The fact is, tastes change. Brown splashbacks with flowered tiles may have been the trend of their time, but to many people today this style can feel outdated. Not to mention the tile joints which are often difficult to keep clean! However, don’t worry, every problem has a solution and there are ways to give your tiled splashback a modern makeover. No major construction work needed, there are low-cost do-it-yourself alternatives. What then are the preferable materials?

In addition to its decorative aspect, the splashback’s primary mission is to protect your kitchen wall from water and grease splashes. It must therefore be waterproof and stain-resistant, yet easy to maintain. This is of course a priority when you own a rental property; you need to be able to clean quickly and efficiently. So, whether it merges with the work plan or playfully contrasts with it, the splashback can be replaced without having to break tiles. Highlights of small-budget possibilities for giving your kitchen a full makeover.


Solution #1: new tiles

Breaking tiles is unnecessary; by coating the splashback with a layer of specialized adhesive, you can stick new tiles straight onto the old ones. For kitchens, terracotta or faience tiles as most commonly used. These come in a wide range of colours, patterns and sizes, and are thus adaptable to any style. Currently, cement tiles are very fashionable, as well as the ‘underground’ style and optical illusion tiling that perfectly imitates marble, wood, concrete, metal, slate etc.

Advantage: simple and easy maintenance with hot water and detergent.

Disadvantage: the tile joints get dirty. To reduce the joint-width to two millimetres, choose rectified tiles. However, be careful as laying them requires precision and thoroughness.

Kitchen splashback with cement tiles©Original Style


Solution #2: special paint

It’s entirely possible to repaint your splashback with a special tile paint that doesn’t require a base coat. Note: it must be washable and anti-condensation. Today, these specialized paints have a protective film that prevents grease stains from setting in. However, be aware that you will need to degrease your old splashback with acetone first, lightly sand the tiles with sandpaper, and then apply two coats of paint.

Advantage: These paints are easy to apply and they impregnate the underlying tiles.

Disadvantage: The drying time is typically 24 hours but can go up to 7 days depending on the manufacturer.

Kitchen slpashback makeover with special tile paint©V33


Solution #3: laminated panels

Laminated panels come in handy for a quick and easy makeover without having to remove anything. With a thickness of 6 mm, laminate comes in the form of panels, ready to be stuck directly onto your splashback, thus covering large areas without any visible joints. There are a multitude of styles (imitation marble, stone, stainless steel, wood, slate ...) and colours.

Advantage: excellent value for money.

Disadvantage: avoid placing laminate directly in front of the hob, unless there is a distance of at least 20 cm between the wall and the cook top.

Kitchen splashback with laminated panels©Cesar


Solution #4: a renovating coating

A polished concrete type of coating is an effective way to revamp a tiled splashback; it gives a modern touch to the kitchen and creates a flat surface with no visible joints. This coating, mixed with a water-repellent resin is applied in layers to an acetone-cleaned splashback using a trowel. Apply two layers and then add an extra two layers of wall varnish. The variety of colours, finishes and faux-material styles, allow for personalized decoration.

Advantage: high adaptability to different materials with good shock and water resistance.

Disadvantage: doesn’t fare well with grease stains.

Polished concrete coating on a kitchen splashback©Resinence


Solution #5: adhesives

To cover your existing tiles in just two or three movements, opt for an adhesive splashback, also known as tile stickers. Cheap and quick to install, these adhesive false wall tiles decorate your kitchen and come in various colours, material effects and creative patterns. These adhesive panels are also resistant to heat and moisture. To install, simply clean the surface with a degreaser to remove any residual grease and apply the panel.

Advantage: adhesive splashbacks can be easily cut into any shape desired.

Disadvantage: Contrary to popular belief, adhesive panels are long-lasting, although they are still not as durable as traditional tiles.

Red adhesive false wall tiles in a kitchen©Smart Tiles


Solution #6: glass mosaics

Often used in the bathroom, glass mosaics are a good alternative to your kitchen’s tiled splashback. They resist well to moisture and heat. Additionally, they have the distinct advantage of offering a multitude of colours. The tiles are pre-glued onto a netted sheet, making them easy to apply to any wall.

Advantage: easy installation with 30x30 cm sheets.

Disadvantage: The joints tend to turn yellow or become dirt-encrusted over time.

Dark glass mosaics on a kitchen splashback©Leroy Merlin


Solution #7: stainless steel

Thanks to its shiny, illuminating effect, stainless steel opens up the space and brings a touch of modernity to a kitchen. It can be applied directly on top of the tiled splashback in 11mm thick panels which can be placed behind the cook top using special glue.

Advantage: Very strong, it fears neither heat nor water, nor corrosion nor rust.

Disadvantage: stainless steel is susceptible to scratches.

Stainless steel kitchen splashback©


There are many other splashback alternatives, however not all of them are adaptable to being applied directly onto already tiled splashbacks. In addition, they often require professional installation and a much larger budget. Examples of these would be; glass, aluminium, quartz, mirrored, Corian or synthetic stone splashbacks. Some are difficult to maintain such as natural stone, brick or wood, others still, such as slate splashbacks, have poor shock resistance.

For heat sensitive splashbacks, I advise you to place an extractor hood behind the cook top. Not only will it protect the space from various splashes, but it’s much easier to clean than the actual splashback.


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