Laminate countertops are a popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects thanks to their affordability, durability, and easy maintenance. While laminate countertops typically come with a backsplash, some homeowners wonder if they can install laminate counters without a backsplash. Here is what you need to know about getting laminate countertops without a backsplash.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a vertical surface installed on the wall behind a countertop, usually in kitchens and bathrooms. Backsplashes serve both decorative and functional purposes:
- They protect the walls from water damage, splashes, and stains when cooking or washing dishes.
- They make it easy to wipe away messes since you can just wipe down the smooth backsplash surface.
- They allow you to add personality with different colors, patterns, textures, and materials.
So in short, a backsplash finishes the look of a countertop and protects the walls.
Can You Install Laminate Countertops Without a Backsplash?
Yes, you can install laminate countertops without adding a backsplash. Laminate countertops do not require a backsplash, so it is possible to have laminate counters with an exposed wall behind them.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Lack of wall protection – Not having a backsplash means your walls are more susceptible to water damage, stains, and grime. You’ll have to be extra careful when cooking and cleaning.
- Abrupt transition – The laminate countertop will likely meet the wall with a blunt edge, which some homeowners find unappealing aesthetically. The transition may look more unfinished.
- Difficulty cleaning – With no backsplash, wiping messes off the wall could be trickier. You’ll have to scrub the porous wall rather than just wiping a smooth backsplash.
So in summary, you can install laminate countertops without a backsplash but you may sacrifice some functionality, aesthetics, and ease of cleaning.
What are Some Alternatives to a Backsplash with Laminate Counters?
If you want to skip the backsplash but still protect your walls, here are some options to consider:
- Install a trim piece – Adding trim like quarter-round or laminate scribing along the seam between the counter and wall creates a cleaner finish.
- Use caulk – You can caulk the gap between the laminate counter and wall. Caulk is water-resistant but won’t fully prevent stains.
- Add removable backsplash panels – Temporary, removable backsplash panels can provide protection when needed but allow the wall to show when desired.
- Use a wall guard – Adhesive wall guards stick directly to the wall behind the counters to shield the paint or drywall.
- Paint the wall – Use semi-gloss or gloss paint to make the wall easier to wipe clean. Add a accent color for a pop of color.
- Tile a ledge – Add a narrow ledge of tile 3-4 inches high along the countertop-wall junction. This protects from splashes.
What to Consider Before Skipping the Backsplash
If you’re still weighing whether to install laminate counters without a backsplash, consider these factors:
- What’s your decor style? Backsplashes lend a more finished, contemporary look.
- How messy is your cooking? Frequent frying and sauce splashing warrants a backsplash.
- Do you entertain often? Backsplashes make party clean-ups much easier.
- Are your walls textured or damaged? Backsplashes conceal imperfect walls.
- Do you plan to sell soon? Backsplashes are expected by most homebuyers.
Analyze your lifestyle and goals before committing to counter installation without a backsplash. An expert contractor can also provide guidance on the pros and cons for your specific kitchen or bath.
Cost Comparison of Laminate Counters With vs Without Backsplash
On average, laminate countertops cost $20-50 per linear foot including installation. Adding a 4-6 inch backsplash can increase your total cost by about $5-8 per linear foot.
So for a 10 foot laminate counter, pricing would be:
- Without backsplash: $200 – $500
- With 4-6 inch backsplash: $250 – $580
The backsplash material itself is quite affordable, usually from $3-10 per square foot. The additional labor to install it is what boosts the overall project cost.
Eliminating the backsplash can save you roughly 15-20% on your countertop installation costs. But weigh this against the additional maintenance and potential repairs needed without a backsplash over time.
Can I Install Just Part of a Backsplash?
Absolutely! You do not need to do a full backsplash that spans the entire length of the laminate counters. Some popular options are:
- Partial backsplash: Install a backsplash only behind the stove or sink area where it’s most needed. Leave the remaining wall exposed.
- Accent backsplash: Add a backsplash only in certain spots to use it as an artistic accent, rather than for function.
- Demi backsplash: Install a backsplash that is only 4 inches high or so. This protects against minor splashing while still showing wall.
Get creative with partial backsplash designs to reap some benefits without committing to full backsplashes. An experienced countertop installer can help with layouts.
While laminate countertops do not require backsplashes, most kitchen designers recommend adding them. Backsplashes provide protection, cleanliness, and a finished look that most homeowners expect. However, you can certainly install laminate counters without backsplashes, as long as you don’t mind the lack of wall protection and utilitarian appearance. If you’re set on skipping backsplashes, use trim pieces, caulk, wall guards, or tile ledges to help safeguard walls from damage. Consider your style, usage, and budget when deciding on backsplashes with laminate countertops.