Above the benchtop and underneath the overhead cabinets is an area of exposed wall which needs to have a surface finish which is easily cleaned using standard non toxic household cleaners. The surface needs to be non flammable if behind a gas cooktop and add to the aesthetic character of the look and feel of the kitchen. The splashback needs to also be resistant to water. The splashback is usually extended around the full length of the kitchen benchtop against the wall. This completes the uniform look of the kitchen or laundry. The splashback can be fitted under and around a window.
A number of the splashback choices are outlined here with an indicative cost to guide your choice.
This is the cheapest option and is done at the same time and colour as the rest of the kitchen walls. To save money the walls can be left as painted room walls above the benchtop in the non wet areas of the kitchen while doing a minimal spalshback in another material only in the areas behind the cooktop and the sink area. A small upstand on the benchtop of between 100-200mm can be fitted and then paint the wall above it. The cost of the upstand on the benchtop will cost around $50-$100/lineal metre on to of the cost of the benchtop. The wall preparation and painting will just cost a litre of paint at say $30 plus the labour.
A simple and effective solution if the wall is smooth and flat. In this case the laminate is glued to the wall with contact adhesive before the cabinets are installed so as to avoid having to align the laminate between benchtop and upper cabinets. Where the wall is not flat or smooth the laminate sheet can be glued to 6mm villaboard or fibre cement board or MDF board and then fixed to the wall with liquid nails. The laminate can be the same pattern and colour as the benchtop or a contrasting colour. It makes a completely water resistant ,wear resistant attractive surface which will cost $250-$350 for a sheet of laminate which will give 7.2m of splashback 600mm high .This will cover most kitchen splashbacks.
This is the traditional method of tiling the splashback. This is now mostly done for appearance to recreate the traditional style. The problem with tiling is that the grout line in between the tiles absorbs the oil and grease in the kitchen and can get mouldy, giving a dirty or blackish appearance. Apart from not being terribly hygienic it has become quite costly once you have bought the tiles and hired the tiler. It will cost somewhere between $200-$300 per square metre.
Seratone panels are a 5mm thick oil tempered fibreboard with a multi layered polyurethane coating in plain and metallic finishes. The Seratone has a smooth and glass like finish which is easily cleaned . The panels can be easily cut and there is a range of jointing and end capping options to be used to finish off the installation, or the panels can be used with a matching silicone sealant. It is not a wet area product for use in shower recesses but is a perfect solution for splashbacks in kitchens and laundries. A sheet is 2700 x 1200mm and can be cut into 5.4m of 600mm high splashback for approx $550 and glued to a clean wall with liquid nails or equivalent adhesives.The effect is a clean and slick appearance just like glass. The similar aquatile product has a tiled appearance having the pattern of tiles pressed in slightly into the face of the panel.
This is an expensive solution but very effective when the benchtop and the splashback are in the same colour and material. It gives the visual effect of a much deeper benchtop when viewed from a distance. It is easily cleaned, no grout lines as with tiles but costs about $600-700 per metre 600mm high installed.
Glass spashbacks have become increasingly popular. The glass is painted at the back with a colour and the glass is then glued to the wall. The electrical plug points are be cut out before installation. This is a product that needs to be installed by the professionals. The glass comes in a float glass which tints any colour painted behind the glass a greenish tinge. This costs about $550 per square metre. The Starphire glass is a completely colourless glass which shows the true colour of the paint through the glass and this costs around $650 per square metre installed. Cutouts cost extra. The look is a very clean and slick appearance and easy to clean, just like a window.
Since the last article 2 new splashback alternatives have been launched in the market which are self installation friendly.
Magic mirror in bronze or silver has become popular. Magic mirror is a toughened mirror suitable for a splashback. It adds size to a small space especially a galley where the reflected view is not too busy, for example at the bottom of a U shaped kitchen in a 4 walled room. It is much better to have a one wall or view reflection. It costs the same as a glass starphire splashback. It does not suit every kitchen but in the right kitchen it can do wonders for the feeling of space.