A white backsplash can brighten up any kitchen and make the space feel clean and airy. While subway tile has been popular for years, some homeowners find it too trendy or overdone. Luckily, there are plenty of stunning white backsplash options beyond basic subway tile.
Gorgeous Alternatives to White Subway Tile
Subway tile certainly has its appeal – it’s classic, affordable, and easy to install. But if you find it a bit boring, consider one of these eye-catching options for your backsplash instead:
Brick-patterned tiles add subtle visual interest with their offset layout. The elongated rectangles create a stacked brick effect when installed in a running bond pattern. This style works well in both rustic and modern kitchens. Brick tiles can feature subtle texture or color variations to make them more unique.
Herringbone patterns offer movement and visual depth with their zigzag design. The genius is in the details – alternating the direction of the staggered “V” shape makes for an endless allure. Herringbone backsplashes pair nicely with marble or wood countertops. Choose contrasting grout colors to accentuate the zigzag pattern.
Make a geometric statement with triangular, hexagonal, or octagonal tiles. Geometric shapes can create cool 3D optical illusions when installed with alternating directional patterns. Use just one shape or mix and match for more diversity. Keep the rest of the kitchen simple to let the unique geometry shine.
Moroccan Fish Scale
For a global vibe, fish scale tile offers an intricate mosaic style. The interlocking tessellated tiles resemble Fish scales or chain mail armor – offering shimmery depth from any angle. Versatile fish scale works in modern, transitional, or traditional spaces because of its timeless allure.
Penny rounds offer an organic feel with their circular, coin-like shape. When installed in a brick-like pattern, they create fun visual movement. The round edges add a playful vibe while still keeping a classic monochromatic palette. Affordable penny tile comes in glossy ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone.
Basketweave patterns deliver visual texture and dimension. The over-under weaving effect adds organic interest and rustic charm. Handmade tiles or porcelain stones with subtle color variations can accentuate the woven look. Basketweave backsplashes complement farmhouse sinks and antique accents.
Make a stellar statement with a Moravian stars tile pattern. The North Star-shaped tiles create dazzling faceting effects when lit properly. This style looks contemporary yet echoes Old World European charm. Use matte tiles and bold grout lines to maximize the geometric shapes.
Subway Tile Alternatives
Put a unique spin on classic rectangular subway tiles with these easy refresh ideas:
- Mix up sizes – combine standard 3×6” with longer planks or mini versions
- Use beveled edges – chamfered tile has a modern, sleek finish
- Try unique laying patterns – stack, diagonal, herringbone, etc.
- Add texture & material variety – combine glossy and matte finishes
- Blend colors – use two complementary hues or create an ombre effect
- Install dimensional tile – 3D tile adds shadows and visual depth
- Adjust proportions – try longer “skinny” planks instead of squares
- Add decorative accents – patterns, mosaics, inlays, or medallions
With endless shape, size, finish, and layout options – it’s easy to design a white backsplash that feels fresh and unique, even without traditional subway tile.
Gorgeous White Backsplash Materials Beyond Ceramic Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tile may be the most common backsplash materials, but they’re not the only options. Consider using one of these on-trend materials for a backsplash that stands out:
Glass tiles lend eye-catching sparkle and reflect light beautifully. Opt for glass with baked-in color for a brilliant jeweled effect. Use opaque glass for a softer shimmer. Mix glass with stone or ceramic for accents. Consider recycled glass for an eco-friendly option.
Marble & Quartzite
Natural stone like marble, quartzite, or limestone make a luxurious statement, especially in large format slabs. The veining patterns add organic beauty and dimension. Hone the stone for a matte finish or polish it for gleaming elegance. Keep in mind regular sealing is required.
Metal & Mosaics
Metal and mosaics add glitz and texture. Materials like hammered copper, stainless steel, tin, and aluminum come in various finishes. Use metallic mosaics sparingly as accents or install a showstopping metal tile statement wall.
Wood backsplashes offer natural warmth and texture. Use durable woods like teak or ipe outside of direct water contact areas. Choose wide planks for modern appeal or parquet patterns for geometric flair. Complement wood with stone or concrete countertops.
Lacquer, Resin & Concrete
Lacquered glass, polished resin, and colored concrete backsplashes offer smooth, sleek elegance. These materials resist stains and moisture well. Concrete can be stained, etched, or inlaid with aggregates like glass or stone. Use these materials to contrast more rugged textures.
Wallpaper & Fabric
Make a bold statement with water-resistant wallpaper or fabric backsplashes. Choose materials like vinyl, acrylic coated papers, or outdoor-rated fabric. Install full murals, creative patterns, faux textures, or removable wallpaper panels. This is an easy DIY option for temporary transforms.
