How to Shop for Backsplash Tile on a Budget Without Sacrificing Style

Backsplash tile is an excellent way to update a kitchen without a major remodeling project. However, the cost can add up quickly depending on your choice of material, design, and style.

Before shopping, establish a budget to help guide your decisions and avoid overspending. Then follow these tips to keep the costs down:

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic is affordable and durable, the most common type of tile for backsplashes. Use it to create a modern kitchen look, or opt for a more rustic and earthy style. Ceramic tile is available with either glazed or unglazed finishes; the former offers a glossy sheen and is better for areas that handle light to moderate traffic. Unglazed ceramic is less expensive but more prone to chips and scratches.

Porcelain tile is denser than ceramic, more scratch-resistant, and can be used outdoors. You’ll find it in many styles, from glossy to matte and from polished to honed (a smoother finish that reduces the risk of slippery surfaces). If you have difficulty choosing a color or style, consider having a sample tile installed on your countertop or backsplash so you can see how it looks in your kitchen lighting.

Porcelain Tile

A backsplash made of porcelain tile can add a striking look to your kitchen while keeping your budget intact. This material is similar to ceramic, but it’s fired at a higher temperature, making it harder and more durable (and resistant to water and mildew). It also comes in different finishes, such as unglazed porcelain for a raw and rustic feel or glazed porcelain for a smooth and polished aesthetic.

Porcelain tiles can be arranged in patterns to make your backsplash pop and tie your overall decor scheme together. For example, a checkerboard pattern of random squares can make your design stand out and help your backsplash appear larger than it is. 

When shopping for backsplash tile, consider your budget and the time you will spend on installation. Installing a backsplash requires advanced skills, and you’ll have to pay for tools and the tile itself. For these reasons, it’s often best to opt for professional installation. If you do decide to tackle the project yourself, be sure to shop around and compare prices. For instance, buying your tiles from a discount store can save you money.

Slate Tile

Achieving the look of luxury tile doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a selection of ceramic wood-look tiles, you can give your bathroom an elegant, sophisticated aesthetic that looks surprisingly upscale for a budget-friendly option.

Slate tiles offer a variety of earthy colors that can add a rustic flair to a kitchen backsplash. This natural stone is often used to create distinctive fireplace hearths, and its slip-resistant surface makes it a great choice for bathrooms (although it’s not recommended for use in areas where water can freeze).

Slate wall tile is available in many hues, from black slate to soothing white, ideal for bathroom walls. It’s also easy to find this type of tile with an interesting pattern or finish that adds a unique decorative touch to a room.

Remember that slate tiles are not fired in a kiln and will develop a patina over time (this will be to your advantage or disadvantage, depending on the design you choose). For this reason, it’s important to consider how much sunlight an area gets and how it will affect the tile over time when choosing this material. Also, make sure that your installer is knowledgeable about laying tile so they can avoid unfinished edges that will show.

Glass Tile

Backsplash tile is a major design decision that can feel overwhelming (especially when you’re nose-to-nose with 200 different shades of white). From classic subway tiles to splurge-worthy marble mosaic tile imported from Italy, many options look gorgeous but have a price tag that makes them unattainable for most home renovation budgets.

But if you’re willing to do some legwork, plenty of quality vendors out there offer a variety of backsplash tiles in every style and material you could dream of at a price point you can afford. We’ve picked a few of our favorites below:

Whether after a subtle shimmer, a dramatic ombre, or a mix of colors and textures, these retailers can help you find exactly what you want for your kitchen backsplash. Remember that when shopping online, it’s always a good idea to order a few samples; most companies offer them for $1 to $10 per tile plus shipping. That way, you can see how the color and pattern look in your space at different times of day with your lighting. It’s also a good idea to order 10 to 20 percent more tile than you think you’ll need in case of damage or other unforeseen issues.