium-size square and rectangular tiles.


What about tile sizes-does small work better in a small kitchen, big better in a big kitchen?

There is no set rule when it comes to matching tile size with the size of your kitchen. With the right design in place, both big and small tiles can complement any kitchen style.


Should a backsplash match: the kitchen countertop, cabinets, flooring, or something else?

Have fun with your backsplash, but be aware of its surroundings.


Do you prefer a uniform backsplash consisting of the same tiles, or do you like to mix and match tile shapes and colors?

Both varied and uniform backsplashes can work well, as long the design fits with your kitchen’s overall style.


What do you recommend for someone on a tight budget who still wants a great backsplash?

Some striking accent tile can be a cost effective way to transform a bland backsplash.


White subway tiles: a classic that can never go wrong, or an overused look that leads to dull backsplashes?

You don’t have to worry about white subway tile going out style, but if your kitchen lacks pizazz, white subway tile probably won’t change that.

 Should a  backsplash is exactly the same material used on the countertop?

Unless your countertop is a visually unique piece of stone, you might want to avoid a completely uniform countertop and backsplash.


Should certain backsplash materials be avoided because they can easily be damaged by high heat or food stains?

Many backsplash tiles are durable enough to be placed behind a cooking area, but as always, it’s best to check with the tile manufacturer (or distributor) on the best way to care for the backsplash. Also, don’t forget to properly care for your grout, which can be susceptible to staining and other damage. Epoxy grout is often recommended in backsplash applications, as it highly resistant to stains.


If a backsplash is placed in an area without wall cabinets, should the backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?

A backsplash that extends all the way up to the ceiling can create a bold, contemporary look. Of course, extending tile all the way to the ceiling will cost more than stopping your backsplash at a shorter height.


How does tile design affect costs?

Every expert said costs will rise when tile has to be cut. It’s hard to predict how much costs will increase, because each backsplash project presents its own unique set of challenges. If you’re placing tile in a diagonal fashion, or using multiple tile sizes and accent pieces,  some tile cutting will likely be needed–And you can be sure these cuts will result in extra costs. Also, all our experts recommend hiring tile installers when it comes to these types of complicated backsplash installations.


Is it dated to have the backsplash be the counter extending up 4 inches and then have a painted wall?

We realize that not everyone can afford to install a brand-new backsplash, but our experts all agreed that if your backsplash design is simply a 4-inch countertop extension, an upgrade would serve your kitchen well.


How do you select grout? Do you like grout with color? Do you try to match it to tile?

The experts advise using grout that doesn’t distract from the tile. So they generally prefer a grout color that is similar to the backsplash tiles.


What backsplash and kitchen trends from Europe and Spain can people in the States use?

If you want a backsplash to be the main attraction in your kitchen, try limiting the amount of wall cabinets in your room.


Is there a prevalent backsplash style that you see in smaller kitchens in big city apartments?

There are no set rules for designing a backsplash for small kitchens in big city apartment buildings. The designs can range from classic to modern.


In the last 35 years, what have you seen change in backsplash design?

Once an afterthought, backsplashes are now a primary design element in many kitchens. In other words, when redesigning your kitchen in the 21st Century, don’t neglect the backsplash.



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