Wood Backsplash Ideas, Maintenance, FAQs

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While wood is not exactly the most durable material in the world, wood kitchen backsplshes are a trend that's been gathering steam in recent years, incorporating unique timber and reclaimed wood into kitchen design ideas like we've never seen it before.

 Though there are some tips and tricks necessary to keep this sturdy material looking ship-shape when used in place of a stone or tile backsplash.

Here we look at wooden backsplash styles, tips, cleaning, maintenance, and fire safety. Let's get to it!

Can You Use Wood As A Kitchen Backsplash?

Yes, you can use wood for a kitchen wall backsplash, with plywood backsplashes being particularly common. However, materials like tile, stone, stainless steel and mosaic are more commonly used for backsplashes due to their versatility and durability.

Beauty can come at a price!

Wood can indeed be used for your kitchen walls in this way, but it has some drawbacks. Wood backsplashes are more likely to get damp, moldy, and mildew-filled if you don't clean and maintain them regularly. Still, if you want this unique look, you have a lot of woods to choose from.

Types of wood used for kitchen backsplashes

Unlike more traditional kitchen backsplashes found in kitchens such as tile, wooden backsplashes come in many different types, looks, and styles. The style and type of wood you choose will largely be influenced by the style of kitchen you're going for – a rustic kitchen requires different wood planks than a modern one.

Here are the most common types of wood used for a backsplash:

  • Plywood
  • Shiplap
  • Beadboard
  • Barnwood
  • Reclaimed Wood

Each of these wood planks has a different look and style, coming in various colors and finishes to complement your walls. When choosing the material for your wood backsplash, take into account your kitchen environment, how you use the space, and how hot your home becomes on a regular basis.

Wooden Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas

Traditional Kitchen

Getting a traditional, rustic kitchen style is easy with a wooden backsplash. Use natural woodtones with lumber for that classic mountain cabin feel, contrasting with your kitchen cabinets to give a sense of dimension to the space.

If you prefer that log cabin feel, amp up the warmth with a wood backsplash that matches your floors, ceiling, and walls. Your home will feel like it's straight out of a picturesque forest in the woods, radiating warmth and class.

White painted slabs are another interesting take on classic kitchens, giving your home that beach-house feel commonly found near the sea. Pacific Bungalow and Farm Cottage kitchens are also very easy for you to create with wood instead of tiles, so it's definitely worth a try.

Modern Kitchen

A wooden backsplash can be a great addition to a contemporary kitchen design, especially if you're going for a high-contrast look with dark-wood paired with white cabinets. This high-contrast look is an excellent way to put a 2020s spin on a longstanding staple of modern kitchens.

Wooden backsplashes painted in cool shades of blue or gray can also be an excellent choice for a contemporary kitchen style. These kinds of tones work very well with floating shelves and cabinets that complement the tones of the wood on the wall.

Furthermore, if you've got a modern-feel kitchen with a lot of stainless steel appliances, a wooden backsplash is the perfect way to warm up the space and stop it from feeling too cold and clinical. Try pairing a wooden backsplash with stainless steel elements for a unique look.

modern kitchen with white cabinet
Image credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Transitional Kitchen

Transitional kitchen styles take elements of old and new kitchen styles, blending them together. For example, you might find a pastel-colored wooden backsplash with stainless steel elements, creating an interesting old-meets-new beach-house aesthetic.

Another way to create a transitional feel with wood backsplashes is to use a natural-toned wood paired with complementary cabinets and then pops of color in the space. 1950s throwback colors work very well for this – reds, blues, teals, and other retro-feeling color schemes.

Whichever aspect of the transitional kitchen you choose, there are many ways that wood backsplashes can tie together elements of old and new in your kitchen. Try the wood in a soft satin finish or experiment with different types of plywood to find the right one for you. If you choose your kitchen backsplash carefully, a wood backsplash can make an excellent addition to the wall behind your kitchen countertop,

Transitional kitchen design

How to Take Care Of A Wood Kitchen Backsplash

Make Sure It's Coated

Unlike tiles, wooden backsplashes are much more receptive to mold and moisture, so it's essential to make sure that they're coated upon installation.

Coat your wood with glossy paint or polyurethane to help extend its lifespan while maintaining a gorgeous look.

Bare wood or stained wood also looks great with covered with a spray-on conversion varnish. This also helps to preserve the material while ensuring a glorious finish.

Clean With Soap & Water Regularly

Clean your kitchen wall backsplash regularly with soap and water, especially if there are splashes from oils or foods after cooking.

You should also clean the area regularly simply to remove moisture, grime, and mold or mildew that may have built up over time.

This is especially true if you live in an area with hard water.

Consider a glass screen

You don't have to do it, but many home owners put up a glass, perspex, or acrylic screen in front of their wooden backsplash to keep it protected.

This way you get the aesthetic of the wood, but without worrying about how it can get damaged or dirty easily. A screen is easy to wipe down after use, similar to tile or stone backsplashes.

Use Mineral Oil

Consider using mineral oil regularly on your wooden backsplash – this will help to stop dirt and water from penetrating deep into wood (while also giving it a lovely healthy finish!)

You can buy mineral oil designed for butcher's blocks in the kitchen – this works just as well for your wooden backsplash and can give it a lovely satin finish afterward.

Sand Down Any Scuffs & Nicks

If your wood becomes scuffed or nicked over time, which is not unlikely, they you should try to sand it down and get the surface looking nice and smooth again.

Clean and dry the surface, then use fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the wood until the surface looks nice and even again.

Once the area has been adequately sanded down, seal it again with varnish, top coat, polyurethane and/or mineral to make sure the new exposed wood layer is protected.

Is It Safe To Have Wood Backsplash Behind A Gas Stove?

Okay, so having a wood backsplash behind a gas stove is not always the best idea. In fact, the US Fire Code for kitchen spaces states that you need 18 inches between gas burners and any flammable surrounding materials.

That includes wood!

To get around this, you might incorporate other elements into the stove area, such as tiles, stone, or steel that slowly turns into the wood of the backsplash.

If you're concerned about wood being too flammable, you can also treat most types of timber to be more fire retardant. Speak to a professional interior designer if you need more guidance on the safety aspect of this.

Wood Kitchen Backsplash Installation

2 x 4 Braces

One of the simpler methods to install a wooden backsplash, wood braces are simple hangers that make it simple to change out your wood planks if they become dirty, moldy, or simply dated and boring.

While not the most stable way to hang up this wood, it's one of the simpler options and gives you multiple ways to change or modify the aesthetic going forward.


A classic method, many people like to nail their wooden backsplash into the walls. This method is stable, though it can be tricky to replace the planks should they need it.

Nails can also look a little DIY if you're not an experienced builder, so it might be best to leave it to the professionals.

Wood Glue

Finally, wood glue is the most ideal installation method if you plan on having your wooden backsplash for a long time. Strong and stable, glue is an ideal solution for installing your backsplash.

Conveniently, wood glue helps your planks to not warp or bend when subjected to heat and moisture, thereby extending their lifespan by potentially years.

wood glue
Image credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo
Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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