Installing Backsplash

Backsplash installation tips, including a cool new product. March 14, 2006

I'm installing a laminate office countertop with a Kuehn bevel edge. I'm also adding a 4" high laminate backsplash with Kuehn bevel on the top and sides of the backsplash. Since I'm new to laminate work, what is the best way to attach the backsplash?

The wall is bowed out by about 3/16". Should I attach the backsplash to the back of the countertop (horizontal screws) or to the top of the countertop (vertical screws from underneath)? With a 4" high backsplash, does it need to be anchored to the wall studs with screws and then attach the laminate?

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing Forum)
From contributor H:
I think you would want to attach the back splash to the top of the countertop (vertical screws). If you have any exposed sides with bevel edge and attach it to the back your visual lines will be altered. Also build your back splash with a 1/2" scribe strip on the back so you can scribe the bow in the wall. I prefer not to caulk or screw back splashes to the wall in an office because it may be moved soon and often office space is rented or leased and the scribe method doesn't harm the walls.

From contributor G:
I would recommend taking a look at Smart Clips to attach the backsplash.

From contributor B:
I agree with Contributor G. The Smart Clips are slick and work very well for us.

From contributor M:
Although the scribing method would have worked, the Smart Clip looks like a great idea. Do you have to buy all the accessories (router bit, screw depth gauge, spacing bar)? I'm only going to need about 8 clips total, and I don't usually install too many backsplashes. What substrate do you recommend? The countertop is MDF - would this work for the backsplash?

From contributor G:
Check around your local cabinet shops. Somebody should be able to route and set the screws for the Smart Clips for you for a couple bucks. I've done this for walk-in customers. After that all you do is secure the clips onto the countertop. What's nice about the smart clips is that the backsplash will follow the scribed top just as it follows the wall - no more scribing the strip on the backsplash.

From contributor G:
True, there isn't much left once you route out the particle board, but we have never had any problems.

From contributor T:
Just so I know the right order, you stick the laminate on the backsplash first then route out the particle board for screws that snap into the smart clips, right?

From contributor G:
Yes you are correct. The thing is when you route the particle board out, make sure you route deep enough so the entire smart clip is within the routed out section. If the clip is not at least flush with the back of the backsplash you could, when installing the splash, actually break through the laminate with the smart clip when the Smart Clip is attached to the countertop. Also, if you are too deep, the screws can cause a lump in the particle board that can be felt on the face of the laminate.

From contributor J:
I recently completed an installation of a backsplash and first time use of Smart Clips. The friend whom I was helping paid me for time and used his materials. Since he'd happened upon 1" particle board, it was used on the countertop (built up to 1 1/2") and back splash (1"). It did save building up thickness of backsplash, but that stuff is rigid. Of course, his walls were quite bowed. I had to use a large hammer and a 2x4 laid across the countertop to get the clips to snap into place. This somewhat defeated the "wall hugging" benefits of using Smart Clips, as the wood was simply too rigid to follow the wall.

In the future, I'll laminate backsplash with 3/4 stock and build up edges if 1" thickness is desired. By the way, since I didn't damage the laminate using the described 2x4 method, I'm confident the average homemaker is not at risk of chipping that thin layer of un-backed laminate where rabbet is routed for the clips.