Does this backsplash look right in my kitchen?

dms11February 27, 2014

I posted this in the Remodeling section but maybe I'll have better luck here :)

I am getting granite countertops installed tomorrow, and have been looking for two weeks for backsplash that would look right in my kitchen.

My Cabinets: I have the original 13-year old builder-grade MDF white laminate cabinets that I cannot afford to replace right now. Down the road I want to reface the drawer/door fronts but my cabinets will remain white nonetheless.

Countertops: Giallo Napoli granite: If you're not familiar with GN, the color is similar to New Venecian Gold and some Santa Cecilias. It has a honey/golden tone, with some white and black flecks. I like the black in the granite since it goes well w/ my SS appliances, and I like the white because it would look nice with the cabinets. GN to me seems very busy so I definitely do not want a mosiac/multicolored backsplash that would compete with the pattern and colors of the granite.

Everything else: My kitchen flooring is a very warm honey oak. I have all stainless steel appliances and brushed nickel hardware and faucet. The undermount sink will be stainless too. Wall color is currently SW "Blonde" but may change if it clashes.

For now, I just need to figure out a backsplash that does not look out of place with my basic white cabinets, but can be versatile in case I reface later.

So, today I found this porcelain tile backsplash and looks really neat -- but would this look right with my basic white cabinets and Giallo Napoli granite? The backsplash I found is porcelain, not natural stone, so a huge plus for me (easy to keep clean and no sealing!) - also, it does not require any grouting either since you literally stack one on top of the other.

What do you think about this stacked "stone" tile being the backsplash? Is it TOO much texture? Too "earthy" for my basic cabinets? Do you have any opinion on the color the tile should be, the gloss/finish, shape: subway or square?

I'll post more pictures tomorrow after the countertops are installed, as I know too well to never trust a sample piece of anything =)

***Close up of my Giallo Napoli granite sample:

***Granite sample next to backsplash in BOTH colors - Gray and Black tiles:

***Granite sample next to the Gray tile:

***Half of kitchen with the CFL lighting on (I am MOST definitely ripping out that "scrolled" wood valence above the window!):

***Half of kitchen with CFL recessed lighting turned off:

***Other side of kitchen:

And, lastly...
Here's an example of the look this backsplash would create (the colors are not the same, but at least you can see this type of backsplash w/ white cabinets and granite):

This post was edited by dms11 on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 12:22

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I personally LOVE that stacked stone. I even have a sample of it sitting outside, cuz if I win the lottery I would love to face my huge cement retaining walls beside my driveway with it!

I digress, are you trying to decide between the light or the dark stone? If your tiling place is agreeable, I would buy a box of each one, and place them up on the counter. Usually tile places will take back a full box free of charge. As you already know, just having a small sample can sometimes be misleading.

Having said that, I would be interested in what the response is from people who have that stacked stone as a BS behind a stove. I have some concern about being able to clean it. Maybe even post a question about cleaning stacked stone as a kitchen backsplash. I know that over the years there have been some GW'ers who have used this.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Aside from the cleaning issues with stacked stone, I think it is going to be a matter of personal taste as to whether or not that backsplash "looks right" in your kitchen. Personally, I don't like it as a backsplash material ... it just looks like it belongs outdoors or on a fireplace. But that's just me. That's not to say that I wouldn't like the look of it in certain kitchens, but I don't like it in your kitchen paired with your other materials (cabinets, granite, or flooring).

IMO, there are so many other tiles available that lend themselves better to kitchen applications and all that goes on in there ... splatters, grease, etc. In your kitchen and with your granite, I'd prefer a simple ceramic or porcelain tile in a light color pulled from your stone.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:32PM
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raehelen - Thanks for your input! The tiling place would probably let me bring home a box rather than just one piece so I can get a bigger picture. Great idea. I don't think they would have any issues letting me return it but would have to check.

The tiles sales guy told me he liked the darker/black color tile to make a "bold statement", and I wasn't sure about it. I mean I know i have black in the SS appliances, but I didn't want black to dominate my walls. So I was leaning towards the warm gray...

I did ask him if this tile is hard to keep clean. He said no - since it's porcelain, it easily wipes off and does not stain. But then again I can understand the concerns of having it so "textured", and everything not flush, so I guess I could see food particles getting caught...

