Kitchen Backsplash 101: 7 Tips to Get it Right

Posted April 7, 2017

A kitchen backsplash is a great opportunity to make a significant impact and/or to enhance your other design elements. Backsplashes are one of our favorite finishes to select for our projects. These seven tips will help ensure that you get it right:

1. Keep It Full Height

We always recommend a full-height splash – countertop to underside of upper cabinets – usually 18-20” high. A 4”or 6” backsplash breaks up the space and is a missed opportunity.

2. Use One Material

I’ve seen homes where 4” of the countertop slab was installed and then a tile or stone backsplash was added above. Instead, use the same material for the whole area. The same goes for adding a different material over the range. Unless you have a porous material you want to use, such as marble, or are a messy cook and prefer to have stainless steel above the range, keep the backsplash material the same throughout the kitchen.

A large format vein-cut travertine backsplash was used throughout this contemporary kitchen for an integrated and sophisticated look.


3. Pick a Decorative Focal Point

Is your kitchen simple and needs a focal point? Or is there a lot going on? If you already have a lot going on design-wise and need to simplify, you could match the slab on your countertop. If the cabinetry and colors are simple and neutral, it’s a great opportunity to use something special, like the design below with brass accents for this Mid-century Modern kitchen.


The geometric brass accents in this backsplash add a touch of glamour to this Mid-century Modern kitchen.


4. Choose Colors That Relate

We almost always use a kitchen backsplash material that incorporates some of the colors that are in the countertop or cabinetry. This helps tie the different finishes together to create a consistent, thoughtful look.



5. Finish It Off

Backsplashes with an outside edge that do not end at a wall will need something to finish off the exposed edges. If you have natural stone in fairly large pieces, you can have your installer polish the edges. If you have small tiles or mosaics, you will need a trim piece to match. Another option, and one of our recent favorites, is adding a Schluter metal trim. These are easy to install and come in many finishes and sizes.


Schluter trim, like we used in this contemporary kitchen, is ideal for creating elegant transitions between materials or to finish exposed edges.

Schluter’s vast selection of materials, colors, and finishes allows for a myriad of design options.


6. Light It Up

Highlight your kitchen backsplash with under-cabinet lighting to create the most impact. We recommend installing under-cabinet LED strips towards the front of the cabinet (it accents the splash more) and choosing one with a frosted plastic lens (it cuts the reflection on your countertop).


Under-cabinet lighting not only accentuates the backsplash, it also helps to illuminate the workspace and adds ambience to this mountain contemporary kitchen.


7. Have Fun With It

The many gorgeous backsplash options on the market today are anything but boring. Here are just a few that we were inspired by on a recent trip to our favorite tile showroom.


Design trends come and go, but these backsplash materials will remain classic and timeless.


All of these materials are available at Decorative Materials.

Simply changing up your backsplash can completely refresh the look of an outdated kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a modest update or a complete makeover of your kitchen, there’s a material that’s sure to match your personal style and plans. For even more backsplash ideas, explore our kitchen portfolio.