A Bolder Backsplash
Back-painted glass offers a colorful, durable option for kitchen and bathroom walls
For a sleek, contemporary look in kitchens and bathrooms, back-painted glass has become a popular alternative to tile or synthetic solid-surface materials. The appeal is easy to understand: Back-painted glass is available in practically any color, is easy to clean, is durable, and can cover large surfaces without seams or grout lines. Best of all, its subtle, reflective surface brings a dramatic splash to any room.
Back-painted glass costs more than midrange ceramic tile but is on par with upper-end materials once all costs are figured. The biggest downside is availability: Not all small glass companies handle it. You’ll likely have to find a large glass company, and you’ll have more companies to choose from in larger metropolitan areas. Additionally, the substrate, usually drywall, must be absolutely flat in order for the glass to be installed securely.
What is back-painted glass?
The process of painting glass goes back to the 1950s, but it was less than 10 years ago that the material became popular in residential and commercial design, primarily for backsplashes and walls but also for countertops and even tabletops.
The glass used has to have a low iron content and so have only a minimal green tint. The paint, unique for this application, is typically applied in two layers, with an additional sealer coat applied to the back side of the glass at a special facility. Then the glass is baked to harden the coatings.
The glass used may be regular (polished surface), matte, sandblasted, or etched with a pattern. Size limits depend on the vendor you are working with, but standard sheets measuring 84 in. by 130 in. are common. That makes it possible to do an average bath surround with just three pieces of glass.
Back-painted glass, which is typically tempered, is available in thicknesses ranging from…