Using tile for backsplashes popular and practical
Photo by Brandon Smith | Nancie Bair of Indianapolis chose glass and natural stone tiles for her kitchen backsplash.
by Jackie Norris
Christa Thacker loved her new downtown Indy home – except for the lackluster kitchen. After three months of living there, Thacker realized she could combat the dullness by hiring Tremain Corporation of Indianapolis to add a glass tile backsplash in bronze and aqua. “Now my backsplash is the No. 1 source of compliments in my home,” she says.
Dawn Williams, design consultant for Tremain, says it isn't uncommon for people, like the previous owners of Thacker's house, to put off doing a backsplash during a large kitchen remodel, but it's the wrong area to skimp on. "A backsplash is part of the finished, custom look buyers want," Williams says. "It just ties the entire kitchen together."
Picking the best tile for your style is important, but making sure you get the right material to suit the purpose of a backsplash is just as significant. Williams says a tiled backsplash stands up much better than a wallpapered backsplash, since it resists moisture. But to make sure the tile is as waterproof and easy to clean as possible, you need to have any porous tile - like stone - and the grout sealed. "Backsplashes protect your walls and make life easier in the kitchen," Williams says. "If the spaghetti sauce explodes, you simply wash it off with a mild dish soap."
Ceramic and porcelain tiles usually have a glazed finish and are available in glossy and matte finishes. They come in a wide range of colors, sizes and textures. Starting cost: 4-inch by 4-inch ceramic tile starts around $3.50 a square foot, while porcelain starts around $5.
Natural stone tiles are porous and require sealers. They're also very versatile and come in every color imaginable. Starting cost: Approximately $6 a square foot.
Glass tiles are a popular choice today and have a shiny or matte finish. Iridescent options are also available. They come in multiple colors, sizes and textures. Starting cost: Approximately $20 a square foot.
Metal tiles add shine to any backsplash and come in many finishes, like stainless steel and burnished bronze. Starting cost: 4- by 4-inch tile is about $8 a square foot.
The latest trend in tiling for backsplashes comes with an anything-goes attitude. And, Williams says it's all about how adventurous a homeowner wants to be. The two hottest choices today are glass tiles and natural stone tiles with a tumbled look. "Glass is so beautiful and works with many designs," Williams says. "Natural stone can either dominate the design, or simply enhance the beauty of the granite countertops."
When Nancie Bair of Indianapolis remodeled her kitchen in 2007, she wasn't in a hurry to get the backsplash done due to other major renovations. But when she decided to add one this past January, she chose a mixture of natural stone and glass from Tremain.
Bair had visited several tile shops, trying to decide what tile would complete her kitchen, and narrowed her choices to six or seven different options. "It took a few days to decide to go with the stone and glass tiles," Bair says. "But I love the look of it and think it brings out the different colors in the countertops. It gives the whole kitchen an updated look."
Bair's tile installation cost almost $1,500 - but most backsplash installations are quoted by the individual job and the complexity of the pattern. According to Williams, natural stone tiles start around $6 a square foot, while glass begins around $20 a square foot. She says the prices go up depending on the style, size and colors used. "You can create a stunning backsplash on any budget," Williams says. "The possibilities are endless."