Solid Surfacing

For kitchens with solid-surface counters, a backsplash of the same material offers an opportunity to give the room a neat, sleek appearance. Upkeep is minimal; solid surfacing is a tough material, and scratches and other defects can be sanded and buffed out. Solid-surface backsplashes range from 1/2-in.-tall pieces that serve only as a transition to tile or some other material that runs to the bottom of wall cabinets to a full-height piece that runs from countertop to wall cabinet. Fabricators use 1/4- or 1/2-in.-thick material. The simplest approach is a loose splash—one that is not integral to the countertop—which is applied in the field. Jeff Purcell, owner of Surface Techniques, a fabricator in South Norwalk, Connecticut, says one advantage of a loose backsplash is that it follows wall contours more easily than a rigid splash fused to the counter. Installers set the backsplash in silicone adhesive. The seam between counter and backsplash is paper thin, and when excess silicone is scraped away, it is nearly invisible.

Another approach is to glue the backsplash to the countertop in the shop, using a small coved piece. These pieces are fused with a special two-part adhesive that makes for a very strong, virtually invisible joint. Purcell says coved pieces are either custom-made, in the same shop where the countertop is fabricated, or purchased separately as a snap-on part. Although custom coves are more expensive, the fabricator can ensure the pieces will match. Because snap-on cove is made elsewhere, there's no guarantee that its color will match the countertop exactly.

If you go with a solid surface, your fabricator might throw in the backsplash for free, as long as he has enough extra material. If he has to buy additional material, a 4-in. loose backsplash will cost $25 to $30 per linear foot, and an integral coved backsplash will run $40 to $50 per linear foot. Because there is so much material waste involved, a full-height backsplash could be as much as $75 per linear foot.

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