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Everything You Need to Know About Kitchen Backsplashes

May 30, 2019
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The kitchen is one of the most hardworking places in the home, which is why planning out the space will go a long way in increasing its efficiency.

That said, countertops and cabinetry are always in the spotlight (which is understandable given that these installations should match design and lifestyle needs) but a kitchen backsplash should not be glossed over. Today, we answer all your pressing questions about it.

Telok Blangah Street 31 by The Local INN.terior
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Interior Firm: The Local INN.terior


1. What is a backsplash and why is there a need for one?

The backsplash is a vertical panel installed behind your work stations (i.e. your sinks and cookers). It usually covers the area of the wall between countertop and cabinets but can be extended as high as the ceiling.

Sembawang Close by Voila
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Interior Firm: Voila

As a space that sees loads of spills, grease splatter and is quite humid, kitchen walls can become quite damaged over time. The backsplash is meant to protect them from deterioration and ease maintenance efforts but has recently become an added focal point for homes.

Eunos Crescent by Fuse Concept
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Interior Firm: Fuse Concept

2. When should backsplashes be installed?

As a general rule of thumb, backsplashes should be installed after your countertop is fixed up (especially in the case of granite and solid surfaces). The reason being that there’s a need to grout (where applicable), seal and caulk to really prevent water from seeping into any hairline cracks and causing mould growth.

Petir Road by Tid Plus Design
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Interior Firm: Tid Plus Design

3. What are the different types of backsplash materials plus their pros and cons?

Some materials used for backsplashes include tempered glass, tiles, laminates, KompacPlus, quartz and stainless steel.

Tempered Glass

Jansen 8 by DSOD Interior
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Interior Firm: DSOD Interior

ProsCons
  • Strong, durable, easy to clean, harder and less likely to scratch.
  • Heat resistant.
  • Breaks safely, crumbling into small granular chunks instead of jagged shards.
  • Comes in a variety of styles thanks to technology advancements – back-painted, mirrored, screen-printed, inlaid with fabric. It can even mimic marble/natural stone effects (without the unique veining) and vintage mirrors with a faded patina.
  • Installation can be tricky – building around power sockets may cause the glass panels to have break lines, which makes it less seamless and can trap dust.
  • If the kitchen countertop is busy, the reflective surface creates an illusion of an even more chaotic space.
  • Changes after installation is not easy – once glass is tempered it cannot be further cut or processed.

Tiles

Buangkok Tropica by The Interior Lab
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Interior Firm: The Interior Lab

ProsCons
  • Versatile, non-porous, easy to install plus maintain, resistant to scratches and heat.
  • Loads of styles to choose from from design to finish (i.e. mermaid scale, Peranakan, time-worn styles with realistic patina, matte or glossy) and can be mixed and matched to create new looks.
  • Relatively good price points.
  • Homogenous, some are even self-cleaning or have anti-bacterial properties.
  • Additional grout lines, which adds to style factor.
  • Less of a streamlined look.
  • The smaller your tiles, the larger the grout surface which means more maintenance is needed.
  • Practicality and lifestyle should be prioritised: White subway tiles with white grouting should not be used if the kitchen is a busy space.

Laminates

The Ambrosia by Para.graph
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Interior Firm: Para.graph

ProsCons
  • Affordable, hardy, non-porous, easy to clean and water resistant.
  • Offers a seamless look.
  • Comes in numerous colours and finishes.
  • Designed to emulate real wood/stone and can feel realistic thanks to textural printing.
  • Not suitable for use with gas stoves as it is not heat resistant.
  • Prolonged contact with hot cookware will cause it to chip and melt.
  • Prone to scratches, especially from sharp objects.

KompacPlus

kitchen backsplashes
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Source: KompacPlus

ProsCons
  • Pocket-friendly, durable and holds shape well.
  • Scratch-, fire-resistant and waterproof.
  • Simple to install plus matching panels for your countertop that can be mounted over existing finishes without hacking for a polished look.
  • Multipurpose: Can also be installed on floors, walls and furniture.
  • Designs are a little limited.
  • Not entirely heat resistant, direct application of hot cookware may cause it to discolour.
  • Joint lines may show.

Quartz

La Casa by Diva's Interior Design
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Interior Firm: Diva's Interior Design

ProsCons
  • Non-porous, can be cleaned with warm soap water and is one of the more forgiving materials.
  • No discolouration despite exposure to sunlight or high temperature cookware.
  • Comes in large panels, which results in less visible seams.
  • Wide range of colours.
  • Can be expensive.
  • Requires a professional to come in for installation.

Stainless Steel

Telok Blangah Heights by KDOT
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Interior Firm: KDOT

ProsCons
  • Affordable, heat-resistant, hard-wearing and easy to clean, just wipe with warm water and cloth.
  • Can be fixed to your wall directly with glue or screws.
  • Good option for industrial homes.
  • May dent over time.
  • Not scratch-resistant.
  • Tough to keep pristine as it is prone to discolouration.

4. Are there any styling tips on matching the backsplash to the rest of the kitchen?

Assuming that you have found your overall style, you should start pinning some ideas and picking your colours. Consider the size of your kitchen when doing this – lighter colours can visually widen the space.

Admiralty Drive by DISTINCTidENTITY
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Interior Firm: DISTINCTidENTITY

While dark colours can make the kitchen feel warmer.

Cantonment Close by The Scientist
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Interior Firm: The Scientist

After narrowing down your choices, order samples or head down to showrooms to see them in person.

Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 by NID Design Group
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Interior Firm: NID Design Group

Consider your countertop and cabinet colours before you settle on one. There’s also a more updated trend where people match and repeat patterns in other areas of the kitchen such as the floor or peninsula.

Yishun Ring Road by Style Living Interior
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Interior Firm: Style Living Interior

Depending on your home’s overall palette, you can use your backsplash to juxtapose for a standout look.

5. Which material is the easiest to clean and maintain?

All these surfaces are easy to care for if you use the appropriate cleaning methods like wiping down with warm water. Tiles may require additional effort (take brick-like replicates for instance) but wiping it down daily with a non-acidic wash should also stop scum from building up. Tip: Pay attention to the pH value of your cleaners.

Yishun Street 81 by Krif Kristen Design
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Interior Firm: Krif Kristen Design

6. Additional cleaning tips for tile grout

Grout is porous in nature and, therefore, is more prone to staining. There are two ways to overcome the deterioration: Seal it (only the grout) or decrease the amount of visible grout by installing larger tiles.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1 by Artmuse Interior
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Interior Firm: Artmuse Interior

To give it a real good scrub, you can use a mild cleaning solution or grout cleaner. We recommend testing both on a small hidden patch first to make sure there are no adverse effects after cleaning.

Special thanks to the professionals at Synergraphic, Hafary and Para.graph for their insights.


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