How to Choose the Right Backsplash to Reinvent your Kitchen

Even the most dashing kitchens require an upgrade from time to time. And if it’s been a while since you gave your kitchen that little extra bit of love, small changes, such as upgrading the backsplash, can make your older, dated kitchen feel fresh and modern again. But the question remains — how to choose the right backsplash for my kitchen? With so many attractive and functional options from which to choose, including glass, stone, ceramic tile, stainless steel, beadboard, or even thermoplastic, what’s the best way to narrow your choices?

The decision will be an easy one to make if you prioritize your wants and needs. What’s most important to you? Is it budget? Is it the ease of installation? Or, is it ease of maintenance? Once you nail down the features that matter most to you and your family, choosing the perfect backsplash will become much easier. Here’s what the experts recommend. 

Choosing the Right Backsplash for Your Kitchen

Kitchen backsplash interior design

In many of the most successful kitchen designs, the backsplash can be the inspiration piece. This means the rest of the kitchen falls into place around it. Even if your original plan focuses on changing only your backsplash, you may find yourself making other changes to your existing design, including countertops, cabinets, or flooring, to make your new backsplash sing. 

In other words, the backsplash is a perfect jumping-off spot for a total kitchen renovation. Therefore, you should plan and budget accordingly. A wise first step is to calculate the total square footage of your backsplash area. 

Determine How Much Material You’ll Need

Depending upon the material you use, you’ll need to purchase enough of it to cover your entire square footage plus overage. Most contractors measure backsplash areas in square inches and then round them up. And a good rule of thumb for overage is to purchase about 7 percent more material than you think you’ll need. This allows for measuring mistakes, damage, and other unforeseen circumstances.

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First get the total area of your backsplash (Length x Width). Tile often comes in boxes which cannot be split into individual tiles. These boxes will have an “Area Covered” that is on the box which can help you match the quantity needed. 

For example, if you need to cover an area of the wall that’s 8 feet long by 22 inches high, you’ll first need to convert your feet into inches. Eight feet equals 96 inches, so you’ll need enough product to cover 96 inches times 22 inches, or 2112 square inches. If you add 7 percent to that number, you’ll need a total of 2259.84 inches or 2260 inches overall. If the backsplash material you choose comes in tiles that are 4×4, this means each one covers 16 square inches. Accordingly, you must purchase 142 tiles.

Note: Keep in mind your kitchen backsplash dimensions versus the dimensions of each section you purchase to ensure you have enough. 

The first step in learning how to choose a kitchen backsplash is understanding whether the amount of material you’ll need fits into your intended budget. 

Realize the Only Alternative Isn’t Whatever Is In Style

If you’re a fan of those many house-flipping shows on television, you may suspect that subway tile is your only backsplash option. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Subway tile is often the most affordable, which is part of what makes it so popular among house flippers. However, for your own kitchen, it’s fine to choose a material that feels a little more custom. Popular choices include:

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  • Ceramic tile — low cost, easy to maintain, and available in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes
  • Porcelain tile — longer lasting, looks high-end, easy to clean, more expensive option
  • Glass tile — many finishes available — including reflective and iridescent, looks custom, costs a bit more
  • Natural stone — usually requires sealing and resealing, not as impervious to scratching and staining, usually a bit pricey, adds resale value
  • Wood — available as laminate, beadboard, or reclaimed wood, looks custom, is more difficult to clean, requires more upkeep
  • Stainless steel — looks high-end, reflects light, is easy to clean, and creates an industrial feel
  • Thermoplastic — can be made to mimic other materials such as stone or wood, cleans up easily, looks custom, super durable

There are other popular options, too. But they’re less mainstream and may not wear as well. They include chalkboard paint, peel-and-stick tiles, and even wallpaper. When choosing a new backsplash for your kitchen, ask yourself what type of mood you’re hoping to evoke.

Do you enjoy the warm, cozy feel of a farmhouse? Or is the sleek, industrial feel of an urban loft more to your liking? Whatever mood you prefer, your choice of backsplash will go a long way toward creating it. 

Keep Your Budget in Mind

Budget is a big consideration for most homeowners as they learn how to choose the right backsplash for their space. However, it’s often easy to find end-of-season sales and close-outs at your local home improvement stores. Remember to factor in the cost of installation when calculating how much backsplash you can afford.

Interested in having a certified professional handle the job? American Wood Reface is a great resource for homeowners who are ready to upgrade or have a kitchen remodeled. We go beyond Kitchen Cabinet Refacing and can handle the whole kitchen, including the backsplash! Learn more here.