A wood backsplash is an easy way to finish off the backsplash area. The options are endless when it comes to designs, and woods available. From exotic woods to laminate planks, and everything in between.
Wood Backsplashes are very attractive and can fit into any kitchen decor. A country kitchen could have a v-groove or beadboard backsplash. A transitional kitchen could have a more exotic wood like Zebrawood or Ipe; but what will make your decision is your taste and how well the colors fit into your kitchen.
Wood can be stained and have polyurethane applied as a protective finish, or primed and painted. The backsplash area will not come in contact with food so any finishing treatment can be used. Polyurethane will be the most durable, but paint and wood stain under the polyurethane will give you more color options.
There is some concern with oils being splattered on the backsplash that would discolor it. Well, if the wood is finished properly and care is taken to not splatter oil, there really is no concern. Wood should not be installed over the range, and this is where most splattering happens. A good high quality finish will allow frequent cleanings without damage to the wood, or finish.
Real wood will expand and contract with humidity. Opening up gaps in the joints of the wood. This will add character, or be a nuisance, it depends on what you like. Kiln dried wood doesn't shrink od expand very much but it will to some degree, always use kiln dried wood. All wood at home improvement centers is kiln dried, so no need to worry if you buy from them.
A cottage or country style kitchen with a beadboard backsplash will really come to life with a natural wood backsplash.
Laminates made for walls and ceilings is also a very good option. These laminate ceiling and wall planks are readily available in retail stores, but may need to be special ordered.
Most woods are available in laminates and installation is very easy. Clips are used to secure the planks to the walls, which allows for the planks to float.
Laminates will not expand and contract nearly as much as real wood. The look of laminates are hard to distinguish from the real thing in some product lines. The ease of cleaning is very good, and the finish on the laminate is very durable.
A wood kitchen backsplash should not be used over the range because the heat from the top has the potential to scorch, or worse, set it on fire. Most codes will not allow for combustibles within a certain distance from a heat source, such as a range. If the required distances to heat are maintained then it may be OK to install wood over a range but please make sure beforehand.
Overall a wood or laminate backsplash is a great alternative backsplash. Wood can be inexpensive to very expensive; it all depends on the species of wood. The more exotic the wood the more expensive it will be. Laminates are generally very reasonable in their prices and rarely go over $6 per sq foot, and that's for the best laminates.