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A splashback is an architectural feature which is designed to be both ornamental and functional in areas where water is involved. The splashback protects the underlying wall from water damage, and also provides an easy to clean surface which helps people keep their homes more tidy. Many homes come with splashbacks of varying sizes, and it is also possible to create your own, as long as you are handy with grout.
In addition to being used around water in places like sinks and bathtubs, splashbacks can also be used around oil and grease around the stove. They are typically made from tile, which may be glass, ceramic, or stone. The tiles are mounted to the underlying wall and then grouted, and a sealer may be applied, depending on the type of tiles and grout used. When materials splash up out of a work area, they hit the splashback rather than the wall, and this makes messes much easier to clean up.
Around sinks and bathtubs, a splashback is a necessity. Water can cause serious damage to the underlying structure of a home, and splashing water is inevitable with sinks, tubs, and showers by their very nature. If a splashback is not constructed, the water will penetrate the wall and ultimately cause rot, which can be very expensive to track down and fix. Splashbacks also resists staining, which can be quite advantageous, as most people do not like to look at water and soap stains.
Around places like stoves, splashbacks are not required, but they can certainly be helpful. People who have painted walls around their stoves may notice that the walls turn greasy and discolored despite the best efforts to keep them clean; a splashback can greatly simplify cleaning in this area of the house. The stain resistance is also a useful tool, and splashbacks can prevent stinky grease from penetrating the wall, where it will go rancid and continue to smell until the wall is replaced.
If you are considering the installation of a splashback, you should think about the materials you want. Make sure to purchase tiles which are designed to be water resistant and non-porous, as not all tiles are capable of withstanding splashing water. If you want a splashback to surround a stove, purchase heat proofed tiles which will not crack when exposed to the warmth of a cook stove. You may also want to consider purchasing a grout with a built in sealer so that you do not have to seal the grout once it has been applied.