This post was edited by dms11 on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 14:24

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:54PM
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jellytoast - thanks for your input too. It is pretty hard to find much in porcelain/ceramic, but I did find some mini bricks and then some mini squares, but I'm not sure if I'm feeling the "mini".... would the size of the tiles be distracting? Here are the ones I found at another tile place.

What does anyone think of these? (the tiles I'm looking at are within the wood framed sample boards - and I placed the sample boards on top of this granite countertop they had on display which seemed pretty close to my granite sample piece):

This one has a sample board of a large square tile (3x3"??) but I wasn't in love with the color, but it's included in here - Oh, and ignore the dark stained cabinets, those are sadly not mine!:

I like the price of the mini bricks vs the stacked "stone" tiles! The stacked stone tiles are $15/sqft, and the mini bricks are about $8/sqft:

This post was edited by dms11 on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 14:29

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:13PM
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I agree with jellytoast. It's a subjective choice, but to my eye your cabinet design and finish is at odds with the rustic feel of the tile. I also think the crevices would collect dust/grime and be hard to keep clean.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Pretty, traditional kitchen. Your instincts are right that the stacked is too rustic for it. I think a cracquelle cream ceramic would look pretty.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:02PM
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dms11, I would suggest trying a different backsplash sample against your granite that does not have a pattern to it. In other words, something that isn't natural stone. A crackle finish as snookums suggests would give you a bit of texture without distracting from the stone. It might help you if you had something else besides stone for a comparison.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Thank you so much for the input everyone! I love the idea of a crackled ceramic, and in the very beginning I was favoring the idea of white (or light tan) subway tile.

I have seen "beveled" white subway tiles too - would that be worse than the "crackled" look, or better? Below are some pics I found online of white kitchens with subway tile backsplash. The kitchens look similar to mine (traditional) and it is much easier for me to visualize this type of backsplash because I have similar cabinetry.

So - what do you all think about ceramic subway tiles? Is this the style I need to lean towards? Could i get away with white tiles, or should it be tan, or off-white? My cabinets are not stark-white, they are a bit off-white so I don't want the backsplash to compete with the cabinets either... oh, and I am adding under cabinet lighting (warm LED strips) so it should add some warmth to the backsplash:


or Beveled?:

I really like that the grout lines disappear into the tiles, it is a very clean look - and the under cabinet lighting will be similar to what mine will look like:

This post was edited by dms11 on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 15:50

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:46PM
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It took me 4 years to find the perfect backsplash! I am not kidding. I knew I didn't like anything that I had brought home, and I had scoured every tile place within reasonable driving distance, so I gave my walls a really good coat of paint and waited.

I am so glad I did, because the glass tile mix I ended up going with wasn't available, at least not in my colours, when we first had the counters installed. I am just sharing this cuz my advice is to enjoy this journey, don't be in a rush to just put anything up. IMHO, from what I see on Houzz and here on GW the BS is one area where I think the majority of people make a mistake. When we're in the store, it's so easy to be overwhelmed because they are just so many pretty choices... and it can be hard to visualize what the four surfaces; cabinets, counter, floor and BS will look like all together and in the proportions of our kitchens.

I kept a large sample of my granite, an extra cabinet door, a large sample board, (ie 18" X 30") of my flooring, and a poster-sized paint chip in my van. I was prepared to pop in any tile place I might come across during my day! LOL It paid off, I honestly cannot imagine any other BS in my kitchen, even 3 years later, I smile every time I look at it. We installed it ourselves, and I know every frikken piece of that glass mosaic intimately and I wouldn't change a square inch.

Have you tried a search on the Finished Kitchens Blog or on Houzz for kitchens with your granite? I would do that for sure to see what appeals to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Finished Kitchens Blog

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:05PM
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I like all of those dms11 ... you're on the right track! The one with the lightly contrasting grout is especially pretty (bottom two pics). Something like that would look really nice with your countertops and wood floors.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:12PM
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I agree with Jellytoast... a subway that goes with your cabinets (white?) with a grout that connects to the granite, softly contrasting, like in the bottom 2 pics. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:31PM
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I took so long to type my previous response that you had uploaded lots of pics of what I was suggesting you do! LOL Yes, I think this may be the best direction for you to go. I'd be interested to see how the crackle tiles look next to the granite, may just provide some extra warmth, and could mimic the flow/pattern of your stone.

