Backsplashes can significantly impact your kitchen but can also be expensive to install. Luckily, there are many creative and budget-friendly backsplash ideas to get the look you love without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re a homeowner looking to update your space or a renter trying to bring some life into a snug apartment kitchen, these tips will help your money go further.
1. Subway Tile
A kitchen backsplash tile should be functional, protecting your walls from stains and splashes. It should also be a design element that complements the style of your kitchen. The most popular choice is a classic white subway tile, but many other materials and color options exist.
Named for the tiles that once adorned the New York subway stations, this timeless and versatile material meshes with all decorating styles. A budget-friendly option, this material is durable and easy to clean.
You can dress up a simple subway tile backsplash with a cove base, chair rail, or bullnose cap in a contrasting color or pattern. For a more subtle look, add a thin accent strip of a different color that runs along the perimeter of your backsplash.
If you opt for herringbone or other patterned subway tiles, be sure that the tile pieces are modular (often called “modular” in the industry) to avoid an optical leaning of your herringbone pattern from unequal divisions. A herringbone pattern can get messy fast if the tiles are not modular.
2. Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is created by baking clay-based materials in a kiln and applying color glazes to the surface. This makes a wide range of decorative options, including geometric patterns, in this modern kitchen design. Ceramic tiles can also look like natural stone, especially when combined with a white grout color that hides the seams between tiles.
For a creative alternative to patterned ceramic tiles, try painting a backsplash. Though not for beginners, this DIY project adds personality and a pop of color to a kitchen. The trick to success with this type of backsplash is to prepare the glazed surfaces so the paint will bond with them. Sanding and scuffing the tiles provide a “tooth” for the paint to adhere to, and masking the surrounding areas with painter’s tape helps ensure the stencil’s lines line up precisely.
Although ceramic tile is hard, it’s easy to soften its appearance by adding throw rugs in places where you stand for extended periods, like in front of the stove. You can also cover your ceramic tiles with a plexiglass sheet.
3. Brick Veneer
Brick may not seem like a backsplash material, but it can be transformed with just a few coats of paint.
If you like the idea of a brick backsplash but want to avoid the cost and time of installing full-size brick, try thin veneer instead. Veneer brick comes in sheets that are easy to apply to a wall with construction glue. They stick to masonry walls and come with corner pieces that wrap around edges for a look that matches actual brick, even from the side.
Before applying the brick, ensure the wall is clean and free of dust and dirt. This will provide that the adhesive bonds correctly to the wall’s surface. It’s also important to note that brick is a porous material and should be protected from cleaners with undiluted acids. An excellent way to test for this is to sprinkle a few drops of water across the surface of a brick backsplash. If it beads up, then the backsplash is sealed enough to protect against water damage.
4. Unpainted Wood Paneling
A backsplash can do more than protect against splashes and splatters; it can be a design element that sets the tone for the entire room. Here a blue kitchen with shaker cabinets gets a designer look from a simple, unpainted wood paneling backsplash that blends seamlessly with the cabinetry. The paneling, installed as tongue-and-groove paneling with construction adhesive and nails, is one of the easiest and cheapest backsplash ideas on this list—it’s even possible to do yourself if you have basic DIY skills.
If you want to add a flair to your backsplash, consider adding visual interest with a herringbone pattern or alternating vertically stacked tile. These design details can make a big difference and add personality to your kitchen without adding much cost.
If you love the look of a herringbone or alternating stacked tile backsplash but need more money to install it, try a removable peel-and-stick vinyl trompe l’oeil sticker. These stickers come in various colors and patterns to match almost any kitchen color scheme.
5. Glass Tile
Glass tile is a durable, non-porous material that’s easy to clean. It also resists mold, mildew, and bacteria, which can make for a hygienic kitchen backsplash! Plus, you can choose from various colors and designs to suit your style.
You can even use recycled glass tiles as a backsplash. These backsplash ideas are eco-friendly and incredibly eye-catching!
To avoid committing to a whole backsplash, consider tiling just one wall, like the wall above the sink or range. This high-impact area gets much attention and is a great place to experiment with tile design.
Choosing the right backsplash for your kitchen depends on your counters, faucets, lighting, and other fixtures in the space. Before making a final choice, tape color and tile samples to the wall and live with them for a while. And remember that tiles can vary in color from batch to batch, so it’s essential to order slightly more than you need.