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Which Backsplash Tile Goes with Granite Countertops?

By 12/06/2010October 20th, 2020160 Comments

If you already have a granite countertop, you may be wondering what backsplash tile looks best? Most people instantly assume that the best backsplash to coordinate with a granite countertop is a tile with a pattern.  The problem? You won’t likely find another pattern that matches or coordinates with your granite, so here’s what you should do instead.

I have rarely seen a patterned porcelain or stone tile actually coordinate with a busy granite countertop. Recently, I was discussing this very issue with a design client. She was lamenting that her kitchen was only five years old and she hated the backsplash tile because it badly clashed with her granite countertops.


DID YOU KNOW that it’s not until you build your third house (if you are lucky enough to have that luxury) that you create the house exactly how you want? Yikes!

Maria Family Room Fireplace

Since most of us don’t build a new home that often, we redecorate instead. It takes time to learn enough about your space to see what works and what you like and dislike. Then eventually you are able to actually translate that into the house of your dreams.  So don’t despair if your house isn’t perfect yet, it will be eventually.

Do not mix pattern tile with granite in your kitchen

Okay so back to the patterned porcelain tile… I’m here to tell you gently, DON’T DO IT.  If you are installing granite countertops—unless they’re black—they will be busy looking enough on their own. Period.

No need to drive yourself nuts trying to find a coordinating patterned backsplash to match. Likely you won’t.

Mark Sikes Mixing Patterns

Mark Sikes

Tile is not the same as pattern mixing with fabrics.  With fabric you can mix stripes, flowers, chinoiserie, and Ikat together (above) as long as the colours harmonize together—not so with tile.

Personally, I find the 2 x 2 mosaic backsplash in this kitchen (above) too busy, but at least the undertones of both the granite and the mosaic backsplash seem to coordinate. The one below, pretty kitchen but the backsplash, too much!

Should you continue the granite onto the backsplash (below)?  It’s busy as well, there’s enough going on with what’s just sitting on the countertops.  But some people really love the patterned look of granite, so if you are one of those, keep going with it.  It will look way better than a clashing tile.

And perhaps install it like this (in the photo below). It might be the only exception to the rule of keeping the 4″ kick which is so bad in most kitchens. However, here are a few kitchens that look good without a backsplash

Avoid adding a 4 inch kick to your granite countertop

As a general rule, DO NOT let your granite installer stick one of those 4 inch bands of granite all around where your backsplash tile should be.  I don’t know why many of them still install them! If it’s too late and you already have one, I would leave it and just paint the rest of the backsplash the same colour as the rest of the kitchen walls.

Source Unknown

Truly what has developed my “clean” aesthetic for classic and timeless design over the years is the hundreds of kitchens and bathrooms I have seen with bad accent tile or simply tiles that aren’t even in the same colour family.

Read more: Dos and Don’ts for installing accent tile

Choose a solid colour backsplash to go with your granite.

So, here’s my advice. Opt for a simple subway tile or any other tile as long as you choose a SOLID COLOUR not a pattern.

What is boring about the above kitchen? Absolutely nothing. But you will be cranky if you try to match your granite and it’s a FAIL. Which is going to be the result 99% of the time.

If you don’t believe me, just try and find a granite countertop online with a matching patterned backsplash that you actually like? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you find one that you like?

Then make sure it’s the same granite that you have, and make sure you can find the exact tile that’s in the photo.

If you can’t do that, then go back the ultimately classic and timeless choice: subway tile.

Hope this helps you with your backsplash choices.  If all else fails and you don’t know what to do, simple is always better!

If you need help finalizing your finishes or colours to create a Classic and Timeless Kitchen you’ll love for years, buy my eDesign consultation!

Related posts:

First Rule of Design; Boring Equals Timeless

Is Quartz sexier than Granite?

Selecting your Kitchen or Bath Backsplash; Accent Tile or Not?

White Kitchen Cabinets

5 Steps to a Kitchen you will Love!

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  • I totally agree with you. As tempted as I know I'll be when we finally get to redo our kitchen, I vow to keep it simple. Especially because I know my need for change, and that's easy in everything but the big stuff like tile and countertops. Pretty backsplashes are only pretty for a short time — then they're "what was I thinking?"

  • Carol says:

    I couldn't agree more, Maria! I just finished installing a simple white subway tile backsplash in my newly-white kitchen and am just thrilled! It's classic, fresh and absolutely lovely!

  • Karena says:

    Maria you always have the best of advice and are right about this subject as well!

    Do come and enter my giveaway from Fifi Flowers $200 value!


    Art by Karena

  • mandarinastudio says:

    Good recommendation to do a simple subway tile as a backsplash, installed in a herringbone pattern makes it especially chic. And agree – definitely no 4" bands! Another option is to do a counter in something other than the ubiquitous granite. Soapstone is a favorite and not as busy as granite.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Mandarin Studio, great points you make, I actually much prefer quartz but this post is for all those who love granite!
    Thanks for your comment!

  • Stephanie says:

    Great post Maria. I think that a lot of clients get swayed into purchasing a backsplash that gets old and bothersome very quickly. An expensive mistake. The tiled backsplash in the two pictures that you find too busy in your post, I believe is not because of the pattern, but the color choice of the tile in the patterns. If you can visual those small 1 x 1 tiles in a more subtle beige travertine with no variety of deep and light colors, it wouldn't be so busy with the granite. It is not just the style of tile you pick but the complimentary color to your countertops in the tile, just as important as the wall color and textiles you put in the room. A patterned backsplash brings another layer of design and texture to a kitchen, even if it is a simple white tile that has a simple border inset half way up the back splash. It breaks up the massive space that you see in a kitchen. But it has to be done right in order to withstand time.

