Ask the TBBs: A Kitchen Backsplash Conundrum

Last week we received the following email from Cindy:

I hope you can help with a kitchen eye sore.  We had to put a stainless steel sheet wrap-around behind the stove and sides of the cabinets to cover unfinished cabinet sides.  Originally a large micro/convection oven was there.  It was replaced with a new vent hood which just barely fit the space.  The problem is that because of the heat from the stove, the glue will not hold the stainless sheets.  Any suggestions to repair or replace would be greatly appreciated.


This is the “eye sore” Cindy is referring to:


Maureen says: “I saw this for myself yesterday.  It would be nearly impossible to take the stainless steel wrap off the cupboard and replace.  My suggestion is to use decorative upholstery tacks or screws and tap as close to the edge of the stainless steel making sure you catch the wood underneath.  When you have determined how far apart the tack or screw can be to hold the edge in place, I would mark off with a pen (for instance every 1/2″ or 1/4″) from top to bottom.  Do both sides to match.  Drill a tiny pilot hole where the pen mark is, then hammer the decorative tac k or screw in place.  The screws might hold better as they have a longer shank.  If you can, I would take away as much of the glue from the edge, with a knife, to help the stainless steel to lie flatter to the wood.”

Untitled 2


Donna BorderDonna says: “First off, I love a stainless steel backsplash.  I find it has such a clean, unbusy look.  I do see how this issue would be classified as an eye-sore in an otherwise beautiful kitchen.   My suggestion would be to use a stainless steel corner guard,  shown in “A” below.  It would be installed on all edges of the cabinets in question.   It could be adhered with a combination of heavy duty construction glue and decorative tacks and screws as Maureen suggests above.  Or if you have the space available at the top and bottom of the cabinets, I would use the method shown in “B” below.  The mouldings may have to be custom constructed, but it would definitely be worth the cost to complete the look.  Good luck!”

Stainless Steel Corner Guard



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Brandon S. - April 30, 2014 - 12:54 pm

A few years back I designed a kitchen with fabricated stainless steel cabinets and an 18″ tall backsplash that wrapped into the casing of several windows. In the process I picked up a bit about Stainless Steel.

A few items to note about the panels in her photo….

1. Steel has a natural warp. Remember, SS starts life as one big roll of material before being unwound and cut into smaller sheets. This means that sheet material without any sort of complex corners or further straightening will have a very slight curvature. The thicker the material, the harder it is to counter the curve meaning that even most industrial strength glues are not going to bond with exactitude to wood or particle materials.

2. Tacks and brads, in theory, work, but in reality will result in the same issue over time. Why? Because the steel sheet material will pull them out. Brads and tacks only offer a smooth point surface with nothing for the base material to grab onto. I’d highly recommend using screws, in this case wood screws, to ensure that the SS continues to grip the wood base. Make absolutely certain the screws are being driven into solid base material such as solid wood or particle. Luckily, it isn’t necessary to space them 1/2″ apart. You could get away with several inches between screws (with a reapplication of bonding agent between wood and SS). Personally, I’d countersink the screws so the heads are flush with the SS surface.

3. The Angle Bracket method. Certainly angle brackets are an option in this case but remember two things:
– If using the non-screwed angle bracket in Fig. D, allow the stainless steel panel the wiggle room it’s created for itself. Don’t try to force the end panel back to the wood or you’ll end up creating a similar situation where the bracket moves across the face of the cabinet and becomes loose.
– Maintenance – The lip of the angle bracket will be a grease collector and will require extra maintenance to keep it clean.

Maureen - April 30, 2014 - 4:13 pm

Thank you for taking the time to offer your great advice Brandon. Very much appreciated. Mo.

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