9 Pro Secrets for the Perfect Tile Backsplash

Design
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Contemporary Kitchen Backsplash

Make your DIY kitchen backsplash a focal point. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

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When you’re remodeling or creating a new home, your kitchen and bath are the rooms that will need the most attention. Luckily, they can be the most fun to design. No matter your favorite decorating style, your kitchen and bathroom tile backsplash can be the focal point of your room.

Choosing a beautiful tile for your backsplash is just the first step to creating a memorable kitchen or bathroom. If you have the confidence and the right tools, your backsplash project can be a DIY victory. Because of the time-sensitive nature of setting tile and difficulty undoing tiling mistakes, you’ll need tips to create your own pro-style backsplash. Here are our favorite pro secrets:

1. View Your Tile in a Large Sample Before Committing

Many homeowners and designers have been surprised when the tile they ordered arrives at the job site. What seemed like the perfect tile when looking at a small sample can be quite different over several square feet in a kitchen or bathroom backsplash. If you are unable to see photos of a project of a similar scale to yours, consider purchasing a few square feet of your tile in sheets to see how it will look in your space.

2. Choose the Right Grout Color for Your Backsplash

The dark grout trend has been popular for a few years, but it’s not for everyone. Choosing white grout or matching your grout to the tile will give you a seamless look, especially in a large backsplash area. Dark grout lines with light tile is stylish but can be busy for large-scale areas.

3. Follow Seam Size Recommendations for Your Tile

Grout lines matter when setting tile. Tile comes with grout line size recommendations that are important to follow for a professional look. If you’re doing a DIY backsplash, invest a little in tile spacers, even if you are using tile adhered to mesh sheets. Tile sheets make it easier to set tile, but it’s important to match your grout lines between each sheet to the lines already established in the pattern so that the overall design is symmetrical.

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Bathroom Tiled Wall Backsplash

Tiled walls are a trending choice for bathrooms and kitchens right now. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

4. Know Where to Stop Your Backsplash

There’s nothing worse than finishing your tile backsplash project and realizing that it doesn’t line up with a cabinet or window line. Plan out your backsplash stop and start before you begin setting tile. You can play with it, too. The latest kitchen and bath trends feature floor-to-ceiling tiling, instead of a small backsplash.

5. Use a Tile Border or Bullnose for a Finished Look

Installing a border or matching bullnose tile to your backsplash edges is a crucial step to achieve a professional-looking design. Buying tile that has matching bullnose edging available will make your project so much easier, but you can improvise with a tile border in a similar color.

6. Purchase 10 Percent More Tile for Breakage

Tile breakage is a fact of life when installing tile — even for the tile pros. The pros purchase 10 percent more tile than they’ll need for a backsplash to be sure that they have enough. Some tile can have color and texture variations from batch to batch, so it’s best to purchase all at once like the pros do.

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Kitchen Tile Designs

Create a focal point with a tile accent above your range for a designer look. Image: Alabn/Shutterstock

7. Create a Tile Accent Design Behind Your Range for a Luxury Look

Your backsplash is a major focal point for your new kitchen. Take your design to the next level by creating an accent design on the wall above your range or cooktop. Using your vent hood or built-in microwave as your size guide, you can create a backsplash within a backsplash. Your accent can be as simple as using your backsplash tile in a different pattern or color, or as elaborate as an intricate mosaic with a tile border.

8. Electrical Outlets Can Be a Problem for Your Backsplash

Let’s be honest: the electrical outlets in many kitchen and bathroom backsplashes are an eyesore. Even in professional backsplash projects, badly placed or poorly chosen outlets can ruin a beautiful design. We need those outlets and the placement may be out of our control, but there are ways to work around them and maintain your gorgeous backsplash design. Here’s how:

  • If you are designing a tile accent stripe in your backsplash, place it above or below your outlet line.
  • White backsplash tile and accents can incorporate standard white outlets stylishly, as they disappear when put together.
  • Shop for outlet cover options in colors that coordinate with your backsplash tile. There are options beyond just white or beige available now.
  • Clever companies have created pop-up outlets for kitchens that can leave your backsplash free of wall-mounted outlet covers. Your electrician can give you more information on making this work in your kitchen.

9. There’s No Shame in Hiring a Tile Pro for Your Backsplash Project

You may be an absolute rockstar when it comes to home DIY projects, but perhaps tile is just outside of your comfort zone. It’s totally okay to hire a professional for your backsplash if you don’t want to take it on yourself. You can save your time and talents for another project. 

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