  • Just A Girl says:

    Yes! AGREED!!!

  • Lawrence says:

    I would like to agree that it is really a despair to not know what you really love or dislike in your house. My wife and I already had two houses, one in Minnesota and the other in Minneapolis. We both did changes in our houses.

    In our first remodel, (Minnesota, house) my wife decided to have some granites in the kitchen. It went good, really. So, the next time we moved in, she also had the same piece for our kitchen. However, when she did a remodel (Minneapolis, house) she paired it with a black and white tile. It seems off to me this time. And then again we remodel our kitchen. As of now, we have hardwood for our flooring and it looks good. Since then, my wife learned her lesson – stick with simple and plain flooring!

  • A Delightful Design says:

    Thank you for this great post! I always learn so much from you.

    I actually just finished helping one of my clients (I'm just starting out) select the materials for her kitchen remodel and you confirmed all of my choices. Thanks!

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    Oh Maria, Every time I read your blog, I hate my kitchen a little more. 😉

  • Amy @MaisonDecor says:

    I have always recommended no tile back splash with granite. I hate it! It always competes…when I had my granite put in I told them no 4" ledge around the back wall….now I know why they do it! Because it hides the gap when your granite is not cut exactly to the wall…or if the wall is a bit irregular that 4" piece hides the gap! So they installed it and there was a lot of gaps, so I ended up having to have a ledge. But I had them do a 2" high border instead of the 4", and I think it looked a lot better shorter. I just go with a painted back splash.

  • Dovecote Decor says:

    Great advice! I agree 100% but you say it so well.

  • Belinda says:

    I too had to have the granite backsplash, because of the gap, I did do the 4" one though. I have black granite countertops and decided not to do backsplash other than the 4" one. We still have a few minor things left to do in our kitchen remodel, the main one is to install some kind of backspash behind the stove. This is where I'm trying to find something that I will love with the granite without it being to busy, guess I'll stick with what I figured would work since you said it also, a simple white subway tile. Oh, and I'm still looking for the perfect island, I didn't like the ones they had that just matched the cabinets. Next we are on to the bathroom, ugg. Everything will be new and that is scary to decide on what to install.

  • diane@onlinefabricstore says:

    Great post Maria. I dont like the mix either. Just wanted to comment that in some areas that four inch band or backsplash is required under code but your installer will know that. I believe the "ugliness) of it is why the trend of continuing their granite all the way up to the underside of the cabinets came into vogue.

  • Angela Vaughn says:

    We have a mossy green glass subway tile paired with our granite and it looks terrific! It was already in place when we purchased the house a couple months ago. Everyone always comments on our backsplash while it would not have been something I would have first picked I now see how great it can be.

    • Lenore Spelbring says:

      Do you have a photo of the granite and backsplash. We are just having our granite installed and are thinking of the Subway glass for a back splash.
      Thank you

  • pve design says:

    Yes, simple is always better…unless you are Wolfgang Puck – I love simple but sometimes really eclectic can be fun, just like the right necklace.

  • Luciane From says:

    You did it again!

    That's why I keep coming back to this blog. You really know how to explain things in a easy and comprehendible way.

    I also would like you to know that I have a very interesting post today. "The Godfather's" house is for sale and I would love if you could take a look and let me know what you'd do with the interiors!


    Luciane at

  • traci zeller designs says:

    I'm all for simple! It's my favorite, especially in a kitchen!

  • Mary says:

    I finally did something right.
    Black granite counter, no 4" band, white subway tile backsplash.
    We just completed our master bath reno. We had a marble counter installed and ran it all the way up to the recessed medicine cabinet. It looks great.

  • Sherri Cassara says:

    I couldn't agree more! SIMPLE is always better!

  • Angela says:

    Always a timely post from you! My next project is most likely going to be my kitchen backsplash. We have granite counters (installed and chosen by the builder) and I decided to go with a white subway tile backsplash. My hubby and my dad, who will be helping with the install, are both trying to convince me to do accent tiles. I did consider a small strip of solid black 3/4 the way up the backsplash, but still think the white subway is definitely the way to go with granite. Thanks for confirming my gut feeling!!

  • Lazy Gardens says:

    Definitely have to agree … when everything is clamoring for attention, nothing can be given adequate attention.

    A kitchen with elaborate cabinets, fancy granite, accent backsplash and some sort of fancy floor covering. The eye has nowhere to rest.

    Your kitchen can have ONE primadonna piece …

  • Steph@TheGraniteGurus says:

    I agree, choosing a backsplash is often the thing that our clients have the hardest time with.

    We keep installing the 4" granite backsplashes because customer's keep asking for them. We just do what we're told. 🙂

  • Nichole@40daysof says:

    My very dark Black/geen granite kitchen has large slate backsplash laid in a diamond pattern with small diamonds of granite inlaid. It's not what I would have chosen, but it integrates the color of the cupboards and wood floors. I really like the look of the subway tile a lot.

  • Donna says:

    I have a four inch curl to my counter and it doesn't look good at all, but I think with the new paint it will be good enough. It just doesn't match the wall paper the previous owners installed. They had a busy border on the wall, and I've been so happy since I removed it. The color may be off..but the busy effect was driving me crazy. I shudder to think if it had been a permanent backsplash!

    My friend, Laurie, had a backsplash installed behind her stove similar to the one with all the little rectangles. She wants them to paint the grout or stain it black because the white made all of the pieces look like squares. If it looks solid it's fine.

    Great advice!


  • MJB says:

    I love my newly remodeled kitchen AND the backsplash…yes, I put in granite countertops and I agonized over the backsplash. I kept it very neutral and I love it! I'd post a pic if I knew how.

