Top 10 Kitchen Backsplash Ideas and Costs per Sq. Ft.

Most kitchen remodeling updates are about design as much as they are about functionality. Enter the backsplash. They function to protect kitchen walls from splattering grease, splashing water and suds from the sink, and spills that defy gravity, ergo get stuck to the walls. 😉

via Bowles Remodeling

Today’s kitchen splashes are as integral to the layout and design of kitchens as cabinets, flooring and countertops. In fact, the look and materials chosen for countertops are generally a good place to start when considering the appearance of your own backsplash.

Here we provide a list of top 10 contemporary backsplashes and materials from most expensive to the least to help you visualize and decide which option would best work for your kitchen.

1. Granite, Marble, or Quartzite – Natural elegance with extreme durability

As many kitchens already use countertops made of granite, marble, or quartzite, as well as the islands, it make sense to continue that decor to the walls that are just above said countertops. Even if these ultra hard stones are nowhere in your current kitchen layout, they can add a touch of sophistication.

Pros: timeless beauty, highly durable, moisture-proof

Cons: very costly, granite and marble benefit from annual sealing

Cost: $35 to $100 per sq. ft. installed. To lessen costs, consider tile installation of these materials which runs $20 to $40 per sq. ft.

2. Stainless Steel – Modern simplicity offering restaurant-style sophistication

Modern Organic
An artistic twist on a standard stainless backdrop, the scratched surface is an interesting organic design that suggests a little whimsy and contrasts with the flat stainless appliances. Photo Credit: Jerry and Lois Photography Designer: Stephanie Young/Design Spectrum

via HGTV

The one color that fits with almost every contemporary kitchen design. It’s sleek, minimalist, and blends nicely with countertop appliances or hanging utensils.

Pros: Easy to wipe off, heat, moisture and stain-resistant

Cons: looks out of place in certain kitchen styles, hand or finger prints are surprisingly challenging to remove

Cost: $30 to $80 per sq. ft. installed. Cost more depending on distributor and how it is fabricated to fit certain areas.

3. Glass Panels / Glass Tiles – Modern diversity with colorful pizzazz

Back-painted glass panels provide color options galore which are protected behind a most durable material. Panels tend to be one continuous color, while tiles allow for jazzy patterns to spruce up your kitchen.

Pros: Panels are easy to clean, glass is virtually scratch-proof and holds up to heat well

Cons: can be challenging to install, while durable – glass can crack and so not suitable for all homes

Cost: Panels are arguably the most expensive material on this list, priced at $200 to $250 per sq. ft. installed. Yet, glass tiles are far less expensive, costing $25 to $50 per sq. ft. installed

4. Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest chef of them all?

Subway tile has a classic look that’s become hugely popular.

But, if you’d like to go beyond basic white, mirrored tile could be the style you’re looking for. In this photo the mirror is secondary, since the tile lines create a textured focal point.

This homeowner also took the mirror all the way to the ceiling, doubling the kitchen’s visual space.

via Forum PHI Architecture

Mirrors as backsplashes offer the structural benefits of glass while providing visual appearance of enlarging the kitchen space.

Pros: Adds light to kitchens, easy to clean, resistant to scratches and heat

Cons: Can fog up under steamy conditions, brittle material that can crack, outside of contemporary kitchen designs it may look awkward

Cost: $8 to $15 per sq. ft. for mirror installation with few seams. Mirror tile is actually on high end, but easier to install.

5. Brick / Subway tile – Classic simplicity that works in virtually any kitchen

While brick veneer, brick tile and subway tile are rather distinct, they are all horizontal tile designs. Application may be as simple as peel and stick, but often uses mortar and grout for higher quality installation. Using gray or tan grout will disguise dirt better.

Pros: patterns may be single or multi-color, depending on material it is generally stain and heat resistant

Cons: dirty grout is unsightly, chipped tiles that are stuck to wall are difficult to repair/replace, not much pizzazz

Cost: $25 to $50 per sq. ft. installed.

