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DIY: Making a Stainless Steel Kitchen Back-Splash

Stainless steel makes a great backsplash for many kitchen styles, from contemporary industrial to retro eclectic. In addition to its posh, upscale look, the material is easy to clean, lasts forever, and doesn’t harbor germs. Putting up a stainless DIY kitchen back splash is relatively easy, if you pay attention to the following basics.

Choosing a grade, thickness, and finish

The most versatile and widely used of all stainless is grade 304. This material provides the best all-around performance due to its chemical composition, mechanical properties, and corrosion resistance. Stainless sheet comes in a variety of sizes, gauges, and finishes. For a DIY back splash, choose a thickness of about 20 or 22 gauge.

To maintain a unified design, you want the back splash to match your stainless appliances, countertops, and cabinet fronts. The #8 mirror finish is attractive, but you may find that the #4 brushed, or satin finish, is better at hiding fingerprints.

For an even more exciting look, choose one of the many embossed and textured stainless sheet patterns. This type of decorative sheet is rigidized, so that a much smaller-gauge piece provides greater durability and protection from scratches and dents.

Cutting to size

Measure the wall(s) to be covered, include holes for outlets. Typically the backsplash extends to the bottom of the upper cabinets, but you may choose to go only a few inches up the wall – or all the way to the ceiling. You may want to create a paper template using these measurements, which can be used to cut the steel sheet. Be sure to indicate on the template which direction you want the brushed grain or embossed pattern to go.

If you are using a cutting service, ask them to debur the edges of the panel, so that it doesn’t cut your hands.

J-channel and T-channel (also known as trim strips) complete the easy installation of backsplashes and wall cladding systems. They are made from corrosion-resistant 430 stainless steel with a bright annealed finish. They are sold in 12-foot pieces and are easily cut on the spot for simple installations with two-sided tape.

Adhering to the wall

Prepare the wall surface by sanding it smooth, to eliminate any bumps or uneven spots. Tape down brown kraft paper over all nearby surfaces, to protect them and make cleanup easier. Use pencil and a level to mark a line along the top and sides of the backsplash.

Apply a construction adhesive to the wall and smooth it down with a trowel or putty knife. Align the stainless sheet in place and smooth it down with rags or a tile float. You may need to prop it in place until the adhesive sets. Once the backsplash is installed, remove any protective plastic layer from the front of the sheet.

Industrial Metal Supply is the supplier of choice in the Southwest for stainless steel sheet. Contact IMS today for a quote.