  • MJB says:

    Okay…pics are posted on my blog.

  • Kirsten says:

    Not until you build your third house??? Oh gosh, I will be lucky to just build one. I love the white subway tile back splash. Here's hoping it will be mine one of these days. 😉


  • Christina Rodriguez | The Diva's Home says:

    I completely agree with you, Maria. Too much pattern is just that, too much! I also agree about the 4-inch backsplash. What's the point? Either go all the way up the wall or leave it off. it gives you more counter space with it gone.

  • Anonymous says:

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  • Hilary says:

    Interesting article. Too much busyness is definitely a bad thing.

    However, I can't help feeling there are other options apart from subway tile. I personally feel subway tile is pretty ugly, especially in white. If it's poorly installed it looks even worse.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi……any suggestions about grout color with white crackle finish subway tiles? Husband wants to pick up a color from the granite countertop. I was going to use white sealed grout. Countertops are a busy pattern of golds, browns,greys, etc. Cabinets are white and match tiles. Floors are a golden color that we picked up from the granite. Please let me know……..concerns center around aesthetics along with keeping white sealed grout clean in a kitchen….tiler is coming again tomorrow!!

  • Maria Killam says:

    As long as the colour isn't too dark I don't mind if the white subway picks up the granite.

    • virginia says:

      Hi there..Is there any other backsplash ideas with granite instead of tile.and trout? Thanks

      • virginia says:

        Grout not trout lol

      • Andrea says:

        Don’t like the busyness of granite along with a tile backsplash and really don’t like the same granite as the counter…I have a lot of things on my counter so I chose bead board (also known as waynes coat)… Very reasonable and used a little bit shinier paint than my cabinets for easy clean up… Love it 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks Maria. I hate feeling stuck in an obsessive mode. If there is no problem with keeping the sealed white grout clean in a kitchen, especially behind a gas stove, I can easily stick with the white. But, a darker or antique white or even a flaxen color would look good with my granite. The thought of major upkeep on a backsplash is not my idea of fun. Love your Blog and your site. Thank you

  • jules says:

    Hi Maria,
    I really like the simple, clean look of the white subway tile. Going back to your other post on "White Kitchens", I'm wondering which white you would recommend to go with a straight white subway tile? You offered so many white suggestions for paint colors, but it isn't clear to me which are "white" enough to not clash/look yellow with the white tiles. Many thanks!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Jules,
    Subway tile comes in white or cream so as long as you stick to white or off-white, the white tile will look good.

  • Margaret Oscilia says:

    I've never been fond of granite until I shopped granite slabs for a client and found there are some beautiful choices. It's the inexpensive granite that gets overused and usually paired with a backsplash that doesn't go well it seems. We used travertine for the backsplash cut to 6×12 and installed subway style. The grout matched the darkest tone in the travertine. In a niche behind the cooktop the same tiles were cut smaller and installed in the same design. The look is fabulous. Rich and sleek.

  • Mia says:

    Wow, thanks for the great advice and pics. I have been lamenting about cancelling the 4" black granite backsplash our granite company neglected to bring when they installed. Now going to copy some of your beautiful clean ideas-the white brick specifically. I've had several issues with the granite company (not having one tarp to cover appliances or underneath their work-now my bowls are full of dust, not rescrewing my dishwasher back & telling me "it's just a five minute job" and to do it myself,only answering my husbands complaint calls etc) so don't really want them back now. My question is how much should I deduct for not installing that part now? He said in a phone conversation that it "was included" in our original price. Any help would be appreciated-thanks! love your site…Mia

  • Jane says:

    Hey Maria,

    You have described my problem exactly in your blog what backsplash tile goes with granite…I have recently painted my kitchen cabinets SW divine white. My walls are BM timothy straw. I have granite countertop with alot of movement (juparana caravelas) and don't know what to do with the backsplash.I have brought home many natural stone samples and sizes. What would you recommend?

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Jane,
    I recommend a neutral solid that either coordinates with your granite or a white that coordinates with your cabinets. Don't overthink it. Maria

  • Jane says:

    Thanks for responding so quickly…
    When you say solid do you mean porcelain like bathroom tiles…Sounds like I need to pick something that disappears…
    I like the subway pattern …Right now I have a sample of a mini stacked stone pattern…I was liking it but you have got me thinking again…I am like others just need to hide the gap tween the wall and granite…and you got me…I have been over thinking this for 2 years 🙂

  • linda @ bushel and a pickle says:

    I know this is an old post but answers my own current dilemma. No wonder I could never find one to fit to be stylish and look right! So I have not installed anything! I do want something. Silly me…simple is best. And my granite is beautiful but rich in swirls. Thanks for the advice.

  • Karen says:

    We havea granite countertops in the kitchen with 6 inch granite backsplashes. There is a granite wall that extends to the cabinets behind the range. At present, the areas above the 6 inch granite backsplash are painted the same light color as the rest of the kitchen. Should we install travertine above the granite backsplash, leave the color above the granite, or paint this area another color.
    Thanks for your help. Karen

  • Chris says:


    I love your blogs and have found this one particularly helpful. I have just had granite installed and plan to use a cream colored subway tile as you suggest. My big question, though, is whether I can have the tile installed in a pattern other than a running bond, such as a herringbone or whether that would be too busy. A matching grout will be used and I plan to ask the installers to make as small a grout line as possible. I would so much appreciate your input on this. Thank you!

