Installing a beautiful backsplash can transform the look of any kitchen or bathroom. While tile and stone are popular backsplash materials, wood is emerging as a stylish and functional backsplash option. But can you put a backsplash on wood?
The short answer is yes, you can install a wood backsplash over wood. With the right preparation and materials, wood backsplashes create a warm, natural look on walls and protect them from splashes and stains.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to install a wood backsplash over wood successfully.
What to Know Before Installing a Wood Backsplash
When considering a wood backsplash, there are a few important factors to weigh:
Types of Wood
The wood you choose for the backsplash will impact the overall look, durability, and ease of installation. Some top options include:
- Maple – Classic, smooth hardwood that can be left natural or stained. Durable and moisture-resistant.
- Red Oak – Beautiful stained finish and visible wood grain patterns. Soaks up more moisture than maple.
- Cedar – Affordable softwood with a reddish hue. Naturally moisture-resistant but more prone to dents.
- Teak – Expensive but extremely durable and water-resistant. Needs oil treatments to maintain color.
- Reclaimed Wood – Rustic, varied look from salvaged wood pieces. Coatings protect from moisture damage.
Consider moisture exposure levels and your desired style. Hardwoods like maple and oak provide the most protection.
Panel vs. Plank Backsplashes
Wood backsplashes come as either vertical panels or horizontal planks:
- Panels – Offer a seamless, unified look. Easier installation.
- Planks – More varied look with visible seams. Allow more ventilation to reduce moisture buildup.
Finishes and Sealants
Unfinished wood will soak up splashes and moisture. Choose factory-finished wood or apply sealants like:
- Water-resistant polyurethane
- Penetrating oil finish
- Marine varnish
Multiple professional coats prevent water damage and stains.
Wood backsplashes need ample sealing and ventilation to prevent:
- Mold growth
Allow space between planks and use sealants rated for bathroom humidity.
With special considerations, wood backsplashes can withstand kitchen and bath conditions.
Can I Install Wood Backsplash Over Existing Wood?
Yes, it’s possible to install a wood backsplash directly over existing wood walls. With proper preparation, the new wood tiles or planks will adhere firmly.
Here are some tips for installing over existing wood:
- Make sure the existing wood is in good condition, free of moisture damage or rotting sections. Address any issues first.
- Sand the walls lightly with 100-150 grit sandpaper. This roughs up the surface for better adhesion.
- Clean thoroughly and let the wood dry out completely before installing the backsplash.
- Use a robust construction adhesive made for heavy materials.
- Consider adding screws or nails through the backsplash pieces into the wall studs for extra support.
- Take careful measurements so gaps between backsplash planks or tiles align with the seams of the existing wood. This provides a more integrated look.
- Use a sealant or caulk between the new wood and existing wood edges for protection against moisture.
With proper prep work and materials, the new backsplash will bond tightly to the existing wood surface.
Choosing the Best Wood Backsplash Style
When installing a wood backsplash on wood, you’ll need to decide on the best style for your space. Key choices include:
Planks vs. Panels
Wood planks create a rustic, varied look with visible seams. Panels produce a more seamless, contemporary aesthetic.
Factors like existing wall material, room size, and personal style impact this decision. Panels integrate more smoothly on uninterrupted wood walls, while planks add depth.
Will your backsplash coordinate with cabinets? Contrast them? Choose natural, stained or painted wood in the desired tone.
Finishes like polyurethane form a protective barrier while allowing the grain to show through. Paint provides limitless color options.
Horizontal planks emphasize the width of a room, while vertical installations draw the eyes up and make spaces feel taller.
Lighting, room proportions, and backsplash size will guide the best direction. A full wall calls for horizontal alignment.
While wood is the focus, incorporating metal, stone, or tile accents creates visual interest. Natural materials like river rock also enhance wood’s organic appeal.
Strategic use of accents complements the wood nicely without overwhelming.
How to Install a Wood Backsplash on Wood Walls
Once you’ve selected the perfect wood backsplash style, it’s time to install it. Here is an overview of the process:
Step 1: Prep the Surface
Proper prep ensures a long-lasting backsplash:
- Remove any existing backsplash and clean the walls thoroughly.
- Fill any cracks or holes with spackle; sand bumps smooth.
- Lightly sand walls to rough up the surface. Wipe away dust.
- Seal the walls with water-resistant primer to prevent moisture damage.
Priming establishes a sound base for backsplash adherence.
Step 2: Plan Your Layout
Measure carefully and map out the backsplash placement. For planks, determine:
- Optimal spacing between planks
- Where planks will meet cleanly at corners
- Where edges will align with wall seams or openings
Having a solid layout eliminates surprises and mistakes later.
Step 3: Cut the Wood Backsplash
Using your layout, cut the wood pieces to size with a circular saw. Follow any special cutting instructions from the manufacturer.