Paneling & Architectural Materials
Use architectural accents like wood paneling, beadboard, brick, or penny tile sheets to amplify visual interest. Try a reclaimed wood accent wall or antiqued tin panels. Modern panel materials like colored glass, perforated metal, and fiber cement are also options.
With the wide range of backsplash materials now available, it’s easy to design a gorgeous kitchen backdrop that moves beyond basic tile. Let your personal style shine through with the perfect creative, non-subway backsplash.
Stylish Alternatives to All-White Backsplashes
An all-white backsplash has its charms, but don’t overlook the design potential of adding color. Thoughtful use of color in your backsplash can elevate your whole kitchen’s visual appeal. Here are artistic ways to incorporate color for a stunning result:
Vibrant Accent Colors
Strategically use bold accent shades like royal blue, burnt orange, or chartreuse green on a portion of the backsplash only. For example, make a tile mosaic focal point or paint an accent wall. Vibrant accents add striking pops of color.
Warm up white backsplashes with natural, cozy hues like beige, cream, taupe, or gray. Soft neutrals add subtle interest and keep the palette soothing. Matte finishes help absorb sound and reinforce the calming effect.
Incorporate multiple vibrant colors in mosaic tiles, stained glass, or mix-and-match ceramic for a playfulPatchwork effect. Keep the surrounding backsplash white to prevent overwhelming visual busyness.
Elements like wood beams, stone surfaces, or terracotta add organic warmth and texture. Natural materials also bring movement with their inherent color variations. Mix with white for balance.
Ombre glazes transition dark to light or one color to the next for a soothing watercolor effect. Use ombre glass, ceramic, or porcelain tile or have tile custom dip-dyed. Limit ombre to a single wall as a focal point.
Metallic backsplashes add glamour and catch the light beautifully. Options include hammered copper, brushed brass, antique mirror, metals laminates, metallic mosaic, or high-gloss metallic tile. Metallics pair nicely with marbles.
Use patterns like graphic florals, geometric shapes, or Moroccan tiles to incorporate color in an artistic way. Focus the vitality of colorful patterns in just one section of the backsplash for optimal effect.
Muted vintage hues like sage green, cobalt, rose, rich yellow and punchy teal add a subtle retro vibe. Keep surrounding materials and finishes modern for a stylish color-blocked look.
There are so many options for ingeniously integrating color into your backsplash design in a way that balances beautifully with white cabinetry. A touch of color can bring your dream backsplash to life!
Unique Shape and Layout Ideas
In addition to varying colors and materials, you can also create a distinctive backsplash using creative shape and layout concepts. Here are design techniques to make your backsplash stand out:
Continue tiling past the standard backsplash area, up to the bottom of wall cabinets or ceiling. Extending height creates a dramatic appearance and makes a bolder design statement.
Turn a portion of the backsplash into a decorative display area. Mount ceramic pieces, bottle collections, or framed photos for personalized art gallery appeal.
Make the backsplash the crown jewel of your kitchen by creating a tiled focal point. Use an ornate shape like a circle, starburst, diamond or octagon framed by standard rectangular tile.
Mix up Shapes
Integrate a combination of triangular, circular, oval, hexagonal and rectangular tiles. Play with the tile orientations and layout patterns for dynamics.
Make a textured feature wall with an intentionally irregular layout. Vary tile sizes, leave gaps for grout lines of differing widths, and rotate pieces for artful imperfections.
Kitchen Peninsula Accent
Wrap a striking backsplash around a kitchen peninsula or island for a 360-degree focal point. Contrast the wraparound backsplash with more simple walls.
Incorporate floating shelves, plate racks, wine racks, or open shelving right into the backsplash area. Combine storage and display for functional flair.
Designed Focal Point
End the backsplash with a focal shape or accent piece like an arched niche, medallion, or decorative corbel. This draws attention to the crafted vignette.
Use geometric shapes like zigzags, arrows, diamonds, or nested squares to create visual impact. Sophisticated geometric patterns add movement and depth.
With thoughtful planning and strategic design choices, it’s easy to create a backsplash with impactful shape, layout and decorative details that steer clear of boring and basic. Get creative with your backsplash to make it the pièce de résistance of your dream kitchen!
Ideal Backsplash Heights and Dimensions
While there are no set rules for backsplash dimensions, there are general guidelines that work well for both form and function:
The standard backsplash height is 4 inches tall. This protects the wall from splashes while prepping food at a typical countertop. Easy to wipe clean.
For a bolder look, take the backsplash all the way up to the underside of the wall cabinets. This dramatic style works well with stone slab backsplashes.
