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How to Update Your Kitchen’s Brick Backsplash

Much like automobiles, hairstyles, and clothing, home decor has cyclical trends. Styles, materials, colors, and finishes that are trendy one year may appear dated and dowdy a few years later. Although kitchens are typically designed to provide years of service, kitchen design elements — like brick backsplashes — can benefit from occasional freshening and updating.

If your kitchen is not the inviting space it once was, or if you have just moved into a new-to-you home that needs some TLC and an exciting new look, Batchelder & Collins offers some ideas that will help revive an aging brick backsplash.

A real brick wall in the kitchen might be charming. It might also feel too heavy for your contemporary lifestyle, too dark for your taste, or a bit too traditional for your modern family home. No matter your reasons for change, particularly if you think a major kitchen renovation is in order, here are some ideas to consider.

First, consider working with what you have rather than starting over. A brick kitchen backsplash can become the focal point of a new kitchen plan. Alternatively, incorporate modern elements into your kitchen redo and add brick panels in other areas as accents. Keep an existing brick wall, but change its character with paint or add accents of tiles, glass, or natural stone. Display art or cookbooks on open shelves or paint the brick a neutral color to add charm and fresh appeal to a breakfast nook.

Complement real brick with a lightweight brick veneer backsplash in the remodeled kitchen, or add to the appeal of an existing red brick backsplash with contrasting glass tiles or a trendy ceramic tile mural over a sink or as part of the kitchen backsplash.

Your options are nearly unlimited!

What Is a Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash is the vertical wall space at the rear of a kitchen base cabinet or work surface. Typically, modern American kitchens are designed with base cabinets and countertops, with shelves or cabinets above. The backsplash is the vertical wall at the back of those lower cabinets or the space between the lower and upper cabinets.

The kitchen backsplash is functional and meant to prevent damage to the wall from food preparation and cooking. The backsplash material should be durable and easy to clean. Having a backsplash will prevent damage to the wall from water or other liquid spills, grease splatters, and food particles.

Kitchen backsplashes may rise only a few inches above the counter, or they might cover the entire wall space from the top of the counter to the bottom of the wall cabinets. A backsplash can be highly decorative, or as simple as a coat of washable enamel paint. Creative backsplashes will add color and personality to your kitchen.

Many different materials can be used for a kitchen backsplash. The seven most common backsplash materials include ceramic and porcelain, glass, metals, natural stone, manufactured stone veneer, faux metals or thermoplastics, and matching countertop materials. Each material has pros and cons, and the cost varies with the material and the complexity of the pattern and the design. Weigh all the factors, especially the ease of cleaning and maintaining your chosen backsplash material, as you shop for materials for your kitchen remodel. Smooth, matte finishes will stand up better for long-term use than textured, rough surfaces.

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

Tile is a popular backsplash material for many reasons. Available in a wide range of styles, colors, and sizes, ceramic and porcelain tiles are durable, easy to clean, and cost-effective. Tile backsplashes must be grouted, however, and grout can stain or crack. So, tile backsplashes may require periodic maintenance and updating.


Like tile, a backsplash using brick veneer, or thin face brick, has been a traditional choice for decades. It is good-looking, sturdy, and will retain its appeal for decades of use, with minimal care required. Like tile, real and faux brick is available in many colors and styles, from red brick to modern gray or beige. Multi-colored, mixed brick is a modern look, and brick, stone, or tile can be smooth, weathered, or textured. As a manufactured stone product, brick is fireproof, thin, cost-effective, and versatile. It is appropriate for architectural and decorative styles from cottage chic to formal. A solid brick backsplash is rare in today’s new construction, and a professional masonry contractor would be needed to install such a wall, but it is not an impossible task.


Using glass tiles is an exciting trend in contemporary kitchen design, and they are extremely stylish and effective for modern kitchens with sleek contemporary appliances. Glass tiles are available in sizes that range from small mosaic sheets to large squares and rectangles. Hexagonal and stylized, free-form designs are sometimes used for special effects. Glass tiles are sometimes used simply as accent strips for marble, stone, or ceramic tile backsplashes, but large sheets of glass or mirror can be used to create a distinctively modern vibe.


Stamped metal backsplashes — much like the familiar stamped tin ceiling tiles — are now in vogue for kitchen backsplash use. They can be easily installed by homeowners and are available in a wide variety of patterns and finishes, from painted white tiles to aged copper, burnished brass or pewter, or even shiny stainless. They add drama and convenience to kitchens of many different styles.

Matching the Countertops

Finally, you can simply match your kitchen backsplash to the countertops. Matching the countertop material is a particularly effective option when there are no upper cabinets. Simply order a four-to-six-inch strip of tile, marble, granite, butcherblock, quartz, or synthetic counter material, to be installed along the back wall over the countertop. It is a simple, practical, and cost-effective way to finish your kitchen counters and will adequately protect the walls from most stains and damage.

What Are the Different Types of Brick Backsplashes Available?

Real Brick

Little is more traditional for home design brick. Using real brick in kitchens dates to earlier times when cooking was done on wood stoves. However, traditional brick is heavy, hard to install, and required that the wall be specially prepared to bear the weight of the brick. Today, thin brick or brick veneer is more common as a backsplash material. However, if you already have a real brick backsplash in your kitchen, you can update the look in various ways that are more in keeping with modern design and decor. Painted brick can transform the look of an older kitchen, and can easily be accomplished as a DIY project.

