Choosing a Kitchen Backsplash: 10 Things You Need to Know

The backsplash peeks out between your cabinetry and appliances, but its importance shouldn't be underestimated. It can serve as a understated unifier or steal the spotlight from the sink and oven cooktop. After all, the beauty of a backsplash is in the eye of the beholder.


1. Size up the space: Multiply the width by the height of the wall to determine the square footage, which will tell you how much material you'll need. Account for an extra 10 percent of tile just to be safe.

2. Know the focal points: The eye is naturally drawn to two areas in the kitchen –- the space above the range, and above the sink. Those are the spots to concentrate elaborate designs.

3. More is more: For a contemporary look, extend the backsplash tiling to wrap around the room. While it will add to expense, it's a visual trick to expand the size of a small kitchen.

4. Time-honored tile: Old-fashioned tile is still the most popular material for backsplashes.

5. Think through wear and tear: Glass is beautiful, but not budget-friendly. Natural stone is visually striking, but requires an updated sealing once a year. Ceramic is durable, easy to clean and low cost.

6. Maximize with magnetics: Consider magnetized material. You can use it to store items sans shelving to clear up counter space.

7. Mix (don't match) your design: Playing matchy-matchy with your tile work results in an uninspired look -- not to mention that it can be more expensive, depending on the color you choose. Play with complementary colors to round out a palette and play with patterns by composing the tiles vertically rather than horizontally for a contemporary, stacked look.

8. Ceramic vs. porcelain: They look similar, but one is surprisingly stronger. Both are made from clay, but porcelain is denser and therefore more durable against damage and more resistant to moisture.

9. Seal the deal: Different tile materials have different sealing needs. Natural tile like granite, marble, and slate needs to be resealed once a year, while travertine needs resealing every two years.

10. Invest in good grout: Keep this in mind while budgeting -- color and pattern trends come and go, but the grout is the backbone of your backsplash.

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