Ceramic tiles have always been popular for kitchen walls as they can withstand liquids and food debris can be wiped off them. They are usually put around the sink area and along worktop runs, between the worktop and the wall cupboards.
The range of tiles on the market is just enormous and there are hundreds of colours, styles and patterns available to suit every kitchen design going. They can be found in DIY stores and specialist tiles shops as well as bought mail order or online.
Tiles to Suit Every Kitchen Design
Ceramic glazed tiles are the norm as they are hardwearing and resistant to water, but almost any tile can be used in this way. It’s perhaps best to steer clear of unglazed tiles though as water can soak into them, leading to cracks and other damage over time.
Other finishes have come to the forefront in recent years as manufactures get creative. Stainless steel and chrome tiles are made of metal with a backing of foam or MDF and look fantastic in a modern setting. Being highly reflective they will show up any parts of the wall that aren’t completely flat though, so they are probably not the best choice for a period property.
There’s nothing to stop tiles being used all over the wall but that’s not particularly common as they are relatively more expensive than paint or wallpaper. This has led to the term ‘splashback’ being used to describe tiles used just in the key areas to protect walls from splashing or flying food. Now the splashback has emerged from the shadows of the tile and is a kitchen design feature in its own right.
Splashbacks for Clean Modern Lines
Splashbacks tend to be in one piece, so that there aren’t any joins that trap dirt, and can be made from many different materials. Laminate, granite, mirrors and acrylics have all been used for splashbacks but glass and stainless steel are the most common.
Glass splashbacks can be frosted or painted in one colour to match your kitchen design, but if you have the nerve, you can get some amazing hand painted artist splashbacks. Stainless steel looks very sleek in the right setting and can come in a variety of brushed finishes but it does show almost every mark so make sure you enjoy polishing before going for it.
There is a variety of splashback called ‘upstands’ which are a continuation of the worktop rather than a different material. This can look just right in a modern kitchen, particularly with granite, but beware if your property is old. If the walls are uneven you will end up with gaps at the top of the upstand or splashback that will be quite noticeable and tricky to fill. This is one of the real advantages of tiles, the fact that they will stick to an undulating surface and make it look flatter than it really is.
Splashbacks on a Budget
If you do fancy the clean lines of a splashback and don’t have the budget for a fancy glass one, cut a piece of MDF to the right size and paint it with three or four coats of a high gloss paint. Follow up with another three or four coats, this time of a clear lacquer and there you have it, modern style at less than half the price.