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An outdoor kitchen makes grilling out easy and convenient, and it’s a great place for entertaining during the warm months. An outdoor kitchen can be as simple or as elaborate as your heart desires and your budget allows. A well designed outdoor kitchen is a cohesive part of your outdoor living space.

Your backyard kitchen will need a backsplash, which is just one of the many design decisions you’ll need to make. Here, we look at the best materials for your outdoor kitchen backsplash and what you’ll need to consider when doing a DIY installation.

Ceramic, Porcelain, or Glass Tiles

Cabot Glass Mosaic – Crystalized Glass Blend Series / SKU: 10098058

Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles are durable, waterproof materials ideal for an outdoor kitchen backsplash. These tiles come in an endless variety of colors, sizes, shapes, designs, and textures, giving you myriad options for creating the perfect backsplash. You can choose one solid color, create a checkerboard pattern with two colors, or do a mosaic-style backsplash with several different colors. No matter the décor of your outdoor kitchen, you can find tiles that suit your style.

Natural Stone Tiles

Abolos Ardesia 2 / Desert Grey

Natural stone tiles, including marble and granite, can give your outdoor kitchen an opulent feel or a rustic vibe, depending on the material you choose. Natural stone backsplashes are dramatic, and using larger tiles or slabs can reduce the number of grout lines, making them easier to clean. Natural stone tiles come in numerous types, styles, sizes, shapes, and colors.

A slate backsplash goes with any décor, from rustic to ultra-modern, and it’s durable and easy to clean. Slate is a metamorphic rock that has weak bonds between layers. Tile made from slate splits along these planes, giving it a natural, beautiful texture.

Pebbles

CNK Tile Pebble Tiles / KU: 15118423

Pebbles are all the rage right now, and the trend will likely continue. Pebble mosaics bring nature into your outdoor kitchen, creating a dynamic, eye-popping backsplash that’s durable, weatherproof, and easy to keep clean. You can use different colors of rocks to create designs, such as circles or waves, or you can use pebbles of the same color to create a monochromatic look. For the easiest installation, choose pebble mosaic sheets, which can be installed like tiles.

Brick

New or reclaimed brick gives you a classic look for your outdoor kitchen. Although using solid bricks increases durability, brick veneer is easier to install and still gives you a full-brick look. Choose from authentic brick veneers or the less-expensive synthetic brick veneers that are made from porcelain and concrete. Both are attractive, durable options, but the synthetic brick veneers are typically less expensive. If you use real bricks or real brick veneers, seal the surface with a clear polyurethane sealant for added durability and stain resistance.

Corrugated Metal Sheets

Super inexpensive and incredibly durable, corrugated galvanized steel panels give your outdoor kitchen a modern, industrial-chic look while providing durability and weather- and stain-resistance. The panels can easily be cut to size and screwed to the backing.

Stainless steel, aluminum, and other metals are available in sheets and tiles, and bring an industrial-modern vibe to your outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel and aluminum are extremely durable, and they’re surprisingly affordable, easy to install, and a breeze to clean. Stainless steel tiles can be installed with the grain alternating directions so that some tiles appear shiny and some appear matte. A checkerboard pattern designed this way offers more depth and visual interest than a single, continuous sheet of stainless steel.

Mix and Match

When it comes to your outdoor kitchen backsplash, you’re not limited to just one material. You can mix and match materials for a more dramatic look. For example, intersperse slate with glass mosaic tiles, or combine pebbles and stone tiles. Stainless steel paired with glass or slate is a gorgeous combination that makes your backsplash look like art.

Considerations for Installing Your Backsplash

Installing a backsplash is an easy DIY project if you’re the handy type. However, when installing a backsplash outside, you’ll want to do your research and use the right materials and supplies. Here are some tips for installing an outdoor backsplash.

Use appropriate backing. If your backsplash will be installed over masonry or concrete, you’re good to go. The backing for tiles and other materials needs to be solid, sturdy, and weatherproof. Cement backer board, which is used in bathroom installations, is super durable and waterproof, ensuring you won’t get any mold or mildew growing behind your tiles.

Include expansion joints. If you’re using any type of tile, including glass, ceramic, or stone, you’ll definitely need to include expansion joints in the installation. That’s because as your backsplash expands and contracts with changing weather, serious damage can occur if they haven’t been given the room to expand. Expansion joints are spaces between tiles that are filled with a flexible sealant, such as exterior moisture-resistant caulk, rather than grout. Outdoors, you’ll need expansion joints every eight to 12 inches in all directions.

Double-check the durability of your material. Some tiles work great outdoors, but others can’t cope with the freeze-thaw cycle and may crack. In particular, avoid tiles with a high water absorption rate. If it’s not clear whether a tile is appropriate for outdoor installation, check with the manufacturer.

Choose the right grout. Choosing a grout that’s made for outdoor use is essential for durability. Grout powder can be fortified with a latex additive that makes it more weather-resistant and prevents cracking during changes in temperature.

Consider glare. If you’re thinking of a highly reflective backsplash material, such as glass or shiny metal, make sure the sun won’t be creating a blinding glare while you’re cooking. Check where the sun hits your outdoor kitchen at the times of day you’ll normally be cooking outside. If it’s going to be shining on the backsplash, choose a less-reflective material.

The sky’s the limit when designing a beautiful, functional outdoor kitchen backsplash. Take a look at backsplash ideas on Pinterest for inspiration, and create a backsplash that draws the eye in and gives your kitchen a cohesive, complete look.

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Brooke Cumming

Hi I'm Brooke! A business management graduate with a passion for marketing, content and home design. Happiest while reading on a beach, practicing yoga, dancing, traveling, or drinking wine.