Kitchen Backsplash Ideas {That Aren't Tile}

April 16, 2015

I’ve been planning out my next step in the kitchen renovation in my head for weeks. (Check out progress so far --the new window seat, the expanded kitchen island and the new built in fridge.) 

The backsplash won’t happen quite yet, but I can’t help but think about it. A lot. I think it’s going to be one of the most important aspects of the kitchen. 

I’m pretty sure we’ll go with tile but I’m not positive yet. I installed a beadboard backsplash years five years ago and it has held up really well:
When I installed it few readers were concerned about moisture and stains but there’s nothing to worry about – if you paint it with a semi or high gloss everything wipes right off. Moisture can’t get in there because it’d have to be done from behind and it’s just not possible, at least in our kitchen. I’m super impressed with it and would highly recommend it to anyone considering an easy and inexpensive fix!

This cost me less than $50 and I applied it right on top of the old tile. :) The only hard part was painting all of it. That part stinks, not gonna lie. 

I’m not keeping the beadboard because I plan to remove some cabinets and what I have there only goes up that far. I can’t patch it and I’m ready for a new look anyway. This has served us incredibly well for all these years! 

But the beadboard has me thinking – a backsplash doesn't have to be tile! One of my favorite looks lately is a wood planked backsplash:
natural wood backsplash white kitchen

Goodness, I think that is so pretty! It repeats the floor look and tone so it works beautifully. 

People shy away from wood in the kitchen, understandably. But if you seal it with a polyurethane you’ll be good to go. If you are considering planks you’ll want to make sure they meet up (with no gap) and then seal them, or you can leave a gap and caulk between each one (clear if you’re going with a natural tone, white if you’re painting them). Then seal the entire thing after that. 

Our backsplash is mdf – which is incredibly porous when left alone. But after paint, nothing bothers it!
Here’s another natural look that I loved:
natural wood backsplash white shelves

Doesn’t that look lovely with white accents?

I’ve also seen the sticky vinyl floor planks that look like wood used on a wall so that would be a great one to consider too. More expensive but super easy to clean I’m sure.

I love this darker look as well:
industrial wood backsplash
source: Design Sponge

All of the wood tones look fabulous together! This is a more industrial look and I dig it. A wood backsplash would be fairly inexpensive too – definitely cheaper than some tile I’ve seen lately.
Of course, there’s the more classic and clean look of the white planks:
white wood planked backsplash
source: Garden Web

This home has it above the stovetop so you know it has to be able to handle messes. My only question is if it would be a fire hazard of any kind that close to the heat source? Ours hasn’t been an issue because our burners are further away from the wall. 

I had to show you this one because it’s such a brilliant idea – this homeowner used beadboard like I did, but in a much different way:
herringbone beadboard backsplash
source: Farmhouse 38

They figured out how to cut the beadboard panels at an angle to create a herringbone pattern. It is gorgeous! I’m sure it would be a lot of work to get the cuts right, but installation is easy! (They share how they did it in the link above.)

And of course, there’s creating the look of tile where there isn’t any. Love this idea! This was done with a stencil:
stenciled wall in kitchensource: The Diana House

I did something similar in our basement. I didn’t do it to mimic tile but I love the look:
stenciled backsplash

My friend Myra did a similar treatment, but without the stencil:
painted herringbone backsplash

She used painters tape and some careful measuring and it looks like tile to me!

Here’s one more because I love the contrast of the dark gray and white:  stenciled backsplash

I think any of these ideas look fantastic and most of them are an inexpensive way to give your backsplash a custom look. Of course the nicer the wood the more your costs go up, but there are plenty of cheaper options to pick from.

Have any of you done a non-traditional backsplash with something other than tile? Feel free to leave links in the comments if you want to share. :)

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  1. I am liking the wood backsplash. I did tile in my kitchen but the thing with tile is that if your style changes, the tile is hard to change. Plus it is a pain in the butt to remove. At least with the real wood you can paint it a different color. The white plank backsplash is my FAVORITE!

  2. I used beadboard wallpaper for our backsplash. Much easier to put up & cheaper. Cut it with scissors. Also only about $20/roll which was plenty for the kitchen (except by the stove where we used glass tiles since I didn't think the wallpaper would hold up with grease splatters).

  3. I am a huge fan of classic subway tile. I would be concerned about wood for a fire hazard. They have some great deals on wood grain look tile now though. It looks just like wood but isn't.

