Tackling a Kitchen Renovation Project

Quick Tips: Renovating a home is no easy feat. Here are some quick tips from the article to get you to your dream kitchen!

  • Sometimes just changing your backsplash or paint color can make all the difference
  • A classic back splash tile choice is subway tile
  • Subway tiles are still in style in 2022
  • Use a contrasting grout color for some dimension
  • For small kitchens use lighter colors to expand the space
  • Ceramic, Porcelain, and Marble all have different pro’s and con’s 
  • Ceramic tiles are the most affordable and are heat resistant 
  • Porcelain tiles are very resistant to daily wear and tear
  • Marble tiles are a natural material that will never go out of style. They are timeless
  • Bigger tiles means you will have to clean less grout!
  • An important question you should ask yourself if if your kitchen will be used for a lot of entertaining and lot of cooking
  • You should familiarize yourself with design trends and create a mood board of the look you want to achieve
  • In 2022 the trend has been white and gray tiles but some designers have opted for using dramatic colors like blacks
  • If you want a timeless backsplash you should consider current trends with a grain of salt
  • Most importantly go with something you will love because you don’t get to change a kitchen backsplash often!

So, you want to redo your kitchen. The process of a kitchen renovation project can seem daunting but if you take the right steps and do the right research you will come out the other side with a fabulous new kitchen that you absolutely love! Let’s take on the journey together and go through the proper steps to get you to the kitchen of your dreams.

The first question we have to answer is: When renovating a kitchen what are the first steps that need to be done?

Before you do anything else you should first make sure if you want to change just a few things or if you want to completely change everything. Sometimes something as simple as just changing the backsplash tile or paint color can really make your kitchen look brand new. This would also be much more cost effective compared to ripping everything out and starting fresh. 

Once you have figured out what your goal for the project is then you can officially start brainstorming what kind of look you want to go for. 

Some popular options people gravitate to when redoing a kitchen is what kind of tile or mosaic will look the best and continue to be in style for years to come. One of the hottest trends of the last decade has been subway tile in the kitchen. The subway tile look first became popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Just about everyone was adding this as their backsplash and making everything subway in their homes. Subway tile continued to maintain its popularity for many years after that and still continues to show up today. 

A question many people have been asking: Is Subway tile still in style in 2022? 

The kitchen tends to be the focal point of the home. Kitchen’s are no longer just used for cooking, this has now become an area where guests are entertained and a main hang out spot in the home. This is a main reason more homes are built with a more open layout where the kitchen is no longer a separate room but now part of the living room. This is why choosing a beautiful kitchen backsplash is so important. Since kitchens have become such a main focal point more and more people are paying close attention to the design and look of the kitchen. Choosing the right tiles for your kitchen can really be what elevates your space to the next level. 

According to our research subway tile is still going strong as a kitchen tile choice. The classic white subway backsplash is timeless and won’t be seeing a drop in popularity any time soon. Many people are choosing to spruce up the classic look by adding a contrasting grout color to make the white tiles pop more. You can choose anything from a bright look like a blue subway tile to make a statement or something of a more earthy, natural tone like white or beige. Needless to say we don't see these tiles going out of style for many years to come. These tiles tend to be timeless and offer an effortless look!

Although subway tiles have been popular for so many years, the subway that you find today is not the same as the tiles of the past. Subway tiles have evolved, there are endless colors to choose from today, so many different textures available, and so many different patterns and sizes you can go with. Some of the most popular sizes include but are not limited to 3x6, 3x9, and 3x12. The popular subway look of the past tended to be smooth and cream colored while today white is the most popular with some texture added. These tiles are also hand glazed to perfection and this is another big selling point of their popularity. Hand finished tiles have an artisanal feel to them so they don’t form a uniform look but that is what the charm is about them.

One of our favorite subway tile looks is from the gorgeous Iris collection. The Iris blanco subway look is a classic play on white subway tiles and helps to make a kitchen shine. This collection also offers many other colors like blue, gray, beige, and black. If you want to make the subway tile look a little more unique you can even mix and match different colors together such as white and blue or black and white to create a contrasting look. This will help to elevate the room and give it interest while creating a beautiful focal point. 