  • Amos says:

    Hello Maria,

    We are remodelling our kitchen. We have gone with antique white cabinets and a black countertop. We are thinking of going with a subway tile but are having trouble picking the colour. It’s almost impossible to match it to the cabinet colour, so we are thinking of going with just a plain white. We were also thinking going black with the backsplash, not sure though. Would plain white with antique white grout be an option? Also, the floors are white, with some grey/black and beige in them, would a light beige go well on the walls? The walls are green now and make the cabinets look greenish.. Thanks

  • charles demonterey says:

    as a tile installer for 30 years ive done many hundreds of backsplahes.personally i got the 4 inch granite backsplash because i know there can be minor expansion and contraction with wood. cabinetry and house framing move with humidity . cracked grout line against needs unsightly caulking . so i recommend graite splash of any heiight . is more sanitaryand looks better down the line.

  • Gina says:

    Love the ideas and agree that a simple backsplash goes best with granite. I have picked a 4 inch light travertine, but keep going back and forth on a diamond pattern or a square pattern. I really like both but am concerned that a diamond pattern will look too busy. We have a 14 foot long wall of backsplash. Please let me know what you think!

  • virginia says:

    I love reading your ideas..I however to stay clear of anything with grout..any other ideas for backsplash with Carolina summer granite? Thanks

  • Carol says:

    What is the undertone color of natural travertine? Having a hard time selecting a paint color for the walls – backsplash is herringbone-laid rectangular travertine tiles. Thought they were ivory – now they are installed and look a bit orangey. Any neutral paint color you can suggest to go with them? Not too fond of orangey-white.

  • Marie says:

    Hi Maria,
    I have been looking for a backsplash for 4 yrs. I have shaker style brown nutmeg perimeter cabinets, 10′ black painted distressed island and tropical brown granite (no green undertones …just brown/black). The kitchen/FR walls are BM capilano bridge (1076), floors are light wood. My hood is a 46″ stacked stone (brown/grey). Kitchen/house are earthtones. I don’t like tumbled marble, travertine. Thinking of a subway or brick pattern tile (matte finish) I don’t want to compete with the hood. I could change the wall color if that would help. No greens or blues.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Your ONLY option is a solid subway or other shape tile in a the same pink beige as your walls and countertop! Maria

  • Shawn Dickerson says:

    great posts! We have not installed our typhoon bordeaux granite counter tops yet, but I love the pattern. It has swirls of light green, beige, and a bit of purple. Very busy. We will have cream cabinets and maple hardwood floors – stainless steel appliances. I have always loved the light green glass subway tiles, but I am afraid it will be too much green. Any suggestions?

    Also – I saw something recently where the decorator suggested taking the back-splash all the way up the wall to the ceiling. Any suggestions as to how high the back-splash should ideally be?

    • Maria Killam says:

      How high totally depends on where all the empty spaces in your kitchen land. if you have an open area with a wall mounted head fan, then it should go all the way to the ceiling but there are no standard rules. If the light green glass subway tiles go with the granite and you love it then I would suggest painting the kitchen the same colour. Maria

  • Selena says:

    I am in the middle of painting my cabinets white and installed kahlua maple hardwood floors in my kitchen. I really love the look of subway tile, but am completely stuck on what color granite to install for a countertop. I am trying to keep the kitchen warm as my kitchen opens up to dining room and has a brown/beige color.

    Any suggestions?

    • Maria Killam says:

      White quartz is always my first choice and absolute black granite is my second choice. Maria

  • Erin says:

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head here.
    What do you think about a patterned glass tile backsplash with a non-busy counter? We are trying to work with some existing elements in our kitchen, so we’ve got white cabinets and a grey Corian (tiny specks of white, wheat, and dark grey all over). Our floor is a warm-colored tile floor that doesn’t really go with the Corian. I found a glass tile mosaic that has marbled white, grey and wheat in it, and am hoping that it could help tie in the floor, countertops, and cabinets. In a situation like this, would a pattern backsplash be ok, or would you still suggest sticking with a solid color, like the white subway tiles? Thank you so much!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Sounds like it could work if it ties in both elements. My sisters kitchen has white countertops and cabinets with a blue, subway tile glass backsplash and it’s great! As long as our tile is not too busy! Maria

      • Erin says:

        Thanks Maria. One other question: do you think that a Crema Fila backsplash feels busy? After reading your opinions about busy backsplashes, I started leaning toward the marble instead. Although each stone will have color variations, I’m thinking the overall look will be pretty simple, and hopefully more classic. 2×4 brick pattern seems like our leading contender. (By the way, I read your bathroom post and your comments about chair rail…would love to see you do a post about when to/to not use this traditional element in today’s homes.) Thanks so much for your help!

  • ann says:

    I just read all your blogs and i did my kichen last summer white with pretty beige brown granite.This year I did the backsplash subway colors all colors from the granite.Once it was all up the family was not happy,It is nice but maybe it clashes i think i made a big mistake.I do see these ideas online. i am stuck help thanks

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Ann,
      Just choose the white or cream in the granite or a neutral and do the whole backsplash tile in the same solid colour. Maria

  • sharon says:

    I thought the backsplash keeps water which has pooled on the counter from getting onto the wall or running behind the cabinet?
    I’m confused…backsplash or no backsplash?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Always a backsplash, never the 4″ slab of granite. This is not a post about not installing backsplash. Maria

  • M Sharon says:

    I have a granite backsplash (which is the same as the countertop) that goes right up to meet cupboards? The cupboards and granite are all dark brown. The floor is also dark. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to lighten up the granite backsplash short of tearing it out. My kitchen is just too dark. Could a few accent tiles be stuck to the backsplash at intervals? If so, how should they be adhered? Any advice would be so helpful.
    Thank you.

  • Carol says:

    i am absolutely sold on granite backslashes, to me anything else totally detracts from the granite!
    I don’t like any of the other choices, 90% of the time the
    backslashes detract from the granite!

