Iwona Danika. Kitchen Backsplashes. May 05th , 2017.
One of the many great kitchen debates involves backsplashes. Just as they do when considering cabinets, countertops, paint colors and flooring, homeowners care about factors such as cost, maintenance and resale value when they’re shopping for a new design. Glass mosaics and natural stones — such as travertine, marble, soapstone, granite and quartz — are two options that get the lion’s share of attention, so we decided to lay the pros and cons on the table. Use this head-to-head showdown to choose the winner for your kitchen space.
The Case for Natural Stone
1. It has universal appeal. If you’re remodeling with future resale in mind, a natural stone backsplash should be at the top of your list. Not only are travertine and marble — to name two — timeless, but they’re also well-liked, which gives them top-notch staying power. They will appeal to a large buying audience, whether you’re selling in five, 10 or 15 years.
2. No two stone backsplashes are the same. The beauty of natural stone is that it won’t ever look exactly like your neighbor’s. Variation is an inherent property of stone, even within two pieces of the same color. All of the veins and swirls will belong uniquely to your kitchen. If you’re looking for something to call your own, go with natural stone.
3. It doesn’t cost a fortune. Natural stone is budget-friendly. Travertine, for example, comes in many forms (subway tile, 4 by 4, mosaic), all relatively affordable. Most styles will run between $4 and $8 per square foot (not including installation). That’s a bargain in the world of backsplashes.
The Case Against Natural Stone
1. It’s harder to clean. This isn’t to say stone is necessarily hard to clean. It just requires a little more elbow grease than a glass mosaic does. The pits and grooves make it more challenging to wipe down, especially because dirt and scum can get caught in between.
You also have to be selective with your cleaning products. Natural stone can discolor when exposed to certain chemicals. Warm water or a special stone cleaner will usually do the trick, but always check manufacturer guidelines before you bust out your cleaning supplies.
2. It isn’t water- or stain-friendly. Stones are naturally porous. They tend to absorb stains and water, both of which run rampant in kitchens. It’s important to seal your stone every couple of years to protect against grease and grime. Even then, some stains will be hard to remove. Some homeowners just don’t have the time or patience for this added maintenance. Devoted cooks might want a backsplash that’s better equipped against staining.
3. It can have too much variation. Natural stone is unpredictable. There’s a good chance your backsplash installation will look a tad different from the sample piece you saw at your local retailer. Variation usually isn’t a problem, and most homeowners choose natural stone for a diversified look. But sometimes you’ll notice colors and patterns that you don’t really care for — and you have to either live with them or start from scratch.
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