HomeWork: Solid glass backsplashes are a great investment in your kitchen's aesthetics.

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Q: What’s so great about glass kitchen backsplashes?

A: Sleek with color, clean lines, and easy to care for, solid glass backsplashes have been the rage in kitchens across Europe and are being called for by more and more Seattle-area interior designers. We aren’t talking glass tiles here — rather, long stretches of glass cut to precisely fit and cover sections of your kitchen.

Growing up in a glass family, my parents always kept a panel of clear tempered glass attached with rosettes to the wall, protecting the area behind their stove. The clear glass was attractive, removable and easy to clean. (Tempering the glass strengthens it to weather the stress of stovetop heat.)

Today’s addition of color makes this material a wonderful go-to for interior designers. Back-painted glass covering the walls below cabinets really makes a kitchen’s aesthetics pop, giving you an up-to-date and seamless look that will never go out of style.

Glass backsplashes are durable, sanitary and quite versatile. An extensive palette of standard colors is available from which to choose, and you can special order any shade desired to punctuate your kitchen with timeless beauty. Sometimes, the glass is placed from the countertops all the way to ceilings; other times from countertops up to just below the cabinets; and sometimes even as simply as a traditional 6- or 8-inch-tall backsplash.

Yes, glass can be more expensive than tile, but the result is stunning. It’s a smooth modern look of sheen and color that brings together cabinets, countertops and appliances in a spectacular way.

Glass backsplashes do not require sealing, will not stain and are resistant to mold and bacteria. With few seams and no grout, they are also very easy to clean and care for. And the glass doesn’t wear out. When dirty, simply wipe down with a non-abrasive cleanser and the surface appears as new as when it was first installed — even decades later.

Material-wise, low-iron and quarter-inch-thick glass are typically used. Reduced iron allows true color to shine through more easily. Because it is the backside that is painted, the exposed surface of the glass is untouched. All you see is a nice sheen and the color behind. Your walls are protected, as is the color underneath from the inevitable spray of food preparation. (The best cooks are messy in our estimation.)

When ordering, be sure to specify a factory baked-on finish. This helps ensure that the paint does not peel or discolor later. Be warned: DIY attempts at painting glass tend to fail, both in uniformity and durability. Substituting with acrylic does not work well either, because acrylic scratches and warps easily, and soon begs to be replaced.

Clear glass is less costly and looks great, but shows whatever is behind. If chosen, clear glass should be easily removable for cleaning. Frosted glass is also generally less expensive but cannot be attached the same way as painted glass since the adhesives would show through. Although more expensive, painted glass is definitely a superior choice since it never needs to be removed. The back-paint hides everything behind it and is much easier to seal, which prevents dust and pesky flies from getting in.

Painted-glass backsplashes are usually attached to the wall with adhesive and caulked along the edges. Fitting and installation require care and precision. It can be tricky to get a good fit, manage outlets and other obstacles, all while avoiding chips and breakage. For best results, go with an expert. Choose a professional glass company that is well-versed in this kind of work. And, whenever possible, place outlets and other obstacles elsewhere.

Solid glass backsplashes are a great investment in your kitchen’s aesthetics. They are colorfully timeless, brilliantly lovely, and a low-maintenance solution for today’s modern kitchen.


Kevin Kartak is the owner of AAA Kartak Glass & Closet and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 2,900 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.