Kitchen Backsplash Trends

So, earlier this year I wrote a post discussing the tile trends for 2011. This was an all-encompassing list of the top 5 trends in the world of tile. A reader has suggested that I do up a post on backsplash-specific tile trends, and I thought that was a fabulous idea, so here we are.

These are not in any particular order! We all know I can’t pick favorites.

That’s a lie, I definitely do.

But I’m going to try not to force my bias on all of you here.

1. Subway tile.

Holy crap, the age of subway tile is upon us, and poor cute square tiles everywhere are probably sweating bullets wondering if they will ever reach this level of popularity again. This is not a new trend, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. You all probably already know that I have a significant love for subway tile, so I’m very happy with this trend. Sorry square tile. I’m sure the time will come when I will adore you again.

subway tile backsplash

2. Rectangular tile.

Read: not in the traditional subway size of 3″x6″. I’ve noticed a large crowd of people who have picked up on the popularity of subway, want to imitate it, but don’t want to follow the rest of the masses. These people I direct towards 2″x8″ tiles, or 1″x6″ tiles, etc. etc. These still give the linear look, but are slightly edgier than the more common subway size.

rectangular field tile

3. Glass tile in any size BUT a 1″x1″.

I’m afraid the days of the 1″x1″ mosaic glass backsplash tile are numbered. I’ve noticed a significant decline in the number of clients interested in running this over a whole backsplash. For many, it’s too busy for their space. For many others, they are tired of seeing it everywhere and want the next greatest thing: glass tile in any other size. Various sized stacked glass is extremely popular at the moment, as well as fun patterns like a random blend of squares and rectangles or herringbone.

the extremely popular staggered glass tile backsplash

4. Artisan glass tile.

This is the easiest way I can describe this glass tile. It’s characterized as very small pieces that are clearly cut or broken by hand to fit into a pattern on a sheet. The glass has quite a bit of variation in its color due to the handmade nature of the product, and it creates a very artsy look. I’ve shown it to you a number of times on my blog because I really love it, but I’ve noticed more and more brands are starting to carry variations of this tile and more and more customers are falling in love with it.

artisan glass creates a non-uniform pattern for this backsplash

5. Marble, marble, and more marble. Derrr.

This is also not exactly a new trend, but the popularity sure hasn’t even begun to wane. It’s always the same two: calacatta and carrera (if you don’t know the difference between the two, click here for a brief explanation). I’m seeing it most commonly in a subway pattern, but also in longer rectangles. Note, not in a square. Again, people really seem to be hating on squares at the moment.

ahhhh. simply lovely.

6. Unique materials.

And by unique, I mean unique. Cork, mother of pearl, and metals to name a few. If it can be turned into a tile, it will be. And the list is only growing of more off-the-wall materials that are becoming tile. Skateboard tile, anyone?

here's a backsplash done completely in mirror! would this make you twice as hungry?

7. Eco-friendly.

It’s becoming much more common to come across clients who refuse to buy Chinese due to unsafe labor laws and cheap products. I’ve seen a major upswing in the number of clients who will spend a little more money for something made responsibly and even more importantly, with regard to the environment. Oceanside Glasstile is a great example of a company who saw the importance of protecting the environment early on, and is now really reaping the benefits from being an early leader in recylced glass tile. Side benefit: it’s beautiful.

recycled glass backsplash made from old Corona bottles makes your kitchen the happy hour spot every day!

8. Texture.

A lot of people love white backsplash tile. It’s a very clean look, and not a lot of people out there can deny being attracted to light, airy, white kitchens. However, not everyone wants the same two choices: subway or square. Therefore, there’s been a huge upswing in people looking for white tiles with texture. For example, using a beveled subway to create a sense of depth and dimension.

just try to focus on the beauty and not the inevitable grease buildup

9. Pattern.

As previously stated, a lot of people like white, but not always in the same size. Therefore the pattern of the tile is starting to become more important. Arabesque tile has really taken off this year in a big way. I’ve also seen more intricate geometric patterns from the likes of the big names, which means it’s only a matter of time before others begin to follow suit.

here, the homeowner chose white oval glass rather than a basic white ceramic to liven up the room

10. Herringbone & chevron.

I personally believe these have risen in popularity due to the resurgence of French influence in design. All of a sudden, you can’t turn a page in a design magazine without seeing some sort of French feature. Herringbone and chevron both create a European feel, and make for a stunning backsplash that is quite a bit more interesting than your standard subway tile. And the best part? You can actually create this pattern using subway tile!

here, a combination of two trends: marble & herringbone! love it.

*all photos from


12 Responses to “Kitchen Backsplash Trends”
  1. chanie says:

    great post – we’re currently trying to decide about backsplash in a kitchen renovation.
    can you discuss color too? i’m noticing that all your examples are neutrals. i’m debating whether to stay somewhat monochromatic and stay with the cabinet and counter colors for the backsplash, or use it as a way to bring in something with more color.

    • Tile Tramp says:

      Absolutely! I didn’t really show kitchens with a lot of color because trend-wise, most people are opting for neutrals at the moment. But I’m with you; I think the backsplash is the perfect place to bring in some color and tie all of the other features in the room together. I sense another blog post coming… 😉

  2. chanie says:

    ha! didn’t mean to create more work for you, but would love to read said post…;-)

    I’m so torn – I love neutrals, and think it might look less dated, but might be a great way to bring in some color too – I dont want to shy away just because I’m ‘scared’.

    Btw – we are doing a full renovation, and I’ve been reading all your archives – we redid two and a half baths, and tiled the whole kitchen/living room/dining room area floor. Thanks for lots of food for thought. All that is left tile-wise is the backsplash, and the kitchen people suggested a large flat piece of glass – which while interesting, would not be as interesting as tile!

  3. Katie says:

    This is a great list! I love the Artisan ones, and I know I was really drawn to that look when I was picking a back splash. Unfortunately, there really *was* no budget left at that point, so we had to go with the eleven-cent ceramic. 🙂

    One bandwagon I don’t think I’ll ever jump on is the textured tile — it looks amazing, but I can’t imagine cleaning all those little nooks and crannies from dust or whatever else might want to get in there!

  4. Nick Schulz says:

    Anyone have a good online source for mother of pearl mosaics?

  5. janellebrown says:

    I would kill to get a close up of that top photo, with the small herringbone tile above the traditional offset tile. Can you tell me where you found the picture? We’re thinking of doing something very similar….

  6. marufhosen says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing blog. I finished this right now and thinking that it is the perfect blog I was looking for . Never stop writing, and keep up such an informative blogs. Best wishes for you.
    subway tile

  7. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage?

    My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my
    visitors would truly benefit from some of the information you provide here.

    Please let me know if this alright with you. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: