Alternatives to Tile Backsplashes in a Kitchen

A well detailed tile backsplash can add a nice finishing touch to the design of your kitchen. However, there is also no hard and fast rule that you have to use tile on your backsplash at all. In fact, we think there are three really good alternatives to consider.

The first alternative is a window. There is nothing better than getting daylight across your kitchen workspace from a long slot window. If the view is less than desirable, then the glass can be obscured but the the effect will remain.

The second alternative is more minimal. If you have a solid surface kitchen counter, run the same material up the wall as the backsplash. This will make the counter look like it is folding up the backsplash wall.

The third option is back painted glass. This can provide a pop of color and the reflective surface of the glass can add a real crispness to the kitchen detailing.

With options two and three, if the backsplash is more than a single piece of material, just make sure that you pay extra attention to where you place the seams so they make sense with the overall design.

Today’s Slides:

  • Oscar B. Morales

    Hello Matt and John,

    I am enjoying the new format of your Design Minutes and
    congrats on your new workshop studio.

    I am enjoying the monthly series and hope that as you go
    around the house that you revisit the bedrooms; typical and en-suites.

    I was wondering if you could be more specific on how the back
    painted glass is accomplished (or specified).


    And thanks again for “the Slow Home design minutes”



  • JesseS

    Hi guys,

    Great segment/topic.Here is another example of using solid surface as the backsplash in my house.  I fabricated this out of the same Corian as the countertops, Matthew you will be happy as I took care to line up the panel breaks with the cabinet sizes:)I love these design minutes that offer alternatives to the standard practice, keep up the great work!

  • Oscar B. Morales

    Hi Jesse,
    Nice details. Did you also design and fabricate the the upper cabinets. I like the open shelve concept with a little of glass, which I believe slides to hide some of the contents.


  • JesseS

    Hey Oscar, 

    Thanks for the compliment on the backsplash, I really liked how it turned out.  The cabinetry in the kitchen was done by Henrybuilt in Seattle and installed by me.  My favorite piece is the open one that you like and the craftsmanship of that piece is like fine furniture, they do a great job.

  • Louis Pereira

    Hi John | Matthew,

    This is an interesting topic and as always, you provide some great built examples.  Jesse’s example of using corian is also a great idea when it comes to thinking ‘outside the box’. 

    I would also like to share another idea for a backsplash which I think is a very inexpensive alternative to the ‘back painted glass’ option. On our project, the LG House, I specified the backsplash to be the same material we used for the kitchen – in this case, a panel with a high-gloss finish.  (They are typically used as a side cover panel on the ends of a fridge or wall oven). These panels cost approx. $80.00CAD for a 36″ x 80″ each from IKEA.  Using the same tradesperson who installed the Kitchen, we requested the panel to be custom cut to suit the backsplash surface and then adhered to the back wall.  Similar to Jesse’s project, we also aligned the seams to match the upper cabinet doors.  The appearance is very similar result to the back-painted glass, but thousands of dollars less.

    Louis Pereira – thirdstone inc. [^]

  • BradW

    Hi Louis

    How did you finish the counter to backsplash transition?

    Nice project BTW.

  • Li-Na

    Hi Louis,

    I’m with Brad…how did you deal with the transition between surfaces? :) 

    Good to hear from you, btw. :)

  • Louis Pereira

    Hi Brad | Li-Na
    The transition from counter to the backsplash is simply a bead of silicone.  The panel is only 1/2″ thick so it doesn’t cover much of the counter space.  I’ve attached another closeup image from one of the photos so you can see it better.

  • Louis Pereira

    Oops!  This is image i was supposed to post

  • Li-Na

     I love scrutinizing the details, so thanks for that close-up shot, Louis! It looks like you used the same material for the piece that hides the under-cabinet lighting?

  • Louis Pereira

    Yes. That piece you’re referring to is a light valance