Here is one way you can create that contrasting look. In this picture we mixed together Iris Blanco and Iris Negro. White and black tiles mixed together has been an ongoing trend for some time now. Many people began doing cool flooring looks with these colors but they can also be used as a backsplash to highlight your kitchen. These trends won’t be going away any time soon so if you love this classic look then there should be no fear of wondering if it will continue to be in style in the future. This iconic look isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

If you prefer to go a different route then you may be wondering to yourself “How do I choose a kitchen backsplash?” There are a lot of factors that can play into choosing the right backsplash for your specific needs. You need to take into account your surrounding colors. Do you have light or dark countertops? What colors are your walls? What color is the floor? 

Once you first figure out what kind of colors will look best with your surroundings is where the fun part begins! If you have a smaller sized kitchen then looking into lighter backsplashes will help to expand the room and make your kitchen feel more bright and spacious. If your kitchen is on the larger side you have more leeway and can choose darker colors as well. 

After figuring out the color you want to go for you need to figure out if you want to do a ceramic backsplash, porcelain backsplash, or marble backsplash. Each of these three materials have their own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look into the pro’s and cons of each. 

Let’s start by looking at ceramic tiles

Choosing a ceramic backsplash such as the Iris ceramic subway tile collection stated above can definitely have its benefits. Ceramic tiles tend to be much more affordable compared to porcelain and marble. Ceramic tiles are also very durable and versatile. These kinds of tiles are one of the most durable you can get in the market and can often last many years and still maintain great condition. Ceramic tiles also often require less maintenance than the other two options. There is no specific care that is needed for ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles are often also hand glazed which makes them have a beautiful texture and creates a unique appearance. They are not completely uniform which gives them a certain charm. These textures and colors that ceramic tiles come in is a big reason why they are such a popular choice. They give off an artisanal feel that makes the home feel more homey and comfortable. 

Ceramic tiles also tend to be very fire resistant which is a very important factor when choosing which tiles you want to use. When it comes to kitchen backsplash there is a lot of chance of heat and spills hitting the backsplash so choosing good tiles that won't get damaged during that kind of daily wear and tear is an important factor to consider. Ceramic can work great for the backsplash as it's not only more affordable but it can offer such a beautiful look now that there are so many more options to choose from. 


Next up let’s look at porcelain tiles:

Porcelain tiles tend to be a bit pricier than ceramic tiles but for good reason. Porcelain is made from firing up dense clay at very high temperatures, at higher temperatures compared to ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles tend to be very resistant to wear and tear and will often look amazing for years to come. These tiles and mosaics can handle a lot of pressure and often can last more than 60 years so you are definitely getting your money's worth when you compare it to the shorter life expectancy of ceramic tiles.

Porcelain also has a very gorgeous uniform look that gives it a cohesive pattern and you are more likely to get an exact match if something is to happen and you need a few tiles or mosaics replaced. Porcelain tiles also require low maintenance which is perfect when it comes to kitchen backsplashes as a lot of mess can happen to a backsplash. Porcelain is very suitable for a high traffic area so if you choose to do your backsplash in this material then you can compliment the space by doing a porcelain flooring. This will ensure you have quality tiles for many years to come. 

Porcelain tiles are a great option when you want to use a large format or even a slab as a backsplash. This way you have very minimal to no grout lines at all and you get a very seamless look. Porcelain tiles allow for very big and interesting patterns that imitates closely to marble slabs which tends to be much more pricey and harder to work with if you're trying to use a slab as a backsplash. Porcelain slabs are a very appropriate replacement for a slab backsplash. The seamless look requires less maintenance and you will have less to worry about if the grout lines get dirty from all the wear and tear that goes on in a kitchen during everyday use. 

Finally let’s take a look at some gorgeous: Marble Tiles


Marble tends to be one of the most popular flooring and backsplash options you can go for. This natural material has a certain beauty to it that can be hard to match. There are many benefits to choosing marble tiles. For starters marble is a gorgeous material, there are so many variations of this natural stone that you will have endless options to choose from. You can choose a pretty light blue marble like Blue Celeste or a white marble such as Thassos white, or black such as Nero Marquina

Choosing marble tiles over porcelain and ceramic may also help to increase the resale value of your home. Marble when used for a backsplash is also a very durable option while also being heat resistant. The backsplash area of a kitchen often deals with a lot of wear and tear with daily living. Marble can be a bit more of an investment as marble waterjet mosaics and tiles can be a bit pricer than some porcelain or ceramic but as your home's value will increase from using marble tiles it really can be a great choice. 

