Metallic backsplashes have been used for decades as a way to add interest and design to a kitchen. Set behind a stove or between a countertop and suspended wall cabinets, this type of backsplash is a great way to add character to your kitchen while protecting your walls from splatters.
Types of Metal Backsplashes
Metal backsplashes are available in an assortment of styles, colors and finishes. The surface of the metal can be smooth and sleek or embossed, and the material can be sold in sheets or in tiles. The metal itself may be solid, powder-coated or a glaze.
These backsplashes often feature decorative elements like fleur-de-lis, diamonds, medallions or other repeating patterns. While a plain and simple metal backsplash can serve to accentuate the look of a streamlined and modern kitchen, an ornate backsplash will add character to a Victorian or vintage style kitchen.
Sheet Metal Backsplashes
Sheet metal backsplashes are made out of various types of metal that have been punched into a design, much like the material used to create tin ceilings. It can be cut to fit the space and helps to create a seamless design.
The clean look and easy maintenance of stainless steel makes this material a popular choice for contemporary kitchens. Use tiles in different shades of metal to make a geometric pattern. With smaller tiles in different finishes and a bit of time, you can even create a modern, mosaic backsplash. If you want a really simple look, use plain, undecorated sheet metal as a backsplash. Of all the metals that can be made into a backsplash, stainless steel is the easiest to clean and you won't have to polish it.
Copper and Brass
Copper and brass are popular choices when it comes to decorating an old world style kitchen. These types of tiles are usually embossed with a decorative motif or an intricate repeating pattern. Both copper and brass will need to be polished on occasion and they are prone to rust and discoloration. If you like the look of a brass or copper backsplash but don't think you'll be able to keep them looking like new, consider a painted tin backsplash.
Tin backsplashes are available in a variety of finishes, patterns and designs. When painted with special powder-coated paint, tin can be made to look like copper, brass, pewter or gold. Like stainless steel, tin is easy to clean and maintain.
Metal Tile Backsplashes
While metal sheets are a fast and easy way to get a seamless look in the kitchen, they only come in a variety of pre-set patterns. If you want something different, such as a blend of metals or to use metal pieces as accents with ceramic or stone tiles, you need to use metal tiles.
Solid metal tiles do exist but they can be extremely heavy and very expensive. Most metal tiles sold today are accents or decorative tiles meant to be used with a field tile of a different material. A few companies, such as Rocky Mountain, do produce solid metal field tiles, but these tiles do require special adhesives that help to hold them in place while the thinset cures.
Solid aluminum tiles are also common. Make sure if you choose these that you don't use them near your stove; they have an extremely low melting point and can be damaged by everyday cooking.
Ceramic tiles with a very thin covering of metal on the front are a great alternative to solid metal tiles. These lightweight tiles install and cut exactly like ceramic tiles, but can give you the look of an all metal backsplash.
Companies like Pratt & Larson produce ceramic tiles with a metal glaze. Real copper, iron and bronze are used in the glaze to give the tiles a truly authentic metallic look. The tiles install like ceramic tiles and have the added bonus of coming in a wide variety of borders, accents, shapes and sizes.
Pressed Tin Tiles
If you like the look of tin ceilings, consider using pressed tin tiles. They adhere with nails rather than adhesive and are fairly easy to trim and install. These tiles are extremely thin and lightweight, as well as available in a wide range of colors, patterns and textures. Cut them with scissors and use multiple patterns and colors to create your own look.
Designing a Metal Backsplash
Backsplashes can be designed in a wide variety of patterns. It is not uncommon to use two materials or two patterns in one space, with a focal point behind the cooktop and a more simple pattern along the counters. When designing a backsplash made of metal, you have several options.
Use One Material and Pattern Throughout
If you're using pressed tin, field tile with a metallic finish or sheet metal you do have the option of using one material and pattern through the entire space. This works best for small kitchens and designs that already have a lot of interest going on.
Combining Two Designs
If you want to use metal throughout the backsplash, but want a little more interest than just one pattern can give you, consider breaking up the design. Choose one simple pattern for the counters. This can be a plain metallic tile with a few random decorative tiles or a border with the field tiles laid straight, plain sheet metal or it can be plain tiles laid in a subway or diagonal pattern with no decorative tiles. Select a different tile or more decorative metal sheeting for behind the cooktop. You have the option of choosing a different metal, the same metal in a decorative pattern or combining decorative tiles with field tiles for an intricate and unique pattern.
Combining Two Materials
Metal tiles and even metallic finished tiles can be expensive. If you like the look of metal but can't afford to use it throughout the space, consider confining the majority of it to the area behind the cooktop. Most cooktop backsplashes measure approximately nine square feet while the counters average 30 feet. Use your more expensive tiles there and choose a less expensive material for the counters. Tie the two spaces together by running a metal border through the field along the counters.
Give Your Backsplash a New Look
Different metal and metallic backsplash materials have different installation requirements. Make sure you use a qualified installer for the material you are selecting for the best results. Add a metal backsplash to your kitchen design and explore the possibilities it offers.