8 Backsplashes to Avoid, According to Interior Designers

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

Some materials are impractical for kitchen cleanliness, while others are decidedly off-trend.

Process Of Tiling The Tiles In The Kitchen With the necessary toolsARTURSFOTO/GETTY IMAGES

A well-chosen kitchen backsplash can be a beautiful addition to your home. In a creative color or material, suddenly this practical necessity transforms into a statement piece. However, interior designers have recently warned home renovators against a number of tile options that privilege form over functionality; after all, you’ll need to clean those stones to ensure proper kitchen hygiene. Furthermore, some materials instantly date your kitchen, making it less likely to sell, according to real estate agents. So, which specific materials are worth avoiding? We’re glad you asked.

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Mosaic Glass Tile Backsplash In Home Kitchen Interior

Glass Mosaic Backsplashes

This is the “top of the list” no-no for interior designer and TikTok user Phoenix Grey (@phoenixgrey). In one particular video, he rails glass mosaic backsplashes for being “too busy” aesthetically and explains that “the extra amount of grout means that they’re grimier and much harder to clean.” Yikes!

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Limestone Backsplash and wood cabinets in a home kitchen interior

Limestone Backsplashes

Thanks to its gorgeous soft texture and warm neutral color, limestone is having a major moment in interior design. However, because it is so porous, it will collect water and likely grow mildew in its micro-holes. Save this material for less humid spaces and opt for limewash paint in your kitchen to channel that organic vibe.

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Lacuqer And Stainless Steel Backsplashes Getty Backsplashes To Avoid 2023 Resize Crop Dh Fhm

Lacquer and Stainless Steel Backsplashes

According to Patrick W. Smith, a Real Estate Broker at The Corcoran Group in Long Island, these materials have no staying power. He claims that current buyers are replacing them right away.

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Moroccan Zellige Tiles Laying in a home interior by an unseen worker

Zellige Tile Backsplashes

For the uninitiated, zellige tiles are stunning hand-made Moroccan ceramics. They come both glazed and unglazed, and while they are the gold standard in artisan tiling options, their natural, charming imperfections make them nearly impossible to wipe down quickly.

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A Light Blue Kitchen With A Gold Faucet And white subway tiles and stainless steel appliances

Subway Tile Backsplashes

As both Grey and Evelyn Long of Renovated.com point out, this trend is just too played-out. The “basic” white tiles were everywhere for a few years, and now they scream unoriginality. If you’re still dedicated to the trend, Grey suggests installing the subway tiles in a modern chevron, vertical stack or box lay pattern for a little more personality.

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Retro Home Kitchen with Dated Backsplash tiles

Themed Backsplashes

Farm animals, vegetables and fruits may have been cute for a while, but they don’t have universal appeal, according to Smith. They can look kitschy, so we recommend opting for other tasteful vintage tile options, especially if you’re trying to sell.

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Pebbles cover an interior home wall

Pebble Tile Backsplashes

According to Long, the variety of textures and tones in pebble tile backsplashes make a kitchen look cluttered. They were popular in the 2010s to impart a “spa-like aesthetic,” but now can be “too much for your eyes to handle.” While you’re at it, check out these Mexican tile backsplash ideas.

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Black Tile in an undisclosed home kitchen

Any Highly Reflective Backsplashes

Grey explains that “the high reflectivity of these finishes make your space and your kitchen look extremely cluttered [since] everything around it is reflected. It’s also going to show every spot and watermark that you forgot to Windex.”

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Modern Kitchen with Granite Backsplash a graystone countertop and a luxury washbasin

OK, So What Materials Are Good for Backsplashes?

Smith suggests looking for a subtle material that seamlessly integrates into your kitchen space. In his words, “a good kitchen backsplash should enhance the interior design of the kitchen and home. It should be beautiful to look at and yet easy to maintain and clean.” He also suggests opting for a tile or stone in a pattern that “lends itself to the outlets being installed horizontally as opposed to vertically for a seamless look.”

Glazed ceramic tiles are always a great choice, especially in a rich color that adds visual interest. Additionally, strong-veined marble is having a moment, and if you have countertops in a special material like marble or quartzite, Smith says that a backsplash in the same material looks clean. For those who rent, peel-and-stick backsplashes are always a solid option. As with much of interior design, it’s all about balance—you want to showcase your personality while not overpowering the whole space.