A wine cork kitchen backsplash can be a rustic conversation starter.

How to Make a Rustic Kitchen Backsplash

by Amanda Bell

A rustic backsplash adds personality to a traditional kitchen while melding seamlessly with more lived-in looks. Making a backsplash yourself might seem daunting, but the rustic style is perfect for even a novice DIYer. Supplies are generally budget-friendly, and perfection is not only unnecessary, it’s discouraged; with rustic decor, minor mistakes add to the overall charm.

Salvaged Wood

Salvaged wood is the epitome of rustic and makes for a unique yet relatively easy kitchen backsplash. Old lumber, trimwork and even crates can be perfect for this. Peruse antique stores if you want crates that feature old-time labels and logos. Disassemble pieces outdoors over a large tarp to keep track of old nails. Secure the salvaged planks directly to the wall. You can leave the backsplash as is, apply a light glaze or whitewash the wood. When you're done, it's a good idea to seal it thoroughly with a protective finish to ensure a washable, food-safe surface. Be wary of old painted wood, which is likely to contain lead paint, as well as lumber from shipping pallets or any materials used for outdoor applications. Many of these materials have been treated with, or exposed to, toxic chemicals and are not suitable for a kitchen environment.

Rustic Mosaic

Mosaics make classic backsplashes, but they’re often shiny, overly colorful and not appropriate for rustic decor. With a little work, you can make a simpler version relatively easily. Shop at yard sales, flea markets, antique shops and the like for old plates and bowls, choosing a variety of finishes and styles but avoiding anything too shiny -- or at least too much of it. An array of different clay pieces will provide a natural look, with a few brighter ceramic bits mixed in to spice up the finished project. Break these pieces in a heavy bag with a hammer and create a mosaic on clear mosaic mounting sheets. Apply tile mastic directly to the backsplash area and then install the mosaic sheet-side out so that the clay and ceramic pieces are pressed directly into the mastic. Once dry, remove the clear sheets and grout over your creation.

DIY Wine Cork Backsplash

A wine cork backsplash uses both a natural material and found objects. You can buy bulk corks online and may be able to special-order enough from a craft store to complete the project. Or ask your local bartender. Cutting a piece of plywood to size and making the backsplash on it works better than trying to glue the corks to the wall. Cut the corks in half lengthwise to create staggered rows, a basket weave or other pattern. Cut the corks in half widthwise and glue them to the board facing outward to create a rustic twist on the penny tile backsplash. Cork is light, so a hot glue gun is perfect for this. Finish the project with a clear spray sealant; this product is fume-heavy, so apply it outdoors away from the kids. When the sealant is dry, secure the plywood to the backsplash area with nails or screws, placing them between the corks into the wall studs.

Stone Backsplash

Stone can make a rustic or elegant backsplash depending on what you use. For the former, found stones or landscaping store finds are best. Look for various colors and types of stone, mixing as many textures as you can for the less-than-perfect look you’re after. Attach your collection to clear mosaic mounting sheets cut to the size of your backsplash area. Install this as you would any mosaic, applying tile mastic directly to the wall and then pressing the stone into it sheet-side out. Remove the sheet after the mastic sets and then grout over the stones if desired. For a twist, collect smooth river stones in various sizes and skip the mosaic sheet. Press them into wet tile mastic directly on the wall so that the sides face out, creating a three-dimensional look.

About the Author

Amanda Bell spent six years working as an interior designer and project coordinator before becoming a professional writer in 2010. She has published thousands of articles for various websites and clients, specializing in home renovation, DIY projects, gardening and travel. Bell studied English composition and literature at the University of Boston and the University of Maryland.

Photo Credits

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