10 Things You've Got to Know Before You Buy a Backsplash

By Sam Ferris
Looks can kill. So can backsplashes. But designing an ice-pick sharp backsplash that takes you to heaven and back isn?t an easy deed. Surely you know this as much as we do, and because of that, we?ve condensed most of the factors that go into buying a backsplash in a neatly organized blueprint of 10 must-knows. Without any further quips, here they are:

1. Backsplashes can get pricey real quick.

The good: there?s way less area to cover with backsplashes, especially for bathrooms. The bad: manufacturers are well aware. That?s why you?ll dish out $30 to $60 per square foot for a high-end glass backsplash. Even with a smaller kitchen at, let?s say, 30 square feet of backsplash, that?s a minimum $1,000 charge ? without labor. Plan accordingly.

Editor?s Insight: You?ll save a pretty penny and a few wallet wrinkles with natural stone. Our natural stone backsplash tile is only $12-$16 per sheet.?

2. It?s easier to match a backsplash with countertops than vice versa.

When you realize backsplash styles outnumber granite options by about, oh, 100 to 1, you?ll understand why this is true. Of course, if you?re enamored with a particular backsplash above all else (it happens), you can throw this one out the door. It just might take you longer to find a match.
3. Subway tiles are back.

Scratch this off your list of forgotten ?50s lore. Simple, modern design is seeping back into popular consciousness with subway tile at the helm. The only difference nowadays is you?re not putting subway tile all over the place, just on your backsplash. This lets your backsplash do the talking while your cabinets and countertops smile politely in the background.

4. Glass backsplashes cost more than natural stone.

Or, if you?re on a beer budget, don?t give glass anything but a glance. You can find glass backsplashes for reasonable costs, true. It?s not impossible, and you won?t always pay an arm and a leg plus next month?s bills for a glass backsplash. Natural stone backsplashes are generally less expensive, though. For newlyweds and new homebuyers, they're an efficient way to both save money and keep your kitchen cutting-edge.?

5. Not all backsplashes have focal points, but all focal points are behind the stove.

So you want to keep it low key. Fine. Plenty of backsplashes forgo focal points and they?re equally as striking. For those with inclinations toward things grandiose, always funnel the added attention above your stove. Unless you?re planning an avant garde-type design. That could work quite well, actually,

6. A good backsplash adds insta-value to your home.

And it?s usually much lighter on your wallet than ripping out your countertops and cabinets. An ugly backsplash could be the difference between sale pending and reduced price, compliments dished and raised eyebrows, yesterday?s leftovers and tomorrow?s treats. You?re doing your future and your home a favor by investing in one that?s up-to-date.

Editor?s Insight: According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, glass backsplashes are on the rise. Usage rate among designers spiked 11% between 2011 and 2012. They?re clearly ?it? right now.
7. Up and down, not side to side.?

Most people see a glass backsplash placed horizontally and put it on the wall just like they see it. But you?re not most people, are you? We didn?t think so, so we?re going to let you in on one of our go-to tips: install it vertically. It?s much more sheer and contemporary that way.
Photo courtesy of Sonoma Tilemakers
8. Grays and blues are haute.

They?re probably the swankiest colors for backsplashes right now, so if you?re stuck and want the design scene?s freshest, they?re your best bets. Our gun-to-head pick is anything gray with taupe. Our more polished and thought-out pick is Sonoma?s Vihara backsplash in Silk (above). Props if you find a way to combine grays and blues.?

9. Granite and natural stone backsplashes marry well.

It?s a marriage that lasts, for sure. A good rule of thumb is natural stone goes well with other types of natural stone. That?s not to say glass backsplashes don?t, because there are certainly many, many exceptions to a statement like that. You just won?t go wrong matching these two. It flows better and feels fresher.

10.?Quartz and other manmade countertops go best with glass backsplashes.

Like natural stone, manmade objects tend to go best with other manmade objects. Quartz can especially look awkward when it?s paired with a natural stone backsplash. Quartz patterns are cleaner and more simplistic compared to granite patterns; same goes when you compare glass and natural stone backsplashes. Birds of a feather?

Need more tips for your backsplash? We'd love to help you. Click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our designers!