  • Judith says:

    I just heard you speak at the Calgary Home Show, right after talking to a granite salesman about getting a quote to do our kitchen countertops. We live in a condo and have expresso coloured cabinets and black appliances. Nothing we could change about these choices and as the appliances are all brand new, we won’t be changing them. The kitchen came with a Silgranite (black) sink, which we would like to reuse. I appreciate the look of white subway tiles as a backsplash, but think the white would look too stark against black appliances and dark cabinets. Aren’t the subway style of tiles going to go out of fashion just like any other style has? What colour tone of granite would you suggest, and what kind/colour of backsplash? It sounds like a dark kitchen, but actually has lots of natural light coming into it. Walls and flooring are a neutral builders taupe colour.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Judith,
      Thanks so much for listening to my presentation!! If you look at any images on pinterest (for example) of dark cabinets you will always see a contrasting lighter colour on the countertops. I would do cream quartz counters, cream subway tile because cream is better with brown than white (I agree to stark) and no subway tile will not go out of fashion, it has been around for decades and will continue to be, do 4 x 4 or 5 x 5 solid tile if subway tile doesn’t do it for you, ANYTHING solid and light and neutral NOT accents, and you will love your kitchen for a long time to come!
      Hope this helps,

  • LizDee says:

    I’m so glad I found this site.
    I recently had granite installed and now I’m even happier I chose not to do the 4 inch part of the backsplash. I’ve always hated that look.
    I was really thinking subway tiles as the only thing that makes sense with the busy granite, and I’m so glad I wasn’t off base.
    Question: What is the best look though, the subway tiles that are about 6 inches wide, or the smaller ones? I’m thinking the wider ones look better but I’m not sure.

  • jackie mctee says:

    Can my 4″ granite backsplash be removed to put in tile backsplash?

  • C. Silva says:

    I’m in the process of redoing my kitchen and noticed that nowhere on this post is there another option for the backsplash like – tin / cross hatch silver, etc., etc., especially when you want the granite to stand out, not the backsplash but want a little eye appeal and an aliment of texture – what are your thoughts? Also, we will not have the 4″ granite backsplash – I don’t really like that in a kitchen.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I don’t show a photo like that because I don’t think that kind of backsplash looks good in the end. Just my point of view, not like it’s right. Maria

  • PAUL says:


  • Nancy Esmade says:

    Great post! two thumbs up Ms. Maria…

    floor tiler

  • Linda says:

    Hi Maria,
    We are planning natural cherry shaker style cabinets with a cream colored beadboard island. We are leaning towards either uba tuba granite or black impala. I like “golden honey” by BM for wall paint. Would a cream colored subway tile backsplash work here?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Your countertops should be cream quartz with cream subway tile to tie in with your cream beadboard island. Maria

  • Jayasree says:

    Hi Maria,
    Read your great post! We are planning to design our kitchen with a dark brown colored oak cabinets and a light brown colored granite counter top. Please advice me on the back splash (they are offering 4″granite and rest is our choice).Will 4″granite and filling the rest of the space with cream colored subway tile look good?
    Or else can you give your advice on any other type of back splash for the combination which I mentioned above? Should I select a light or dark colored (oak wood) floor?
    Thank you,

    • Maria Killam says:

      Light brown granite is pink beige I would stay away from that. Also do not install the 4″ kick, it’s too choppy and completely unnecessary combined with backsplash tile. If you have a brown kitchen your backsplash should be cream. Hope this helps, Maria

  • Jayasree says:

    Does Mosaic tiles suit for the back splash as well? If so which color should I go with.Please help me on this.
    Thank you,

  • Lisa says:

    Maria — your comments validates others who have been guiding us — thanks! Do you have an opinion for a good neutral backsplash: we are selecting Golden Crystal granite for a large center island and the kitchen perimeter with natural cherry cabinets. We are thinking the floors will be select red birch to offer a lighter contrast. I am struggling with the backsplash — no 4″ granite, but a good color for the 3×6 subway tiles…. and how to offset something behind the cooktop? What do you think of a mix of 2″ square glass tiles within a 3′ rectangle? Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Maria Killam says:

      I always give everyone the same advice, your creative offset behind the stove will be the first thing you’ll hate about your kitchen later. Boring and simple now = timeless and classic later. Subway tile, the end. Maria

  • Robert says:

    Great advice on the choice of simple subway tile for backsplash….that’s what I’m doing with one exception. I’m going with a handmade tile to keep my kitchen (and bath as well) from looking like a fast food operation.

  • stacy says:

    my fiancé has gutted a Lloyd wright home and contractor has talked him into taking out most of its character (sliding glass door insert doors, painted all woodwork black) anyway we have this really wild granite and he want him to install a glass tiles backsplash that is stainless and gold??then add over the stove a framed in stainless only pattern. I told him way too busy. we have dark hardwood floor, granite is black, beige, white marble specs cabinets maple color, stainless appliances. would white subway tiles look good?

