Wow, don’t you just love the options for amazing kitchen backsplashes these days? All manner of materials, colours and patterns are accessible and pretty easy to install as well. A backsplash can be a simple and cost-effective way to dramatically update your kitchen with style. But with such a wide array of choice, how do you select the best one for your kitchen? And how to do you make a sustainable kitchen backsplash choice?
Here are 4 steps to consider:
1. Complement your countertop and cabinets.
It’s highly debated whether to choose backsplash or countertop first, but for sustainability reasons, I always say choose neutral, classic, hard working and long-lasting countertops and cabinets first, then select a backsplash that will complement them. A backsplash can always be changed out when you want a refresh – but the countertop and cabinets should last forever. If your kitchen cabinets and countertops are neutral, whether light (white, creamy or grey) or dark (wood, black or navy), you can have some fun with the backsplash. Or continue your neutral theme with subway tiles, which will always look great.
2. Decide on the mood.
Do you want to have a little fun and add some colour or pattern? Or, perhaps you have a rustic or maybe a minimalist home and want the kitchen to reflect that style? Choose a mood and let that drive a decision on colour and pattern -ie. white beadboard vs. colourful Moroccan cement tiles.
3. Decide on the material.
If you own your home and can invest a little more in a backsplash that will last beyond a trend, I recommend tile or stone. It’s easy to install and affords a high-end look. Check out
But if you rent, you’ll want something that won’t damage the walls. You could consider cutting beadboard wainscoting to size and fitting it in snugly. Or do what I did in my rentals – paste up removable wallpaper and coat it with a high-gloss durable top-coat like a water-based polyurethene.
Also, your material will determine how much upkeep you need to do. Glass and ceramic tiles don’t generally need much upkeep (seal the grout when first installing), but cement or clay tile is porous and will need to be sealed from time to time. White beadboard or plank boards could stain if not washed down frequently and sealed from time to time.
4. Determine where your backsplash will go.
Traditionally, it runs from countertop to the bottom of cabinets, but with the trend now for open shelving or bare upper walls, continuing the backsplash from counter right up to ceiling may make sense and look modern. You could run it up to the ceiling only on the range wall for a beautiful and functional focal point. If you plan on having a a large area of backsplash, that will obviously affect your budget so plan accordingly.
Take a look at these gorgeous backsplash examples and then consider making this kind of simple but dramatic update to your kitchen without ripping it out and starting over (click on photos for sources).
I opted for beadboard as a simple farmhouse-style backsplash.
In a previous rental, I used strip-able wallpaper.