Best Materials for a Kitchen Backsplash Remodel

Modern kitchen backsplash ideas with budget, maintenance, and functionality in mind

green subway backsplash tile in kitchenHow to get started on your modern kitchen backsplash ideas

You’ve decided to renovate your cookspace. Where should you begin? There are plenty of factors to consider, from the scope of the project to how you want the backsplash to function. You’ll also decide on the professionals who will guide you and handle the measuring and installation. Sweeten breaks down the elements, whether you’re considering budget ideas or feature walls.

It’s important to go into your project with a general idea of what your needs are. Is there a heavy emphasis on the budget? Do you want an extremely durable material or have ongoing maintenance concerns on your mind? Are you curious what goes into a more complex backsplash project? Once the budget, materials, and project scope are more clear, you can bring your modern kitchen backsplash ideas to life.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and secure payments—for free.

modern white kitchen backsplash

(Top photo) Deanna and Daria’s green subway backsplash. (Above) Amanda’s arabesque-pattern backsplash.

What is the budget for the backsplash material?

Whether you’re looking to keep material costs low or don’t mind spending a little extra, here are a few options for each of these considerations.

Ceramic tile kitchen backsplash

Ceramic tile comes in a variety of shapes and colors, making it a good place to start your material search. On the lower end of the budget spectrum, you may want to consider a subway tile backsplash. Ceramic subway tile, known for being both affordable and classic, comes in around $3 a square foot. Classic doesn’t have to be boring, though. Consider arranging bright white tiles in a different pattern, such as herringbone, to change the aesthetic of the entire room.

banquette kitchen(Above) Sweeten homeowners’ Jenn + Jon’s chevron pattern

Porcelain tile kitchen backsplash

A close second in the low-to-mid range budget area is porcelain tile. Coming in at around $3–$5 a square foot, porcelain is stain and water-resistant, but is very fragile during installation. Similar to ceramic, porcelain comes in a large variety of different sizes, colors, and shapes. If you decide on porcelain tile, be sure to hire a professional with experience in working with this delicate material.

Brick kitchen backsplash

In the mid-range cost per square foot, brick veneer can bring a warm and inviting feel to your kitchen. Coming in at around $9 a square foot, this material gives your kitchen a unique backdrop reminiscent of a cozy coffee shop.

Marble tile kitchen backsplash

If you have a larger budget, you could consider using a natural stone such as marble. Marble is a beautiful material to use for a kitchen backsplash, creating a more polished look and feel. This higher-end material will cost you somewhere between $25–$30 a square foot. Bear in mind that because marble slabs or tile and natural stone are generally more porous than other materials, this could mean more maintenance in the long run.

Most durable materials

Metal tiles are a unique and durable option for a working kitchen. The surface is easily cleaned and resistant to most kitchen messes, like water and food splash-back. Metal may be a good option if you want something low-maintenance without sacrificing your sense of style.

If you love the look of natural stone, but worry about the durability, consider using granite. Granite is an extremely resistant natural stone often used in countertops but also works well as a stone backsplash material. It is easy to clean and only requires occasional maintenance such as re-sealing and polishing. It’s a great durable option for a natural stone look that you could even coordinate to match your countertops.

Low-maintenance backsplash ideas

In a kitchen with a lot of daily usage and traffic, consider a backsplash material that is resistant against things such as food stains, heat, or water. Glass tile is modern, easy to clean, and non-porous, and at around $7 a square foot, really affordable. The peel-and-stick variety is also very common, which generally means you can find it at a good price. Glass tile is low maintenance and does not require anything special to clean. It’s a great backsplash option for busy people who don’t have the time to do a lot of deep cleaning.

Another low-maintenance backsplash option is slabs of stone such as quartz. Stone slabs have fewer seams, and thus, less grout to keep clean. Quartz slabs are particularly popular because they give a marble-style aesthetic for less than the cost of actual marble. If quartz isn’t your thing, consider other slab backsplash options like soapstone or solid-surface.

If you are interested in a stone slab backsplash like quartz, expect to pay somewhere in the range of $65-$80 a square foot.

Tip: To cut down on expenses during a kitchen remodel, utilize leftover slab pieces from your countertop replacement for your backsplash.

Modern kitchen backsplash ideas make a statement

This vertical surface is the centerpiece of your kitchen; why not make it a feature wall? Consider a detailed ceramic-tile backsplash using one to two-inch tiles. The tiles are small enough to arrange in several different designs, and you can use alternating colors and shapes to create a piece of art right in your kitchen.

Natural stone can also be used to create a mosaic-style backsplash. Use different-sized pieces and combine them to fit naturally against each other.

backsplash kitchen tile(Above) Sweeten homeowners’ Nilda + Brian’s renovation

Adding a patterned tile or mosaic-style kitchen backsplash will increase your labor costs, so you should take into consideration an additional $17–$20 per square foot. More complex designs will cost more in labor due to the intricacies of laying the tile. To save some money in labor costs, you could opt to create a small section of tile artistry. Consider a square cut-out with different colored tiles in the middle of your regular backsplash tiles. This could be placed in a focal-point area above your stove or sink, depending on the layout of your kitchen. You could also decide to lay rectangular tiles in a linear style, which will typically cost less in installation because it is generally less time-consuming.

Ordering the right quantity

When purchasing the materials for a piece of intricate backsplash art, large or small, measurements become crucial. Have a design plan for the area in the form of a sketch or inspiration picture, and measure everything as accurately as possible. This can get complicated quickly, so it’s best to ask your general contractor for guidance rather than undertaking an intensive project by yourself.

Kitchen backsplash material considerations take time and careful planning. Know what your budget is and what materials work best for your lifestyle. It is the first place to start towards your dream cook space.

A note on fixture and appliance deliveries: If you’re on a tight timeline, Appliances Connection has over 50,000 items in stock and ready to ship nationally. If you’re in the NY/NJ metro area, in-stock items typically deliver within 2-3 days.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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