The hard part will be getting the colour match that plays off both your counter and your cabinets the best. This is where seeing them in your space will be crucial.

Can hardly wait to see what you pick. (Hope it doesn't take 4 years!)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:54PM
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Well, the installers came today and I cannot believe how different my kitchen looks already =) and I now can see that the stacked "stone" tiles would not look right!

Tomorrow I will post pics of my countertops when I have better lighting, and this weekend I will start looking for interesting subway tiles. If i find something, I'll take pics of it next to the granite and hopefully get everyone's opinion again.

Appreciate the help everyone!

This post was edited by dms11 on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 19:22

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Do not be discouraged! You have made all the hard choices. The BS is the frosting. I love the large subway tiles in crackle against a countertop with a pattern. look for posts by Romy for suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 10:04PM
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Alright! Finally getting around to posting new pics! Not sure how to do multiple ones from my phone so will upload one photo per post.

This first one looks gray in this light. It changes from cool to warm tones throughout the day.

This post was edited by dms11 on Sun, Mar 2, 14 at 21:00

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:28PM
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    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Ooooh, lovely!!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:32PM
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A closer view of the granite

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Depending on the lighting it can appear gray or warm/golden. Here it is very warm toned!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Last one for now- Oh and I removed that scroll valence you see in here, so now have to figure out what I am going to do with that...I always seem to get myself into a bigger project :)

This post was edited by dms11 on Sun, Mar 2, 14 at 20:58

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:41PM
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Your countertops look great. I really like your last picture of the white subway tles with the tan grout. Do also look at some crackle tiles. They have such depth. Linelle's kitchen remodel thread has recently resurfaced. She has a beautiful white/ivory crackle.
Have fun shopping. We look forward to new pics.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:18AM
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Backsplash update:

I went by a tile store and talked to a man about the "crazed" or crackled ceramic tiles. He said he would not recommend these in a kitchen because it has to be sealed and the crackled surface makes it easier for stains to penetrate. So...sadly, I think that's out for me.

I told him I didn't want to have to seal anything which was the whole point of going with ceramic tile vs stone. He recommends sticking with the non-crackled subways that is either the beveled/cushion look, or the plain flat ones.

So, last night I found three different subways in a gloss finish (they didn't have anything in a matte finish). Here are some pictures of them against the countertops. Which ones do you like best?:

Option A) Allen + Roth Glazed 3"x6" Ceramic Wall tile in "Fawn"

Option B) American Olean Starting Line White Gloss Ceramic Wall tile 3"x6" Beveled:

Option C) smaller sized (1.5"x3"?) glazed subways in Off-white/cream:

Option D is a new ceramic subway that will be arriving at Lowes next week. It is the Allen + Roth Glazed ceramic tile 3"x6" in two different colors-chocolate/brown (left) and taupe (right) - I liked the taupe, assuming it is not too gray:

This post was edited by dms11 on Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 11:36

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:30AM
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I think I would go with the white or off-white. It's so hard to tell undertones from photos, but the first looks a little pinky beige, when your counter is more caramel. I would be wary of taupe, too, as it can read purple. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:46AM
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I agree withe the above. Undertones are so important and especially come even more into play when the entire backsplash is installed.
Go with the sample that picks up the cream in your granite. View the samples at all timers of the day and with under cabinet light on and off.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:38PM
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The beveled repeats your door style, and I'm not sure I'd like them together. Can you post a pic with the doors?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 1:56PM
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We have very similar granite and just installed the back splash last week. I would caution against the Allen + Roth, especially if you want flawless tiles. We installed some of their 4x12" tiles and weren't crazy about the quality. Lots of scratches!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:40PM
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I don't think crackled would be a problem on a backsplash. You seal it, it doesn't get scrubbed so much to need repeated sealings. People here have used them. Maybe they can comment on upkeep.I would worry more about the grout.

P.S. Does he carry crackle tile to sell you or did he need to talk you into something else?

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 9:28

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:13PM
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may_flowers - you are right. I looked at the beveled again with the cabinet doors and I think there was just too much bevel going on! I think I just prefer the classic flat look with my cabinets.

xand83 - thank you for letting me know! I think I found those chocolate/taupe colored Allen + Roth tiles listed online at (the ones I posted a picture of, that aren't in store just yet) - and one of the reviews mentioned that all of them were scratched. :( Bummer! I'll have to check these off my list.

snookums2 - Nope, don't think the sales guy has the crackle tile in his shop, or at least he didn't have any samples or boards to show me. I'd also like to hear from someone else who owns the crazed/crackled ceramic too.

