A backsplash serves multiple purposes. If you have yet to install one in your kitchen , or if you would like to update the one you have, learn more about the feature and the many design options that exist.

What Does a Kitchen Backsplash Do?

A backsplash in the kitchen covers the wall area above the countertop. This area serves as a magnet for messes. Food cooking on the stovetop can splatter onto the wall, and water from the sink can cause spots and buildup behind it. By covering it with a more easily washable surface, you can wipe it down regularly and keep your kitchen pristine.

A backsplash also can serve as a kitchen design element, from a subtle border to an elaborate mosaic that acts as the focal point in the room.

Backsplash Materials

There are a variety of materials that work as a kitchen backsplash. Many homeowners opt to extend their countertop up and onto the wall behind it. You can have it meet the cabinet bottoms or stop halfway, leaving that area bare or adding tiles in a decorative design or another material. Other materials commonly used for backsplash include metal, brick, glass, beadboard, fieldstone, concrete and laminate.

Types of Tile Backsplashes

Tile proves the most common choice for kitchen backsplashes as it offers the most flexibility in terms of cost and design. Let's take a look at a two popular options:

One-color tile - The small, white tiles that make up the backsplash in this modern/industrial kitchen complement the stainless steels and grays of the room. Taking this approach allows you to regularly change the colors schemes in the room, adding pops of color as contrasts. Choose reds and yellows in the fall/winter, for example, then switch to lighter greens and yellows to celebrate spring.

One-color tiles with artistic accents - This contemporary kitchen uses small tan tiles as the backdrop of the backsplash, which contrast nicely with red four-squares and larger artistic accents. The piece above the stovetop serves as a work of art in the room, one that can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

More unusual design ideas include:

Pique assiette - This technique involves creating a mosaic from broken china and tile pieces. A backsplash such as this serves as art and as a conversation starter. Use pieces from a favorite set of dishes that has not been complete for years and recall how much you liked them every time you enter the kitchen. This technique works for a variety of kitchen styles.

Pressed-metal or tin ceiling tiles - You can buy new or repurpose tiles from a past era for this backsplash. Not only are the tiles heat resistant, but cleanup becomes a breeze with a soapy sponge thanks to the non-porous surface. This option suits traditional and modern kitchens alike.

Beadboard - Beadboard, made from fibrous material or plastic foam, might not sound like the best option for a backsplash, but a couple of coats of latex enamel paint will make it suitable for the purpose. The look of beadboard fits in nicely with a farmhouse-style kitchen.

Pavers - The rough, irregular look of pavers can create a backsplash perfect for a rustic kitchen. Just as with the beadboard, though, you will need to protect the material; use a low-sheen sealant.

No matter which design or material you choose, ensure correct installation to avoid annoying gaps that can defeat the purpose of the backsplash itself by allowing food and water to become trapped within. A professional handyman can help with installation and even provide samples you can live with for a few weeks before making your final decision on design.

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