For open shelving, take the backsplash up 2 feet or so to protect the lower portion of the wall. Then leave the upper area open to display collections.
Wrap a standard 4-6 inch high backsplash around countertop corners and edges. This helps contain spills and crumbs. Use bullnose edging for a seamless transition.
Extend the backsplash up behind the entire stovetop to safeguard walls from cooking grease. Go wider than the stove too so the backsplash can catch drips.
Full Wall Coverage
Install backsplash tiles across the entire wall space for a seamless, expansive appearance. This helps unify smaller kitchens visually.
Mosaic Accent Strip
Add a slim accent row of mosaic tile, just 2-4 inches tall, below wall cabinets or along the top portion of walls. This adds subtle decorative detail.
Allow upper cabinets and shelves to overhang countertops by 2-3 inches to help prevent water from dripping behind the backsplash.
The ideal backsplash size depends on your kitchen layout, style, and specific needs. But in general, opt for dimensions generous enough to protect walls and keep your space looking great.
Creative Ideas for Edges and Transitions
Your kitchen backsplash doesn’t have to abruptly end. There are many creative edging techniques that can give your backsplash a high-end finished look:
Bullnose edges have a rounded subtly curved lip. The smooth turn under prevents sharp edges and seamlessly transitions from counter to wall.
Frame your backsplash with decorative tile trim like mosaic squares, a contrasting liner, or metal strips. Borders add polished detail.
Extend to Ceiling
For full height backsplashes, continue tile to the ceiling line. Use caulk to fill the slight gap for a built-in look. Add crown molding atop tile.
Use a specialty L-shaped trim or small tile pieces to finish an inside corner where backsplashes meet. This covers the edge attractively.
Ogee-shaped ledges make pretty yet practical shelves above a backsplash. Great for displaying small decor or plants. Use with floating shelves too.
Outside corners also require specialized corner trim or pieced tile sections. Pre-made metal corner guards also offer durability.
Let the backsplash tile overlap the countertop edge slightly. This helps catch drips and crumbs for easy cleanup.
Install discreet LED lighting underneath cabinets or shelving above the backsplash. This casts a gentle glow and highlights the tile.
Slim Accent Border
A slim prefab or tile border along the top edge of a backsplash adds subtle detail. Contrast the border color with the main tile.
With so many options, it’s easy to choose an edge treatment that beautifully finishes off your backsplash design. Details like trim, ledges, lighting and borders polish the look.
DIY Installation Tips and Tricks
Installing a kitchen backsplash yourself can save money and allow for total creative control. Here are pro tips for a foolproof DIY tile backsplash project:
Buy all materials beforehand – tile, grout, adhesive, spacers, sealer, tools, etc. Have extra tile for inevitable cuts and breakage.
Prepare the Surface
Clean the wall thoroughly and sand glossy surfaces. Fix any holes or imperfections. Prime and paint if needed.
Map It Out
Measure carefully and sketch a layout. Snap perpendicular level lines. Dry lay tiles first to confirm spacing.
For the adhesive, mix powdered thinset to a toothpaste-like consistency without lumps. Let it slake for 10 minutes, then remix before using.
Apply Backsplash Adhesive
Use a notched trowel to evenly spread adhesive on the wall. Apply only as much as you can tile before it dries.
Set the Tiles
Following layout lines, press tiles into the adhesive firmly. Use spacers between tiles. Work in small sections.
Once adhesive dries, mix grout and apply over all seams using a float. Wipe away excess. Avoid smearing grout on tile faces.
Allow grout to fully cure, then seal tiles with a penetrating or topical sealant as needed. This prevents staining.
With the right planning and materials, tiling a kitchen backsplash is very achievable. Just take your time and follow each step carefully. The end result will transform your kitchen beautifully!
Love a White Backsplash but Not Subway Tile? Try One of These
In summary, there are so many options beyond basic white subway tile to design a gorgeous backsplash. Consider using:
- Creative shapes like brick, herringbone, geometric, fishscale, penny tile, and starburst patterns.
- On-trend materials like glass, marble, metal, wood, lacquer, fabric, or architectural accents.
- Colorful touches like vibrant accents, ombre effects, mosaics, or vintage hues.
- Unique layouts like extended heights, wraparound, integrated shelving, focal points, or irregular designs.
- Finishing details like bullnose edging, borders, trim, lighting, ledges, and outside corner treatments.
With thoughtful creativity, you can install an exceptional backsplash that brightens your kitchen beautifully. The options are truly endless for achieving a backsplash you’ll love minus the basic subway tile look. Be adventurous with shapes, textures, materials colors and layouts to create a stunning focal point that expresses your unique personal style.