They’re easy to admire in photos, but can be infuriating to design on your own.
Backsplashes are more than just an extra layer of protection for your kitchen walls. They are also the means for some serious design impact. Color, mosaic work, continual expanses of natural stone – whatever your tastes, choosing a backsplash for a kitchen remodel should not be a last minute decision.
Standard Backsplash or The Whole Shebang? What Makes the Most Sense?
One of the decisions you’ll have to make in regards to your kitchen backsplash is whether or not you should tile the entire wall or go with a standard height version. Typically, a “standard” backsplash is about 4-inches high, although you are free to go a little higher. Often, clients who opt for this style will use 6-inch or 8-inch high options, so keep those heights in mind when reading “standard” or “partial” in the considerations listed below.
There are a few considerations that come into play when choosing a full or partial backsplash for your kitchen remodel:
Budget. Not surprisingly, the more materials you use in a remodel, the higher the price tag. Thus, a full backsplash will cost more than a partial version. If you have splurged on your cabinet and countertop materials and want to save a little, choosing a partial backsplash will help, especially if you want to match your backsplash to expensive countertop materials. You can meet a little in the middle by putting a full backsplash in a section or two and leaving the rest at standard height (more on that below).
Aesthetics. What look at your going for? If you have a formal kitchen design or a very modern kitchen design, a full backsplash might be the best look for your overall presentation. It creates a very regal and clean aesthetic, streamlining the finished design.
Kitchen wear and tear. How much do you use your kitchen? Who uses the kitchen and what’s their cooking style? If you have a busy kitchen, filled with boisterous chefs and/or assistants who aren’t always careful about where the sauces, dishwater, pot splatter, etc., lands, a full backsplash might be in order – particularly behind the stovetop. You will appreciate cleaning last night’s dried marinara sauce off of a smooth tile surface rather than a textured wall surface. Plus, you’ll mitigate potential long-term damage to the wall, which may eventually need to be resurfaced or replaced if cumulative damage causes dents or a cave-in.
You can have both! Keep in mind that you don’t have to pick one or the other. In some households, full backsplash areas are installed behind the stove, sink, or any major food prep areas where food or liquids are more likely to infiltrate the permeable wall surface. The remainder of the kitchen can have a standard backsplash height.
How often do you change your color palette? This can be an important factor. If you are someone who really enjoys changing your interior color scheme every few years or so, I recommend going with a standard backsplash height. That will allow you the freedom to paint, paper, stencil, or generally get creative on the wall space between the countertop and upper cabinetry. This is much, much simpler, not to mention more cost-efficient, than ripping out and reinstalling new tile work. It is also preferable to living with tile work you wish you could change.
Working with a professional interior designer ensures you think about every aspect of your interior design – even the seemingly insignificant details – so you can enjoy a completed remodel that balances function and aesthetics for your household.
What are we talking about? Kitchen backsplashes, of course. The more interesting, dynamic, and complex you want the backsplash to be, the trickier it is to design. So, what’s the best way to choose a backsplash that fits your kitchen design?
5 Tips For Designing Your Kitchen Backsplash
Believe it or not, the main point of the backsplash is to protect the less-durable drywall beneath from the water, steam, grease, and general food splatter that abounds in the kitchen space. Its secondary role is where the real challenge lies.
Do you want it to blend in with the design? Or do you want it to make a statement? Is it a standalone feature? Or do you want it to transition the color/style differences between the countertop and cabinetry?
Use the following questions to help guide your way through the seemingly endless options available in the backsplash department.
- Full or partial backsplash? One of the first things you’ll need to decide is whether you want a full or partial backsplash. If you’re on a budget, partial backsplashes may be the best way to go – especially if you’re splurging on granite or higher-dollar countertop. Standard backsplashes are typically around 4- 4.5-inches above the countertop, although you can add extra inches to that. If you can afford it, I recommend going with a full backsplash because it yields a cleaner and more luxurious look. It is also more popular with future homebuyers.
- Blend or Pop? What effect do you want your backsplash to have? Should it blend in with its surroundings or pop? If you’re aiming for a timeless design, plan to sell your home in the next few years, or are someone who likes to redecorate frequently, I recommend choosing something that blends. You can still work with fun or different layouts to create a bit of interest, but you won’t be stuck with something that is so stylized that it falls out of style anytime soon. If you want the backsplash to pop, look for pre-made mosaic strips or patterns that are easy to install but can be matched to your countertop.
- What Material is Your Countertop? Your countertop material may be the deciding factor in the type of backsplash you select. For example, if you’ve selected a bold granite or quartz slab, you may find it’s best to either continue that material up the wall or choose a matching, monochromatic backsplash. Trying to coordinate a patterned or multi-color backsplash that matches a bold countertop pattern is nearly impossible. Then again, if you’ve chosen a very understated stone slab, it’s much easier to select stylized or multi-colored backsplash tiles that work.
- Are You Using the Backsplash as a Transition? Are you using a mix-and-match motif, rather than a single color? These days, many homeowners opt to have multiple cabinet finishes. If your upper-cabinets are a different color than your lower ones, the backsplash should ease the visual transition. You can choose a color the finds the middle-ground between the two finishes, or you can choose a multi-color pattern or layout that incorporates both colors and also blends with the other kitchen finishes.
- Which Material Makes the Most Sense? Again, this will be decided by your budget as well as your countertop material. In most cases, clients with granite, marble, or Corian opt to continue the same pattern through to the backsplash for continuity’s sake – although not always. The most popular backsplash choices are:
–Ceramic/porcelain tile. They are affordable and come in an incredible array of options, but the grout can be problematic so keep that in mind.
–Glass tiles. These can add a lively, luminous quality to the backsplash. Make sure your installer knows what he’s doing, however, as the adhesive is visible through the tiles.
–Metal tiles. Metal accents are increasingly popular because, in addition to being durable, they have a fun, reflective quality.
Working with a professional kitchen designer is a smart way to choose a backsplash that will enhance your kitchen design, and add a little extra via texture, color, or pattern.