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In a kitchen, nothing warms up stainless-steel and stone finishes like a touch of wood. Which might explain why backsplashes made from shiplap, beadboard, and even barnwood are more popular than ever. Here, things to keep in mind when going for wood on the wall.

  • Salvage and save Renovating often turns up planks worth reusing. “I like to use wood that has a history with the house,” says Encircle Design Build’s Michelle Ruber, who repurposed the 100-year-old fir in the kitchen shown. “It makes sense financially and for the environment.”
  • Finish to last Before installing, treat wood to protect it from stains and water damage. Glossy paints are easiest to clean—marine or porch enamel both wear well. Polyurethane can preserve a wood look, but for ultimate durability, use a spray-on conversion varnish over either stained or bare wood. Don’t like high shine? Opt for a satin finish.
  • Know the code Fire code requires a clearance of at least 18 inches between gas burners and flammable surrounding materials. Check local requirements; you may need to incorporate tile, stainless steel, or tempered glass behind the cooktop.