DIY Glass Splashback
How to measure and install a glass splashback
Painted glass splash backs have really taken off during my time in the industry. When I first started out I looked forward to fitting them, mainly because they looked so good, but there was always one big problem – the cost was astronomical, with standard kitchens costing upwards of $4000 to supply and install the splash back, which made them unaffordable for many people.
As much of this cost is in the labour, I’ve thought long and hard about why it is that many people won’t have a go at installing their own splash backs. The enthusiastic renovator will do their own tiling, floor boards, painting and so on, but when it comes to splash backs, often hesitates and gets someone in to do it for them.
Part of the problem, from where I see it, is that glass splash backs are often fitted at the wrong time – they’re left to very last, which I reckon is a hangover from the days of using tiles. Doing it this way means you have to carefully measure the space between the kitchen bench and overhead cabinets, which can be really tricky to get right, especially if things aren’t level. This need for a high degree of accuracy really limits the ability of those who want to do it themselves – in truth it stumps a lot of professional glaziers too!
I have talked to many glass company owners who all have the same problem; they can’t find tradespeople that can measure accurately. This is particularly bad news for the supplier as once the glass is toughened it can’t be modified, so a new piece has to be made – a costly mistake.
The solution – fit the splash back first!
Taking on board what I’ve learned over the years, I’ve been able to work out a solution to this issue, it’s pretty simple and with a bit of thought you can save thousands. For jobs where you need to work around overhead cabinets, the thing to do is fit the splash back first, it will save you from making costly mistakes and you will end up with a better look. Of course if your splash back is going to be a simple rectangle then you don’t need to do this, but if you need to work around anything then it can be a smart way to go.
If your fitting your own kitchen then you already know how much you can save by doing it yourself, to help things go smoothly, the most important part is planning. If you do things in the right order you can save yourself a lot of grief. When measuring your kitchen start thinking about your splash back, if your really confident with measuring you can even order your glass at the same time as your kitchen, although its usually a good idea to wait until you have your kitchen in place. If you’re fitting your own cabinets then take your time, make sure everything is level – you will thank yourself latter if you do.
When all your lower cabinets are fitted you can measure for the glass, make a mark on the wall where the bottom of your overhead cabinets will be and you want to make your glass about 20mm higher than this point, think about any corners and make sure you allow 8mm where glass is going to meet in a butt join.
Before you order your glass check and double check all your measurements and that nothing will obstruct you fitting it to the wall. If you’re unsure make a template out of cardboard or similar using your measurements and check the fit.
Glass splash backs are usually made from 6mm painted toughened glass, once glass has been toughened it can not be cut or changed in any way, which is why it’s so important to take your time and make sure all your measurements are correct.
DIY Glass Splashback
Next make sure you’re happy with your color, most suppliers will paint in any color, I advise getting a small pot of paint in the color you want and painting the wall, this isn’t exactly how its going to look, as the glass over the top can change the shade slightly, but after a day you should know whether you like it. Most suppliers will also give you a free sample of standard colors painted on a small piece of glass, if you want a custom colour they will usually paint a small sample piece for a minimal cost that is usually deducted from the purchase price of the full splash back, when you order it.
Did you know that standard glass is slightly green? Yes, even your reflection in a mirror is actually slightly green, and not just after a big night! Glass is made from sand and also contains iron; it’s the iron that gives glass a green tinge. For most darker colors this is fine and you will not notice the green, however, if you want a color like white or a light shade the green can change the color completely. In this situation I advise ordering your glass in low iron or crystal clear glass, extra clear glass is usually quite a bit more expensive but if you want a light color, or you want to match a color perfectly, it is a must.
To measure for power points, simply mark a centre crosshair (+) for the height and the width and then give a measurement from the edge to these lines as shown on the diagram below.
How to measure a power point
Also, measure the outside perimeter of your socket plate and let your glass supplier know these details. If you think you have a non-standard power point you should give a size that is slightly bigger than the screw holes, so that the plate completely covers the hole in the glass, and the screws should not touch the glass.
If you’re going to fit a splash back yourself around power points, you should really get an electrician to remove the power point hardware and cap all the wires, and then get someone back to refit it, but if you’re confident enough you can turn the mains power switch off, unscrew the power point and usually turn it 90 degrees so that it sits inside the box.
The splash back can then be fitted by pushing the power point through the hole, it can then be turned back and screwed on again. It may be necessary to get longer screws for the power point, to allow for the depth of the splash back, which as I mentioned above, is usually 6mm.
Where to buy splash backs
Check out our web site GlassShop.com.au we specialize is supplying our customers with glass, mirror and of course painted glass, cut to size and delivered to your door. If you’re not from here, then you’ll want to phone around glass shops in your local area, find someone who will deliver a “supply-only” splash back, this may be difficult as all the money is in the labour (installation) and some companies won’t just supply the splash back for you to install yourself. It should be about $100 per square meter, cheaper if you fit it yourself.
Also try to find someone who will give you a warranty on the paint, unfortunately there are some cowboys out there who think you can paint glass with any old paint and a warranty shows that they have tested their paint and will guarantee that it will not peel off over time.
Painted glass should normally be ready in about two weeks. When you order ask the supplier for a couple of tubes of whatever silicone they recommend, it’s important to use the right adhesive as some glues may have an adverse effect on the paint.
Installing a splash back
Now you’ll be glad to hear that the hard part is over, installing glass splash backs is much more simple, in fact it is exactly the same as fitting a mirror so check out my post on that, basically just add big blobs of glue and push it back! If you’re worried about carrying glass, check out my handling glass post, for a few tips to follow, which will help take your fear away.
My million dollar secret
OK, well maybe more like a few thousand dollars! Get some 8mm spacers, that’s right spacers – as your overhead cabinets are getting screwed to the wall all you need to do is pack them off the wall by 8mm, most hardware shops should have lots of different types of these, I recommend horseshoe packers for this or alternatively you can use some 8mm timber or similar to bring the cupboards out off the wall.
Now you might be thinking that that 20 mm of glass you have tucked under your cabinet is a waste of money, but hear’s the thing, doing it this way gives you so much room for error that it’s almost impossible to go wrong. I know experienced glaziers who have measured incorrectly and had to order jobs twice, this alone is reason enough to do it this way. Another benefit is the zero edge, because the glass fits behind the cabinet there is no gap to fill and your job will look cleaner than most.
Another thing to note is that most suppliers will charge for each complex cut and charge you for the waste glass in a sheet as well, so chances are you will actually save money compared to a complex cut piece. It can take an experienced glazier over an hour to precisely measure a complex splash back, knowing that one mistake can mean the difference between making or losing money.
I hope this information will save you time and money on your kitchen or bathroom renovation. Send photos if you do use this approach or leave a comment below. I’d love to know how you get on.
If you have any questions about fitting a glass splash back yourself, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.