Six Alternatives To The Tile Backsplash That Are Practical

Six Alternatives To The Tile Backsplash That Are Practical

It has been three years since we moved into our townhouse. It has been three years since we updated our kitchen. It was a very quick and budget-friendly renovation, and the time has come to refresh it a little bit more. If you read our post about the kitchen makeover, you know that we used chalkboard paint for the kitchen walls, including the backsplash wall. White at the time our budget was tight and it seemed to be lots of fun to have a chalkboard backsplash, it turned out to be not very practical and has been my pet peeve for a while.

Colorful blue and lime green kitchen with open shelves and chalkboard walls

The reason is because chalkboard paint is matte and not very washable. So, all grease splashes from cooking (and we cook a lot) stick to that backsplash pretty well, and it is a nightmare and nearly impossible to wipe them off completely. 

Unfortunately, doing tile is not an option for us at the moment. Before installing tiles we need to update the countertops, sink, and stove top, which is a pretty big project. So, we had to find an easy, budget- and eco-friendly backsplash alternative to standard tile. I have done some research, and speaking ahead, we chose a venetian plaster finish. I will talk about it a little bit more in the next paragraph. 

Distress aged black marmorino hydro plaster kitchen backsplash

Here we want to share our thoughts on alternatives to a regular tile backsplash.

So, here are some backsplash ideas that we believe are both practical and beautiful.

1.  Venetian Plaster

I’ve already spilled how much I love this material after I applied to our living room wall. But once again - I love it because:

  • it is beautiful
  • easy to apply
  • eco-friendly
  • budget-friendly
  • natural (it is lime based and has zero Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs)
  • creates versatile finishes from matte to gloss depending on type of plaster and technique.

Both times I ordered plaster from a small Illinois-based company Atova, and the guys there are great! To fully disclose, this is not a sponsored post, nor do I have an affiliate relationship with this company. I just love the product and had a great experience with them as a customer. They can guide you and recommend the product that best suits your needs. For our kitchen backsplash, they recommended I use marmorino hydro. It is water impermeable, matte, and washable after being sealed with natural wax. To be in alignment with our rustic with industrial twist interior, I wanted to make the walls looking rough and distressed. So marmorino hydro was exactly what I needed.

I worked with three tints of slate hue to create depth and a distressed (aged) industrial look.

After I applied two layers of plaster, I polished and compacted a second coat to make it smooth and sealed it with the natural wax. It is neither glossy nor matte, but rather has pearl sheen. 

This is what I created: 

Distress aged black marmorino hydro plaster kitchen backsplash

Though it looks rough, the surface is very smooth and has a slight sheen, and it is washable - which was my main goal. Because marmorino hydro is water repellent, it doesn’t change color when water comes into contact with the wall thanks to the natural wax sealer.

If you prefer a glossy surface, it is better to use stacco venetiano. This material is softer and smoother, and very easy to polish to create a beautiful glossy surface. This finish would be easier for a beginner, while marmorino hydro is a little bit harder to work with, because of its texture.

In future posts I will create a tutorial and will talk more about my experience with both of those plasters and show you how to apply them.

2.  Glass

Glass makes a great alternative to the standard tile. It can vary in texture, color, and size. You can easily add a pop of color:

or keep it neutral and classy:

You can paint the glass yourself like Kristi at Addicted 2 Decorating did, or how about fabric under the glass?

A glass backsplash is fairly inexpensive and can be DIYed as well. You only need to order a piece of glass of the color and size you need. Backpaintedglass can precut and paint it the color you want. The best part is that glass only requires very simple maintenance!

3.  Thermoplastic backsplash

This comes in a metallic finish from brushed nickel to bronze. These water- and corrosive-resistant backsplashes come in many different styles from classic to contemporary, and are easy to install using silicone glue.

Other bloggers report it to be durable and easy to clean. This option is great for rentals, because it is easily removable.

4.  Stone Slabs or Panels

A solid marble backsplash creates a luxury feeling and minimal timeless look. 

There are also engineered stone panels available on the market. They are lightweight, because the stone is cut thinner (about 5 mm) and then backing is added. This results in a cheaper and stronger product than traditional thick slabs of the same stone. Designer Stone manufactures and ships them worldwide.

If you are handy, you can also install the panels by yourself like Christina and her husband at The DIY Mommy did.

5. Metal (copper or stainless steel)

Install brushed or matte stainless steel panels for a slick and contemporary look. They come in many textures and patterns. Precut sheets can be ordered for easy installation.

Consider installing a patterned panel or just a small portion (above the stove, for example) to avoid too much of an institutional look.

How about a trendy copper backsplash for some extra glamor? 

You can source real (not stained) precut copper sheets at Color Copper

6. Vinyl wallpaper

There are endless possibilities for colors and patterns. And in accordance with consumer reviews, vinyl wallpaper backsplash is very durable. 

We used vinyl wall paper for our old shoe cabinet makeover, and absolutely love it. It has been about two years and there are no peels or rips, and it is washable/wipeable.

When you research the other options for backsplashes, you may come across tens of ideas. Some of them are really cool and great looking, but not very practical. When we painted our backsplash chalkboard, we oh-so-loved-it…at the beginning! But over time, we realized how terrible it is when it comes to cleaning! Grease just would not come off. Sorry for repeating myself, but we just want to prevent you from making the same mistake we did. So, there are some backsplash ideas that are just not practical.

These next are ideas that are very cool, but are not quite practical if you cook daily.

1.  Chalkboard paint

Fun looking, but enough said about our experience above.

colorful blue and lime green painted kitchen with industrial open shelves

2.  Reclaimed Wood 

Depending on the wood, but if it has many cracks - not sure if that would be easy to clean the grease that will penetrate into the cracks, even with several coats of polyurethane.

3.  Burlap 

Interesting idea, but unless you are planning to change that burlap material every month or so (depending how much you cook), I don’t think it is practical.

4.  Gallery wall

Really cool! I love gallery walls, but I don’t wanna be the one cleaning it. :)

And here is a final look at our updated backsplash:

marmorino hydro plaster backsplash. Black kitchen backsplash and industrial open shelves
colorful blue and ivory painted kitchen cabinets. Black marmorino hydro distressed backsplash and industrial open shelves.

Hope that helps you to make a decision and avoid some mistakes! Have a great day!

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