Of all the design choices that go into creating a kitchen, picking out the perfect tile backsplash may be the most creative. You might have settled on classic, conservative choices for your countertop or cabinets, but the backsplash offers an opportunity to play with color, experiment with texture, and add some real personality to the space. With thousands of tiles to choose from, you’re limited only by your imagination. If the sheer variety on offer has your head spinning, don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. Here’s our guide to choosing the tiles of your dreams.
Material, shape, and size
The best way to narrow down your choices is to pick a material and start exploring from there. Traditional tiles are made from glass, ceramic or porcelain, and these remain the most popular choices: as materials go, they are extremely malleable, capable of being crafted into just about any color and shape you can imagine. These days, though, they are only the beginning. You can find modern tiles made from metal, naturalistic tiles created out of stone and seashells, and gorgeous hybrids which bring together several materials in one tile.
Once you know what your tiles should be made of, it’s time to think about how they should be shaped. You can go with classic squares or bricks, or branch out into unusual shapes and complex mosaics. Do you prefer a few large pieces or the look of many tiny tiles? Spend a bit of time browsing, maybe even collect images that catch your eye until you start to see trends emerging.
What’s your favourite color?
The pristine look of crisp white tiles remains a favorite among many designers, but these days people are also embracing the kitchen backsplash as a place to experiment with strong colors and rich tones. The color you choose will depend a lot on what role you’d like the backsplash to play: will it pull the room together or add a pop of color to accent and compliment a quieter kitchen? Whether you prefer calm neutrals, cool pastels, or saturated shades, let yourself explore. You might be surprised at what resonates with you when you keep an open mind.
Don’t forget to allow for the lighting in your kitchen: it can totally transform the tile. Light sources, reflection and glare will all affect the way a color appears, and what’s gorgeous in one light may look flat or oppressive in another, especially if you’ve chosen tiles with a special finish. It’s often worth bringing a few samples home to see how they’ll behave in their final environment before you commit to a big purchase.
Marrying form and function
The decorative aspects of your kitchen backsplash may be the most exciting thing to think about, but it’s important to remember that it has to serve a real function in your kitchen: catching and deflecting spatters, splashes, and other mess. If you have to spend all day polishing a backsplash that shows every smudge or speck, or if you’re stuck scrubbing miles of grout, you’re going to regret your choice. Make sure to ask about the care and upkeep of any tiles and grouting you’re considering.
At the end of the day, you’re going to be living with these tiles, and since the average person spends three years in the kitchen over the course of their life, you want to make sure your surroundings make you happy! You need your kitchen backsplash to be beautiful, durable and as easy to clean as it is on the eye. Do your research, spend some time comparing, but most importantly, go with your gut and pick some tiles that you really love. Good luck!