6. Thermoplastic Panels – Classic elegance at reduced cost

via Community at Home Depot

The name of this material doesn’t do it much justice. Patterns often mimic old world metallic patterns that are muted, reflective or provide slight glimmer. These are perfect for the DIY approach to adding a backsplash as scissors and double-sided tape provide the tools needed to complete installation.

Pros: multiple textures and colors, easy to clean, stain resistant and virtually moisture proof

Cons: tape doesn’t make for great adhesive, so may want to use stronger bonding agent, material is not heat resistant

Cost: Your local home improvement store will sell kits that cost between $150 to $250 to cover up to 20 sq. ft.

7. Ceramic Tile – Limitless design options to fit all kitchen styles

Similar to subway tile, but this covers just about every other tile option possible in kitchen backsplashes. There are thousands of options in this category alone, that vary in texture, color and patterns. Peel and stick makes for easy, DIY installation and the grout version isn’t all that challenging for semi-skilled DIY’ers.

Pros: options galore (if overwhelmed, remember to base decisions around your countertops), resistant to grease/heat and moisture, clean-up is fairly easy

Cons: dirty grout is not fun to clean, premium material can be quite expensive

Costs: Given the multiple options, the range is wide from $1 to $30+ per sq. ft. Premium or custom tiles are on the high end. Average costs for medium quality materials are $2 to $12. Add $5 to $15 per sq. ft. if going with a contractor to do the installation.

8. Reclaimed Wood / Laminate Flooring – Rustic appeal with optional modern elegance

via Refresh Restyle by Debbie

Styles for wood as a backsplash are more diverse than you may think. Antique wood or old barn planks make for a rustic appearance that some may find most appropriate for their taste in kitchen design.

A waterproof laminate flooring provides a more contemporary look with appearance of wood. Some may even choose to use Hardwood Floor materials as their wall design for a sophisticated and sleek appearance.

Pros: natural beauty, can be painted if change in color is desired, durable, holds up to heat well

Cons: Doesn’t hold up to intense heat/fire, or is combustible, ongoing maintenance

Cost: Reclaimed wood costs $5 to $15 per sq.ft. for material, add $5 to $15 per sq. ft. for the installation. Laminate flooring is $2 to $6 per sq. ft. for material.

9. Photo Print / Vinyl Wallpaper – Backsplash with a very personal touch

via Splash Acrylic

Vinyl wallpaper offers design options that are limitless. It’s also waterproof, durable and relatively easy to clean. It’s therefore a great material to use for a photo mural that doubles as a backsplash for your kitchen. This allows you to choose a personal photo or favorite graphic image that will surely spruce up your kitchen space.

Pros: depending on material – can be easy to clean and waterproof. Photo delivers personal touch and unique design.

Cons: That image is there for the long-term so get used to it, may not match well with other colors in kitchen so consider monochromatic image, i.e. black and white

Cost: Paper is very inexpensive or $1 per sq. ft. To get photo onto such paper runs $250 to $750, maybe more, depending on who does it.

10. Chalkboard Paint – The fun and ever-changing backsplash

via HGTV on Pinterest

The paint is the material, but the chalkboard is what makes this so unique. Designs and messages are entirely up to you. Have a recipe to write? A message for a housemate? A doodle to share and be admired? This option allows that and whatever else you are inspired to write. On your wall. And what’s even more cool, it can be wiped clean at any moment.

Pros: Very inexpensive, fun (kid-friendly) and functional, fairly easy to clean

Cons: Obviously not a look for many kitchens, chalk dust and food don’t make for a good combination

Cost: $10 for a 30 oz. can at your local home improvement store, will cover roughly 110 sq. ft. So, what’s that, about 9 cents per sq. ft.? Obviously the cost of installation will be your major expense. We are guessing a few hundred dollars for the job. 😉

Which Backsplash Idea is your Favorite?