Less can be more in an expansive space. This simple backsplash of solid white glazed tiles provides a clean, maintainable surface behind the reflective cooktop and lets other elements — such as the view through the windows — define the kitchen's atmosphere.
Less can be more in an expansive space. This simple backsplash of solid white glazed tiles provides a clean, maintainable surface behind the reflective cooktop and lets other elements — such as the view through the windows — define the kitchen's atmosphere.

If your clients are like me, they're not looking for any extra places to clean. So why suggest that they install a 3- or 4-inch-tall backsplash on their kitchen countertop? Besides collecting crumbs and dust, this narrow ledge creates the illusion that the wall cabinets have been hung too low. A fully tiled backsplash is a lot more practical and offers more design options. Because this wall area is quite limited in the typical kitchen, finishing it in ceramic tile shouldn't break the bank. For example, while handmade 4-inch-square ceramic tile can cost as much as $24 per square foot, commercially made tile in the same size is available for as little as $2 per square foot. And although tumbled stone and glass tile can range anywhere from $10 to $30 — or more — per square foot, a single square-foot sheet can yield 11 lineal feet of 1-inch tiles. This is a lot of decorative bang for your buck, since running two or three rows of stone or glass around a backsplash would probably require only 2 or 3 square feet of material.

Here are some of the guidelines I follow to design beautiful, durable, easy-to-clean backsplashes.

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