3 Tips for Choosing Kitchen Backsplash Tile

One of my very favorite things about kitchen updates is choosing kitchen tile backsplash – there are so many options! But, you know how that goes, so many options means so much indecision! Because backsplash so easily and instantaneously transforms a kitchen (have you seen the magic of going from 90’s glassy mosaic to matte modern chevron?!), it’s definitely worth wading through all the options. Even with a classic white subway, there are a lot of variables to figure out. While I’m the midst of tackling the tile for my One Room Challenge kitchen update, I thought I’d share some of my tips for choosing kitchen backsplash tile here!

kitchen backsplash

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3 Tips for Choosing Kitchen Backsplash Tile

tile finishes

1. Consider Matte vs. Glossy Finish

One little detail can make a world of difference! Tile comes in a few different finishes, mostly commonly in a matte and a polished finish. It’s no surprise I’m a big fan of the matte. Although it’s tougher to come by (check online and local tile shops), it gives a more modern, elevated vibe.

I think matte is especially important for larger spaces as the polished could feel like a lot of shine and reflection, see above for how they compare right next to a window.

2. Compare Colors for Neutrality and Undertones

Of course, you might be looking at colors other than white but since that’s what I’m using in the kitchen, it’s a good example! Each tile above is listed as “white” on the website. Next to each other though, we can see that one is much more earthy, one is more neutral, and the last is a true bright white.

Choosing one over the other could make the entire space feel too warm, too pink, or too cool. This is crucial for gray tile which often have pink or blue undertones.

subway tiles

3. Tile Size and Proportion

Whether you’re going with subway tile or another shape, size and proportion is a key element to keep in mind. Smaller subway tiles, like common 3″ x 6″ tiles will have a much different look than wider and longer tiles.

Not into subway? Check out these 7 Alternatives to Subway Tile!

white tile options

If you’re wanting to go with subway, but want to try something different, going with larger or differently proportioned tiles cab just enough of a change. Because I’m tiling from the countertop to ceiling, I’m going with 4″ x 16″ tiles which will hopefully widen up the space and look less busy than smaller tiles. I’m using my previous kitchen as reference point:

my previous kitchen with 4″ x 16″ matte white subway tiles

BONUS- The best kitchen backsplash tile grout:

Don’t forget the grout! My very favorite grout is Mapei warm gray which is a perfect neutral gray not too silver or dark.

tile grout
Mapei Grout Color Chart
one room challenge

Kitchen Update To-Do List

  1. Demolish the current tiled counter tops & back splash
  2. Remove some of the upper cabinets
  3. Replace counter tops with Silestone Consentino in Et Statuario in Suede finish 
  4. Replace sink with Blanco Silgranit in Cinder (this will be my second Blanco sink, I just love them!)
  5. Paint cabinet bases and replace cabinet doors & drawer fronts (I’m using Iron Ore)
  6. Update kitchen stove with Kitchen Aid Gas Stove
  7. Add cabinet hardware: matte black knobs and rectangular drawer pulls
  8. Install tile back splash and entire wall (I haven’t decided yet, but this previous backsplash tile post has some good white tile options!
  9. Make oak shelves for floating shelving with Black Brackets (p.s. this is my brother’s bracket business and I work with him there!
  10. Replace light above sink with cute pendant light – I’m undecided but this one is a good option! 
  11. Style with plants and new artwork
choosing kitchen tile backsplash

Stay tuned & check out all of the ORC entrants on the One Room Challenge blog!

More ORC Kitchen Update:

Week 1 – Vision Board for Neutral Kitchen Update

Week 2 – Cabinet Demo with Open Shelving Pros & Cons

Week 3 – Best White Quartz Countertops

Week 4 – Black Kitchen Sink 

Week 5 – Painted Cabinets vs All New