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Different types of material for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes


Different types of material for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes

A backsplash might be a functional addition to a kitchen and bathroom, but it can also deliver a much needed punch to a tired décor – for just a fraction of the cost of renovating the entire room.

Primary Decisions

The kitchen backsplash protects the walls from grease and food stains. In bathrooms, the backsplash protects the wall behind the sink from water damage. It’s a good idea to have a concrete plan or the endless possibilities available can prove mind-boggling.

Some questions to consider include:

  • What’s your budget?
  • Do you have a theme? Ex: contemporary, country, or traditional?
  • Do you want to define a specific area like behind the sink or cooktop?
  • Will you be doing the work yourself or employing some one?
  • What colour are your countertops, cabinets or vanities?

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

Ceramic and porcelain tile is essentially the same. It is one of the most common materials used for backsplashes, and for good reason. This type of tile is durable, inexpensive and easy to install, plus the tiles are easy to replace if they get cracked or chipped. In addition, they come in such a variety of styles, colour and textures that there is something to appeal to everyone.

Ceramic and porcelain tile is super easy to keep clean. Simply wipe with a damp cloth.

Your choice of tile is endless. White or pastel shades of subway tile is very popular; try the vintage look, indoor/outdoor tiles, or mosaics. All tiles come with a mesh backing so it can be a popular choice if you are a do-it-yourselfer.


Glass tile looks sleek and urban. It comes in such a huge variety of colors that you will definitely find whatever you’re looking for. Mix and match colour to create your own design.

Hiring a contractor to install this type of backsplash is a good idea for a number of reasons. Glass tiles are expensive and will scratch. Plus they are difficult to cut which means they might pose a challenge to do it yourself. In addition, the grouting needs to be well done since a poor job will show.

Glass tiles can stain so think carefully before installing them in your kitchen backsplash. They are perfect for the bathroom. They are available in all types of styles and also come in different shapes so they can be grouped to create unusual designs.

Glass tiles are also available in recycled glass which is great for the eco-conscious homeowner.





It’s not just for restaurants anymore. Stainless steel has made the leap into people’s kitchens and it is here to stay. It comes in shiny or matte finish. Durable, easy to clean and low maintenance – what more can you ask of your backsplash! Plus, chances are it will match your appliances and countertop.

More and more metals, such as copper, brass and tin, are showing up as backsplash materials. They look beautiful and are functional, but will need polishing or become tarnished.

Cleaning up is a snap where stainless steel is concerned. Just be aware that acidic liquids like coffee or apple juice should be wiped off right away before it can discolour the metal.




If you’re going for the country look in your kitchen, you can’t beat the natural look of travertine. It is a type of limestone that is found around hot springs and processed into tiles. No need to use grout between travertine tile – therefore, no need to worry about cleaning grout. It is an expensive stone, so one option is to create a focal design or point and use another material for the rest of the backsplash. Travertine is porous, so it must be sealed every couple of years to prevent water from seeping through to the wall.

Travertine may not be the best choice for a bathroom because it is so porous.



Buying Tiles

It has never been easier – and more difficult – to shop for tiles. It is easy because you can browse online and check out all your different options. It is difficult because of the myriad of choices available.

Before buying the tile you love, make sure to bring home a sample to check against your current countertop and appliances.

There are a tremendous range of sizes in tiles – from tiny mosaics to large blocks. Play with a design till it becomes your own and complements your kitchen or bathroom. Remember, that many tiles can be mixed and matched for a unique look.

Then, sit back and enjoy.


By: Beverley Burgess Bell

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