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Splashing out on that tiled splashback


OK, so you’re at the crossroads: How do you update your kitchen without spending a motza?

You don’t have the budget to start replacing stone benchtops and specifying new cabinetry. So after a lick of paint, what’s the next best move?

I’m gonna go out on a ledge and say that any kitchen over 10 years old will have some pretty grimy and dirty grout in its splashback.

Whether it’s spilt oil, last week’s beef stroganoff or some fluoro Acai from that 2012 health kick, it all takes its toll and new kitchens don’t stay looking new for long.

New tiles can add new life to your kitchen. Picture: Getty

A quick and easy option for a new(ish) looking kitchen? A brand-spanking-new splashback. You’d be surprised at how one small thing can change a space.

The easiest way to do this is to tile right over your old tiled splashback. But there a few hurdles to overcome first.

You need to make sure the new tiles can stick to the old surface and you’ll also need a straight and level surface to work with.

To check if your tiles are ‘drummy’ (i.e., they have pockets of air behind them), give them a tap. The hollow-sounding ones are drummy and it’s best to take these tiles off. If it seems sound as a pound, you’re good to go.

Before the emergence of speciality primers, we needed to ‘scuff’ the old tiles with a grinder. It’s a stupidly dusty job – and one that no one wants to do.

Consider larger marble-look tiles for a new splashback. Picture: Getty

All you need now though is a decent etch primer (which helps the tile glue stick to a glossy surface); there are even some speciality glues that will stick directly to most types of tiles. See your local tile store for all the right gear.

Read more: 6 ways to mix and match tiles

Listen up: Don’t tile around your light switches and power points; it will just look cheap and nasty. Turn the mains off and disconnect the switches – or better still, hire a qualified sparky. New switches and outlets will look so much better than the bulky yellow ones I know you all have.

Then it’s just a matter of tiling over your prepared surface and treating it as any masonry wall. It will be up to you whether you go for large or small tiles, but a bigger format may be easier to lay.

How creative do you wanna get with your splashback? Picture: Getty

Here are three tips to help things along the way:

  1. To make things easier down the track, an epoxy grout (one that’s not cement-based) will make it easier to clean after all those cooking spills and splashes. It’s a bit harder to use, but your inner germophobe will thank you later.
  2. A super large format tile enables you to do away with any grout lines and create the illusion of a slab of stone rather than regular tiles. Beaumont Tiles have slab tiles’ available at 3m in length. 
  3. If your kitchen is a dated (or yellowed) white, a stark white splashback will really draw attention to the fact that the cabinetry isn’t a true white. A dark splashback can make your white(ish) cabinetry look whiter.

This article was originally published as Splashing out on that tiled splashback by and is written by Shannon and Simon Vos

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