Stainless steel backsplash: How to install?

The stainless steel backsplash arrived today. Silly me, I thought it would come with installation instructions. I gather you just glue them up?

  1. The wall is drywall. It will be cleaned. Should it be sanded to rough it up a little?

  2. What kind of adhesive should be used, how should it be applied, and how much of it?

  3. How do we ensure the backsplash stays on the wall while the adhesive dries?

  4. The backsplash is thin, since it’s just going flat on the drywall. I think it’s 24 gauge. It’s 36" x 30" and weighs 7.6 pounds. It has ‘hemmed’ (i.e., folded over) edges.

Silicone caulk/adhesive is fine. The drywall needs to be dust-free, but sanding is not necessary. Primer coat of paint is fine.

A full height squiggle of caulk is all you need. This is not a high stress installation. Caulk the top to the drywall after paint.

Masking/duct tape and some flexible 3/4" x 1/8" strips of wood, taped to the counter and flexed against the splash will be fine. If the splash seems to be deforming, put a strip of scrap plywood against it to spread the pressure. You don’t want the squiggle telegraphing through the metal. Easy-peasy.

There’s a cabinet above the stove. The backsplash will go up to it. After it is put up, we’re putting up a new range hood. So I’m not sure what you mean by ‘caulk the top to the drywall’.

There’s no counter and the stove will be pulled out, so there’s no counter to flex from.

Aha. Well, you can still brace from the opposite wall. With a full height splash, there is more danger of squiggles of caulk telegraphing, so a notched trowel with silicone or mastic might be more appropriate. If the opposite wall is too far away, you can take 2x4 or the like, shim them vertically tight to the ceiling and floor, and brace/shim against that. It doesn’t take much pressure really, just let it set up for 12-24 hours.

That’s what she said!

How deep is the hem? I always apply the ss to a backer panel. It will warp if you dont. I have installed dozens of ss splashes. Use contact cement to masonite is the best but whatever you use, spray it with kilz or similar to prevent water infiltration.

Deep as in ‘How big a spacer does the hem become?’; or ‘How wide is it?’

The panel is 24 ga., so it’s very thin. Caulk or mastic would probably be thicker. Its width is 1/4" or 1/2". I only noted it was there, and didn’t measure it.

Why would it warp? It’s being applied to a flat surface. It won’t be exposed to heat, as there is sufficient space between the range and the wall. Though it’s called a ‘backsplash’, it’s unlikely that anything will splash on it. The drywall has survived. The worst it will see is greasy smoke when I use the cast iron.

FWIW: I’ve mentioned this is a very old house. Dimensions tend to be non-standard. Eventually the DIY cabinetry someone installed will be replaced by cabinetry that is as standard dimensionally as possible. Thus, the backsplash may be repositioned or replaced when the time comes. The space for the stove is 36". The stove is 30". The backsplash will be placed such that it covers the 36" space. At 30", it is tall enough to extend below the top of the stove. When they installed the stove, they left an inch to the left (next to the counter), so there is a 5" space between the stove and the refrigerator. When we get new counters, I plan to have a bit of counter space added between the stove and the fridge. This will fill in the empty space, ‘hide’ that the backsplash does not go to the floor, and provide a handy place to put cooking utensils when they are in use as well as preserve the ‘handle room’.

But cabinets and counters (and a new ceramic tile floor) are expensive, so this will be a project long in progress.

I’ve seen instructions online. Some say to use construction adhesive applied with a caulking gun and spread with a putty knife. Others say to use mastic and a toothed trowel. It appears that mastic spreads more easily, and it is easier to achieve an even application. It also seems easier to apply mastic to a wall, than to apply adhesive to the sheet metal. OTOH, I’ve never used mastic.

Mastic, especially water based, is very easy to use–it’s thinner than caulk and spreads easily. Applying the SS to 1/8" masonite is a good idea if the walls are not flat, but contact adhesive is a little more finicky to deal with. Again, this is not a high stress installation–all you really need is that it stays put.

adhesive is stiff and intended to be squished between lumber that is clamped or screwed, it is applied in beads. it would be some work to spread the right thickness over the whole area in a good work time.

mastic is intended to be spread even over the whole area with a toothed trowel and does so easily and has a long work time. mastic is kind of like a thick toothpaste, spreads easy and thin, sticks to a wall, will hold the covering object in place after pressing or rolling.

And here’s how it turned out…

I went to buy mastic last week, and the guy at the hardware store didn’t know which was appropriate. I went to a different hardware store, and the guy wasn’t sure which was appropriate. I said the SO suggested Liquid Nail, and the hardware guy said he was going to suggest that. And we have Liquid Nail.

Today I said I’d get the cast iron out of the stove’s drawer and pull it out. The SO was in the kitchen at the time, and she tried pulling it out. She said it moved easily, so there’s no need to empty the drawer. I tried to get the old hood off, but three of the screws had stripped heads. I pried it off. I cleaned the wall, and the SO applied the Liquid Nail to the backsplash (which she said was pretty). We put it up, using a couple of screws under the bottom edge to hold it in place. No ripples! (That’s why I was leaning toward mastic.)

We marke the holes in the new range hood and the SO drilled one hole through the bottom of the cupboard for the wire. I drilled a hole through the adjacent cover and out the bottom so that the cord would exit near the electrical outlet. (I also turned the outlet 180º for a better orientation.) The hood went up easily, though I did manage to cut myself somewhere along the line. Didn’t notice until I saw that my thumb was covered with blood. Blood and steel, baby!

The new stainless steel-and-black stove with the new stainless steel backsplash and new a full-width stainless steel hood next to the new(-ish) stainless steel refrigerator looks very nice. :slight_smile:

This is old, but here are some more tips. Do NOT buy a 24 ga. backsplash, it’s too thin and prone to ripples when mounted. 22ga is a good thickness for most applications, and 20ga is good for large sheets and commercial settings. As MikeG said, contact cement is great stuff, but I would only use it when the sheet isn’t hemmed and is going on a smooth surface. If your backsplash is hemmed and/or on an uneven surface, the best solution is either silicone, or some polyurethane like Liquid Nails. Make sure you warm it up in water before using. Apply a bead all the way around about an inch in from the edge, and a W shape in the middle. Use double sided tape to help hold it in place while the glue dries. I would recommend a small rubber roller to help ensure contact with the tape and glue. Voila, you’re done. It ain’t rocket science.

Speaking of which, I recently purchased a patterned stainless backsplash for a kitchen install, custom cut to size and the works from They can be a little pricey on some stuff, but on the whole they’re pretty reasonable. The site also provided some installation tips to make the process go a little smoother.