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What is a Laminate Backsplash?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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A laminate backsplash is an architectural element used as a transition between kitchen walls and countertops. The backsplash protects the wall from damage or stains from food or kitchen ware. It also serves as a decorative element, adding a bit of extra style or flair to help tie the rest of the kitchen together from a visual standpoint.

Laminate backsplash construction starts with a base material of fiberboard or plywood. Builders measure the base cabinets and countertops and produce a template for use in producing the backsplash. Installers lay thin sheets of laminate over the base material, using construction or laminate adhesive to join these materials together. The edges of the board can then be trimmed using thin strips of laminate in a matching color or finish.

Typically, installers use nails and construction adhesive to connect a backsplash. The backsplash can be fastened directly to the countertop, or attached to the wall. The seams around the backsplash should be caulked to minimize moisture infiltration over time. Some applications may also require sealing between the backsplash and the wall, particularly if there's a large gap in this area.

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Manufacturers produce laminate in a wide range of colors and finishes. Some versions feature an embossed finish to mimic the look of stone, wood or stainless steel. Others feature solid colors or patterns to match any kitchen d├ęcor. Hundreds of colors and finishes are available, with each manufacturer producing different lines of product for consideration. Laminate can also be produced with cutouts and edge designs to enhance the appearance of the backsplash.

One of the primary advantages to using a laminate backsplash rather than stone or tile is its affordability. Laminate often costs much less than these materials, and offers a great deal of versatility in terms of finishes and design options. It's also easy to clean and simple to install. Unlike stone, laminate requires very few special tools, and can be self-installed by the average homeowner. It's also made from recycled and scrap materials, making it a green option for eco-friendly consumers.

Buyers should understand the limitations of a laminate backsplash before choosing this material. Laminate offers very little water resistance, and can crack or peel if subject to excess moisture or humidity. A laminate backsplash also has a shorter expected lifespan than one made from granite or tile. It may chip or shatter due to sharp impacts, and can be damaged by excess heat from cookware.

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