    • Maria Killam says:

      If you don’t have any white in the kitchen I would not install white rather have the colour relate to the wall colour or something else in the space. Definitely keep it solid and simple. You’re on the right track. Maria

  • Julie Keilman says:

    I am beside myself with indecision! We recently installed Santa Cecilia granite and I cannot find a suitable backsplash! The granite has beiges as well as greys in it ( I just heard the new word, greige!). We had subway tile before and would like something a bit different. I want simple and clean, but yet a little interesting. Suggestions? I am stuck!!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Your granite needs to be the most important feature of the kitchen, installing anything but a solid and simple tile will be too busy. Maria

  • JS says:

    Maria, thank you so much for this post. You affirmed what I was already thinking. I’m doing an “update” of my kitchen, moving cooktop to another area. I have a granite backsplash, but with the move of the range hood, it no longer completely covers the backsplace above the cooktop and I have a section of bare wall about 10″ x 30″ above the granite. It will be impossible to match the granite. I considered a small band of mosaic tile to fill the space in coordinating colors to the granite. Have you any suggestions about this? Do you think the tiles should be solid, or what do you think about multiple colors that pick up the granite colors? I don’t want something too busy, but this is such a small area that I thought perhaps it would work. Right now the cabinets are a cherry color, but I’m considering painting them a cream color. Thanks so much for your blog and any advice you have. Janet

    • Maria Killam says:

      I’m really not the one to ask on how to get ‘creative’ I think if you add mosaic there it will be the first thing that will bug you about your kitchen. I have seen enough of them to know. Maria

  • Lynn Gunkler says:

    Stumbling across your website in need of help with picking a backsplash couldn’t have come at a better time! We have chosen dark floors (Bruce/Bison) and dark cabinets (Aristokraft Maple Umber). I wanted to lighten up the counters and our only choice of a lighter granite was Santa Cecelia. I have gone round and round with choosing a backsplash. The only plain and simple tile they have is a 6×6 in white or shiny/matte beige. I was leaning towards the matte beige. My question is will the 6×6 squares look cheap? Should I have them staggered?


    • Maria Killam says:

      If it’s a yellow beige that will work. Cheap is busy and patterned. Classic is solid and simple. Maria

  • Laine says:

    We are building a new house and the kitchen backsplash is driving me crazy. I had originally choosen a glass painted back 3×6 in a putty colour to be laid in herringbine. our installer was not happy with the cuts as the back was chipping. honestly I am not heart broken. Our granite is cold spring. Cabinets are maple painted in linen and our island is chocolate maple. How do you feel about a 3×6 bianco Romano marble laid in a herringbone pattern?

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s pattern on pattern, I feel it’s bad. Go for a solid that coordinates with your linen cabinets. The end. You will hate anything more creative in a very short time. Boring now = timeless later. Trust me on this. Maria

  • Laine says:

    Your page Rocks! Thanks again

  • Wendy says:

    I respect your opinion regarding “timeless” backsplashes. After having removed a dated backsplash I would hope to not have to do it again. Our kitchen floor is a cream coloured tile, “orange” oak cabinets (In the third house we build I’ll have white) and a brown, grey, rust, cream coloured quartz countertop. Would a 4″ cream coloured tumbled marble tile work that is created with one row of square tile then a pencil tile (cream colour) and topped with the 4″ tile placed diagonally? We have white appliances and I would have loved to have white subway tiles but I was told there would be too much contrast between the countertop and the backsplash. It was also suggested that I shouldn’t decorate around the appliances.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Tumbled marble is pink beige. With that much happening in your quartz countertop you’ll have contrast no matter what you choose. Cream subway tile. The end, is what I would recommend. Maria

    • Wendy says:

      Thanks Maria……. does it matter whether it’s a porcelain or glass cream coloured subway tile?

  • Danielle says:

    I completely agree with you. However, I’m still having trouble chosing my backsplash. My cabinets are a dark cherry shaker and counters are new Venetian gold. The two choices I’ve narrowed down to are an almond color subway tile or an off white buscuit color subway tile. I like both (the colors are so close and even look the same in some lighting). Because they’re so close I’ve considered using both for a subtle two tone subway tile. Do you think something like that could work?

    • Maria Killam says:

      It might, but the chances that one might look green and then just bug you until the end of time are just as good. Maria

  • Becky says:

    We have honey oak cabinets and beautiful chicago brick floors.We chose autumn leaf brown granite countertops.I love the tumbled 4″ travertine for the backsplash. I am planning on putting a neutral walnut color.I want to put it on a diagonal pattern with nothing more.The color looks very well with my neutral wall color. Do you think I’m making good choices?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Not a fan of tumbled travertine because it’s always pink. And it would work with brown granite. Maria

  • Becky says:

    I wanted to add that we have SS appliances also.I’d appreciate anyones opinions or advice.We already ordered the autumn leaf granite….it is beautiful….more speckled granite.
    Thanks again

    • Becky says:

      Thanks Maria,
      Do you have any suggetions for my backsplash co’nsidering the above decor of my kitchen? As far as type of tile,color,size, and type of layout pattern.

  • Gina says:

    I’m putting in new granite counters, I chose blue pearl, I have honey oak cabinets,what color floor do I put. Back splash will be whites and greys unless the floor is beige, then beige with black

  • Diane says:

    In my new home, I have natural cherry cabinets with dark brown (marron cohiba) granite, however, the island granite is cream with veins of brown, gray, and rust. I dislike my patterned mosaic backsplash as it competes with the island. How I wish I had read your blog before I chose this. You are so right about the mosaics. Would a cream subway in a matte finish be a better choice than glossy subway tile with all of that shiny granite? Thanks!

  • Theresa says:

    Cabinets are very dark black/brown stained maple. Counter is cashmere white granite. Floor is gunstock hickory. I have selected an oversize white subway tile. It is glossy and has a bit of a wavy texture, not completely smooth. It will be laid in a brick pattern and will go up and around range hood all the way to the top of cabinets…around 10 ft high.
    I am worried that the white will be too much contrast. Should I go for a cream colour instead of white?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Your subway tile should perfectly match your granite period. If that’s white, then white it is. Maria

  • Joy says:

    Maria, So far I have planned a white subway tile shower either with or without a band of Calcutta accent in 1×2. Would you skip the accent stripe in a 36 in shower? Also stuck with sink. Do I put in a 4 inch back splash same as quartz sink or use Calcutta back splash or use subway tile coordinating with the quartz counter. What are your thoughts on Calcutta/Carrara. Is it timeless and does it give a cleaner look? Is it being overused and will easily tire of? Would it be better to just use the the same white subway from shower up the wall to base of mirror and not the quartz from the sink counter continuing into a 4inch back splash. Love your site. Appreciate any comments you can give.

