Kitchen wall tile ideas are full of potential. Whether they create a backsplash or cover a wall they can make a striking impression or add subtle pattern, texture, shine or color to the room.
Your kitchen tile ideas might encompass both walls and floors, or you could combine kitchen wall tiles with wood or other flooring for a room that’s both practical and elegant.
Our selection includes kitchen wall tiles to suit all styles ready to update existing rooms or plan into a new design.
Kitchen wall tile ideas
'Often when it comes to using tiles in a kitchen, we find that it allows customers to really elevate their design – whether it’s a chic marble subway tile to complement their Shaker-style kitchen or a penny mosaic that really pops.'
Complete a room with these kitchen wall tile ideas.
1. Bring on the bling
Make your kitchen wall tile ideas the star of the show by introducing a flash of metallic. Silver, bronze, gold and copper tiles will add a touch of luxe to any kitchen but work best when cabinets and paint color are kept neutral and pared back.
‘This metallic tile has a funny story behind it,’ says Ashton Joseph, senior interior designer at Texas-based By Design Interiors. ‘I actually saw a similar, shimmery backsplash in Kris Kardashian’s kitchen when flipping through a magazine. It was perfect! I showed my client and she loved it. She loves bling and sparkles and happened to be a big Kardashian fan too so it really was the perfect tile for her kitchen so I’d say the design is “celebrity-inspired”.’
The result was nearly an exact match, a stainless steel brick mosaic with a matte finish from Thorntree.
‘The homeowner’s style is very chic, transitional with a love of clean lines, shine and bling,’ adds the designer. ‘For the kitchen, I wanted to keep with a sleek and open concept to allow for larger family and social gatherings. It’s open-facing floor plan definitely allows the shimmery backsplash to be the star of the room.’
2. Introduce subtle pattern
If you’re looking for white kitchen backsplash ideas to keep the room feeling as bright and spacious as possible, or want to team darker cabinets and countertops with pale kitchen wall tile ideas, why not opt for a white tile decorated with a subtle pattern or texture?
These large format wall tiles feature an ultra fine geo print that is almost feminine in form, creating a soft design that won't overpower your space.
3. Tile entire walls
Why stop at installing a backsplash? Tiles are an amazingly practical surface for kitchens, so consider covering entire walls with your favorite tile, not just around the sink and cooking area. Wall tiles are easy to maintain, hygienic and can create a serious style statement when used in statement block colors. These handmade ceramic tiles in Emerald Green (part of a kitchen in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York) add a fresh and spirited backdrop against the deep pink and navy blue cupboards.
‘Tiles, like wallpaper, are a great way to add texture, color and pattern to large areas of a room,’ says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL. ‘We love to expand the tiled areas and extend them away from just the cooking area and make feature walls. Tiling up to the ceiling and down to the floor, and even behind glazed cupboards, has much more impact. It’s always good to try to avoid having an area of tiles that just stops short of a corner – the sides of tiles can be difficult to obscure in an attractive way so covering whole walls avoids this problem.’
4. Scale down with a backsplash
The size of a backsplash can allow the use of a more expensive design because of its modest size, keeping kitchen tile costs within budget.
Hamish Smith agrees. 'If you’re in search of the tiniest bit of your home to tile, a backsplash is a sure-fire bet. They take little time to lay, little cost to source, and still have real stage presence.'
This backsplash adds character to a rustic kitchen scheme through its use of charming Delft-stye blue patterns.
5. Match tiles to the countertop
Stone countertops are often top of a homeowner’s wishlist, so why not continue the look with kitchen wall tiles made from the same material? Tiles made from 100 per cent natural stone are heatproof and easy to maintain so spot on for backsplashes and hardworking zones of the kitchen. A slab stone splashback is pared back and simple but these brick-shaped tiles – made from larvikite, a black igneous rock with shimmering crystals – are laid in a herringbone pattern to create sophsticated drama that won’t date.
‘The natural stone is completely resistant to water, stains, scratches and UV,’ says Hege Lundh, marketing and business development director at Lundhs. ‘They are also extremely durable and easy to clean, just needing a simple wipe with a damp cloth – so perfect for kitchen surfaces.’
6. Wrap the room in subway tile
Subway (or metro) tile is a super smart option if you're looking for subtle kitchen wall decor ideas. Easy and affordable, it lends an air of no-nonsense to a space, while retaining a truly classic look.
Hang subway kitchen wall tiles on a backsplash or a feature wall, or tile the entire kitchen in simple white subway tiles for an elegant yet traditional vibe.
