A kitchen backsplash is an important component of any renovation project. Whether your clients want a total overhaul or a budget-conscious refresh, an eye-catching tile backsplash can offer a big bang for their buck. Read on to discover different types of wall tile and patterns you might suggest to your clients looking to tile a kitchen backsplash.

What is kitchen backsplash tile?

A backsplash is the wall behind the sink or stove in the kitchen. The backsplash can get wet (if behind the sink) or dirty (if behind the stove) quite easily, which makes tile a great option for kitchen backsplashes as it is easy to clean. A kitchen backsplash provides form and function: It acts as a focal point while protecting the wall beneath from moisture and oil splatters. Tiles may be placed on the wall behind the stovetop or across the space above the countertops. The scale depends on the client’s kitchen design, as well as their budget. The area of the countertop, where the tile meets the base, can also impact what works there.

6 Types of tiles to consider for kitchen backsplashes

These six kitchen backsplash ideas can help you guide your client to select the right tiles for their kitchen backsplash. 

1. Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are a budget-friendly choice that hold up to the wear and tear of a backsplash. Cleaning ceramic is easy and the material can withstand high temperatures. It’s also stain-resistant, so clients won’t have to worry about discoloration. 

If placed behind a sink, it’s important to make sure the ceramic tiles are glazed. Otherwise the surface may be too porous to repel water, which can lead to moisture damage. Ceramic varies greatly in price, but there are plenty of low-cost options for clients looking to save money on their project. 

2. Porcelain tiles

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are similar, but porcelain is fired at a much higher temperature, so it’s extremely resilient. If your client is a frequent home chef, porcelain could be a great choice as it is durable and easy to clean. Plus, porcelain is not porous, so it’s a safe bet for preventing moisture damage and hidden mold. Note porcelain is more expensive than ceramic. 

3. Marble tiles

Marble is a type of natural stone that is extremely heat resistant, making it ideal for kitchen backsplashes behind stoves. The main issue with marble is that it’s a porous material. It will soak in moisture and stains, whether from a splash of tomato sauce or a blender gone awry. If using marble for a backsplash, the tile should be sealed, which adds time (and money) to the installation process, and the client will have to maintain the tile on an ongoing basis throughout its lifespan.

4. Natural stone

Other types of natural stone besides marble can be used for a backsplash. Granite, for instance, is heat-resistant and durable, making it a low-maintenance option. As a contractor, it is important to check the width of granite tiles to make sure they’re not thicker than the countertops below; otherwise, it will push out beyond the counters. That said, granite can be an attractive and often affordable option. 

5. Glass tiles

Glass is a popular choice for kitchen backsplashes because it’s extremely easy to clean and heat-resistant. Using glass in other areas doesn’t make as much sense because it can be prone to scratching. But there’s not much risk of that with a backsplash, which is why so many contractors and interior designers opt for glass. Your clients can choose from a range of installation patterns and tile colors. Eco-conscious clients can use for recycled glass to make their kitchen update more sustainable.

6. Subway tiles

Subway tile , the perennially popular rectangular tile, has been a popular backsplash option for several years. Subway tiles can be made from many types of materials, such as ceramic (which is traditionally what it’s made out of), porcelain, glass, or marble. Subway tiles are often staggered horizontally, but it’s becoming common to see them stacked in rows or flipped vertically. Some homeowners want to enhance the look of a white backsplash by using black grout rather than white, which is great for a backsplash as darker grouts don’t stain as easily.  

Tile designs to consider

In addition to selecting the type of tile for a backsplash, your clients also have the flexibility to choose the pattern, which impacts installation.  

1. Chevron

A chevron backsplash sets a modern tone for any kitchen renovation. To make this design from scratch, you’ll need long, thin rectangular tiles set in a zigzag pattern. Each end of the tile must be cut on a precise diagonal to create a consistent pattern. To avoid extra work, you can opt for preconfigured chevron mosaic tile. The only drawback of using preconfigured tile is that colors and materials may be more limited.

2. Herringbone

Herringbone is similar to chevron, but slightly easier to install. It’s an arrowlike pattern, but the tiles are staggered, and unlike chevron, they don’t require special cuts. The edges remain straight, so you can simply put them in place. 

3. Mosaic

Creating a mosaic backsplash makes installation easier, especially when working with smaller tiles. A mosaic usually comes in sheets that measure 12 inches x 12 inches. The tiles are attached to netting, which can be applied directly to the backsplash. In addition to herringbone and chevron mosaics, you’ll also find a range of patterns and designs including scallop shapes, floral patterns made from penny tiles, and geometric forms. 

4. Penny

As its name implies, penny tiles are small and round and usually no more than an inch in diameter. These are often found attached to netted sheets for easy installation, but you may need to install each one manually, especially if your client wants a specific pattern. 

How to choose kitchen backsplash tile 

Here’s what to consider as you help your clients decide on kitchen backsplash tile ideas.

  • Budget. Some tiles are more expensive than others. Porcelain, for instance, is more expensive than ceramic, and marble is one of the most expensive tile options. Different patterns can also take more time to install. Making a chevron pattern from individual tiles is more time-consuming than installing a netted mosaic, for instance, so you’ll need to charge clients accordingly. 
  • Stain-resistant materials. Frequent home chefs will want a stain-proof tile like glass or porcelain; otherwise, they’ll risk causing lasting damage. 
  • Moisture-resistant materials. A backsplash should be non-porous to avoid hidden water and mold damage behind tiles. Ceramic, for instance, is naturally porous but can be glazed to better withstand moisture. Porcelain is extremely tough and should work well regardless of its glaze.
  • Maintenance. Some tiles, such as marble, need to be sealed and resealed over time. It’s important to communicate this to your client since the tiles could become more porous, leading to water damage.
  • Durability. Compared to floor tiles, a backsplash is less susceptible to cracks and chips since it doesn’t receive foot traffic. Still, durability should be kept in mind. In terms of cleaning, you’ll need to convey to your client that tiles like marble and granite need special solutions, like non-acidic sprays. 
  • Aesthetics. Different tiles offer different looks for your client. Marble and granite finishes are more traditional, while geometric designs feel modern. Listen to your client and make recommendations based on their preferences.

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