  • Cher says:

    I have very beautiful white ice granite counters. The install messed up and are prepared to put in the backsplash for free. They have offered solid matching granite on the entire back (not tiles) in large pieces. I had considered classic white subway tiles. My cabinets are shaker white and my floor is espresso wood. Do you think the solid granite would be too busy…even though matching? I dont have a lot of backsplash area! Thanks.

  • Jan says:

    How did I end up with this crazy granite choice that is glaring at me from the counter?! Im crying at this expensive new member of the family. Ugh!! My vision was clean and simple: Cream shaker cabs, white/light grey granite and a very light grey ceramic subway tile backsplash. Well I got it all EXCEPT the crazy granite!

    Looking at the upright slab at the yard, it read white and soft cream with splashesof of grey. So soothing. Now that it’s lying on its ugly back, it looks like a big spotted lizard. Why did I not see these huge splotches? What was I thinking? I’m already thinking of big solid placemats on the peninsula to cover up some of the garishness. I feel childish but also guilty that I spent so much on this remodel and not absolutely lovin it. I desperately needed you at the slab yard that day.

    Well, Since I need to live with this reptile, my question is should I stick with the light grey backsplash or step it down even more with cream to tame the beast down?

    We haven’t done the sub tiles yet, but GC has already ordered it. Please help . Thank you.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Oh no, yes I would definitely stick to the cream. The biggest problem with coloured tiles is that if the colour even slightly changes by the time it’s installed with the light, etc it can look like it doesn’t match and then you’ll be even more annoyed. You have maintained your sense of humour all things considered 🙂 Maria

  • Debbie says:

    I have white kitchen cabinets from Homedepot and my floor is a dark wood color. I’m thinking of having a laminate dark color countertop and I would like to get a white subway tile backsplash. My problem is that my appliances are white and the range hood above my cooktop is also white. I’d like the range hood to pop but then what color backaplash do I go with? I suppose I could do the white subway tiles and let the range hood disappear???

  • Linda says:

    We have natural cherry cabinets and a calm slab of costa esmeralda granite that is a soft grayish green with some yellow. The walls are painted BM Windham Cream, which matches perfectly with the soft creamy yellow present in the granite. I am thinking a plain subway tile backsplash that matches the wall color, or have a 2 inch granite backsplash all around and extend it above the range. I also like stainless backsplashes behind the range but worry that it may look too choppy.

  • Jean says:

    I’m in the process of getting my tiny kitchen redone. The shaker cabs are BM Simply White, counter London Grey quartz, floor tiles light grey matte porcelain (possibly with a black diamond insert). Should the 3×6 subway tile backsplash be cream? Or white? Or pale grey? Glossy or matte?

  • irma reaves says:

    What color walls go with white cabinets and either Carrara or calacatta type marble? My current walls are BM Stone House. I want this light marble but can the walls be beige… not gray?

  • Heather says:

    I just found your blog and LOVE it! I’m having a major dilemma and need to get my kitchen done before Thanksgiving!! I have creme-ish big tile floor, new venetian gold granite counter tops, cabinets that are primered and we plan to paint white. BUT, I am clueless on backsplash. Should I do travertine subway or a solid subway tile? Or something else? What do you think?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Travertine is pink beige. Very bad with all that cream and yellow. Cream solid subway tile. The end.

  • Jennifer says:

    We are in the process of redoing our kitchen! I have painted our cabinets “old white” by Annie Sloan and we had installed St.Cecilia granite. I am having the hardest time picking out a backsplash and floor that doesn’t clash horribly with the granite!! Help please 🙂

    • Maria Killam says:

      You WILL have a hard time! So much tile is blotchy and just plain ugly. Go with cream subway on your backsplash and hardwood flooring if you can. If not, look for something creamy with barely any pattern or it will look terrible once it’s all installed. Maria

  • E. says:

    Installing black galaxy countertops with shiny white subway tiles up to the underside of the honey oak cabinets, and up over my range slightly. Have all white appliances, one bowl brushed stainless steel sink with black onyx and brushed stainless steel single hole faucet. I have found a classy accent tile consisting of black, charcoal, brushed stainless that is contemporary and sharp and was thinking of a 2 row (an inch high insert) to bring it together, running around the countertop wall inserting somewhere in the subway. I am troubled though as I don’t want a cheap looking project or a busy to the eye one. I want it clean and stylish. If I use the insert tile will paint exposed walls in a charcoal gray color. The knobs on the cabinets are brushed oiled bronze which looks fabulous with the fleck in the granite, and I plan to use oiled bronze accents around the room, like chandelier, bronze/black curtain rods, just a splash to pick up the bronze. The floor is a lighter shadowy gray vinyl now, but will change either to wood to match cabinets or a deeper gray of some sort later. I can’t decide to use the accent tile strip or do just plain white subway. I do love the accent tile, but maybe should do just a framed strip over the range and leave it at that instead of around the walls. Comments welcome. Thanks.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Kill the accent tile. Go with your intuition which is that it’s cheap and busy.

      But you knew I would say that? 🙂

      • E. says:

        Thanks for the comment. If not using the accent tile where do I get my inspiration for wall color and flooring? Countertops are just black with a fleck of bronze here and there, not a color one could match to easily. Thanks.

