With so many splashbacks to choose from, deciding which one will suit your kitchen can be tough. Should you should play it safe and go for a classic option or throw caution to the wind and choose a more playful design?
What is a splashback and what does it do?
A splashback is what its name suggests – a hard, durable wall surface in the kitchen designed to be impervious to splashes of food, water or other substances from the stovetop, kitchen sink, and other high-work areas. It is usually an essential companion to the stovetop, to prevent hot food from damaging the wall behind it.
It is usually made from a hard-wearing substance, such as glazed tiles, glass, stone or metal, so it can be easily cleaned often but still maintain its good looks. And looks can be important – the splashback can end up as a main feature of the decor, depending on its size and position in the kitchen.
Here are some tips and ideas that could make the process of choosing your splashback easier.
Which splashback is best for my kitchen?
When choosing your splashback, it’s a good idea to first work out what it needs to do. Will it cope with being constantly wet, as may happen if its above the sink? Is it in a showy part of the kitchen that will need to pack extra decor punch? Is it in a gloomy corner and therefore colour choice will be important?
If it’s on the wall behind the stovetop, it may also need to comply with strict government standards, particularly if the stove is fuelled by gas. But wherever its positioned, it will probably also need to be high-heat resistant, dint/smash/chip proof and easy to clean – even to scrub when sticky substances such as toffee splutter from a bubbling pot.
When it comes to the way it looks, the good news is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, although some splashbacks could be better suited to certain types of kitchens. Glass splashbacks, for example, might look better in modern kitchens, while pressed-metal splashbacks might be more suited to kitchens in heritage properties.
Choose a colour that will match the other elements in the room if you want the splashback to blend in with the decor. To show it off, choose a contrasting colour, pattern or texture. To add artistic flair, you could even consider adding custom touches, such as getting a digital print made for display behind the glass of a splashback (as pictured above).
What tiles should I use for my splashback?
Tiles are a practical choice for a splashback, and there are a plethora of options available. Walk into a tile store and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to shapes, sizes, colours and materials.
The herringbone pattern – where rectangular tiles are laid in a zigzag formation (pictured above) – has made a big comeback in recent years and can make a bigger impact when it reaches all the way to the ceiling.
Mosaic, honeycomb, square, Moroccan and large tiles can also be used to great effect on splashbacks – it all comes down to personal preference.
Another popular choice right now is subway tiles (as shown above). This timeless kitchen splashback inspired by New York’s subway stations suits almost every kitchen. It’s chic, stylish and won’t break the bank. White tiles with a light grout will give a more tonal look but is harder to keep clean, while a darker grout will add contrast and hide discolouration, especially behind the stovetop. If you’re feeling daring, consider using turquoise or black tiles instead.
Can you use marble as a splashback?
If a luxury kitchen is what you’re after, some would say there is no going past a marble splashback.
You could match it to your marble benchtops or choose a colour that will complement or contrast with other materials in the room.
However, keep in mind that natural marble can be more porous and prone to staining than other types of stone or man-made surfaces, and it may need special coatings and care to keep it looking smart.
Manufactured stone can also be a great choice for a splashback, and the good news is that it does not have to be as thick as a slab used for a benchtop.
What if I want to make a statement with my splashback?
Coloured glass can add a point of difference to your kitchen, particularly if you’ve decided to go with neutral colours for the rest of the decor.
Or, you may wish to use clear glass to let the bones of your home shine through. Covering brick walls with a piece of toughened glass can help keep that section of the wall free of hard-to-remove food splatter and keep the bricks free from oil stains, which can prove permanent.
You might like to add some wow factor to your kitchen with a pressed metal splashback (pictured above). Traditionally used on ceilings, it’s being used more and more in the kitchen, often as a nod to a renovated home’s heritage past.
Do I even need a splashback?
There may be some cases where a typical splashback, as described above, may not even be necessary. If you’re lucky enough to be building your kitchen from scratch, you might consider using a window for your splashback. It can allow lots of natural light into the room and, with some clever landscaping, can provide a connection to the garden or some strategically placed pot plants outside.
However, keep in mind that building standards may impact on whether or not a window can be used in this way. Check with your builder or local building authority.
How much does a splashback cost?
How much it will cost to install a new splashback depends on a number of factors, including if there is an existing splashback that has to be removed, the material you wish to use for your new splashback, where it has to be installed, and if a professional has to do the work.
You may have to remove the existing wall covering before installing the new splashback. If the surface is uneven or damaged, it may need to be repaired, depending on what splashback material you intend to use.
If you need the services of a professional to do this work, trade directory website hipages estimates that it could cost between $20 and $60/sqm, depending on where you live, the size of the area, the amount of work to be done and the type of repairs necessary. There could also be a callout fee.
When it comes to installing the more common types of splashbacks, glass and tile, costs vary:
Tiles range in price from a few dollars each to hundreds of dollars per square meter, depending on what they are made out of and how they are finished. For example, hardware retail chain Bunnings’s website quotes less than $2 for a 60cm x 30cm gloss white tile (each, but sold in boxes of 8).
Trades directory website ServiceSeeking states that tilers charge on average about $60 an hour or $50/sqm, plus call out fees.
hipages estimates that it would cost about $150 for a set-sized, pre-cut toughened glass splashback measuring 700mm x 745 mm x 6mm. Bunnings quotes about $300 for one of their lowest price pre-cut 650mm x 600mm x 6mm textured glass splashbacks. Uncut, toughened glass costs between $450-$600/sqm, hipages states, and could vary according to the shape and number of cutouts (holes cut into the glass, to accommodate powerpoints, etc) needed. These prices do not include installation or delivery.
All glass needs to meet the appropriate Australian standard (AS1288), and depending on where you live, a professional may be required by law to install the glass splashback. Check with your local building authority.
If you do need a professional installer, it will most likely be a glazier, who hipages estimates could cost between $60-$80 an hour, plus a callout fee, which typically ranges from $100-$150.
Other types of splashbacks:
- $230 per square metre for laminate (compressed board covered with a coloured/patterned surface material)
- $247 per square metre for acrylic (plastic or polymer, looks like glass)
- $300 to $350 per square metre for Metaline® (fire-retardant aluminium composite covered in gloss paint)
- $330 per square metre for satin finish stainless steel sheeting
- $390 per square meter for engineered stone
Installation is in addition to those estimates.
Financing your splashback:
Options could include:
- Paying out of your own pocket – using your savings or a mortgage offset account or redraw facility, if you have one on your home loan;
- Refinancing your home loan; or
- Applying for a new loan – you may be able to use a personal loan or a construction loan, depending on your personal circumstances.
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Tonya Turner is a Brisbane-based journalist, feature writer, copywriter and editor. She has worked as a journalist at newspapers across Australia, and now writes about design, architecture, home interiors, food, the Arts and travel. She loves anything to do with creative industries and meeting the people pushing the realms of what is deemed possible, helping us imagine and understand the world differently.