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If Kitchen Walls Could Talk: Faux Metal Backsplash vs. The Real Metal Deal

Love the stately look of embossed metal tin backsplash but think it might be cheaper to go with the faux metal backsplash—or easier to apply a peel and stick vinyl backsplash? Does the backsplash material really make that much of a difference?

From faux brick or marble down to faux herringbone or even laminate flooring (yes, on the walls!), vinyl backsplash options are popular because of all the different look-like-the-real-deal styles, patterns, and colors available—as well as how easy these tiles are to install. However, despite the realistic surfaces, many faux peel and stick vinyl backsplash options have a few issues that go unseen until they’re already applied and on the wall.

We’ve decided to cover the pros and cons between real tin tile metal backsplashes vs. vinyl backsplashes in the kitchen so that you can make the best choice for you, your home, and your long-term plans or budget. While either option can turn out beautifully, when it comes from application to finished product, the authentic and the faux backsplash materials matter. 

So between real metal or acrylic: which is harder, better, faster (to apply), and stronger? Below, we cover a few “metal face-offs” to decide which material stands the test of time as a kitchen backsplash. 

Face-Off #1: Metal vs. Faux Metals for Water Resistance

Your backsplash takes a beating. It’s exposed to (literal) splashes and splatters, so it’s important to have a surface that can stand up to the rigors of the kitchen—including water and steam.

Water Resistance for Faux Metal Backsplash

Generally made of vinyl or PVC, faux or peel and stick vinyl backsplash is only superficially water resistant. It withstands water on the surface, yet moisture can easily get behind the vinyl and cause warping or water damage problems. This is the primary reason peel and stick vinyl is not rated for use in a shower.

Water Resistance for Metal Backsplash

With its tough powder coating, tin tile backsplash is both water resistant and rust resistant. Depending on the type of installation, you can even achieve a watertight backsplash for extra protection. Metal tin tiles have been installed on backsplashes for 150 years and the method for keeping them watertight has been perfected over time. 

At American Tin Ceilings, our specialized backsplash panels have a ⅜” nail rail that overlaps with other panels for tight seams. We recommend that the tin panels be installed with a liquid nails adhesive and then nailed down. This combination provides the most watertight (and mildew- and mold-resistant) result.

Image features Pattern #19

Face-Off #2: Metal vs. Faux Metals for Durability Factor

Your backsplash is designed not only for aesthetics, but also to protect your walls. This key feature should be super durable and stand up to plenty of wear and tear day after day, year after year. 

Durability Factor for Faux Metal Backsplash

Adhesives on the back of most peel and stick vinyl backsplash materials don’t always wear well. When exposed to the consistent heat of the stovetop or sunlight beaming through windows, vinyl tends to pop loose and bubble up, sometimes even detaching from the wall completely. Heat and sunlight can also cause the vinyl to off-gas, emitting toxic chemicals into your indoor air.

Durability Factor for Metal Backsplash

Metal tiles are secured with more than just a flimsy adhesive backing. We recommend a combination of glue-on liquid nails and screws or nails (depending on the type of surface you’re installing on). This dual-layered combination will keep your backsplash perpetually secure. 

Tin tiles have always had excellent durability. Contractors are still finding them in great condition within historic buildings well over 100 years old. Our tin is actually steel coated with tin, then finished with powder coating—an improvement on the original that only further extends their durability and corrosion resistant powers.

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Face-Off #3:  Metal vs. Faux Metals for Making Healthy Choices

If you are concerned about making your home safe from toxins, you’ll want to choose materials for your kitchen that are healthy and safe—the backsplash matters here, too.

Health Factor for Faux Metal Backsplash

Peel and stick vinyl backsplash (and all vinyl products) are made with polyvinyl chloride, also called PVC. PVC is a highly hazardous substance that contains phthalates, lead, cadmium, and organotins. When PVC is new, it emits toxic gasses into the air. This substance can continue to produce these toxic gasses when exposed to heat at even low temperatures like you may use for laundry, showering, and (of course) cooking. 

Vinyl is also linked to many illnesses and environmental pollution. Dioxin, another toxin that PVC emits, can be absorbed through the skin and stored in fatty tissue in the body. Dioxin is linked to reproductive and immune illnesses and also causes cancer in lab animals. The World Health Organization classifies it as a human carcinogen.

Health Factor for Metal Backsplash

Metal does not emit gasses and is not influenced by high temperatures like PVC. All our tin tiles are powder coated and baked at a high temperature that reduces potential danger to human health. Thus, our steel-plated tin tile is a much safer and long-term healthier option for a kitchen backsplash than vinyl. 

Image features Pattern #3

Face-Off #4:  Metal vs. Faux Metals for Adding Value to Your Home

Each addition and renovation you make to your home should be aimed at increasing the monetary value of your home. Your kitchen backsplash serves as both a work of art and an investment piece. 

Home Value for Faux Metal Backsplash

Peel and stick vinyl backsplash is generally not an addition that adds value to your home. Think of it like this: marble on the backsplash adds considerable value to your kitchen. Vinyl that looks like marble materials is an attracrtive alternative, but doesn’t carry much value by comparison.

Home Value for Metal Backsplash

Like stone or ceramic tile, tin tile is an architectural feature that permanently changes your kitchen. Tin tile specifically carries historic and authentic design value that enhances any kitchen visually (and monetarily). If you want to play it safer, choose a tin tile backsplash pattern and color that will stand the test of time. White and other neutral colors are excellent choices. Go for a pattern that blends—rather than competes—with other elements of the kitchen. 

 

In the competitive cookoff between a true metal vs. faux metal vinyl backsplash in the kitchen, it’s clear to see that real tin is a win. While there are pros and cons to both real and faux metal, you as the homeowner get to decide what material works best for your budget, design, and needs. 

If you’re interested in the real metal deal, our American Tin Ceilings team is happy to help answer any questions about tin tile backsplash installation, cost, design suggestions, and beyond. 

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