  • Karen Dyck says:

    The reason granite suppliers do the 4″ backsplash, in addition to selling more of their product, is to prevent moisture from coming off of the back of the counter and eroding the drywall. If you just caulk the joint where the back of the counter and the drywall meet it will eventually dry out and water will trickle down the back of your cabinets and also start to attach the drywall.

  • Barbara says:

    Maria, I M stressing over the backsplash for my remodeled kitchen
    We are getting African Ivory granite
    With either 4×4 or 6×6 tile backsplash.
    I want a simple diamond pattern
    with one row of straight tiles at the
    bottom of our 16 in high space above
    Cooktop and below microwave.
    The tile has some shading but is
    Fairly neutral. Would it be too much
    To add one row of a solo sliver that is
    One inch high and a Color that is in
    The granite just above the straight
    Row of tile at the bottom?
    Thanks for your input.
    San Jose, Ca.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes it absolutely would be too much. Your kitchen would then be the same as everyone else’s with a backsplash that will date in 5 minutes. Stick to simple and clean (but of course I would say that 🙂

  • Susan says:

    I am re-doing my kitchen. I am doing white cabinets with new venetian gold countertops. We have hard wood floors and stainless appliances. I have been struggling back and forth between subway tile and travertine. I found a subway tile in a creamy color that looks good with the granite, but I’m not convinced this is the route. If I choose subway tile, should I just go with white? I don’t want the whole kitchen to be blah with too much white. Any ideas would be helpful.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Maria Killam says:

      How can it be blah when you have this patterned countertop already? New venetian gold is yellow based. Travertine is most often pink. Very bad.
      Go with the subway tile that relates to your countertop in white or cream. The end. Maria

  • sheri says:

    I chose the Nracado granite but dying to match with a simple backsplash, the granite seller is urging me to continue the granite on the backsplash but I feel it is too much.
    Help Please.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes of course he does because he wants to make more money but that is a terrible idea. Hope that helps, Maria

  • Mandy Chow says:

    Hi Maria,

    I’m having trouble deciding on a backsplash for my first home! Cabinets are a cherry wood, appliances are stainless steel, floor is an off white/cream tiling, countertop is a beige/grey/black granite. Plan is to paint the rest of the house a light grey.

    Originally, I thought of using basic white subway tiles, but now I’m hesitating. Would you recommend an off grey instead to match the walls, or a cream to match the granite? Unfortunate there is a 4″ adder on the countertop.

    Thanks so much in advance!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Mandy, matching the grey rarely looks good and finding the perfect shade is usually like looking for a needle in a haystack anyway. Also it won’t be as timeless as white or cream. I would look for a cream colour to coordinate with the granite. However, if you have a 4″ kick, I might not introduce a backsplash at all. If you need more help, you can buy a hard finish consultation on my edesign shop page. Hope that helps, Maria

  • kathy natale says:

    OMG thank you, I got a beautiful granite counter, need to do back splash and I am struggling . want plain simple bisque, light gray, the receptacles and stainless steel with black glass top stove controls on back are an issue I want them to blend in .

  • kathy natale says:

    After reading all you responses, I’m sure you are tired of backsplash questions,!!!!!! cream it is I got that point simplistic with no whistles……

  • Gail says:

    I am stuck with brown tropic granite. I have reddish maple builder colored cabinets. I am in a senior area and at the time we only had a choice of four granites….nothing special. I am thinking of painting the cabinets off white because of the granite color. I think true white would be too stark. I laughed at your video because I have had back splash tiles sitting on my counter and I haven’t liked one. I don’t like things busy, either, so I loved your video. I laughed so hard because although I am certainly not a decorator, I find it so true. Most of the taupe tiles I have had at home seem too grey for the kind of reddish brown granite. Any Ideas???

  • Judy Hinnant says:

    We are putting in venetian ice leather granite in a hill country home. Would white matte subway tile work or should i get the gloss white subway tile? Our cabinets are white and we have stainless appliances.

  • Oona Noren says:

    We will be installing granite in our kitchen. We will be painting the cabinets white. I do not like when the backsplash clashes with the granite. So I am wanting to put up subway tile. My husband thinks it’s boring. Would it work with a different pattern, such as herringbone, and not clash?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes that’s fine. Stick to your guns, everyone else will have a clashing backsplash but you won’t because you’re the smart one 🙂 Maria

  • Rebecca says:

    I’m so glad I found your post, “which backsplash tile goes with granite”. I need help! My husband picked out tiny glass mosaic and it’s pretty cut just seems off. I loved the whiteish subway tile in the photo. We have Navaska gold granite.

  • Kimberleigh says:

    Love last one Best – even if the lights are bit big for me

  • Laura Schmid says:

    I chose granite in 2005 when I started to remodel my kitchen. I was able to bring samples home from the granite supplier, which helped me to choose a pattern that would go with my white cabinets and the wall color in the living and dining rooms (I live in a condo and the kitchen is open to both rooms). I have the matching 4 inch granite backsplash, and would probably make the same choice again. Having a tile backsplash with lots of grout to clean is not my idea of fun! I would also consider a mirrored backsplash or a solid piece of stone behind the cooktop as I’ve seen in photos.

  • GG says:

    Put a Aqua or light green glass back splash with brown granite counter, it gives a little pop and makes the counters pop. both are shiny and blend well tougher

  • Teri says:

    I have a busy granite and can’t seem to figure out a backsplash.
    Removed old , but can’t redo granite too. Is there anyway I can send a picture
    Of it to you for suggestions?
    Thanks Again

  • Lauren says:


    Can you tell me the name or send a link of the backsplash in the first image in this post? Thank you!!

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