As marble is a natural material these tiles, mosaics, waterjets, whatever it may be will always be a timeless look. Marble will always be the same so it will never have a point where it will go out of style. Unlike porcelain or ceramic or other man made material which can often succumb to the trends of that time period, marble will never reach that point. You can consider marble like you would consider a timeless piece of jewelry from your great grandmother. Although it may not be what is the current trend of today, you can still appreciate the beauty of it. This is what makes marble have the highest resale value compared to porcelain or ceramic. No matter what this material will always look stunning and give a high class, luxurious feeling to the home. 



After you have made up your mind on what color and what material you want to use you may be wondering to yourself: What size tile is best for a kitchen backsplash?

When it comes to what size you should choose for your kitchen backsplash there is no right or wrong answer. You can choose the classic 3x6 size for a timeless look or you can choose a larger format tile to do the job. Either way this tends to be one of the biggest subjects we talk about with customers at our New Jersey Showroom. A majority of people believe that a bigger space needs bigger tiles and that a smaller space needs smaller tiles. This is not true, the size of your tiles or mosaics that you use for your kitchen backsplash only come into play when you are working with other elements in the home. These elements can include things such as color theme, how light or dark the room is, what kind of ambiance you want, what kind of architecture or style you are trying to achieve, or what kind of use the kitchen will be getting.

Is this a kitchen where you will be doing a lot of cooking or not at all? Will you be entertaining a lot in your kitchen or not much? When I am speaking to clients about the choices available to them I always make sure to ask these questions to help them narrow down their choices and help them choose a tile or mosaic that is both beautiful and practical for their needs. 

To give a better explanation of the process of helping clients choose what tiles to go for I will give some examples of my personal experiences. 

One customer came to buy a backsplash for their tiny kitchen. Their space was open to the sitting area/living room so you had a clear view of the kitchen in the background. Guests would have a clear view of the kitchen so it was important that the kitchen looked good. As this kitchen was on the smaller side they wanted to use a light colored tile in a small sized format. They were limiting their choices to 4x4, 6x6, or 3x6. The thought process was that since their backsplash area in the kitchen was small then the obvious choice would be to have small tiles to fit the space. 

At the same time the customer did not want to deal with many grout lines and the maintenance it takes to keep them clean and in tip top shape. She also wanted to create some drama so that the kitchen looked enticing and could be a statement piece from the living room. She wanted the space to look luxurious and expensive all while being easy to maintain. In the end the customer ended up choosing a large format Nero Marquina tile and added some lights beneath their cabinets to create the drama she wanted. The dark backsplash along with the lights created the moody and luxurious feel that she was looking for. Because she ended up choosing a larger format tile for the backsplash there were almost no grout lines so the maintenance was much simpler. 

There was another customer who came in and had a mid sized kitchen, not too big and not too small. They had already remodeled the kitchen recently so the cabinets and kitchen countertop were brand new. They had white cabinets with a white carrara marble countertop. Their kitchen also had an open layout that allowed for entertaining guests. The customer was set on a white subway tile look. Their house was newer and was located in an upscale neighborhood. In the end they ended up choosing a beautiful marble waterjet tile to go behind the stone area. The waterjet they chose was the Gentle net waterjet with calacatta and brass. This waterjet created the luxury feel they were going for while still matching with the white cabinets and white carrara marble countertop. What drew them to this waterjet tile was the touch of brass, it adds just enough contrast and really draws the eyes in to create a beautifully unique and high end look. 

A question a lot of people tend to have when they are looking for what backsplash to choose is: Should my backsplash be lighter or darker than the countertop?