'My top tip is colored grout,' suggests Rodrigo Moeno Masey, director at Moreno Masey. 'Pair your tiles with a dark grout, or even a bold color - not only is this much more resistant to staining, but it adds a splash of uniqueness and fun.'
7. Opt for clashing kitchen wall tile patterns
Patterned tiles will add masses of character to a simple kitchen design. Don’t be afraid to use two different patterns in the same room but stick to the same palette of colors to tie the look together. In this kitchen, detailed floral floor tiles are offset by a striking backsplash in modern geometrics with a 3D effect. By using the same black, white and gray tonal color palette, the kitchen remains cool and classic rather than overly fussy.
‘Whether chosen to create an eye-catching backsplash or a focal feature floor, pattern is finding its place in the kitchen,’ says Amanda Telford of CTD Tiles. ‘Opt for muted monochrome palettes to contrast darker cabinetry and walls.’
8. Add warmth with color
If you have white or neutral colored kitchen cabinet ideas in mind, you can afford to be a little more adventurous than usual with your kitchen wall tile ideas.
Choose a rich pink shade to add instant warmth to a neutral scheme. If you're not keen on tiling the entire wall, go halfway up instead – like an extended backsplash – using simple plain tiles to allow the rich color to dominate.
9. Fall for sunny yellow kitchen wall tiles
Bring the holiday mood back home with a sunshine yellow tile that won’t fail to cheer up the kitchen. These tiles are inspired by vibrant wall tiles often seen in the bars and cafés of Spain and Mexico and have a rippled edge with a gently undulating surface to create the look of a handmade product. There is a subtle crazing to the glazed surface which needs sealing before use.
‘Sunshine yellow tiles, such as our Carnival Oro tiles, are perfect for kitchens, injecting fresh and uplifting color,’ says Colin Roby-Welford, Fired Earth’s creative director. ‘Yellows look clean and vibrant as a backdrop to appliances and they work really well with a wide palette of colors – from blues, greens and greys to shades of wood and stone – so they’re exceptionally versatile, too. Opt for a bright white grout to enhance the fresh and zesty feel that yellow brings to the kitchen.’
10. Experiment with shape and tone
Don't forget, not all tiles are square or rectangular. Expand your search to include hexagons, pentagons, mosaics and so on. Once hung, an unusually-shaped tile creates a beautiful pattern just on its own.
You can create a more detailed pattern by selection a range of tiles in a selection of varied shades - natural stone is a great choice here.
11. Swap matte for subtle shimmer
For smaller kitchens, sticking to a neutral color palette might help enhance natural light and create the illusion of more space. To prevent the design from looking too sterile, play around with textures and introduce wall tiles with a subtle shine or gloss.
These mother of pearl hexagon tiles are made from real seashell and give off a delicate, iridescent glow while maintaining the fresh, uplifting color scheme.
12. Bring drama to the space with a feature wall
Love a colorful or boldly patterned tile but worried it may overpower the space?
Treat tiles as you would wallpaper – if you're concerned that your choice of tile might be too much, try it in a small section with extra height that covers half of the wall above the countertop, or using the tile on a section of wall, much like a feature wall.
'As well as being ultra-practical and easy to clean, a tiled feature area brings color, pattern and even unusual shapes to these hardworking zones,' explains Hamish from Ca'Pietra.
As this green kitchen tiled wall is beside the window, the natural light ensures the deep color remains vivid thanks to the daylight shining in through the window, which reflects on the glossy surface of the tiles.
13. Pair with a pretty wallpaper
If you thought wallpaper wasn’t for the kitchen, think again. The key is to offset with wall tiles in well-used areas so the wallpaper is protected from water, steam, grease and grime. This flamboyant tropical pattern, in chalky pink and charcoal, is packed with personality that will elevate an ordinary kitchen into something special.
‘We sourced these pink marshmallow tiles for our own “kitschen”, then designed the Coral Crane Fonda wallpaper especially for them,’ explains Jamie Watkins, co-founder of wallpaper brand Divine Savages. ‘Restricting the wallpaper to a two-tone color palette helps to keep the design understated; at the same time the bold design adds both pattern and personality.’
14. Soften deep shades
Black and white kitchens are proving to be a popular new trend right now, yet it can be tricky to get the balance of color right in the space without it looking too harsh or funerial.
Here, the large format slate tile provides a practical backsplash, which then continues down the wall either side of the cabinetry to act as a visual buffer for the jet black painted walls and matching furniture.
