Kitchen Design, Subway Tile Alternatives When Tiling a Backsplash

What Are Your Kitchen Remodeling Options When Tiling A Backsplash?

When tiling a backsplash over a kitchen sink or range, don't just choose the first off white subway tile you see. The one focal point in your kitchen where you can really make an aesthetic statement in your design is the backsplash. Your backsplash can add an element of style, sophistication or even whimsy depending on the materials you choose.

While it is a design element, it’s also an area that needs a level of practicality. Its function is to prevent great and dirt from staining the wall. That means it needs to be easily cleanable. Tile has been the traditional material of choice primarily because of the variety of colors, sizes, patterns, and textures available, and it's easy to clean. Tiling a backsplash is affordable and offers plenty of interesting design possibilities.

One of the most popular recent trends is using 3X6 subway tiles in a variety of colors and finishes. Picking a subway tile that isn't white, while it is still subway tile, can be a great choice that offers clean lines, flexibility, affordability and easy installation. A tweak to the traditional brickwork pattern of subway tile it to stack it with the tile and grout lines vertically aligned instead. It presents a very different look.

If you want to create a unique design, there are many other materials available that can make a statement. Whether you backsplash goes up to the bottom of your cabinets, to the ceiling or somewhere in between, consider using these subway tile alternatives to create the luxury and elegance you’re looking for!

Creative Alternatives to Subway Tile

Today along with natural materials, manufacturers are using computer-aided design and laser etching to create beautiful decorative alternatives to plain subway tile. Here are some alternative options to consider that can create a stunning focal point in your design when tiling a backsplash!

Mirrored Tile – Assembling mirrored tiles into a design can create depth and texture in your backsplash. This is a great alternative that can add a unique design element to a buffet area or over a server.

Arabesque backsplash tile

Specialty Shaped Tile – You’re no longer limited to square or rectangular tile. Many manufacturers are producing shaped tiles in a variety of different shapes and colors. Specialty tile can define your design, for example using oval tiles to create a texture in your mid-century modern kitchen.

Large Patterned Tile – Big bold patterns are hot! Try one on your kitchen wall as a feature wall or over the stove as a focal point. Many manufacturers are creating large pattern tiles that repeat. Make sure to measure and layout your pattern so your design looks even.

Laser-cut Tile – Tile are intricately cut using lasers to create complex patterns or designs that can be pieced together like a puzzle. They can be made of natural materials like marble, man-made stone like quartz or even gold or silver backed etched glass.

Materials That Make A Statement When Tiling A Backsplash

While ceramic or porcelain tile is an excellent choice, today there are a number of other materials that can add serious style to your kitchen design. Combining materials, varying the design, or creating patterns can add a unique look that can take your design from mediocre to magnificent! Here are some alternative materials to consider when tiling a backsplash that really makes a statement.

Quartz countertop used as backsplash, matching the island top.

Full Granite Backsplash – Granite is durable, beautiful and perfectly smooth. Making it extremely easy to clean. Consider using a full granite backsplash cut from the same slab as your countertop. The veining pattern can flow smoothly from your countertop up the wall creating a beautiful continuous flow. Engineered stone like Quartz and Silestone are also great choices. Want something a little more exotic? Consider slabs of marble, soapstone or backlit onyx!

Glass – If you’re looking for a modern or industrial look consider a glass backsplash. Glass tiles and mosaic glass are hot trends right now either as a border material, pattern within the backsplash or for the entire surface. Want a cutting-edge modern look? Consider a solid glass backsplash. It can be custom shaped to fit any wall and is ridiculously easy to clean! The main photo of the blue kitchen is an example of glass backsplash.

Stainless Steel – Nothing tops stainless steel. It’s non-porous, doesn’t stain is easy to clean and sanitize. It’s the choice of professional chef’s for a reason! New trends in metal backsplash materials include tin, metal tiles, and copper. It can be visually overpowering, especially if you use patterned pressed tin.

A tumbled stone mosaic backsplash tile complements the grey tones of the countertops and the warm stained wood.

Tumbled Stone – Natural stone like travertine, marble, slate or limestone is tumbled with sand and worn down to create a softened color palette with a less uniform appearance, perfect for a country, French or Italian style kitchen.

These are just a few of the options available for tiling a backsplash. Speak with your designer or design build team about what works best for you. With a little creative vision, you can create a unique backsplash that can be the defining element in your kitchen. You're only limited by your budget and your imagination!

This blog was updated by Abe Degnan on 1/17/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project. (608) 846-5963