  4. I did beadboard also but want to replace it with tile. After 11 years I'm just not liking it anymore.

  5. Love wood in the kitchen!
    I left our kitchen walls painted white (satin finish so not shiny but washable) and only used a backsplash behind the messy areas (sink, stove): I used antique wood table tops that have beautiful trim, cut in half, to which I applied some poly. Everything wipes clean, even the walls.

    1. Would love to see these images, I really like the idea of repurpose/reuse

  6. I have to agree with Ashleigh, I love love love white subway tile. It's actually what I have been working on this past week in my kitchen. It's neutral and classic so I don't think I'll ever tire of it and it's also good for resale. The white planks are pretty though!

  7. I was at Home Depot and saw the River stone backsplash. We may try it out.
    Here is a pinterest link for someone who did it.

    -Nick (

  8. I love the idea of a plank wall as a's definitely unique and interesting! I would worry about splatter and damage on wallpaper though. You're kitchen is looking fantastic, I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

  9. we used copper sheeting (flashing) wrapped around a thin piece of luan plywood to create our backsplash. you just wrap it around the board on the edges. We literally banged away with hammers on ours for a hammered look. then you use construction adhesive or copper nails (depending on how heavy your board is) to attach it to the wall. easily wipes clean and adds great warmth to subtle shine to the kitchen.

  10. I put beadboard in our last kitchen and loved it for the 5 years we were there. Now I'm adding it to our current kitchen. Still love it! Ripped out some really hideous tile to get to this point so I'm excited to have the beadboard again.

  11. Can't wait to see what you use! We have the (BHG) tongue & groove one. Man does that stained brown color get old and with my cabinets being stained pine. Lots and lots of brown.
    But I do love all the tongue & groove which dominates this house. But I'm slowly painting a bit to bring in a little color. I LOVE painted tongue & groove.

  12. I did the white wood plank look, with tongue and groove pine boards from lowes. Painting took 2 coats, which wasn't awesome - but you get to make all of your cuts so easily (if you have a saw) and just nail it right up. No grout, thinset, tile cutting...I'll take that any day. Plus it has held up amazingly well. We even had a leaky air gap pipe (you the know the one that drains dishwasher fluid next to your sink), and the wood held up fantastic. As long as it's painted or protected in some way, it's very easy to care for. Paired it with white wood floating shelves that I made, it looks so lovely and custom. Good luck deciding!


  13. I think either the last one or the wood look would look awesome with your cabinets painted white. Give me a few weeks and I can come help :)

  14. I also have a beadboard backsplash in my kitchen. It's held up amazingly well! The area behind the sink and stovetop is subway tile though. Maybe I just don't cook enough to get it dirty lol.

  15. I am trying to get up the guts to do a white washed faux brick backsplash.

  16. I had not thought about it before, but have you considered using wood look tile? That would give you the best of both worlds. The easy cleanup of tile, no worries about it not being heat proof and you don't have to polyurethane!

  17. Right now, my backsplash is the same laminate as my counters. It will be easy to cover with whatever! I'm leaning toward beadboard OR beadboard wallpaper. My kitchen does not get directr sunlight, so I like everything to be nice and bright. I'm not a fan of subway tile; it doesn't fit my "style" (such as it is!). However, the stencil idea caught my eye. I could paint over the laminate backsplash that's there and then do a stencil to mimic decorative tile. That would be fairly inexpensive and also custom!

  18. I looked at those same first photos for inspiration. We planked ours with cedar tongue and groove that we got for free and once it was up, I struggled following through with the original paint plan. It was soooo pretty natural. But I bit the bullet, painted it white, and LOVE it. I don't have after pictures, but this post shows the raw cedar:

  19. I loved looking through all these fun ideas. We are trying to choose a backsplash for our kitchen. There's nothing there now, and we want to sell in about a year, so we want to upgrade it but not spend big bucks. We have white cabinets, identical countertops as yours and the kitchen and attached living room are painted RL sisal. Any ideas? I was thinking glass subway in a taupe?

  20. 6 years ago, we wanted subway tile, but we didn't like the way it looked with our cabinets. We couldn't find anything that we liked, but found a picture of a kitchen that had a painted traditional wainscoting as their backsplash. We did the same in our kitchen and still love it! Gloss paint makes it so easy to wipe down, and I love the nice clean look of it! Wish there was a way to add pictures to the comments to show.

  21. And I mean the rectangular wainscoting, similar to what you see in dining rooms and hallways!

  22. I might be the minority, but I'm not a fan of backsplash at all. We have granite counters and the backsplash/walls are just painted. I hang things on the backsplash, like a wrought-iron sign. I would rather re-paint it when I'm tired of the colour.


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