15. Tile the side of an island
Tiling vertical surfaces in the kitchen doesn’t have to be restricted to walls and backsplashes. Cladding the sides of islands and peninsulas will elevate this part of the kitchen into a real design feature. Patterned tiles work particularly well – use a tonal palette that harmonizes with the cabinets and countertops. Here, a reclaimed tile with a swirled pattern and weathered finish has been used to upgrade a plain peninsula and ties in with the other natural materials (brick, metal, leather, etc).
‘Interior designer, Cathy Emmins, used our reclaimed tiles on the kitchen island, rather than a wall or flooring, to create a focal point and add some wow factor to the room,’ explains Ruth Webber, Bert & May’s creative director. ‘The vintage feel of the tiles worked well with the rest of the property, creating something that felt authentic, rather than manufactured.’
16. Revamp existing tiles with paint
If you need a temporary fix, want to save, or can't find the tiles you love, why not try painting your existing kitchen tiles? Depending on what material they're made from, they can be easily painted in a color (or colors) of your choice.
The majority of paint companies carry a specially formulated primer that you can use on a variety of materials, which you can then follow up with a paint color of your choosing.
'Our all-surface primer, called Intelligent ASP, allows you to use our finishes on a number of surfaces, including ceramic tiles, for an instant refresh,' explains Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. 'It provides the perfect surface on just about all walls, tiles and glass for an instant update.'
17. Introduce curves
Soft curves, rounded edges and circular motifs are big interior news. Bring the look into the kitchen with a statement backsplash of teardrop or fish-scale tiles.
‘Using colored or patterned tiles on a single wall in the kitchen will bring personality to the heart of the home,’ says Kamila Swiatecka of Tile Giant. ‘Make the style distinctive and playful by using different shaped tiles such as hexagons or teardrops to create a beautiful, mosaic-like feature.’
‘Kitchens tend to have strong horizontal and vertical lines created by cabinets, countertops, shelving and appliances, so tiles can be a great way of accentuating that linear feel or introducing a geometric contrast,’ says Colin Roby-Welford. ‘For example, tiles such as hexagonal, triangular or penny round mosaics will really stand out against classic lines.’
18. Create a different layout
A subway tile doesn't necessarily have to be hung horizontally. Try experimenting with a variety of different layouts in your kitchen wall tile ideas to create a whole new look.
'You could look at brick-bond, vertical stacking or herringbone,' suggest Ca'Pietra's creative director, Hamish Smith.
'While picking the tile is important, it’s also really important to consider the other elements too so that it all comes together beautifully,' he adds.
19. Be sustainable
Make a sustainable choice for kitchen wall tiles. These recycled glass mosaics in a pale rose shade are restful and striking and, importantly, will encourage a more circular economy by not using up the earth’s natural resources.
20. Try a teeny, tiny tile
Mosaics offer a far more delicate touch when decorating a wall, creating simple repetitive patterns around their small individual shapes.
Best reserved for more compact areas like a backsplash, they tend to create a subtle, yet confident look in a kitchen.
Which tiles are best for kitchen walls?
While ceramic or porcelain tiles are always the top choice for kitchens thanks to their durability, you can afford to choose less hardy materials for your wall as the surface won't be subject to as much wear and tear as, say, your kitchen flooring ideas would.
'It’s important to consider how much maintenance you want,' advises Hamish from Ca'Pietra. 'You can opt for a range of materials – take marble or encaustic, for example – but remember to seal them first.'
'You will also need to talk a little more care and attention with any natural materials. If you prefer something that’s low maintenance, then ceramic or porcelain could be for you.'
What is the best color for kitchen tiles?
Choosing the right color wall tile for your kitchen is no different to choosing the right paint color for the walls.
'To create the illusion of more space when planning small kitchen ideas, select a warm neutral tone that can be used all over to draw in light and bring warmth to the scheme,' advises Ruth from Little Greene.
As you would with a paint sample, it's always advisable to order a sample tile and place it in your kitchen to assess the way the color changes according to the time of day, as well as in natural and artificial light.
Can you paint kitchen wall tiles?
Yes absolutely, but you'll need to paint the tiles in primer first.
'When painting tiles,' advises Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore's UK director, 'it’s essential that the paint is easy to maintain and can resist oil splashes or stains. Eggshell and Satin finishes are easily cleaned, and stains will wash off to ensure a long lasting and fresh look.'
Ginevra Benedetti is Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. She has been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens. This naturally lead her into writing for websites like HomesandGardens.com.
- Lara Sargent Contributing Editor
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