While the primary purpose of a backsplash is to protect the kitchen walls, choosing one can be very daunting, as the backsplash is the final touch that brings a kitchen together. You’ll want to choose something that you won’t regret. Don’t be afraid to call a designer for a consultation. You can meet with he or she for an hour or two and they can give you their ideas and opinions; as well as order you the materials at a cheaper price.
Limestone: Limestone pavers can be very beautiful. However, the stone tiles do need to be sealed with a low-sheen penetrating sealer to protect them from stains and water and to make the clean up easier.
Stainless Steel: Stainless-steel mosaic tiles create a sleek, textured backsplash that extend from the stone countertop to the top of cabinetry. It’s as much a style statement as a utilitarian, easy-to-maintain surface in the cooking zone. Clean-up is easy with warm water and a sponge; or in the case of sticky food splatters, with a little dishwashing detergent and water. Dry with a soft towel to keep the stainless steel spotless and gleaming. Although grease, steam, and food splatters won’t hurt stainless steel, acidic liquids, such as coffee, tomato juice, or fruit juices, can cause discoloration if allowed to dry on the surface.
Rustic Soapstone: Soapstone offers a more rustic, understated look than granite and is less porous, offering an easy-to-maintain surface for countertops and backsplashes. It’s softer than granite, but nicks and scratches can be sanded out. The natural color of soapstone is gray, gray-green, or blue-green, but a sealer or mineral oil can be applied to darken the color to black. You’ll need to reapply the mineral oil occasionally to maintain the dark color.
Contemporary Plate Glass: A creative alternative to common backsplash materials is plate glass. Cut to fit the area between the shelf and the black laminate counter, the glass is installed over painted drywall. The glass adds subtle, contemporary color and a sleek, reflective surface that’s easy to clean with glass cleaner or vinegar and water. Glass mosaic tiles add more sparkle and a change in scale for visual interest.
Easy-Care Faux Brick: Ceramic tiles that resemble brick allow you to install a backsplash that looks like an old brick wall but has a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. For an authentic, exterior-wall appearance, lay the tiles in a running-bond pattern and use wide grout lines to simulate mortar joints.
Repurposed Architectural Salvage: Architectural salvage can be a distinctive and inexpensive material for a hardworking backsplash. Glazed clay tiles have the ability to stand up to rain and hail, they can weather splashing dishwater.
Urban Industrial Chic: If you like the urban industrial look of concrete and don’t want to build with concrete blocks, choose a stone or ceramic tile lookalike and use black grout between the tiles.
Warm and Natural Slate: Slate tiles provide the color cue for the stained concrete countertops and link the countertops with the cabinetry color. Experts disagree on how porous slate is, but if you treat the tiles with a top coat or pre-sealer prior to installation, you shouldn’t need to worry about moisture from the grout fogging the stone. Sealing the stone also ensures easy maintenance.
Mediterranean Inspiration: Made of kiln-fired clay and topped with a durable, glossy finish, glazed ceramic tiles are washable and impervious to stains, grease splatters, and steam. By mixing economical 4-inch glazed tiles with hand-painted decorative tiles, you can create a design that adds distinctive color and pattern to the room without spending a fortune. The one drawback to a ceramic tile backsplash is keeping the grout lines clean. Be sure your installer returns after a few weeks to apply a silicone or water-base grout sealer to the joints. Grout sealer should be reapplied every six months to keep the backsplash looking pristine.
Elegant Marble: Polished carrara marble is a classic, elegant stone, but be prepared to wipe off spatters from coffee, fruit juice, wine, or grease quickly, because marble stains easily. Clean with a damp sponge and a soapless detergent or a pH-neutral marble cleaner and wipe dry to prevent water spots. Vinegar and citrus-based cleaners are acidic and will damage the surface, but peroxide can be used to remove stains.