A kitchen backsplash is both functional and decorative. Typically, a backsplash is made of a durable, easy-to-clean material, such as tile, stone or metal. Some manufacturers incorporate a short backsplash into the counter top. There are two primary reasons for a backsplash: to make cleaning kitchen messes easier and to hide the uneven wall space between the back of the counter and the wall.
The main reason backsplashes are installed near cooking and sink areas is for easy cleanup of splatters. When items are washed in a sink, it is common to fling small drops of soap and dirt around the sink area in the process. Cooking produces a lot of splatter because of over-boiling or frying foods. If the wall is left untreated with a waterproof finish, it will quickly become filthy and begin to deteriorate.
Backsplash at the Stove
The most critical area for a backsplash is behind the cook top. The cook top requires a ventilation system to move moisture and smoke out of the home. Cooking will cause food to be splattered on the wall behind the cook top. This is why you often see more substantial backsplashes over and behind the range or cook top. The backsplash in this area should extend from the cook top to the ventilation hood and the full width of the cook top area.
Long counter top areas may receive very little splatter. A backsplash in these areas can be minimal if the wall covering is a durable semi-gloss paint, washable wallpaper or similar material. The primary reason for a mid-counter backsplash is because of the unevenness of most walls. In many homes the walls are crooked enough, due to construction defects, to create a visible gap along the back of the counter that is too large for caulk. If your counter and walls are very straight, you may not need a backsplash in these areas.
Sinks are a lot more messy than most people realize. If you have ever had a bathroom sink with a 4-inch high backsplash topped with a mirror, you become immediately aware that brushing your teeth leaves speckles on the mirror, as well as on the faucet, backsplash and counter. Washing your hands and face is equally messy. In both cases it is a good idea to use a backsplash behind sinks so that it is easier to clean the area.
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