Regardless of the material your countertops are made of a wooden backsplash will create a real homely feel to your kitchen. If you’ve got solid wood countertops having matching wood backsplashes will really make the kitchen look complete, compared to having tiles abruptly appearing on top of the countertop.
Woods Used as Wooden Backsplash
While you could have a wooden backsplash made out of plywood or softwood, using a hardwood will both look better and last longer. Three woods in particular are popular for making countertop backsplashes: Maple, Cedar and Oak.
As the natural color of Oak is not as deep or striking as the other two woods – Oak is an ideal material if you want to stain the backsplash to get a particular effect from it.
An understandably common concern regarding wooden kitchen backsplashes is to do with how hygienic they are. Being made of wood some people think they’ll be impossible to clean properly and the risk of germs and bacteria lurking in the grain of the wood is too high.
The fact of the matter here is that you’re not going to be preparing food on the backsplash – so long as you keep it clean, like everything else in the kitchen, there’s nothing to worry about. Being a backsplash it will need treating/sealing with a moisture repellent, making it all the easier to wipe clean with your usual kitchen cleaning products.
Staining Wood Backsplashes
If the wood you’re using for the backsplash doesn’t match or complement the wood or material of the countertop; rather than painting it – you should stain the backsplash. You could stain it to either match or complement the countertop; but either way you’ll retain that natural look of the wood. Remember the more coats of stain you apply the deeper the color of staining it will produce.
Even though your backsplash will be made from a hardwood; whether you’ve applied a stain or not, it’s important to seal the wood to prevent it from becoming damp and starting to rot.
Personally I’d use a polyurethane varnish to seal it; for example yacht varnish which is perfect – if it’s good enough for use on the outside of ocean going yachts, I figure it’ll do a good job in my kitchen. Sand the surface of the wood and remove any dust.
Apply three coats of the varnish, make sure each coat is thoroughly dry and sanded lightly before applying the next one. The wood will be quite absorbent to start with, so it’s always a good idea to use a first coat that’s slightly diluted with a thinner like white spirit.
Personally I’d only paint a backsplash if it was looking ‘old and tired’ or if I needed to color co-ordinate it with some other feature of the kitchen. If you do want to paint a wooden backsplash you can do so using any of the familiar gloss paints.
A polyurethane gloss combines the oil based gloss with a polyurethane resin to produce a tougher surface finish; more resistant to scratching. Even better are the silthane paints which have a silicone and polyurethane resin in them – making them even more durable. As the area to be painted will be relatively small in terms of the whole kitchen, you do not need to be concerned about using an anti-condensation paint.