free-standing glass block backsplash?

pitpatJanuary 2, 2012

Hi all,

Some of you were very helpful a few months back when I posted about redoing our small and awkward kitchen. We have decided to put the remodel on hold and just make 2 small changes to make it a little more functional while we save up. One of the changes is adding a backsplash behind the sink, which is part of a peninsula. We were thinking of making one with glass block. The peninsula is flat, with NO backing at all, so there is nothing to put tile on. I thought glass block would be a good choice for that reason, plus we live in a 100-y-o American 4-square, with glass block in the bathroom, and a few prairie/arts&crafts accents throughout the house. There is a 2 3/4" strip of countertop behind the sink (formica I think), so there would be enough room for the blocks, right? I have done a little looking online but haven't found anything useful on free-standing glass block backsplashes. What do you all think? Any advice? Is this a good idea or a crazy one?

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It has to be firmly attached to something from the foundation up. Glass block are HEAVY, and well, glass. They can easily break a foot or shatter and cut you if they were to be disloged. You would need a pony wall plus in order to mortar them safely in place. A lighter weight substitute would be acrylic blocks, but they would also need to be firmly attached to a substrate. It wouldn't require as much engineering as glass though.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 2:58PM
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This picture is in a bathroom, but still the same idea - freestanding glass blocks stacked 4 high on a narrow divider between a tub and shower.

I see no reason why a similar arrangement wouldn't work in a kitchen setting.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Thanks for the follow-ups. One thing I forgot to mention is that we could probably get away with just doing the backsplash one block high. The splashing that currently happens there would be mostly prevented by just one block. Otherwise, it would just be 2 blocks high. That helps, right?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 3:35PM
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A sheet of some flat material is going to be a bit flimsy, but might do the job. Something transparent / translucent (see-through / shine-though) could be made of two layers of pretty much anything, and it could be reinforced with stainless steel rod or channel. Or aluminum.

Glass block is 3" thick. Heavy and three full inches thick, behind the sink. If they made THIN glass block it would make more sense to me. I've thought of cutting glass block in half (with a wet saw) but never done it. That would leave one side very rugged.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 3:39PM
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What about glass like in a shower? Most glass places will cut it any size you want and use the metal guides. You could have it frosted or not. I think that would be an easy DIY job.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Rats - I thought I had read somewhere that they were 2" thick. Oh well. A glass panel should work though. Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 5:18PM
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How about just a glass back splash? Glass block is about 3" thick, do you want to give up 3" of counter top? Glass can be used very creatively, and can be great decoration. Pattern glass was used in the illustrated back splash for an interesting effect.

Paint the wall the color you want. Have your glass shop come out and measure for glass panels. Install them with clear silicon, just 5 dabs per panel will do it âÂ" one in each corner and one in the middle.

We have even gotten creative on occasion and install LED lights behind the glass -- it's great, shadowless counter top lighting.

If you want just a 4" splash, have the top edge of the glass polished so no one gets cut.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

Stop reading my mind, Pitpat. It's creepy!!

I've been looking up photos of glass block to give my peninsula a backsplash today. (Didn't find any peninsular ones.)

I think block one square tall might look chintzy though. I like the idea of frosted glass, sort of like an inverted sneezeguard.

Can you post a picture, both sides?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 10:29PM
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I think reeded glass would be less likely to show up every drop of water. You could also try seeded glass for that.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 1:03AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

If you are DIY capable, these components, plus a few countersunk screws and some clear epoxy glue would be an inexpensive temporary solution:

Aluminum channel

Acrylic panel

If you want to get creative with the kids, use two panels with their artwork sandwiched between. :)

(Make sure you can still operate the handles on your faucet before attaching the channel. ;)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 9:12AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Sorry, Davidr01, I see you've already made a similar suggestion. I should read more carefully!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 9:17AM
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Lol, fori. I knew I couldn't be the only one thinking of this, so I was surprised that I didn't find much online.

I will probably go for the glass panel. Reedy/seeded/rainy glass would be great. We have a glass shop literally around the corner from us, so I'll ask them if they do those specialty glasses. They actually made us a new panel for our jalousie window for free, so they are good people to deal with.

xoldtimecarpenter, those ideas would be lovely, but we want to keep this simple and cheap, since it's only a temporary solution. We're also not giving up any counter space, since the backsplash will be installed on the narrow strip behind the sink (pic below).

We have lived with the sink like this for 11 years now, b/c we keep putting off the kitchen remodel, and it's driving me crazy. We've managed OK by being careful with the water, but it does occasionally spray back there, and sometimes water pools up on that strip and then drips down. The reason we HAVE to put up a backsplash now is temporary fix #2: putting a cabinet (the white one in the upper right corner of the picture) on the other side of the sink, which will be almost flush with the countertop. That will allow us to fit a bigger table at the back of the kitchen so my boys can eat all their meals but dinner in the kitchen (we just redid our dining room and are using cloth tablecloths instead of vinyl, and the messes are driving me crazy). The paint on that white cabinet flakes easily, plus we will be putting stuff on it, so we can't have water splashing back there anymore.

Thanks for all the ideas! I hope DH is up for this DIY project! And in case anyone is interested, the faucet is a Kohler (at least, I think it is). We love it. It also has a spray setting, and it's a pull-down.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 11:44AM
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I just saw a photo of a glass panel backsplash like what you are doing. It's in a book "the kitchen" by Vinny Lee. Page 132. I picked it up at the library today.

Sorry I can't post a photo.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 6:48PM
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