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The 411 on Kitchen Backsplashes

The 411 on Kitchen Backsplashes

Until recently, kitchen backsplashes were just a means of protecting walls from cooking splashes. But now they have become a more prominent part of kitchen design, offering an opportunity to inject color, texture, shape and personality. 


Your backsplash choice depends on a variety of factors. Do you want a classic, traditional look? Or would you prefer something that lets you showcase your unique style? Backsplashes can come in a variety of sizes and materials. While material cost is often a deciding factor, don’t forget to factor in installation and maintenance costs. 


Here’s a quick run-down on six of the more popular choices you might find today. 

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is the most popular option for a backsplash. It is incredibly versatile, coming in many shapes, sizes and colors, and can be installed in numerous patterns. The price per tile can vary widely depending on the size, thickness and manufacturing process. The most common type, glossy glazed ceramic tile, is the least expensive. On the more expensive end is handmade inlaid ceramic tile. Other types include matte glazed, crackle glazed, hand painted, metallic, large format and mosaic.


Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tiles are made from compressed clay dust fired to high temperatures. It is not typically glazed, comes in fewer varieties, and lacks the more decorative options of ceramic, but it is more durable and longer lasting. Porcelain tiles can provide the look of stone, wood or glass for less than a backsplash made from those materials. It is generally more expensive than ceramic tile, but the lower maintenance can help balance the upfront cost.

Stone Tile

Different types of stone are commonly used for backsplashes, including granite, marble, and soapstone. The type and grade of stone affects the cost, as can the design. The most popular and durable option is granite, which comes in a wide range of colors. Slate comes in a handful of natural colors. Soapstone is available in neutrals but is prone to scratches. Travertine is softer and more porous, but has a natural gloss. Marble is a luxury choice, and its many colors and unique natural veins add to its beauty. Engineered stone, such as quartz, is also an option and is nonporous.


Glass Tile

Glass tile offers a variety of shades, shapes and designs. In addition to the range of colors and patterns, glass tile also offers different levels of reflectivity: glossy, frosted, matte and iridescent, which reflects all colors of light and is best for sunlit rooms. It’s easy to clean, but cannot be repaired if damaged. And finding matching replacement tiles can be difficult. 


Laminated wood, reclaimed wood and beadboard are typically less expensive than most options, although they have drawbacks. Wood isn’t naturally waterproof, so if it is not laminated then a special sealant needs to be used to make it viable. With painting and staining, the appearance of a wood backsplash look is flexible, but it also requires ongoing maintenance to retain its look.


Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a great option for a kitchen backsplash largely because it’s durable and easy to clean. It can be modified with many different design patterns, and can include other materials such as glass. Different textures are also available, such as quilted, ribbed or hammered. It can be more expensive to install since materials such as construction adhesive, clamps, screwdrivers, framing squares and silicone caulk can add to the price per square foot. 


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