Move Over, Subway Tile: 7 Inexpensive (and Timeless) Backsplash Ideas

published May 21, 2017
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

White subway tile backsplashes are elegant, they’re classic, and… they’re everywhere. If you’re a little tired of the look, or you just want something different for your kitchen, look no further than this round-up of seven budget-friendly alternatives to subway tile for your backsplash.

(Image credit: Adore Home)

Hex Tile

In a new shape, those familiar old ceramic tiles feel surprisingly fresh, like in this kitchen featured by Adore Home. Pair with dark grout to really emphasize the honeycomb pattern.

(Image credit: Gregory Han)

It may seem strange, in an article about backsplashes, that I’m recommending not having a backsplash at all, but if you use a glossy paint, or one that’s designed to be easy to clean, a painted backsplash can be a viable option for a kitchen that doesn’t see a lot of heavy-duty cooking. Plus it’s a great way to add a little color to your kitchen, like in Stephanie and Bob’s L.A. home.


Beadboard is a budget-friendly way to add a bit of country-kitchen flair. Continuing the beadboard along the back of a glass cabinet (or open shelving, as seen here on Vintage Interior: Halles Diary) is a nice effect.

(Image credit: Entrance Makleri)

Colored Square (or Subway) Tile

Why not shake things up with a little color? Using glass tile (as in this space from Entrance Makleri) makes for a particularly nice effect. If you’re having trouble finding square (or rectangular) backsplash tile in the color of your choice, check out our list of sources.

(Image credit: Stylizmo)


The folks at Stylizmo made this beautiful backplash from just painted plywood. The small shelf up top is a nice touch.

(Image credit: Source)

Tile in an Unusual Pattern

The tile in this kitchen by Hunted Interior, if you look closely, is slightly longer and thinner than a typical subway tile, but what makes it interesting is the way it’s laid, in a herringbone pattern. You can also lay classic subway tile in a less than typical pattern to shake up your look a bit. As with the hex tile, dark grout will make this look really pop.

(Image credit: Heimatbaum)

Chalkboard Paint

You’ll probably want to use dustless chalk so you don’t have dusty food. Even so, this is probably not for more fastidious types, but if having a little chalk in your kitchen doesn’t concern you chalkboard paint can make for a budget-friendly, intriguing, and changeable backsplash like this one above on Heimatbaum.