Five Stunning Backsplashes to Inspire your Kitchen Remodel

Remember Carmen? She remodeled her townhouse kitchen in the Bay Area, and her absolute favorite part of the project was the neutral-toned glass tile backsplash she chose to run from countertop to cabinets.

The right backsplash can make or break a kitchen design.

While it is a functional component of your design, intended to protect your walls from moisture and spills as you cook up a storm, there is plenty to consider also on the aesthetic side. How does your backsplash complement your countertops, cabinetry, even flooring? Do you go bold or subtle? Too loud and you risk crowding the space, not loud enough and you may as well have gone with the standard 2x6 subway tile.  

To help you narrow down your options, we’ve gathered a few big impact backsplash materials to inspire your kitchen design.

glass tile materials and kitchen moodboard
It's all about that light and bright glass tile in a galley kitchen!

There’s more than one thing that we love about an elegant glass tile backsplash.

Translucent and reflective, they can bring a light and airy feel to your space, which makes glass tile backsplash a great option especially in smaller kitchens with a tighter layout. In addition, the material is fully waterproof and easy to wipe clean - precisely the functionality you are looking for in a backsplash.

Note that glass tile can be a pricier option than other materials, so you will want to account for how much area you will need to cover for your project. But if you can swing it in your budget, we are obsessed with this Loft Sand Beach Polished Glass Subway Tile from Tilebar, coming in at $18.50 per square foot.

Bonus tip:  When shopping for tile and other materials, you will need to account for what's known as "overage" at purchase. If you have to come back for more, you cannot guarantee that the material will be available or manufactured consistently. At Beam, we recommend planning for somewhere around 8-12% in overage, but that you confirm these numbers with your contractor and tile subcontractor before placing an order.

Kitchen moodboard featuring a polished ceramic tile
This Zelliga Perla polished ceramic tile from Adessi takes your kitchen from plain Jane to cozy chic, at a reasonable price point for backsplash tile material. 

We love a good twist on subway tile.

This Zelliga Perla Polished Ceramic Tile made by Adessi and available from Floor and Decor has some natural variability in tone and texture, and can take a kitchen from plain Jane to cozy chic, at a reasonable price point. These are sold by the 5x5” piece, at $1.09, which comes out to roughly $6-7 per square foot.

Choose your sheen on this particular material: high-gloss or polished, and with varying tones of neutral beige, this backsplash can play the perfect compliment to more colorful cabinetry, without even a hint of boring.

Using ceramic tile as a kitchen backsplash material is fairly common, in part due to the lower cost. Installation is simpler (you can see through glass tiles, which makes the adhesive work more detailed), and there is a world of wonderful options.

Bonus tip: Make sure to thoughtfully consider your grout color as well, there can be a world of difference between light grey and stark white.

Kitchen moodboard with marbled slab material option
For a high-end and elegant look, consider using a slab material as your kitchen backsplash.

Or perhaps you’re over the grout lines altogether?

We’re seeing more and more homeowners and designers opt for a cleaner, more high-end look, and choose a slab material – stone or quartz – to install as kitchen backsplash. One of our favorite kitchens from 2021, designed and DIY’d by the illustrious Angela Rose, features a marbled quartz backsplash from Bedrosian Tile and Stone.

Slabs will always be a more expensive option than any tile, simply because of the premium cost of this material. But wow, is it worth it from time to time! Not only can you trust that you have chosen a very durable and functional option to cover your walls, but you can relish for years in the graceful and serene impression your kitchen now exudes.

Slabs can have a lot of variability to them, so we highly recommend that you visit a local provider in person to make this purchase. And keep your eye out for scrap pieces when you’re there - you may just be lucky enough to find a piece that suits your needs and save a pretty penny on this high-end material.

Kitchen backsplash moodboard featuring patterned tiles
Pick a pattern, any pattern! Consider your kitchen backsplash an opportunity to delight. 

Now. It’s time to start having some real fun.

Consider using a bold and playful patterned tile to add a bit of spice to your kitchen remodel. We’ve found a bunch of bright and functional options that suit the more adventurous homeowner, such as this HexArt Pop tile in turquoise from Tilebar. A play on the popular hexagonal trend, add a perfect mid-century modern pop of detail with this tile.

Paired with more modest cabinetry and a neutral color scheme, your patterned backsplash becomes an opportunity to delight. Or throw caution entirely to the wind? Get bold also with your cabinetry colors, choose a contrasting pattern for your flooring, and use this space to express your adventurous identity. After all, some of the most highly awarded kitchen designs make elegant and exciting use of pattern and color throughout the space.

Just remember that the kitchen is often the heart of the home and that you’ll be staring at that backsplash for a while. Make sure you are choosing materials you will love in ten years too.

Create a dramatically different effect with an alternative tile arrangement.

So remember that old 2x6 subway tile? Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be the old and boring option after all. Consider an alternative arrangement to give your kitchen a different look, install those subway tiles vertically and you’ll get a dramatically different overall effect with the very same material.

Another option we love for mixing it up in the kitchen, is a herringbone-patterned backsplash, such as in this elegant French Linen kitchen design featuring Fireclay Tile. These are handcrafted glass tiles with a soft eased edge, seen here in a cool grey, but available in multiple shades. On the higher end in price at $45 per square foot, this material makes for an upscale yet classic backsplash.

And to be sure, you can opt for a more budget-friendly material and still get big impact from an alternative tiling arrangement like herringbone or vertical. Consider the size, color, and quality of your material, and don't be afraid to ask detailed questions about the function and form of your material before confirming your order.

Some final things to note when choosing your kitchen backsplash material:

The technical minimum requirement for backsplash height is 4”, but nowadays it is more common that designers will favor a full-height backsplash (tiling from countertops to ceiling or cabinetry) in a contemporary kitchen.

This is both for durability and to create a more modern, upscale feel, but note that the cost of your material will increase with the added square footage.

We'll say it again: make sure to double-check those overage numbers to ensure your team has the right amount of material before putting in your order.

And last, but definitely not least, have fun with it. This is, after all, your kitchen.