Seal all exposed edges with water-resistant sealer so moisture can’t penetrate cut grains.
Tip: Leave planks long until final fit and trim gradually for accuracy.
Step 4: Install the Backsplash
With pre-cut pieces ready, it’s time to mount them on the wall. Be sure to:
- Use heavy-duty construction adhesive suitable for wood. Apply evenly.
- Position pieces precisely and press firmly in place. Use spacers between planks.
- Secure with finish nails for added support, if needed. Pre-drill holes.
- Seal all seams with waterproof caulk. Smooth with wet finger.
- Allow proper curing time before exposing backsplash to moisture.
Follow all adhesive specifications for best results.
Step 5: Finish the Wood Backsplash
The final step is applying a protective finish:
- Lightly sand any rough spots on the wood, wipe clean.
- Apply at least 2-3 coats of water-resistant polyurethane or varnish.
- Let dry fully and cure between coats.
- Add color with stains or paints before sealing, if desired.
- Seal all edges and seams again.
Professional finishing ensures your wood backsplash withstands its environment.
And your stunning new wood backsplash is complete! Follow regular maintenance tips to keep it looking like new.
FAQs About Installing Wood Backsplashes on Wood
Many homeowners have additional questions about successfully incorporating wood backsplashes. Here are answers to some common inquiries:
Can I install a wood backsplash in my bathroom?
Yes, wood can work well in bathrooms when properly finished and sealed. Choose moisture-resistant woods like teak or maple. Allow for ventilation between planks. Use sealants rated for high humidity areas. With proper precautions, wood brings warmth to bathrooms.
Should I use tongue and groove planks or shiplap?
Tongue and groove planks feature interlocking sides for tighter seams. Shiplap has exposed grooves for a more rustic appearance. Either option can adhere well with construction adhesive. For simplicity, opt for readymade tongue and groove backsplash panels.
How do I cut wood backsplash around outlets and switches?
Measure outlet placement carefully and mark planks. Cut out sections with a jigsaw or multi-tool. Maintain at least 1/8” clearance around outlets. Seal edges thoroughly with marine varnish. Make cuts before installing planks.
Can I use liquid nails to install the backsplash?
Heavy duty liquid nails adhesives bond wood-to-wood projects effectively. Apply in a zigzag pattern over primed walls. Hold planks in place with finishing nails. Allow proper curing time before exposing to moisture. Liquid nails create a long-lasting bond.
How do I account for uneven walls?
Shim thicker areas with small spacers to create a flush surface before installing backsplash. Use trim pieces or caulk around edges with slight gaps. Select planks wide enough to span dips attractively. Plan layouts carefully around high and low points.
The Pros and Cons of a Wood Backsplash
Like most materials, wood backsplashes come with tradeoffs. Evaluating the pros and cons can help determine if this is the right choice for your space.
Pros of a Wood Backsplash
- Adds natural warmth and texture
- Available in a range of budget-friendly hardwoods
- Can coordinate beautifully with wood cabinets
- Installs easily with adhesive and basic DIY tools
- Planks allow ventilation to reduce moisture damage
- Can be stained, painted, or naturally finished
- Softer impact than stone or metal backsplashes
- Relatively lightweight material
Cons of a Wood Backsplash
- Requires extensive sealing and finish for water resistance
- More prone to dents and scratches than ceramic or metal
- Not heat resistant like stone; can scorch or burn
- Needs color treatments to avoid fading and yellowing
- Planks allow more cracks for grime if poorly sealed
- Moisture can damage poorly sealed surfaces
- Slightly less durable than other kitchen backsplash materials
Proper installation and maintenance minimize these disadvantages for a stunning wood focal point.
Caring for a Wood Backsplash
Wood backsplashes require some simple care principles to stay beautiful over time:
- Use cutting boards and appliance splash guards to prevent dents and burns.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners. Use mild soap and water only.
- Blot spills quickly to prevent stains and swelling.
- Reseal annually with water-resistant polyurethane.
- Watch for bubbling, cracks, or dark spots indicating moisture issues.
- Consider re-sanding and re-staining worn areas as needed.
- Use wood wax to restore luster on dull spots.
With routine TLC, a wood backsplash remains an amazing focal point for years of kitchen and bathroom use.
While tile, metal, and stone capture most of the backsplash spotlight, wood offers an appealing natural option, especially for homeowners wanting to integrate existing wood walls or cabinetry. With careful prep work, moisture considerations, and finishing, wood backsplashes make a beautiful and functional statement.
Following proper installation techniques allows the wood’s grain, texture, and warmth to elevate kitchen or bathroom style while also protecting surfaces. While no material is truly stain and damage-proof, properly sealing and maintaining a real wood backsplash minimizes risks for lasting beauty and enjoyment. For those seeking an eco-friendly, timeless material to make their design vision a reality, wood backsplashes deliver in form and function.