When you consider that a bathroom backsplash is 75% aesthetic, 25% practical, this becomes a very real question. Let's address the practical side first. In boring, practical terms, a backsplash protects water-vulnerable drywall against splashes from the sink. It also bridges the gap between countertop and wall.
But in terms of looks, backsplashes carry a lot of weight. Even though you need little more than a 2" simple tile backsplash, it's much more fun to experiment with backsplashes that extend higher up the wall and which employ more attractive materials--tempered glass, ceramic mosaic, glass mosaic, stone, and more.
About the Pictured Bathroom BacksplashThis is 12" x 12" marble tile, easily available at any home improvement store, with a marble border at top.
- Tile: The very least you need is your standard 4" tile cut in half and installed with cut side down, and then caulked. Or simply buy tile of this right size.
- "Like Materials": If your bathroom counter is laminate, solid-surface, or granite, chances are good that the installation company will offer to install a backsplash of the same materials. While this will be nothing exciting, it will certainly get the job done.
- How High? How Wide?: Before you start going crazy with that mosaic bathroom backsplash, consider where you will stop it. Horizontally, the walls are a natural stopping point. Vertically, you will need to purchase a material specifically designed as a stopping point. With tile, for example, the top will need to be bullnose tile, a border, listello, etc.
- Do You Really Need One?: Yes. While it is possible to live without a bathroom backsplash, consider what will happen the first time water pools up behind the faucet. Where will it go? It will back up against your wall. And while interior latex paint does a great job at protecting against ambient moisture, it is not designed to hold up against pooled water.