Practical and visually pleasing, acrylic splashbacks are a hugely popular choice for use within both kitchens and bathrooms. They provide a backdrop against the wall, which is durable and easy to maintain, protecting walls from grease when cooking, or water splashes from a tap. Acrylic splashbacks are inexpensive and a great choice for use within your home.
If you’re looking to install an acrylic splashback, then this is the guide for you. We’ll take you through step-by-step how to DIY install an acrylic splashback, saving you money for the rest of your renovation.
Fitting an acrylic splashback is less complicated than you might think and with careful measuring and cutting, you could save yourself a fortune tackling this job yourself!
Acrylic is a type of plastic that mimics the same visual appearance as glass. It is sometimes also known as perspex and can be bought in a variety of thicknesses, colours, patterns and transparencies.
Whilst acrylic mimics the appearance of glass, it is arguably a more favourable material to use when it comes to splashbacks. Not only is it a lot less expensive but it doesn’t require any special cutting tools for installation either. It means it’s relatively straightforward to fit and is particularly DIY-friendly too.
Acrylic is also much lighter in weight and much tougher than glass, making it less likely to be damaged or to break. It can be bought in a variety of colours and patterns to suit any style too.
Other alternatives include stainless steel and tiles, which are also commonly used as splashbacks, however, stainless steel may not be to every taste and tiles also require much more time, materials and work to install.
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of using acrylic as a splashback:
May scratch if the wrong cleaning material is used.
Half the weight of glass.
Not all acrylic is suitable for use behind a hob.
Can be installed DIY-style.
Can be purchased in a variety of colours and patterns.
Toughened, unlikely to break.
Easy to clean
When it comes to fitting an acrylic splashback, there are two methods available; using adhesive or using screws. If you have chosen a clear or translucent splashback then, needless to say, glue would be visible through it. In this case, you should definitely use screws.
Some people may also opt for screws if they foresee themselves changing the splashback in the future (ie, it’s only being installed as a temporary solution) as this will make it easier to remove and replace without damaging the walls.
Unless either of the above applies to you, then the simplest and easiest method is to use adhesive. Don’t worry though, regardless of which you choose, we’ll take you through each method in this guide.
So, if you’ve decided acrylic splashbacks are for you, keep reading for the full how-to.
Before you begin, you’ll need to ensure your walls are properly prepared. Any previous tiles, wallpaper or other wall coverings must be removed and any large areas with blown plaster should be repaired first.
For the acrylic splashback to fit flush against the wall and be properly secured, the wall needs to be flat without any raised imperfections or large dips.
Hold a long spirit level up against the wall and move it along to find any dips. You’ll be able to see these behind the spirit level where there’s a gap between it and the wall. You can fill in any dips with a pre-mixed plaster skim; leave it to dry before sanding flat.
If your walls are particularly wobbly in texture and un-level, it may be worth re-plastering first. A few anomaly dips won’t cause much of a problem, but just like tiling, a level base will make all the difference to how good the end result is.
Thoroughly clean the wall with a cloth and sugar soap first to remove any grease and dirt. If the surface is dusty or dirty, the adhesive may not set properly and you’ll have to re-do the entire process.
If you have freshly plastered walls or raw plasterboard, you will also need to seal the wall before fitting the acrylic. Both fresh plaster and plasterboard are porous, which means they will suck the moisture from the adhesive before it’s able to properly stick.
To seal a wall, simply mix up some PVA and water in a 50/50 ratio and apply onto the wall. Make sure to leave to dry before moving onto the next step.
Using a tape measure, measure both the height and width of the wall area in which you wish to install the splashback and write these down on a piece of paper. Depending on how long your wall is, you may have to fit two separate pieces of splashback with a join, in which case take measurements for installing two separate pieces if need be.
Keeping the protective film on the acrylic, transfer your measurements onto the acrylic sheet using a pencil line and long ruler. Apply some masking tape over the top of this line and then re-draw it onto the masking tape. The masking tape will ensure when you cut the acrylic, it won’t chip or splinter.
You can use a variety of different saws to cut through acrylic, including a jigsaw, circular saw or table saw. Whichever saw you choose, make sure to use a blade which is suitable for acrylic, which ideally is a fine and closely spaced tooth blade. According to Cut Plastic Sheeting, wide space teeth will cause the acrylic to chip.
To cut the acrylic, it’s important to have a proper work table set-up where you can securely clamp the whole length of acrylic into position. This will prevent excess vibrations which may otherwise cause the acrylic to crack whilst cutting.
You’ll also want to clamp a wooden batten along the acrylic so that when you run your saw against it, it will cut directly along the line. The batten will ensure the cut is perfectly straight and there’s no chance of “going off” at an angle with your saw.
You can now cut both the height and length of the acrylic to the correct size. Whichever saw you decide to use, make sure to start it up before it touches the acrylic, otherwise this may cause the edge to chip. When cutting, try not to force the saw through the acrylic, just let it work at its own pace and gently push through. We also recommend doing a ‘test’ cut on the acrylic beforehand to see how the blade cuts and ensure it won’t leave too much of a rough edge.
