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Sunday, April 18, 2010

KITCHENS | BACKSPLASH MATERIALS


A Kitchen backsplash is a vertical extension to a kitchen counter which protects the wall from unintended splashes of water, oil and food. It also prevents spilled liquids from leaking behind the kitchen cabinets. 

A distinctive backsplash can also help a kitchen look great as it gives  the room a finished quality.






A backsplash should be made of an easy-to-clean material, such as tiles, granite, Corian, Silestone, stainless steel, etc. As a rule, though, the same material used to make the counter is also used to make the backsplash.

KITCHEN BACKSPLASH OPTIONS:

While selecting a backsplash it is important to match it with the permanent fixtures in your kitchen, but not the appliances, since they will change over time. The most popular materials for kitchen backsplashes are ceramic or porcelain tiles, natural stone, glass, stainless steel or metal tiles. As an Architect I have recommended the 10 best materials for kitchen backsplashes along with their advantages and disadvantages, so that you can decide what you want when you do up your kitchen.

1. CERAMIC TILES:
  Ceramic tiles are undoubtedly the most versatile backsplash material by virtue of their sheer variety in colour, texture, shape, and size. I suggest that you keep it simple by choosing the same tile for your kitchen backsplash as you've chosen for the floor - but in a smaller size. You can have custom painted tiles to match any theme or design, just to add that dash of colour.
Advantages:
  • Budget-minded homeowners find ceramic tiles, considerably more affordable;
  • Glazed tiles are tough, durable, and easy to wipe off;
  • Wide variety of patterns, textures and designs available;
  • For that exclusive look, you can opt for specially hand-painted tiles;
  • When a kitchen mishap chips or breaks a tile or two, it's much easier and cheaper to replace the affected tiles than it would be for a slab of granite.
Disadvantages:
  • Too many joints and grout in a ceramic backsplash, which  trap grease and dirt.
  • Ceramic tiles are not as smooth as steel or glass.
  • Since every single tile is hand-set, it is more labour-intensive and the final appearance depends on the skill of the layer.
  • Unglazed, porous tile in areas near the sink or stove absorb liquids and grime and are impossible to clean.
2.  STAINLESS STEEL:  Stainless steel backsplash which was preferred for long in restaurant kitchens is becoming popular in home kitchens because it can give your kitchen a modern streamlined look and is able to blend in well with stainless steel kitchen appliances like the stove, refrigerator, taps and dishwasher. Also it is sanitary.

Advantages:
  • It is resistant to stains and corrosion;
  • It is non-porous, waterproof and easy-to-clean;
  • It is durable and is highly heat resistant;
  • It is crack resistant;
  • Stainless steel is flexible which enables it to be installed in all kinds of unique spaces.
  • It is easy to install and is generally installed as one solid piece;
  • It does not have grouts or joints which trap food, grease, dirt;
  • It adds to the appearance of the kitchen by giving it a sleek and modern look;
  • Stainless gently reflects light, which creates the illusion of a larger kitchen space;
  • These sheets come in a variety of finishes, including quilted, non-directional, checkerboard, and a variety of diagonal designs.
Disadvantages:
  • It often shows scratches;
  • It can be dented;
  • It can be quite noisy if not stabilized properly with a strong backing;
  • Food, grease and fingerprints all show very clearly, necessitating continual cleaning.
3.  METAL TILES:  Kitchens feature many metals besides steel -- brass, copper, pewter, tin, and aluminum, to name a few. So metal backsplash is a good choice, especially because it is non-porous, water-proof and  reflective. However before you go in for  a long-term investment, think about the inherent advantages and disadvantages of the metals.
Advantages:
  • Brass and copper cast a nice glow;
  • Antique embossed tin looks great;
  • They are non-porous;
  • They are durable and waterproof;
  • Metals gently reflect light, which creates the illusion of a larger kitchen space.
Disadvantages:
  • Quite a chore to keep them clean;
  • All metal backsplashes except stainless steel, are high-maintenance;
  • They often shows scratches;
  • They can be dented;
  • They can be quite noisy if not stabilized properly with a strong backing;
  • Food, grease and fingerprints all show very clearly, necessitating continual cleaning.
4.  GLASS BLOCKS:  A very recent backsplash option that has garnered a lot of interest from designers and home owners is Glass blocks or solid-glass-sheet backsplashes. These are usually part of an exterior wall and let in natural light. Just like conventional windows, glassblock units must be set into adequately framed openings with load-bearing headers.

Advantages:
  • In modern kitchens, it offers a sleek backdrop to the counters, cabinets and appliances;
  • It looks good in contrast with stainless steel;
  • It lets in a lot of light;
  • It brings the outdoors inside.
Disadvantages:
  • It is more difficult to assemble and if the workmanship is not neat, it can spoil the interiors;
  • It is expensive to use glass or acrylic block since it requires framing and lintels.
5.  GLASS TILES:  A new design trend in kitchen backsplashes is glass which can add beauty to a kitchen and make it appear brighter. Textured glass tiles, frosted glass, back-painted glass, coloured glass are some of the  options availablet. The panels may be glued to the wall or mounted with brackets. With clear and translucent panels it's especially important to ensure that no unsightly debris finds its way between the glass and the wall.
 Glass tiles on the backsplash alternate between glossy and etched.
Advantages:
  • Glass tiles are not porous, so they resist mold, mildew and staining.
  • Glass reflects light, so they make the area look brighter and larger.
  • Glass tiles are more eco-friendly as it takes half the energy to produce a glass tile compared to a ceramic tile. You can also find glass tiles made of recycled glass;
  • A glass backsplash is also non-flammable;
  • Clear glass can be used to protect walls made of materials that should be protected from moisture and food splatters, e.g. antique bricks, vintage wood, or delicate wallpaper.
Disadvantages:
  • Glass tiles are more expensive than ceramic.
  • They can scratch, and the scratches may show.
  • Glass tiles are difficult to cut;
  • Glass can break and is unsuitable if there are young children.
6.  GRANITE:  Inspite of the cost, Granite is becoming popular for kitchen backsplashes along with countertops, because of its advantages.
Advantages:
  • It's diamond-like hardness; 
  • It is impervious to extreme heat, ultraviolet light, acids and abrasions. 
  • It adds elegance to a kitchen.
  • It is easy to clean and maintain.
  • It retains its shine and actually shines more with repated cleaning.
 Disadvantages:
  • It is the only stone that has virtually no drawbacks, except that it is somewhat porous and requires annual or frequent maintenance with a penetrating sealer to deter stains.
7.  MARBLE: Like Granite, Marble also adds elegance to a kitchen, and is quite popular as a kitchen backsplash. However it is not used much for kitchen countertops because it stains and is porous.

