Not Your Basic Backsplash: A Lovely, Low-Maintenance Alternative to Tile

Not Your Basic Backsplash: A Lovely, Low-Maintenance Alternative to Tile

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Nancy Mitchell
Feb 6, 2017

Tile backsplashes, of course, are lovely, but if you don't fancy cleaning all those grout lines, or you're just looking for something a little more sleek and modern, why not try a glass backsplash? They've lovely, low-maintenance, and a great way to add a little color to your kitchen. Here's how you can get the look.

Back painted glass panels add a pop of teal to this loft kitchen in New Jersey.
(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

There are three different ways you can do this: installing on your own as a DIY, working together with a contractor, or purchasing from a company that specializes in glass backsplashes. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Classic William Morris wallpaper in the 2016 Sunset Idea Design House was treated to resist moisture and mounted behind panes of glass.
(Image credit: Sunset Magazine)

Most of the glass backsplashes pictured here are back painted, which gives them their eye-catching color. But if you like pattern, glass is also a great way to protect any wallpaper you install.

A series of glass panels cover the entire wall of this minimalist kitchen, extending all the way up to the ceiling.
(Image credit: Casa Tres Chic)

If the shape of the area you're planning to cover is fairly simple (and relatively small), it's possible to DIY your own glass backsplash.If you're planning on painting your glass yourself, be sure to use a paint that is specifically formulated for use on glass, as other paints will crack and peel over time. If the backsplash will be going behind a stove, you'll want to use tempered glass, which is safe to use in hot locations.

The white painted glass backsplash in this Scandinavian kitchen is subtle and sophisticated.
(Image credit: Coco Lapine Design)

A back painted glass backsplash can be applied to the wall with heavy-duty silicone adhesive. Make sure that the adhesive is rated to hold the weight of the piece of glass you're attaching. It's also wise to test the adhesive on a small piece of glass to make sure that it will not show through when the glass is applied to the wall. Once the glass is applied, caulk the seam between the backsplash and the countertop to keep water from seeping in.

Instead of caulk or silicone, brackets hold the glass in place on the wall.
(Image credit: Coco Lapine Design)

If you're not planning on painting your glass, you'll need to use brackets or fasteners (like you would with a mirror) to mount your backsplash. You can also use channels at the top and the bottom of the glass (although this may distract a bit from the minimalist aspect). The folks at the DIY Network, in this DIY for installing a frosted glass backsplash, used a quarter round molding attached to the upper cabinets to secure the backsplash in place.

A plain glass backsplash protects the wall paint from water.
(Image credit: Fantastic Frank)

There's a DIY at Frugal Bits that walks you through one woman's process for creating a glass splash guard behind her stove. She determined the size of glass she needed, ordered it from a manufacturer on the internet, painted the back side, and hung it on the wall with a silicone adhesive.

A single sheet of glass, painted on the back, adds lots of color to this white kitchen.
(Image credit: Better Homes & Gardens)

If your glass backsplash needs to be a more complicated shape, or you require cutouts in your backsplash, like for outlets, it's best to leave the fabrication and installation of your backsplash to the pros. Companies that specialize in creating glass backsplashes will come to your home, measure your kitchen, and fabricate pieces of glass which will then be professionally installed on your backsplash. The glass can be back painted in any color you choose. The advantage of this approach is that you'll be saved the hassle of ordering, and installing, glass in exactly the right size: the disadvantage is that it can be quite expensive —anywhere from $1,000 to $7,500 for a whole kitchen. Glasskote USA is one supplier, with partners all over the US.

Instead of heavy glass, the homeowners installed lightweight painted acrylic as the backsplash.
(Image credit: Fog Modern)

A final budget friendly option, if DIYing a glass backsplash is a bit too intimidating for you, is to create a backsplash from acrylic. Acrylic scratches more easily than glass and can't be used in hot locations, but it's inexpensive and easy to handle. The folks at Fog Modern created the lovely backsplash above from acrylic. You can read all about their process here.

In this Toronto home, a panel of plexiglass was sanded down to get the look of frosted glass.
(Image credit: Houzz)
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