Wall surfaces in kitchens can cop quite a beating. Clouds of steam, splashes of water, hot fat, sauces, and cake mixtures are just some examples of what the average kitchen wall area may have to endure in its lifetime. If there are any painted wall areas in your kitchen, be sure to use a good-quality paint which is steam-resistant and durable enough for repeated cleaning. The wall area above kitchen cabinets is usually treated as the splashback area and protected by your choice of practical finish.
Wall tiling is a popular choice for splashback areas. There is a huge array of tile sizes, colours, and patterns available to choose from. The easiest to clean are larger wall tiles where the use of grout is minimised, however mosaic tiles also remain very fashionable and subway tiles are often used to create the right vintage atmosphere in retro-style kitchens. For a more timeless look, go for neutral-coloured tiles, or tiles with a stainless steel or glass finish, and use accessories for bolder patterns or brighter colour accents. Unless you can afford to update your kitchen finishes every few years, try to avoid using tiles with the kind of dominant patterns or pronounced colours which are likely to date quickly or might fail to appeal to the broader market should your home be re-sold in future.
Using one sheet of toughened glass is ideal for a kitchen splashback as there are no crevices to clean. The entire surface is extremely hygienic and the appearance is uncluttered and sleek. Toughened glass is available in the natural glass colour, which is a pale blue-ish green, and you can also choose from a huge range of designer colours from bright ultra-white, right through the entire colour spectrum to black. You can afford to be bold with a glass splashback colour – red is very popular at the moment, for example, and also bright turquoise – and it doesn’t cost too much to change your accent colour if you’d like a whole new look for your kitchen at some point down the track.
Selecting toughened glass with a mirror finish for your splashback can add light and a real sense of spaciousness to the kitchen, particularly when there is no window in the kitchen area. Mirrored splashbacks can be regular silver-coloured for the brightest, most faithful reflection, or smoked or bronzed for a more subtle effect. The down side to using mirrored glass in the kitchen is the need for frequent cleaning. Every drop of splashed water will dry into an unsightly watermark (same as with bathroom shaving cabinets, for example). There are after-care products available to reduce the effects of steam on glass and reduce the incidence of splash-marks caused by water.
The idea of having a window as a splashback is relatively new and certainly growing in popularity thanks to TV shows like The Block, Selling Houses Australia, and Grand Designs. The window may be low and horizontal, plain or frosted glass, double glazed, or even made of glass bricks.
Stainless steel is a very durable and hygienic material for kitchen splashbacks, which is why commercial kitchens use this material for surfaces extensively. Although stainless steel is relatively costly, it is long-lasting, easy to clean, and can be cut from sheets to produce a continuous finish.
Like glass and stainless steel, melamine can provide a seamless surface for your splashback. Melamine is very lightweight and easy to handle, so cutting holes for power points is no problem. The surface is tremendously easy to clean, and the huge choice of colours makes it easy to coordinate your splashback with cabinets, door and drawer facings, and benchtops.