Kitchen Backsplash Tips

Kitchen upgrades are one of the top suggested home investments and they don’t have to cost a fortune.  If you want to refresh your kitchen but can’t afford a full-scale remodel, a smart place to start is with a new backsplash.  You can switch out a backsplash without moving cabinetry or appliances, and the sky’s the limit in terms of material choices, colors, and patterns.


Always create a focal point around cooking areas.  If you are going to splurge on more expensive tile, use it only above the stove and use more affordable tile in the rest of the kitchen. Or if you are using the same tile throughout the room, try a different color or pattern around cooking areas.  Complex or colorful backsplashes look best with solid counter and don’t clash. To save money, use more expensive glass or handmade ceramic tiles as accents for a backsplash of less expensive tiles. You’ll still have a memorable look but at a fraction of the cost.  Wrapping the backsplash around the entire room gives a sense of visual continuity, which can help a small space seem larger. It can be expensive to get the exact same color for all the tile in your kitchen (particularly when you mix in custom accent tiles), and it’s visually uninteresting. Instead use complementary colors. 

Before you install a backsplash, try “walking” tiles up a wall to make sure you aren’t left with a thin sliver where the tile meets cabinetry. Hold the tiles against the wall at the bottom of the backsplash area and move them hand over hand up the wall following your desired pattern until you get to the top. You may find you have to start with a half-tile at the bottom to be sure at least a quarter-tile fits at the top. Mastic or thinset are the adhesives used for the tiles. Use white thinset or mastic behind glass tile. It shows through the glass, and colored thinset or mastic can change the look of the tile.   Creating complex patterns is easier if you layout all your plans with a pencil. To do this, first prep the surface to be tiled by skimming the entire area with a layer of white thinset (mastic won’t work) and let it dry. Now you have the perfect surface to write on, as well as the ideal surface to accept the installation thinset or mastic (either work for the second layer) that you will use to set the tiles.