A stove backsplash and a sink backsplash may look similar, but they are two different monsters. Since they serve different purposes, it stands to reason that there are differences in installation and material.
Purpose of a Stove Backsplash
The stove backsplash will add a decorative touch to any kitchen. But aside from aesthetics, it actually serves a purpose. These backsplashes should be able to withstand greasy messes, clean easily, and will protect the wall finish from cooking accidents. If you've ever tried to scrub splattered grease from wallpaper or matte paint, you will understand the importance of a good backsplash.
Purpose of a Sink Backsplash
Just as the stove backsplash serves a purpose, so does the sink version. The sink backsplash should also create an easy to clean surface. It will also protect the wall from splashing water and grime that can build up from cleaning greasy messes.
A stove backsplash is going to be exposed to much greater temperatures than a sink backsplash would. Hot grease and heat from the oven can damage some materials. With this in mind, whatever material is used for the stove backsplash should be able to withstand higher temperatures than those used behind sinks.
Most kitchens have a smaller area of exposed wall behind a stove than behind a sink. As a result, solid sheets of material that are used behind stoves usually need to be cut. Some home improvement retailers will have a section of material available for stoves in different dimensions than those marked for sinks.
Best Materials for Stove Backsplashes
Ceramic tiles are popular behind a stove. They create a heat resistant surface, and are easy to wipe down. The method in which ceramic is installed will need to be modified slightly for heat resistance. The difference is mainly in the grout that is used for the tile.
Metal backsplashes are also popular choices for behind stoves. Copper, stainless steel, and even iron backsplashes can create a beautiful touch to any kitchen. The metal can be etched, textured, or powder coated to create different finishes. The metal surface is easy to clean and will withstand heat without any problems. The exception to this rule is tin. Tin can be used as a stove backsplash but it's not recommended. The material is soft, and isn't as resistant to heat as other types of metal. Cleaning grease off of tin can be a problem as well since abrasive or harsh cleaners will cause tin to discolor.
Stone tiles are also popular for backsplashes. When stone is used behind a stove, it needs to be treated for easy cleaning. Without a special seal, grease and other messes from cooking can stain the tiles. Heat isn't a factor with most stones. You can check with your local stone supplier to find out if the type of stone you are considering will work for a stove backsplash.