We always get questions about tile color and if there is a rule for backsplash color. There are really no rules and no one can tell you if darker or lighter is better. I always tell my customers to familiarize themselves with new kitchen designs and designer magazines and look through architectural resources before heading into a kitchen remodeling project. Kitchen and bathroom remodeling have so many elements involved. Not only in terms of construction but also in terms of aesthetic and interior design. This is why it is important for everyone to familiarize themselves with kitchen trends, new tile designs, popular tile choices, kitchen design layouts…etc. A simple way would be to look across the internet on sites such as pinterest and create a look book. You can find elements that you love in interior design. 

This process will help you learn about your personal preferences and will speed up and improve your shopping experience. When you step into a tile store and are faced with hundreds of options of marble tiles, waterjet mosaics, and porcelains in various formats and shades, not knowing what you like or specifically what you don't like, it makes it difficult to choose your backsplash tile. Interior decorating and selection of tiles is no easy feat. Once you have a lookbook or collection of ideas you like then you will automatically know if your desired look will be achieved by choosing a contrasted kitchen backsplash or not. 

Some of the most popular tiles and mosaics in 2022 are still white and lighter colored tiles. Some good tile examples that are currently trending are the white iris matte, white iris polished, iris in light blue or beige, white carrara tiles, arabescato tiles, dolomite tiles and mosaics, calacatta marble tiles and thassos tiles. 

But along the white trend we started to see a lot of designer kitchens with dramatic blacks using nero marquina mosaics or brass accented mosaics like peak waterjet, gentle net waterjet, diamond waterjet, etc.

Black is coming back really strong, especially as an accent tile option. I personally think that one reason is because in the past few years most designs have gravitated into simpler sophisticated options and now people want to accentuate their individuality by using a luxury tile like the fan waterjet with black jade and brass to create a special focal point and make their space unique. I truly think the rise of demand for unique tiles like waterjet mosaics stems from pure desire of showing uniqueness in design. 

It can be overwhelming deciding between all the options that have been presented to you. Some of you may just want to cut to the chase and figure out the answer to the age old question: What is a timeless kitchen backsplash design?

The answer to this question lies in how functional, beautiful, durable a kitchen is. This is a question that we deal with often in our New Jersey tile store. A kitchen renovation, like any renovation, can be very time consuming and expensive. Unlike other rooms in a home it is often the kitchen that ends up being the most expensive and time consuming room. Kitchens and sometimes bathrooms have a lot more technical and design elements that need to be dealt with during a renovation. The cost of a kitchen renovation tends to be much higher because the cabinets, appliances, plumbing, and electrical tend to be much more complicated and involved than other rooms of the house. 

This is why the importance of ‘timeless’ always lies in the design, decor, and functionality in a kitchen. Here in this post we are only tackling the backsplash portion of the renovation process, we will leave the other areas such as layout, floor plan, etc. for another blog post. 

When you want to choose a timeless backsplash you should consider trends with a grain of salt. You can look through ideas, pictures, and pinterest posts but you should also think about how often, who, and how the kitchen will be used. How much maintenance are you willing to do? What is your budget? What style elements are appropriate for your kitchen? 

All these elements can be more or less important on a case by case basis. To offer an example, I had a customer come in who had a very limited budget for a small kitchen because she had already spent a lot of money on her kitchen cabinet installation and her kitchen countertop which was a gorgeous calacatta marble. She had also splurged on new appliances. When she came in to choose her backsplash she was dead set on a plain white ceramic subway tile because she had spent nearly her entire budget already. Her kitchen had an open floor plan and she used it for entertainment purposes but never cooked in it. 

All things considered she ended up choosing a marble mosaic with mother of pearl. The chevron waterjet mosaic with MOP worked perfect for her even though it was the more expensive option. The reason for this was that she did not need too much SF for the job. She needed only 20SF of material for her backsplash design and regardless of what material she chose she would have to pay the same amount for it to get installed. The price difference in tiles wasn’t considerable for her and she realized that she would not change her back splash design for a very long time. This made her decide to use a tile that she really fell in love with as she would be looking at it everyday for a very long time. 

So remember that the installation is not paint and the cost of the tile is not the major item in the total budget of a renovation project. At the same time a cheap backsplash can make an expensive kitchen look bad. The back splash tiles are always the last items in a kitchen design but one of the most important in the overall look. You won’t need big quantities of material for a back splash and you can’t change them as easily as you can paint so choose carefully!

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