Both practical and pretty - Julia Gray investigates the perfect splashback
IF you want to make kitchen or bathroom look a bit slicker, without too much disruption or cost, fit a splashback behind the hob, sink or basin.
Splashbacks for hobs or cookers are typically made of stainless steel, tiles or heatproof glass, while splashbacks for kitchen sinks and bathroom basins are usually tiled, but can be glass. The problem with tiles is that grout can become discoloured over time, so using dark grout makes sense in the kitchen, especially in the cooking area.
Glass splashbacks are available in standard sizes for hobs and cookers, but bespoke sizes can be made to order by specialist companies. Glass comes in such a large range of colours and patterns, it's easy to find something to suit your taste. If you want to inject a limited amount of colour or pattern into the room, a glass splashback is a good way to do it, or you can co-ordinate the colour of the splashback with the walls.
Splashbacks can also be matched to a glass upstand, which protects the walls above the rest of the kitchen worktop. Upstands often have to be made-to-measure to ensure the length is correct and the cut-outs for the sockets, if any, are in the right places.
If you want to create a unique splashback, how about using wallpaper? OK, you may think wallpaper's not suitable for kitchens and bathrooms, but vinyl ones are designed specially for these rooms. Conventional wallpaper can often be used too - the important thing is to protect it with a clear glass panel, such as the good value Laminate Glass Clear Splashback (£40, B&Q), or a clear acrylic panel away from the hob or cooker. Provided they're fitted and sealed properly, these panels work well because the wallpaper's sealed in, so moisture, cooking splashes, dust and dirt can't get to it.
PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK
Beige doesn't have to be boring. Dulux Egyptian Cotton Matt emulsion (£18 for 2.5ltr, or three 2.5ltr tins for £40, B&Q) is just the right shade, it goes with pretty much everything, but isn't insipid or dull.
Another good thing about Egyptian Cotton is that it comes in different ranges, including the time-saving Once one-coat emulsion; the Endurance emulsion, which is washable and 20 times tougher than standard Dulux Matt, making it ideal for hallways; and Kitchen+ emulsion, which offers grease and stain protection.
To find out how Egyptian Cotton would look on your home's walls, use the new Dulux Visualizer app, which is free to download from www.dulux.co.uk/app. Thanks to Visualizer's augmented-reality technology, you can virtually paint your walls and try all sorts of colour schemes from the comfort of your sofa. The app's fun to use and gives you the full range of Dulux colours at your fingertips, including more than 1,200 from the paint-mixing machine.
If you want to base your colour scheme on a favourite accessory or piece of furniture, the app will suggest similar colours to it. This is much easier than trying to match a colour with tester pots, although I'd really recommend buying testers when you've narrowed down your choices - they can be ordered directly from Dulux.
Visualizer also has a library of how-to videos and can suggest colour schemes, which is helpful if you're not sure which colours go together.
For visualising outdoor paint, there's the Outspiration app, downloadable for free from www.cuprinol.co.uk - Cuprinol Garden Shades transforms garden wood in no time and is currently on offer at B&Q (www.diy.com), with two 2.5ltr tins for £30.
If you're painting a room's walls and woodwork a different colour, how do you get a neat edge between the two? I recommend painting the walls up to, but not touching, the woodwork. Then paint the woodwork (preferably with quick-drying wood paint) and wait at least a few days, if possible, so it's completely dry. Don't worry if some of the wood paint gets on the walls - just wipe or smooth it, so you don't have to sand it later.
To finish off, stick low-tack masking tape along the top of the skirting boards and the edge of the doorframe (where it meets the wall), and paint above the skirting and around the doorframe in the emulsion you used on the rest of the walls. Carefully remove the tape when the last coat of emulsion has started to dry. You should get a clean edge between the woodwork and walls and if a little emulsion bleeds under the tape, you can usually sort this out easily because the paint's still fresh.