And honestly I haven't seen these crackled ceramic tiles ANYWHERE - I've been to Floor and Decor, Lowes, Home Depot, The Tile Shop, and Federal Tile (small local tile shop). Most of the crazed/crackled tiles I've seen are all glass.

I don't know where else to look. I'm near the Atlanta, GA area btw if anyone is familiar with any tile shops here!

Also - I wanted to get someone's opinion on the finish.

Which one should I do? GLOSS vs MATTE?

After looking at the samples on my walls, I now think I should go with a matte finish, because the granite is so reflective, and I don't want my walls to reflect as much as the countertops. Or does it really matter? I've also installed undercabinet lighting (warm LED tape), so I feel like the gloss finish would blind me! But of course, finding matte subways seems to be pretty uncommon where ever I look :/

Thanks! :)

This post was edited by dms11 on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 11:19

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:17AM
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A matte finish would be a good contrast to the polished counter.

Look for tile shops. They will carry that kind of stuff. You won't find crackle in places like Lowes but I wouldn't think matte would be hard to find. I'm still seeing crackle here. There are some moderately priced ones around.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, Mar 6, 14 at 13:31

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 12:15PM
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dms11, your kitchen lloks very similar to mine. I dont have the crackle finish, but I went with a whitish subway tile and I love it. it does not compete with the Venetian Gold counters. Good luck finding the crackle finish.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 3:05PM
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LRy511 - your kitchen is beautiful! The pencil edging adds a nice touch too! It's a little hard to tell, but are your tiles glossy, or matte? If glossy, do you think the undercab lights reflect way too much light off the backsplash? I installed LED tape lighting under my cabinets, and am afraid LEDs on gloss tiles is going to be sunshine hitting my face! :)

Another update!
I went by the tile shop again and now have a sample of a cream colored "crazed"/crackle tile in a 2"x8" size, and two other tiles that are plain, handmade, one in matte and one gloss in a white and off-white 2"x6" size. So these are smaller than the traditional 3x6" subways, is there anything wrong with this skinner/smaller subway size? (I feel like I ask too many questions!)

This post was edited by dms11 on Sat, Mar 8, 14 at 4:19

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:12PM
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I haven't seen a 2x8 crackle but the smaller tiles are a busier look. That shape would be more modern.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Dms11- I have gloss tiles and the under cabinet light is a warm LED. I find it does not reflect too much. It is fine for me.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:30PM
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I'm back again! I think I am close to finally picking out a tile. I should have a asked this in the very beginning -

About "Side Splashes"
...when I had the old laminate countertops, there was a 4" laminate strip of "backsplash" running behind the countertop and it extended all the way to the side walls. Now there is an ugly mess on the wall where I removed the strip, and am wondering if the new tile backsplash should extend to the side walls again. I have read a lot that the "side splashes" are not always necessary and sometimes not appealing to the eye.

Should I do a "side splash", meaning should I extend the tile where the wall changes direction and make it the same height as the rest of it? Or should I sand and paint those areas?

This post was edited by dms11 on Sat, Mar 8, 14 at 9:30

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:25AM
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The other side of the kitchen just has one side wall. See pic:

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:28AM
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I love LRy511's kitchen backsplash with her counters that are similar to yours. I love your counter!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:42AM
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If you google "where to end backsplash gardenweb" you will find many threads devoted to the issue. In fact, there was a recent thread in just the last few days concerning that. It's easier to use google rather than the GW search function.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Here's one sidesplash opinion:

Here is a link that might be useful: Backsplash Tips - Don't Do This!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Thanks jellytoast and feisty68, I looked at the forums and I decided to just leave off the "side splash".

LRy511 - Where did you buy your beaded pencil trim?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:44AM
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dms11- did you ever pick a tile to go with the Napoli?

The slabs of Napoli I picked have lots of movement and I have been trying to figure out the back splash as well. My cabinets are deep cherry color.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:33PM
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OP - was interested to hear what you chose for the backsplash and would like to see pics if possible.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:16PM
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