What are kitchen splashbacks?

Wall tiles have always been the prime choice of anyone who wants to protect their kitchen walls from everyday splashes of grease or other stainable substances right until the ‘90’s. But there’s a downside in using tiles on your kitchen wall – it can be pretty difficult to clean (not to mention time consuming), & over time, there definitely will be a discolouration to the grout. This downside paved the way for the modern splashback (also known as “backsplash” in the US), which was a smoother, stylish & easy-to-clean alternative to protect the kitchen walls.

What is the purpose of using a splashback?

While providing protection from heat & condensation, a kitchen splashback is a wipe-clean screen which is installed on top of your kitchen walls to protect the wall from splashes of grease, water or other kind of stainable substances.

Essentially installed behind hobs & sinks, splashbacks have become quintessential to have in the kitchen. At the same time, it can also be a great upgrade behind any kind of worksurfaces, including benchtops, whether for aesthetic or functional purpose.

Apart from being one of the most practical additions in the kitchen design, there are many options for a splashback that make a statement on their own & bring a look of class to the kitchen, over any wall tile.

What makes a good splashback?

The below are the qualities that you should watch out for when selecting a good splashback material for your kitchen:

 Makes a statement on its own – The purpose of the splashback, while being functional, should also uplift the appearance of the kitchen

 Resistance to heat & moisture – Resistance to heat & moisture is the most basic functional purpose of a kitchen splashback

 Easy to clean – A good splashback should be easy to wipe clean with water or other basic detergent, without having to scrub nor use special cleaning liquids

With these criteria that makes a good splashback, let’s explore a few options that are available to you to upgrade your kitchen with a refreshing look!

Going with the “oldies” – Using tiles as a splashback

Tiles are some of the most versatile options in any kind of interior decoration & is a traditional favourite. With an unlimited choice in terms of colours & sizes, the tile initially seems like a great choice as a splashback. Tiles are generally durable since they are made of porcelain, & depending on your taste, you can choose to go with a clean metro tile in a single colour, or go for a daring multi-colour pattern. With the wide array of colours, sizes, & age- old confidence it gives, what are the drawbacks in using tiles as a splashback?

The most obvious would be that it’s not exactly the newest revelation in splashbacks – tiles have been there as a splashback option since a long time, & it’s not exactly going to be the talk of the party. Apart from this, installation of tiles can take some time to both apply & dry, & if a poor job is done, then it’ll result in lose or cracked tiles. Finally, tiles are not the most durable among the options available for a splashback.

Going with the “glossy” – Using glass as a splashback

If you’re looking for a little more flair than traditional tiles, then tempered glass panels offer a more modern option that has made a mark as a good splashback. Glass is usually easy to clean, reflects natural light to bring a bright effect to your kitchen, while maintaining it’s colour. There are limited design options, though, unless you choose to go with a custom glass mosaic, resulting in a drastic increase in labour costs.

While using tempered glass can be a very enticing option, there are a few drawbacks too. The most obvious is that it’s easily damaged, especially during installation. Another would be if you like to select from a variety of options in terms of colours or designs, you’ll find yourself restricted due to limited colour & design options. Also, installation of tempered glass isn’t exactly a DIY option & it’s highly recommended to use a professional installer for the job.

Going with the “steely” look – Using stainless steel as a splashback

This is an option for those who love to have the look of an “industrial” kitchen. A stainless- steel splashback will give a modern look to your splashback at a good price, & can even be considered as a DIY project if it’s familiar grounds for you. You even have the option to order a standard size sheet that is as thin as 1 mm, or pay a little more for a little extra thickness to match your wall tile. Another thing is that stainless-steel is easy to clean & scrub, it won’t crack, & can be installed over existing tiles or paint with a good adhesive.

However, all these features don’t come without a sacrifice. Stainless-steel, at the end of the day, can be dented, can be scratched, & the industrial design can definitely become outdated over time, not to mention it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If damaged, it’ll cost more for re-installation, not to mention it may also damage the integrity of the tile/surface beneath.

