Selecting a Splashback for your Kitchen Sink


Splashbacks are immensely practical features that we need to consider when we plan any kitchen area. These are the wall surfaces behind sinks and any areas where we use taps, where the water literally splashes against the wall. This is why they are so important.

When you go about selecting a splashback for your kitchen sink you need to consider what it looks like and how efficient it is going to be. Any well thought out designer kitchen will prove that these practical areas can look good too. But if you aren’t employing a professional designer to work it out for you, how do you go about selecting a splashback for your kitchen sink?

Options for a Kitchen Splashback

If you think logically about what type of surfaces will work as a splashback you will see that they should be, quite simply, easy to clean and waterproof, or at least highly water resistant.

Tiles quickly make their way to the top of the list of suitable options. After all they have been developed specifically for wet areas within various areas both in homes and industrial areas. They are commonly used for bathrooms and kitchens, specifically behind kitchen sinks and bathroom basins, as well as around baths and any other places where water will be likely to splash or where condensation will have an effect.

Lots of people use tiles for more than just splashbacks, particularly in bathrooms, because they work so well in areas where there is water and high levels of humidity.

Mosaics are similar to tiles because they are also laid onto the surface of the wall using a suitable adhesive. Mosaics, of course, are like teensy weensy tiles and they have a different effect to tiles visually, but a similar effect when it comes to splashback areas. You don’t lay each mosaic tile individually (which would be incredibly difficult), rather they are supplied in sheets that you lay in sections.

Another less popular option is to simply paint the splashback area with a surface that will cope with water and dampness. If you go for this option, you need to be absolutely certain that the surface you are going to create will do what you think it can do. If paint can’t dispel water and stop it from seeping into the very body of the wall then it is definitely not a good option for splashback areas. But don’t despair there are some paint products that will provide a surface that is both water resistant and easy to scrub. Check the manufacturer’s instructions or, better still, contact the leading manufacturers directly and ask them for advice – or check their web sites.

Timber paneling is another possibility that relatively few people consider, simply because they think that wood will deteriorate from contact with water. But if you consider that some of our strongest houses are built from timber, you will realize that timber is not a bad option for a splashback. The secret is that you do need to seal it properly. If you don’t, it will deteriorate and rot. Use several coats of a good quality sealer or varnish, or even a two-part polyurethane product.

If you take timber paneling a step further, to polyurethane, you will see that you can make timber that much more waterproof, so don’t leave this idea out of your equation. And it isn’t difficult to do, so don’t forget to add this option to all the others when it comes to selecting a splashback for your kitchen sink.

One other possibility is to use a thin slab of polished marble ore granite bolted to the wall behind the sink. It is an expensive option and one that not many people consider.

Deciding where the Splashback area should be:

The decision of where exactly a splashback area should be established depends on the design of your kitchen. Whilst there is no doubt that the splashback area (defined by tiling or some other material) should be around areas you know will get wet. But there is also a good argument that just about any other area close to the sink should also be tiled, just as in most bathrooms. There is also no reason why the entire kitchen shouldn’t be tiled or wood paneled, perhaps to a dado level rather than right to the ceiling.

Certainly if there is more than one sink in your kitchen, for example a wash-up area and a preparation bowl, possibly also a laundry sink, it might look a lot better to use the chosen splashback material over a larger area than just behind the sinks. Visually it will have the effect of pulling the whole room together.

If cost appears to be a factor putting you off, think about it logically. Since most kitchens have some sort of built-in units or cupboards around the perimeter, tiling would only start at counter height, and often end at the base of wall-hung units. So this approach wouldn’t therefore add much to costs. In fact the average kitchen has a relatively small wall area that has to be considered. So look at every possible option before you make a decision.

What to do if you can’t have a splashback:

With the ever-increasing popularity of centre islands, there are often instances when it is not possible to have a splashback at all. If this is the case, consider the surface of your island unit carefully to make sure that it is particularly hard wearing and easy to both clean and dry. Without a doubt tiles are the most sensible option, or possibly another material like marble or granite, although these are undoubtedly the most expensive choice. Don’t get too hung up about matching this surface to counter tops elsewhere in the kitchen. Of course you can, but you can also make your island unit a feature that stands out on its own.

Or you could plumb your sink into a hefty island-style wooden butcher’s block, Robert Carrier style. One of the greatest British chefs and restaurateurs of the 1970s and 1980s, and author of a profuse number of recipe books, this was the approach he took in his own private kitchen. Or you could simply top the island unit with thick timber that can be scrubbed clean.

Often sinks are positioned right next to a window, and there isn’t a splashback area here either. If there is, it’s unlikely to accommodate more than a single row of tiles. In this instance you can add instant glamour and a unique charm by laying a row of handmade or hand painted ceramic tiles. Alternatively go in search of some old Victorian tiles; no-one will ever suspect you’re selecting a splashback for your kitchen sink!

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