Backsplash Tile That Appeals To The Masses

13 Replies

This is a classic case of trying to separate personal tastes from what gives a kitchen the most "Pop!" and help sell a house fastest and for top dollar.  Nothing appeals to everyone, however among the following, my wife and I have a strong preference over the personal  'yuck' factor in of the other.  We are starting to partner with other investors on projects, so the topic of finish comes to the table from time to time. 

Most of our flips are in the slightly sub-median range, although I am about ready to start on a second that will be north of median for the Louisville area.  For the sub-median houses, we feel that a backsplash is a relatively inexpensive add that makes the finished product stand out in the neighborhood.  So, without further ado, and in no particular order please tell me which of the two have the widest appeal and pop based on your recent flips, leaving personal preference out as much as possible...

  • 3x6" White Subway
  • Glass / Stone Mosiac

Thanks!

-Kurt

@Kurt G. I put pretty 3x6 white subway with raised “panel” surface in my most recent flip and they sell 1 SF ready to tile sheets of plain 2x4 subway for about $2 psf on mesh. I think it’s cheap and effective. Some people may like the glass more per se, but do they like it 3x more? Probably not. At $6-8psf for the mesh.... My mother in law got the glass mosaic and it has some travertine like tumbled stone in it that’s pretty. After she spent so much, she was annoyed when I pointed out the flaws in the installation first time I saw it. (Some pieces not perfectly level / parallel with the row above when there was no mesh.)

Subway tile is very trendy and fail safe, but not my personal choice to use. I think if the kitchen pieces works with each other then it doesn't mater what it is.  ie tile goes with the counters and the cabinets.  Whites, grays, neturals are safe bets. You are always better to get tile on a mesh sheet.  It comes down to how much "wow" factor you are after.   This is one area would I would spend money on because the kitchen will not be remodeled anytime soon.  

Here is a link to Home Depot using their backsplash tile category.  I would stay away from the pebble rocks, based on looks.  I would stay at or under the $10 - 15 per sq ft for tile.  

https://www.homedepot.com/b/Flooring-Tile-Tile-Backsplashes/Wall/N-5yc1vZbcszZ1z0jipv?Nao=24&Ns=None&storeSelection=3202,3201,3203,3206,2109

Stay away from 3d type tiles.  Way to hard to clean food and dust off of. example:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/MSI-Alaska-Gray-Splitface-12-in-x-12-in-x-10mm-Marble-Mesh-Mounted-Mosaic-Tile-ALGRY-SFIL10MM/206741880

Too busy

https://www.homedepot.com/p/MSI-Magica-12-in-x-12-in-x-6mm-Glass-and-Stone-Mesh-Mounted-Mosaic-Tile-SGLS-MAG6MM/206741857

Very uniform and neutral, adds design fare.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/MSI-Honeycomb-Hexagon-12-in-x-12-in-x-10mm-Natural-Marble-Mesh-Mounted-Mosaic-Floor-and-Wall-Tile-HONCOM-2HEX/205307895

I've been favoring porcelain "slate" 6x6 laid running bond like bricks. Less tiles to lay than 3x6 subways. It's actually the same tiles as the accents in the floor.  I think it was about $3.20/ft from Lowes.

@Johann Jells - I’m about to rip up a 100% slate tile entry way (10x15) in my foyer and replace it with hardwood. Do you think slate is in? It was original to this 1980 house.

Originally posted by @Natalie Schanne :

@Johann Jells - I’m about to rip up a 100% slate tile entry way (10x15) in my foyer and replace it with hardwood. Do you think slate is in? It was original to this 1980 house.

 I'm the last person to ask what's "in"!  I try for timeless old fashioned looks in my century old buildings, mid tone wood cabs (last in shaker), B&W subway tile baths. Personally, I'd have to have a real good reason to rip up a functional stone floor. Is this a rental or flip?

@Johann Jells - live in flip. (Buying for 247 as foreclosure, neighbor just sold for $380). Definitely a functional stone floor. Just dated. Maybe I should leave it and have the contractor spend money elsewhere. I was trying to get that same flooring look throughout the first floor which is currently slate entry, carpet rooms, lineoleum kitchen 

In the past I used a 3x6 tumbled marble with a glass mosaic band in the middle. This went well with tan/beige. On my latest I went with 3x6 subway tile. I didn't, but you could add a band of mosaic to add some color. I like simple and nuetral for a flip.

Originally posted by @Brian Pulaski :

In the past I used a 3x6 tumbled marble with a glass mosaic band in the middle. This went well with tan/beige. On my latest I went with 3x6 subway tile. I didn't, but you could add a band of mosaic to add some color. I like simple and nuetral for a flip.

 I'd never put porous stone in a rental. I've seen too much stained marble and light colored granite. That's why I like the porcelain "slate".

I use the white subway but accent it with the mosaics (cut into strips of 2 or 3 rows) to break up the white.
Originally posted by @Johann Jells :
Originally posted by @Brian Pulaski:

In the past I used a 3x6 tumbled marble with a glass mosaic band in the middle. This went well with tan/beige. On my latest I went with 3x6 subway tile. I didn't, but you could add a band of mosaic to add some color. I like simple and nuetral for a flip.

 I'd never put porous stone in a rental. I've seen too much stained marble and light colored granite. That's why I like the porcelain "slate".

I don't rehab rentals so I imagine different finishes may go in for different exits. Personally I had the same tumbled marble in my last primary home. We sealed it every 6 months or so and never had any staining or issues. I could see whyfor a rental this could be a bad idea though. White subway is probably the best neutral, cheap, easy backsplash tile.

@Kurt G. You kind of answered your own question. Where do subway and glass/stone mosaic intersect? Anything on a mesh sheet that is white and not standard 3x6 subway. In The Last 24 months I Have seen white in a tiny arabesque pattern on a kitchen backsplash in a 800k spec home. In my rentals I go for a custom look and have travertine (dated?) and glass (also dated?) installed years ago, but prospective tenants just have to be okay with my choices. The best flips, imo, are not just okay. They are trendy with classic good taste...buyers pay top dollar for someone doing it all for them in the best way possible. Subway tile is safe but not as interesting as white glass subway or the arabesque shape in the exact same white ceramic material. A recent survey 45% say they see their homes as reflecting themselves and 55% say homes as an investment...so maybe white subway after all. I think most want both. I am not a flipper, just drinking coffee and joining in the discussion.

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