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October 19, 2018

No matter which type of material is used, the purpose of the backsplash has traditionally been to protect the wall behind the sink or stove from water damage or stains left by messy splatters. More than that, it has become a showcase for your creativity as it adds an accent to the room. Tiles are by far the most popular means of building a backsplash, but several other materials are often used as well.

Historically, tiling the kitchen originated as an imitation of New York’s subway walls. In the early 1900s, those underground structures were covered in white, 3-inch by 6-inch tiles. Their ease of cleaning and hygienic appearance influenced people to give “subway tiles” a go in their own kitchens. That look is still going strong, except today the selection of colors and textures has expanded greatly.

Tiles come in various shapes and can be applied in any number of directions. Squares can be lined up straight or tilted for a diamond effect. Rectangular tiles can be applied in a herringbone pattern. Generally, people seem to prefer a linear design. Tiles can go from your counter to the ceiling if you like. It’s not unheard of for a large section of the wall to be tiled well beyond the sink or stove areas.

You’ll quickly discover that tiles come in numerous sizes, colors, and textures. Very small ones are usually affixed to a square-foot mesh for easier application. Tones and textures range from smooth glossy whites to rough, matte blacks and everything in between.

Try generating more interest by mixing up the textures. Maybe a smooth tile pattern can be randomly broken up with a rough one. Sporadic bright colors interwoven into a neutral background is a look that’s gaining popularity too. You can even mix materials, like using metal tiles with stone ones.

And don’t feel limited to only using tiles. Patterned laminates and wood veneers can be cut to fit. Even more unusual materials are finding their way onto kitchen walls. Consider chalkboard so you can message the family. Natural wood planks can add rustic warmth.

Are you after a more contemporary look? Add mirrored panels, stainless steel sheeting, or even an enlarged photographic print. Don’t forget coated wallpapers come in all sorts of designs.

Maybe you think that this is too complicated of a project for you. Nonsense! Special adhesives, grout, and even peel-and-stick meshes are making installation simpler than ever. So come on, get creative and put in a distinctive new backsplash soon.