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Metal Backsplashes

It’s no surprise that stainless steel, once associated with the industrial, has made itself at home in kitchens across the spectrum from rustic to modern. Available in matte and satin finishes that minimize fingerprints and clean up in a flash, steel looks great against marble or granite, and makes a nice contrast with Shaker cherry cabinets or pale contemporary maple. If you’ve chosen stainless steel appliances, a matching backsplash could be a great accent.

Tough, durable and low-maintenance, stainless steel is an ideal material for backsplashes, and plenty of manufacturers will custom mill one for your project, with just the right dimensions and cutouts in the right places. Stainless backsplashes come in a growing number of finishes and in many pleasing patterns. As a continuous sheet of metal, it offers a clean, streamlined look—and clean, streamlined maintenance, with few seams and crevices to trap dirt.

On visiting a few showrooms, though, you’ll immediately realize that these days, metal backsplashes have evolved far beyond simple industrial chic. Kitchens feature many metals besides steel—brass, copper, pewter, tin, and aluminum, to name a few. Many manufacturers offer metal tiles in hundreds of colors, finishes and styles, and designers are rushing to exploit the possibilities.

If you’re choosing a metal surface for a work area of your kitchen—and for most of us, the backsplash qualifies—think long and hard about the suitability of the material and the design. A home improvement Web site may feature intricately embossed antique tin tiles behind the stove, but in real life, keeping them free of airborne grease and food may be an ongoing chore. Likewise, brass and copper cast a welcoming glow in almost any décor—and in any décor, they’re high-maintenance. Miracle high-tech finishes can help, but they can’t change the fundamental nature of the metal itself; if you have your heart set on the look of a metal that’s wildly unsuited to the task, see what’s available in metallic finishes on laminated board, or in glass or ceramic tile.

In general, a continuous metal surface, while expensive to manufacture, is relatively easy to install and maintain over time. If you choose metal tiles, you take on the advantages and disadvantages of tile backsplashes in general: the tiles themselves can be placed in almost limitless designs, to beautiful effect, and every crevice between tiles demands particular attention to keep it clean.

A metal backsplash adapts to almost any style; its great looks and durability make it a great long-term investment. To get the one that’s right for the way you really live, from impromptu pasta fests to elegant gatherings, discuss both your aesthetic taste and your practical needs with a kitchen design specialist, who can help you make informed choices.

While stainless steel used to be the go-to backsplash for most homeowners, these days the options for metal backsplashes go far beyond traditional steel. And if you’re looking for extreme durability along with less maintenance, metal might be the perfect option for you.  Here’s all the information you need.


If metal is one of your top backsplash material choices, be prepared to pay a pretty penny to get the look you’re going for. On average, metal runs you about $20 per square foot, plus an additional $160 for the substrate backing and installation. This could vary depending on the size of the backsplash and type of metal used.


Metal is very easy to clean and maintain.

Heat won’t affect metal like other backsplash materials, so it’s great for a kitchen.

The durability of metal makes it a great long-term investment.


While stainless steel won’t require polishing, copper, zinc and brass do.

A continuous metal backsplash is expensive to manufacture.

Metal is susceptible to dents and scratches.


Able to withstand high temperatures and a significant amount of wear and tear, metal is an extremely durable kitchen backsplash material. However, metal can be easily scratched or dented, so it’s important to keep this in mind during and after installation.


While metal tends to show fingerprints and food stains more than other materials, overall it’s very easy to clean. Simply wipe down the surface with soap and warm water, and then dry with a clean cloth. Spray any fingerprints with glass cleaner and wipe clean.

Common Questions and Answers

What is the better backsplash material choice - ceramic or metal?

That depends entirely on the look you’re going for. Ceramic comes with more color choices and patterns, but metal is longer lasting and more durable.

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