To Backsplash Or Not To Backsplash?

I’ve done a lot of work on my kitchen over the last 6-months. The most noticeable improvements being that I stained the oak cabinets a rich, java brown, and upgraded the laminate countertops to a white acrylic, but despite having completed those two ambitious projects, there’s still one thing lingering on our minds: Do we need to have a backsplash?

Finished kitchen without a backsplash.

I can’t decide whether a backsplash is essential in a kitchen, because these days I don’t see many kitchens that aren’t fit with a backsplash as either an extension of the countertop, or as a tiled wall surface. Is there something aesthetically missing from my current kitchen (shown above), or would you just tell me that the tomato sauce is going to stain my white walls?

I suppose I’m writing about it here hoping to hash it out with other home improvement enthusiasts. Is a backsplash necessary from a functional standpoint? Or will a well-sealed countertop edge and a coat of semi-gloss paint that wipes clean easily suffice?

As I argue with myself relentlessly, I also take the time to investigate other options that I could do myself, and this photo gallery really has me thinking. What’s your take on the idea of a backsplash? If you have any inspiring photos or have seen inspired backsplash projects, please post links in the comments, I will be looking for good ideas!

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

17 Responses

  1. Gabrielle says:

    I have been wondering the same thing, but I have found lots of examples of kitchens without them. Your stove has it's own "backsplash" built in (so does mine), which I think is somewhat key. My mother has tile behind her stove and she hates it – she says that after 10 years the grout is ruined and it is impossible to keep looking nice. As long as your walls are not painted with a flat paint (which IS hard to clean – even the "scrubbable" ones), and you are prompt about wiping up splashes at the back of the sink, I think you will be OK. And if your walls start to look grungy – just give them another coat of paint – a lot cheaper than my mother's problem to deal with! I really like the clean lines of your kitchen sans backsplash – stick to it!

  2. Jen says:

    That's a gorgeous kitchen! A backsplash is a personal preference but, full disclosure, I work for a backsplash products manufacturer called ACP. We sell Fasade faux tin backsplash and Aspect peel and stick metal and glass tiles. The Fasade products are available in traditional, contemporary and industrial styles and apply easily so they're very DIY-friendly. The best part is you can easily wipe off splatters and food mess from them with just a damp cloth. Our Aspect tiles also require no grout, which is hard to keep clean. You can find our budget-friendly products at backsplashideas.com

  3. dave says:

    We are in the process of remodeling our shore condo. Because the kitchen is contiguous with the living and dining rooms, we don't want to break up the flow with a tile backsplash. The granite we installed is magnificent and just floats above the counters. No lip either! Gonna give it a try. We can always backsplash later if it doesn't work out. Just can't add another layer of texture and color that a backsplash would involve.

  4. Laura says:

    I don't understand why grease and tomato sauce won't ruin the grout between tiles. A good washable paint will be easier to keep clean, and you can change the color easily. Do be careful to wipe up water spills from over the sink, though. My paint peeled at the bottom edge when water drips ran down the wall and sat on the top of the 4" backsplash there.

  5. freethetwins says:

    The pegboard will be impossible to keep clean. Grease and dust will get in every one of those little holes over time. I like really straight, clean lines, so I'm biased in that regard and love your kitchen just the way it is.

  6. Brenda says:

    I took think your kitchen looks fine without a backsplash. Having a different texture/color for a backsplash can break up your wall visually and make the space look smaller depending on your layout style .

    My husband and I are going to be embarking on our kitchen reno in the coming months. We have a rather small kitchen and for this reason, decided not to have a back splash or have any back splash lip on our soapstone counter top. The idea is to create a white on white look that is bright, airy and open and let our appliances, stainless steel 4×4 backdrop in the range area, soapstone counter and hardware be our contrast. We will however be putting a wall treatment in the form of vertical beadboard to draw the eye up and make the room taller. We will be using an oil-based paint on the beadboard which will make it easy to keep clean.

    Of the ideas in the link you posted Emily, I really like the pegboard idea which is very practical!

  7. mark says:

    I think your kitchen design/style looks good without a backsplash. I would leave it the way it is.

  8. Deb says:

    I guess it would be personal choice. If your walls are in good shape and they have been painted with a good paint that is cleanable, then leave them. I have also seen backsplashes that would be almost impossible to keep clean, stone for instance.
    It's your kitchen, have fun with it.

  9. Michelle says:

    My (rental) kitchen doesn't have much of a backsplash (2 inches of tile) and semi-gloss walls, and I've never had any trouble with wiping away tomato sauce (or the time most of a jar of tumeric heavy marinade exploded all over the kitchen). I just wipe the wall down whenever I wipe down the counters (although its a small kitchen and there is only one small wall to wipe down).

    I vote no backsplash because I like the clean look, or keep it minimal and white

  10. george mcfarland says:

    A back splash makes it easier to clean rather then paint.

  11. george mcfarland says:

    A back splash makes it easier to clean rather then paint.

  12. Staci says:

    Wiping away stray tomato sauce is easy, but I would point out those "invisible" bits of stray oil from cooking that you won't notice until dust has started to cling to them, making the area look particularly nasty. Oh, is that just me? Anyway, a backsplash would be way easier to clean. It doesn't have to be the standard tiled area that you see on so many blogs–try picturing pressed tin or something subtly colorful?

  13. Sara says:

    I don't think that you really need a back splash…it's about personal taste. If your walls are in decent condition and you can get away with only painting (and you like it that way), then why not? I just pulled down my dark maroon laminate back splash a couple of weeks ago, revealing varying layers of horrible 80's/90's wall paper and finally a nasty salmon-colored paint. I'm going to put something else up in its place though because the wall is not in good enough shape to just paint and call it close enough!

  14. [...] In a second very important post on DIY Network, I ask, to backsplash or not to backsplash? That is the question. Help me out. If you like it, share [...]

  15. Moodyvega says:

    The question is if you should have a back splash in the kitchen. Answer is Yes! From simply just frying eggs and bacon, you will mess up the wall. Take my advice and either put tile or formica back splash.

    • merrypad says:

      You can't just wipe it clean promptly? Or is it a heat or humidity thing?

    • Nyna says:

      I definitly beleve that a back splash not only helps with messes from cooking, preping, or just simplly washing dishes. It also makes the kitchen look much nicer if u give that little poof of splash, nice back
      splash makes a great kitchen. So i agree a back splash is nessacary for alot of reasons!!!!

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About Emily Fazio 

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I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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