Get an industrial vibe with a stainless steel backsplash. The material comes in sheets of flat steel that can be fixed directly to the wall with either glue or screws.
“You should only ever clean it using warm water and an e-cloth,” advises Conrad Hendrick of LWK Kitchens London. “Over time, the chemicals in common cleaning agents can create a buildup on the steel’s surface. This will make watermarks and fingerprints show much more prominently, leaving your stainless steel not quite so stainless.”
Pros: Stainless steel is not only affordable; it’s known for its heat-resistant and hard-wearing properties. It’s also easy to clean.
Cons: Although easy to clean, stainless steel can be difficult to keep looking pristine. It is not scratch resistant — although minor scratches enhance the look over time — and can dent.
Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Tiled backsplashes are a popular choice, as they offer versatility, practicality and style. Thanks to advances in printing technology, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be produced to resemble natural wood and stone, but with none of the associated performance challenges. The tiles are resistant to scratches, heat and water, and should be reasonably cheap and easy to install. And while they are durable, should a tile become chipped or damaged, you simply need to remove it and lay another.
Pros: While tiles are easier to clean than most other materials, and therefore lend themselves perfectly to a backsplash, this is not the only reason they are ideal for the job. “With such a range of shapes, sizes, colors and patterns now available, tiles give you the freedom to put your own creative stamp on your room without compromising on practicality,” says Robin Auld of Topps Tiles.
Cons: The sheer volume of styles and finishes can be overwhelming. “Consider exactly how the space will be used to ensure your choice works with your lifestyle,” Auld says. “While pristine white tiles and matching grout may look perfect in a modern, low-use kitchen, they are not the most practical choice for a busy family space.” Darker-colored grouts are definitely worth investigating.
For those wanting a sleek, streamlined kitchen look, glass is a popular choice, because it can be fitted in large, seamless panels. “You should always ask for tempered glass, which is harder than ordinary glass and will be far less likely to scratch,” advises Siobhan Casey of Casey & Fox. “Also ask for polished edges, so there’s less chance of scratching the surrounding furniture on installation.”
The beauty of a glass backsplash is that you can choose anything from a custom piece of artwork screen-printed and mounted on the back of the glass, to a digital image or a painted finish. “I would always recommend that a professional takes care of the painting,” Casey says. “It could be a costly mistake to attempt this yourself without the experience and knowledge of a professional.”
Pros: Strong and durable, glass is also easy to clean and install, being either screwed or glued to the wall. While glass backsplashes used to be expensive, the good news is that prices have decreased dramatically in recent years.
Cons: Make sure you choose a color you and your family are happy with. “While changing this after installation is not impossible,” Casey says, “it’s not an easy job.”
Also referred to as quartz composite, engineered stone is made of crushed quartz mixed with resin. “Look out for leading brands, such as Silestone and Caesarstone, that make their engineered stone using the lowest percentage of resin,” advises Andrew Macintosh of Andrew Macintosh Kitchens. High-performing engineered stones are heat and scratch resistant as well as extremely tough.
To keep costs under control, Macintosh suggests teaming an engineered stone backsplash with matching countertops. “If you do this, the templating and fitting charges are much lower than using a different material and supplier,” he says.
Pros: Engineered stone is durable, scratch resistant and nonporous, meaning it won’t stain. It’s easily cleaned with warm, soapy water and comes in a wide range of different colors to suit all tastes. It’s supplied in large panels, resulting in fewer or no seams on a larger wall run.
Cons: Installation of an engineered stone backsplash must be done by a specialist. “It is certainly not a DIY job,” Macintosh says.
Granite is still a favorite for backsplashes, working equally well in traditional and contemporary settings. What’s more, no two slabs of natural stone will ever look exactly the same, so you are guaranteed a unique look.
“One of the main factors that will determine the appearance of your granite backsplash is whether you opt for a honed or polished granite,” says Hendrick. “Shiny polished granite is popular for traditional and country-style kitchens. Alternatively, honed granite has a matte finish that’s much more textured yet understated, so it’s the ideal choice for a contemporary kitchen.”
If you choose honed granite, test some samples with water and oil, as certain variations of the stone can show wet marks longer.
Pros: Granite is easy to clean, very hard wearing and available in a range of different colors.
Cons: Among the costlier backsplash options, granite is porous, so it needs sealing to prevent staining.