Advantages: 
  • It gives a luxurious touch to the kitchen;
  • Since it is available in a wide range of lighter shades, it makes the kitchen look brighter.
  • It is easy to clean.
  • With repeted cleaning, it shines and sparkles.
 Disadvantages:
  • It is soft and porous, requiring regular waxing and sealing. 
  • It takes stains like turmeric;
  • It is not very heat resistant;
  • It gets discoloured when exposed to citric acids (lime and lemon juices).
  • While not ideal as countertop material, it is fine for backsplashes if not located near a heat source,
8.  ENGINEERED STONE: with 94% quartz and 6% high-performance polymers is suitable for a wide range of domestic, commercial and industrial applications.,
Advantages:
  • Engineered stone is extremely durable and resistant to fractures and any kind of damage. If taken care of properly, an engineered stone backsplash can last for decades.
  • It is more flexible and easier to install, handle, and maintain. 
  • An engineered stone backsplash is resistant to scratches from pointed objects like stainless steel knives, mugs, ceramic pots, etc. 
  • Engineered stone can resist heat from hot surfaces like plates and pots.
  • An engineered stone backsplash is easy to maintain and clean. 
  • Its non-porous surface makes its high-polished luster last for years. Because of the non-porous surface, it does not harbor the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria and can also resist stains caused by oil, wine, acids, soda, and common household cleaning products. 
  • Unlike granite, it does not need sealing. 
  • Engineered stone has a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from. Some patterns imitate the real thing, while others come in pastel colors.
Disadvantages:
  • An engineered stone backsplash does not look natural in terms of color, pattern variations, aesthetic beauty.
  • Because an engineered stone countertop is usually by the slab, the seams can be visible. 
9.  SLATE:Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that is derived from sediments of clay and fine silt. Being unique in appearance, its assured that no two countertops will be the same. Also, the character and permanence of slate allows it to fit into either a traditional design or a modern kitchen scheme.
Advantages:
  • Slate is durable and strong.
  • Slate has low-porosity and hence has a low absorption rate.
  • It does not take stains.
  • It is heat resistant. 
  • A slate backsplash is easy to install and almost maintenance free, once in place. 
  • Slate is usually available in earthy tones such as greys, reds, and greens.
Disadvantages:
  • The colours are generally light to dark gray with red, green, and purple stones mixed in. Many people feel restricted by the colour choice.
  • Slate is heavy like other stones and so requires special tools and materials for installation.
10.  SOAPSTONE: Soapstone is a metamorphosed stone that feels "soapy". It is ideal for a backsplash  because of it's advantages:
Advantages: 
  • Just like granite and marble, soapstone is durable and does not crack easily. 
  • Soapstone does not stain easily and does not discolor when acidic substances like wine and vinegar are accidentally spilled on it. 
  • Soapstone is an excellent retainer of heat - The heat is evenly distributed throughout the surface.
  • It is non-porous and smooth.
  • Soapstone comes in various colors and textures that gives you the freedom to choose the style you want.
 Disadvantages:
  • Because it is made of natural materials, soapstone backsplash requires scheduled maintenance.
  • Soapstone needs to be coated with mineral oil several times a year to prevent discoloration and cracking.
  • Soapstone backsplash may be difficult to replace if there are damages or cracks on the surface. Since each slab has its own unique pattern and shade, it may be a bit difficult to find a slab that would match the ones on the countertop.
  • Soapstone can scratch, so while it isn’t commonly used for countertops, it can make a lovely backsplash.
  • Similarly, regular limestone has limited countertop use, but may be considered for backsplashes.
Now that you have read about the advantages and disadvantages of the different backsplash materials, it becomes easier for you to finalise the material,  that best suits your house. Read about the best Kitchen Countertop materials, here:




2 comments:

  1. Hi Minu,
    I read your article on backsplashes on House Construction India. I am planning to have a stainless steel backsplash. Where can I buy the custom sized sheet here in Bangalore.
    Please guide me.

    Thanks,
    Shweta Chandore

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Minu,
    You have shared some useful information on your site. Need your inputs and suggestions. I have gone through the options that you have shared for the Kitchen backsplash
    I have been looking for Brushes steel Backsplash or Transparent glass ( lusrolite ) kind of option for my kitchen .Is it possible for you to share information on where to get the materials for Brushed steel backsplash and who has the expertise to deal with it . I am having a color combination similar to this link for the steel backsplash
    Or
    The transparent backsplash option
    Your valuable inputs are much appreciated on who does this job and costing if possible.
    Thanks in advance
    Regds Muni

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. Will get back to you soon.