How to Pick the Perfect Kitchen Backsplash

How to Pick the Perfect Kitchen Backsplash


Picking the perfect kitchen backsplash for your kitchen can feel like a deep sea of options. Choosing any kitchen material really, can be a pretty overwhelming process.  Subway tile or self-splash?  Colored tile or white tile?  Where to buy all this stuff?!  Calm down, people!  I’ve got you covered.

My team has installed hundreds of kitchen backsplashes over the years, and we’ve seen styles and color combinations that run the gamut.  So my Built Custom Homes team created this Q&A for me to lay out some of the main factors in making a decision that’s right for your kitchen.  I hope these secrets I’m sharing about picking the perfect kitchen backsplash takes a little bit of the stress out of your decision!

(And psst! If you missed my post on picking the best hardware for your cabinets and drawers, I listed my 4 fave places to shop.)






How To Choose The Perfect Kitchen Backsplash

1. When picking a kitchen backsplash, do you think a backsplash that’s super contrasting to the kitchen’s design (cabinet color, countertop color, etc.) will create the best look?  Or is super cohesive the way to go (picking up more tones throughout the overall design)?  What’s your go-to?

For the kitchen backsplash, I usually choose it after determining the direction for the countertops and cabinets.  If someone wants green cabinets and knows they want marble (or marble-look) countertops, it’s easy to know that a busy backsplash isn’t the right choice.  However, if my client has their heart set on white shaker cabinets and dark gray countertops, I know I have an opportunity to add a little something special with the backsplash.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of options for backsplashes, and no right or wrong decisions – it really just comes down to personal preference.  My suggestion is simple: find a photo of a kitchen you like and make your kitchen look similar.  It’s that easy!










2. How do you decide what material will work best in your kitchen?

The best way to determine what material will work best in your kitchen is to take a hard look at how you live.  Are you messy?  (Do you cook bacon with grease everywhere?  Does your tomato sauce bubble and splatter everywhere?  Do you wipe EVERYTHING on the regular or is it okay for your kitchen to be a little “lived in”?)  If you’re messy, try your best to eliminate anything porous or anything with white grout.  On the other hand, if you’re a neat freak and aren’t letting other (messy) people use your kitchen, maybe you can be a bit more daring.  Consider a grouted marble mosaic with white grout (all porous) for your backsplash, or even a – gasp! – wallpaper!




3. Large format tiles or mosaic – is one better than the other?  Is one headed out of style?

It’s impossible to say if large format tile or mosaic tile is better – it totally depends on the house.  I’ve used all of it over the years, from tiny little tile, to handcrafted tile, to medium size subway tile – you name it!  I don’t think large format or small mosaic is headed out of style, but what I see right now is a lot of people running the countertop material up on the backsplash.  It’s a really clean way to finish the kitchen.




4. Favorite places to buy backsplash tile?






5. Top 3 favorite backsplash materials?

1. Running slab up the wall or “self splash” – easy, simple, timeless!
2. Subway tile
3. Handcrafted tile




If you had to pick one backsplash material that will always feel timeless, what would you pick?

Subway tile, because there are so many options!  White tile with white grout, white tile with gray grout, handcrafted tile, stacking running bond or soldier stack.  Even down to the option of installing them vertically instead of horizontally.  Oh, and don’t forget machined vs handcrafted.  Machined is really slick and perfect, handcrafted looks like it’s, well… handcrafted!





Biggest mistake you see people make when installing backsplash?

Honestly, DIY.  I think a backsplash is something that most people feel confident taking on, but it can really look terrible if it’s not installed correctly.  Usually it’s not the actual tile installation since so many backsplash tiles come in easy-to-install sheets, but rather the unfinished edges, trying to figure out where to start and stop the material, lack of under-cabinet lighting, and not using a level.



  • I wish you had tips on refreshing your kitchen ceramic back splash (like painting it) when you have new countertops.

    Valerie Lockhart

    on January 31, 2024

  • I like how you said to quickly figure out what your design must be, take a photo of your kitchen and match it with a similar design.

    We are looking for a kitchen backsplash company to help us with our kitchen remodeling next month; Im glad I came across your article and learned some tips when selecting a kitchen backsplash.

    I will share this with my husband and see how this can guide us in deciding who to contact for the kitchen backsplash project.

    Autumn Swan

    on July 11, 2022

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