So you have a brand new kitchen and countertops and yes, you have spent some good money. The installation is going well and the tops are now in! The kitchen looks great, but the bare wall behind the cabinet is definitely missing something. If you want that rich built-in custom look of completion, you need to do something with that backsplash!
A kitchen without a backsplash is like a tuxedo without a cummerbund! Truthfully, even if you are a minimalist, the perception of quality is going to be much greater with a backsplash treatment than just a painted wall over whatever typical 4” backsplash comes with your top.
What does a backsplash do? Primarily it prevents moisture from penetrating the wall behind your countertops. Whether you are cooking and cleaning after a meal or washing in the bathroom, all of these areas have the potential to become wet through normal use. Behind the sink, stove and prep areas in a kitchen it is more than just cosmetics to have an area that can be cleaned and that remains sanitary. Painted walls are difficult to clean.
So, what are the options? The first thing you want to consider is what will look best in your kitchen. Here are some ideas:
Tile is the most common type of backsplash. There are a variety of tiles and accents and an even greater variety of colors, sheens and textures.
Another option is paneling. Not the paneling that you had in your den in the 1970’s but the paneling your cabinet manufacturer has for the back of islands. This can make a great backsplash with a minimal installation time.
Bead board can look good in traditional kitchens and bathrooms since in some older forms of construction it was actually used for finished walls.
Tin is an option with many patterns, colors and patinas. It can be fabricated in sheets or tiles and stamped for interesting designs.
One option that can have a stunning result is a granite, solid surface or quarts backsplash. This is an expensive option because it requires a second template after installation but has a very substantial and monolithic look.
If templating and cutting a backsplash is too expensive and you are working with granite, there is another way to get that look. You can often buy tiles cut from the same granite color (be careful of this because even the same color of granite can vary from quarry to quarry) with a micro-beveled edge.
These are a few ideas for backsplashes that will give your kitchen a much more finished look at a variety of price points. There are always creative options and there are limitations and preparations to consider in each of the options above.
If you want a quality look you also have other considerations. Among them:
What to do with electrical devices, leaving the typical 4” backsplash or bringing the backsplash treatment all the way to the counter top, terminating the treatment and making the transition from one surface to another, and a long list of conditions that can occur. Of course, every situation will be different and require a decision process. The results are worth the effort! The point is, if you want that highly finished look a backsplash treatment can give you the most bang for the buck!