Faux Brick

Today, it is entirely possible to reproduce the traditional look of real brick by using other materials that simulate the character and warmth, along with the rustic or traditional appearance of real bricks. Duplicate the look in other materials, from stamped wallpaper-like sheet goods to expensive porcelain tiles that replicate the look of individual bricks. Obtain the look you desire in various ways, depending on your budget and your design aesthetic.

What Types of Kitchens Look Good With Brick Backsplashes?

Rustic or Farmhouse Kitchens

Exposed brick in a kitchen calls to mind an old-fashioned “keeping room” or a rustic Craftsman-style setting. Brick backsplashes complement other features such as brick fireplaces, walls and floors, beamed ceilings, multi-paned windows, Dutch doors, and traditional floor plans. If that is the kind of kitchen you dream of having, a red-brick backsplash would enhance either simple wood cabinetry, or contrast nicely with painted cabinets and worktables.

Contemporary Kitchens

Smooth, flat bricks in a herringbone or modern pattern offer a unique way to add spice to a clean-lined modern kitchen filled with easy-care appliances in black, white, or stainless. Painted brick might be just the thing to add flair to a Euro-style kitchen, perhaps a space with modern, retro-style enamel-finish appliances in brilliant color. Wrought iron or copper accents can pull the design together. Browse design magazines or search online sites for new ideas for your kitchen remodel project.

Industrial Kitchens

Brick provides a homey contrast in a kitchen that is primarily a “no-nonsense” workspace. Use light, glass, stainless steel, and solid colors, and keep the design simple. A natural brick backsplash can be a sophisticated touch that adds charm and historic appeal, but painted brick walls and backsplashes are also reminders that simple, durable materials can be adapted for practical use.

French-Style Kitchens

Large kitchens evoke traditional provincial design, and are perfectly suited for the addition of brick backsplashes, open shelving, a mix of marble baking counters, copper cookware, unmatched cabinetry, colorful hand-painted pots filled with edible herbs, checked tablecloths, and glowing candles.

Tuscan Kitchens

Unleash your personal design preferences and use a traditional mix of baskets and found objects to express your individuality in a Tuscan design that draws on the foods, flavors, and favorite designs of Italy and the Mediterranean regions. It’s a classic look for kitchens that are filled with comfortable materials, colorful hues, laughter, cooking, and lots of family and friends.

What Are Some Ways to Update the Brick Backsplash in Your Kitchen?

Backsplash ideas run the gamut from purely functional to wildly artistic. The wall space between upper and lower kitchen cabinets can be starkly simple or filled with color and unique design, as well as practical storage solutions.

When thinking about how to make your kitchen a standout space, think beyond the confines of its current floor plan or footprint. Cabinets can be relocated to create a new configuration. Add additional work counters by installing an island or peninsula that will double as an eating bar, and then add open shelving or a freestanding antique cabinet to serve as the focal point.

Brick an entire wall to add continental elegance to your breakfast nook, and make a large range the star of the kitchen by creating an arched alcove to house the modern appliance.

Fill Up the Wall Space

A brick wall can be the backdrop for your entire kitchen, or a decorative feature in a dining space or a sitting area adjacent to the workspace. Let the brick be a stand-alone feature. Think about installing brick from floor to ceiling in a portion of the kitchen. Conversely, surround the windows with brick trim, and add a window seat with comfortable pillows in bright fabrics. Hang modern art on a brick wall as a counterpoint to the timeworn appeal of the traditional brick.

Create a Unique Layout

Crosshatch, herringbone, or chevron patterns will lend a whole new look to a portion of the kitchen. Use special designs sparingly, however. They are best when used in a single area — behind a cooktop, for instance, or to highlight a baking center or bar counter. If you use brick throughout for your kitchen backsplashes, it is best to go easy on the fancy patterns and let the rest fade into the background. It’s also easier if you use brick tiles or thin bricks, and use a professional to install your unique patterns.

Add a Rustic Fixture

Use rustic brick, with a single wooden shelf to hold cooking accessories, as the focal point for a large range and vent hood that is surrounded by other materials. Draw attention to the “hearth” by painting surrounding cabinets a dark shade of charcoal or even shiny black. Also, consider making a bold statement with an arched hood enclosure and slim cabinets on either side.

Whitewash the Bricks

Modernize old brick walls and existing brick backsplashes by cleaning and whitewashing the brick for a contemporary, updated look. Sometimes, that is all that is needed to turn an aging kitchen into a truly stunning modern space. The best part? Painting or whitewashing an existing brick wall or backsplash is not usually a job that requires a professional, and whitewashed brick is not only stunning, but it is also an economical way to update your kitchen.

Do You Need to Hire Somebody to Update Your Kitchen’s Backsplash?

Revitalizing an existing brick wall in your kitchen does not have to be a job strictly for professionals. Save that existing brick wall in your kitchen, or revitalize a kitchen to better suit your current lifestyle by installing a modern thin brick backsplash. Batchelder & Collins has prepared a four-step guide that provides all the information you’ll need.

The Materials You Need for the Home of Your Dreams

At Batchelder & Collins, we stock all the materials you will need to complete your project. We serve homeowners in the Norfolk and Williamsburg areas of Virginia, and we have built our reputation on service, trust, and customer satisfaction. Contact us with any questions you have about updating or revitalizing your kitchen’s brick walls and backsplashes.

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