Going with the “reflecting” option – Using mirror as a splashback

While not being everyone’s cup of tea, if looking at a glittering chandelier brings a smile to your face, then installing a mirrored splashback will be exactly what you’re looking for. It can be a stunning feature to have in your kitchen, & makes a smaller kitchen feel larger since it reflects a duplicate of your clean counters or worktops. This option is, however, a luxury option, since a mirror will have to be cut to custom size & professionally installed. Also, mirrors are the most susceptible to break during transportation or installation which would require a complete replacement, so it’s important to select toughened glass mirrors to be on the safe side, which will also have a hit on your wallet.

Using mirror as a splashback, then, has a few drawbacks that we saw in steel in a different form – while steel can get scratched or dented, mirror can not only scratch, but crack! Talk about 7 years of bad luck! It’s also among the most expensive option (without even replacing the cracked mirrors), & installing mirror is definitely a job for a professional.

Going with the “cheap” option – Using peel & stick tiles as a splashback

Is this your very first kitchen, or are you installing a splashback on a rental unit? Then a peel & stick tile will be another good option, since you can add a splashback within no time, on your own, & for a cheaper price. Peal & stick tiles are just printed vinyl, but come in various designs that look like mosaic tiles.

These peel & stick tiles will last a few years before fading if the wall is properly prepared. Peel & stick tiles are also scrubbable, & provide a finished look to your kitchen in an instant.

The best feature, however, would be that when you want to change the look of your splashback, you can easily switch it up with something new.

However, anything cheap comes at a price. The look & feel both can feel like a vinyl applique at the end of the day, & the colours do tend to fade, especially in a very busy kitchen. Peel & stick tiles are also very prone to basic damages like scratching & tearing.

Going with the “lazy” option – Using paint as a splashback

Based on your preferences & requirements, you can also choose to get a small can of paint at the general store to cover up the stains of kitchen use in a few hours on your own. You can simply apply another coat if you can’t get any new stains out of the paint. If you look for a high gloss/high-quality paint, then it’ll make it easier to clean as well.

However, being lazy in your choice of a splashback comes with its own complications. Firstly, you can’t really scrub out hardcore stains from paint, & paint has a way of holding on to grease & dirt than any other splashback material, so get ready to stare at grime &stains in a few months of kitchen use. Also, paint used as a splashback, has the least professional appearance among all the options, & will certainly not give a statement. Finally, repeatedly applying coats of paint on your stained splashback is not exactly a practical approach, & defeats the whole purpose of a splashback in the first place.

Going with the “sensible” option – Using flexible stone veneers as a splashback

Let’s look at an option that managed to overcome nearly all of the drawbacks we discussed in this article in other material used for splashbacks.

Sketch Australia’s 100% natural flexible stone veneers are extracted from metaphoric stone, resulting in a stone surface of 100% natural stone. This stone sheet is attached to a backfill material, which could be either fabric, fibreglass or translucent, by an adhesive, to form a flexible stone sheet. The final product is a lightweight & flexible 100% natural stone sheet, with a thickness of 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm & weighing only 1 kilo per sheet. Extracted from metaphoric stone, the surface of the stone sheet carries the same properties of natural stone – durability as well as water & heat resistance. The combination of the backfill material as well as the impressive thin profile not only ensures flexibility, but the light-weight nature of the stone panel also ensures more manoeuvrability during installation & better layout options through allowing easy cutting & trimming to fit any design.

Flexible stone veneers are much more durable than using traditional tiles, peel & stick tiles, stainless-steel or even glass, since it’s made of stone. Seriously – how easy is it to crack a natural stone?! Only stone slabs are more resistant to damage than stone veneers, but come at a drastic cost. Unlike mirror, glass or steel, flexible stone veneers are easy to install on your own, & need very few equipment, most of which you’d already find in your tool shed. It also gives a great vintage look to your kitchen, while not compromising on the durability. Flexible stone veneers are also a fashion statement, & in this sense, it’s definitely unmatched by the cheaper options like paint, peel & stick tiles, or even traditional tiles. With good maintenance, you can be sure that flexible stone veneers last a lifetime.

Food for thought…

Depending on your expectations, you may decide to go ahead with flexible stone veneer as your splashback, or any of the others listed here – but the correct choice will save you costs of replacements, repairs, while also being a timeless classic in your kitchen which you can install on your own. Choose wisely – after all, you do deserve the best!

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