This video below demonstrates cutting acrylic perfectly with different saws, including a score-and-snap technique, using just a knife, although this is only suitable for acrylic less than 5mm thick and not recommended for large sheets.
One obstacle you’ll almost certainly come across when fitting an acrylic splashback is cutting around sockets and switches. However, this is much easier than you might think! Start by measuring from the bottom of the worktop to the bottom of the socket and transfer this onto the acrylic in the same position. You can then do the same for the side of the socket and draw the entire rectangular outline of the socket onto the acrylic. You’ll want to add masking tape over the line, and redraw just as you did earlier too.
For a perfect fit, we recommend reducing the rectangle by around 5 mm on each edge. The cover of the socket or switch will be able to fit over the top of the acrylic, therefore making the cut slightly smaller in size guarantees there will be no gaps.
Using a drill and suitable drill bit for acrylic, drill four holes into the inner corners of the rectangle you have just drawn. Place a piece of wood underneath each hole as you drill through, to prevent splintering and again, remember not to force the drill through, just let it go through at its own pace!
Once you’ve drilled four holes you can then slot a jigsaw into one hole at a time and cut along the straight lines to remove the rest of the rectangular outline.
If any of the edges you’ve cut have been left a little rough or splintery, don’t worry, as this can easily be solved. You’ll need some wet and dry sandpaper with a sanding block, and a bit of water too. Dampen the edge of the acrylic and using 180-grit sandpaper around a sanding block, rub back and forth over the edge until the bulk of the roughness has been removed. Keep the edge slightly damp at all times, but not too wet.
Once you’ve removed most of the roughness with the 180-grit paper, you can go back over and repeat the process with a slightly finer sandpaper (320-grit) before eventually finishing with the finest grit (600-grit) to give it a fully polished finish. Take your time with this step and don’t rush moving between sandpapers too soon.
If you have to join two separate lengths of acrylic together, you have either two options. The first is to butt the two pieces of acrylic together and providing you’ve cut two perfect edges, they should meet up against one another to provide a seamless finish. If cut correctly, you shouldn’t even notice the join.
If, however, your skills with cutting the acrylic have been a little less than perfect, you can use a straight aluminium splashback joint between the joins instead. This will slot in-between the two pieces of acrylic and cover the edge of each cut. It will create a visible join but may provide a neater finish if your cuts aren’t perfect. If you’re using an aluminium joint, you should cut this to the same height as your acrylic using a metal saw.
We have two methods available for this step; either using glue or screws. As mentioned previously, which method you use will depend on how transparent your acrylic is, and whether you wish to change it at a later date.
Whichever method you pick, you should do a “dry fit” first, to make sure everything will fit perfectly into place before you go ahead and properly secure it.
Using a suitable all-purpose construction adhesive with a cartridge gun, apply a liberal amount of adhesive onto the back of the splashback in an up and down V-motion, so the back of the acrylic is covered with several different points of contact.
We also recommend using a suitable double-sided tape along with the adhesive, so the splashback is held firmly into place whilst the adhesive goes off. To do this, affix several lengths of tape along the back of the splashback and peel back the top layer.
Once you’re ready to install the splashback, lift it up and push firmly onto the wall along the entire length of the splashback. You want to make sure the adhesive has made contact with the wall throughout the whole length, so do be thorough with this.
If you need to use an aluminium joint, this should be fitted at the same time as the splashback. Simply apply some adhesive to the back of the jointing bar and slot into the edge between the splashbacks. If any adhesive pushes out from the back of the splashback, wipe this away.
If you’re using screws to affix your splashback, you’ll need to drill four holes in each corner of the acrylic, in the same way you did earlier for the socket. If your splashback is particularly long in length, you may wish to add two in the middle as well.
Once these have been drilled, you can then hold the splashback up onto the wall in position and mark the same holes onto the wall. Drill these same holes onto the wall and place wall plugs into them.
To affix the acrylic splashback, we recommend using mirror screws as these have ‘caps’ that slot over the screw for a more visually pleasing appearance. Simply screw through the front of the acrylic into each of the wall plugs and tighten to secure it into position. You can then add the caps for a sleek finish.
Pro Tip: Before Installation, make sure your acrylic splashback is suitable for use behind a hob, as not all acrylics are heat resistant.
If you’ve used an adhesive, make sure to leave it to dry for a minimum of 24 hours and then you can remove the plastic cover from the acrylic splashback. Removing earlier than this may cause the acrylic to separate from the glue.
Finally, the last step is to apply a bead of silicone sealant to the gap between the splashback and the worktop, so no food or water can get through this gap.
We have a full DIY guide for using silicone sealant already, so for a tutorial on this, please check that out here. Once this step is done and it has dried, you’re all done!
If you want to see the process of installing your own acrylic splashback through video, we recommend checking out this one below:
So that’s it! Installing an acrylic splashback is much easier than you might think, it’s inexpensive and will provide a sleek, modern and desirable finish to any kitchen or bathroom, that’s also practical and hard-wearing.
We hope this guide has been useful and if it has, please do share it with others who you think it might help too!
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Kezzabeth is a blogger and DIY renovator. She bought her first house at 20, realising the only way she would be able to get onto the property ladder was to buy a fixer-upper and learn how to renovate, DIY-style