Choosing and Combining Countertops and Backsplashes

Choosing and Combining Countertops and Backsplashes

Misty Adair
Mar 25, 2010

Countertops and backsplashes go together like peas and carrots, or at least they should. These two elements are in juxtaposition, requiring them to have an intimate, balanced relationship. It takes patience and careful consideration to make a good marriage of materials.

[image: Architerra Design Studio]

When we say patience, we mean that you should prepare to look through lots of samples to find just the right tile to match that countertop that you must have. And before that, it takes careful consideration to make sure you select the best countertop material for your purpose and budget. Color is a key factor is making a good match, but texture and pattern are also important. For example, a soft limestone countertop would look out of sync with an industrial stainless steel backsplash. Try beveled edge subway tiles in earthy hand-painted glazes instead.

Want to know where to start researching your options? Begin here:

Backsplash Materials

This is the artwork of the kitchen or bath, the opportunity to add color and pizzazz. If everything else in the room is safely neutral, then don't hold back on the backsplash. It's not terribly difficult or expensive to replace them. However, if the countertop or floor is already a show-stopper, keep the backsplash simple. You don't want more than one material vying for center stage.

• Metal tiles from Frigo come in brass, stainless steel and copper. Rustic steel sheets can also be installed for backsplashes.
Tiles are the obvious choice for backsplashes and come in amazing array of colors, finishes and shapes. Tile materials range from natural stone to ceramic to glass, each one creating a distinct focal point in the kitchen or bath.
• A simple, modern solution for a backsplash is to use mirror panels or back-painted glass. Wallpaper can also be applied to the backsplash area and then covered with glass or acrylic sheets for protection.
• Use the backsplash as a message board by using chalkboard paint or cork tiles.
• Go with a farmhouse look and use beadboard (horizontal or vertical) or salvaged wood planks.
• Bring the outside in by using a natural river rock (flat or rounded) in place of tile.
• Renting or can't commit to a backsplash? Broan makes a pre-assembled backsplash panel that hangs on a bracket behind the stove.

Countertop Materials
When selecting the countertop for your kitchen or bath, consider the area to be covered and the necessary durability. In a bathroom, the counter will only encounter (no pun intended) toothpaste and square footage will be low, so a more porous or expensive material can be used. In the kitchen, the opposite is true. If cost is an issue, mixed countertop materials can be used. For example, the primary surface could be a stainless looking laminate and the island could be white marble.

Laminate is the least expensive and comes in hundreds of colors and textures, but it can be scorched.
Ceramic tile comes in many shapes, is heat resistant, and can be less expensive (it can chip).
Concrete can be tinted or textured and is stain resistant when sealed.
Granite is the go-to option for most home builders. It is durable and impervious to heat, but must be sealed.
Marble and limestone are both classic and earn a beautiful patina over time. If you are opposed to possible scratches and stains, Keep this natural material in the bathroom.
Soapstone is lovely and rich in shades of gray, black and dark green with varying degrees of veining. It does not have to be sealed and will patina over time.
• Quartz countertops are fantastic when it comes to durability and flexibility in colors and patterns. Caesarstone is the first and most popular brand, but there are many other producers as well.
• Solid-surfacing includes anything else, like Corian, that is made of synthetic resins, promising to be scratch resistant and non-porous. Newer eco-counter surfaces include recycled concrete and glass with resin, like Vetrazzo and IceStone.
• Stainless steel is the choice of professional kitchens because it is sleek, sanitary and stain-proof. An old world metal material is copper, which will age gracefully.
• Re-claimed wood or bamboo countertops bring natural warmth into a space and (bonus!) bamboo is naturally bacteria resistant.

What is your favorite combination of countertop and backsplash in the kitchen or bathroom? Are there any other great materials that we should add to our list?

[images: House Beautiful]

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