before and after

before & after: reclaimed-wood kitchen backsplash

by Kate Pruitt

I do believe that there are some irrefutable beauties in the world, and wood is one of them. The greatest part of decorating with wood is that cheap, old, tattered and even dirty wood can look amazing; it has incredible texture, character and color. How many materials can you say that about? This reclaimed-wood backsplash by Dana Marston is a perfect example. Using free wood, a lot of elbow grease and a fresh coat of white paint, Dana was able to transform this nondescript kitchen into an elegant, beachy, rustic space. I love the wide variety of color and texture the wood panels provide, and it seems like a great material for such an oft-used space — the more wear and tear, the better they look! Great job, Dana! — Kate

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Read the full post after the jump!

Time: Two days to complete from prep to installation. Priming and painting the cabinets took another 1.5 days.

Cost: $60 (wood was free)

Basic Steps: We started by cutting the shipping pallets to approximately 18 inch lengths and scrubbing them clean. The pieces were roughly laid out to determine the configuration we wanted on the wall. The reclaimed wood was installed using Liquid Nails on a plastic, waterproof backsplash. Also, the cabinets were primed and painted Woodmont Cream (Benjamin Moore).

Two pieces of advice: Use a skill saw to remove the wood from the pallet and a jigsaw to customize the trim pieces. And be selective when choosing the pallet wood you would like to use. We chose oak. Pine was easier to come by, but it was lighter in color and softer. It didn’t suit the rustic aesthetic we wanted. Embrace the imperfections of the aged pallet wood! — Dana

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  • Looks awesome…were those laminate cabinets??? If so, how did you paint them??? I have laminate covered cabinets and might be interested in doing something similar. THANKS!

  • It’s so nice to really see a huge change on this make-over. From typical style to a very simple yet unique that increases the visibility of the the ascents and the details of the kitchen. And it is not that high cost too. Great job here.

  • Nice and unexpensive way to dramatically change the look of your kitchen. The cream color of the cabinets really compliments the rough wood look

  • It looks GREAT but won’t the wood expand eventually with the steam and heat from cooking?

  • looks awesome! but i am also wondering about the longevity of untreated wood as a backsplash…? let us know how it works for you

  • I saw this and my jaw dropped. Coolest. Concept. EVER! I love it, and I want it, and I will be stealing it now. Thank you!!

  • Very cool, as it’s the backsplash it’s food safe. A lot of pallets have been treated with chemicals. Nice painted cabinets as well.

  • We’ve been dying to do this—both the white cabinets and the wood backsplash. This might be the push that I’ve needed. Such a huge payoff for an inexpensive project.

  • This is such an awesome idea and I love it! The more use it will get, the better it will look! Did you use a finish on the wood to protect it from water, splashes or heat?

  • I like it but I bet its a bitch to clean (specifically if you’re someone who does a lot of messy kitchen activities) Not for me but it looks great.

  • its nice but in my point of view it would have been better if you would’ve kept the cabinet’s door as wood and the rest painted with a colder white.
    anyway you did a big job!

  • I would also love to know more about fixing up the cabinets. (My husband and I are about to move into a new place and the wood cabinets are in terrible condition, but we don’t have the budget to get new ones, just repaint or refinish.)

  • That backsplash is incredible. Very nice transformation. I think I saw a very similar (different) post on Pinterest today, very cool trend. Nicely done :-)

  • as a young designer, i am in love with natural materials and neutral colors.. the after kitchen looks like a completely different space than the before kitchen… the use of old wood and neutral colors are great however i am not sure that i like the look of the cabinet and the appliances being basically the same color..

  • I have heard that pallet wood can have harsh chemicals in it. did you find this to be the case at all and what is your advice on this?

  • WOW, that’s beautiful. Amazing transformation!! the one thing that I think would really finish it off is to change out that sink faucet. Great job, though.

  • I think I saw this on AT too…I love the idea. It was very inspiring to my husband and I to move forward with remodeling our kitchen even though we have a small budget.

  • Very pretty, but how on earth would you clean it? Wouldn’t rags or sponges get torn to shreds?

  • wow what an easy (?) and dramatic transformation! those weird 70s walnut laminate cabinet doors are the worst things in the world. i would love to see another version maybe where all the top doors are removed! xx

  • Amazing transformation! Just goes to show that you don’t always need a big budget to make a difference… and re-using is much more eco-friendly than ripping out & starting again! Well done…

  • I love the idea… I am in the process of painting the cupboards in our kitchen. They are in great shape but they are 40 plus years old. I used the Impervo from Benjamin Moore and so far they look great. . My question is.. how thick to go with the wood and did you do a rub on poly?

  • I have laminate cabinets in my kitchen which I painted. The paint has held up perfectly and it’s been 5 years. I used Killz brand primer and regular latex paint. I love this backsplash, the space looks great!

  • If you used a matt finish water based poly, the wood would always remain the way it looks now and be a lot eaisier to clean. Your project turned out beautiful.

  • It’s always good to see a dated kitchen given a new lease of life, good use of reclaimed materials, my only concern is that Mel, Cait, Jay and Lucy share – cleaning.

  • wow, what a difference! Nicely done. My mother painted similar cabinets and you wouldnt think they could look so much better but they do. Congrats!

  • What an amazing, creative redo. I am so impressed that you managed a completely new kitchen, designing around the expensive elements (stove), and making it look like you bought them to suit!

  • I was very inspired by this post, and duplicated this project on all 3 walls in our small (10×10) kitchen. I started with fairly fresh wood and used a number of different aging techniques to maintain the salvaged, weathered look. The contrasted against our black cabinets looks great, and we get tons of compliments on the look – all of which cost about $10 in fuel to find heat-treated pallets, maybe $4 in various acrylic paints, $5 in screws and a weekend to complete. Thank you for the inspiration!!

  • We have used a product by Everitt & Schilling Tile that is a ceramic treated re-claimed wood tile that accomplishes the goals of cleaning and stabilization. It’s been well received by our clients!

  • very cool. just the kinda look we’r goin for in our kitchen, well done! question: did you install the plastic waterproof backsplash?



  • I love the use of the reclaimed wood A LOT for the backsplash, and was actually thinking about doing something similar in my kitchen. So that’s how I ran across this when I did a search for it. The only thing I would’ve done differently though would be to weave the planks a little bit more than you did above the stove.

  • I loved the look. We replaced out countertop with granite and painted our wood cabnets white. I have been looking for backsplash for 2 years and have not found anything I would like to live with for a long time. Then I remembered we had some original pecan paneling, something said try it, you might like it. My husband has been sanding for a week to get the wood to it’s natural color. It’s beautiful. Then really not being sure, I ran across your display. That sealed it. I can’t wait until we finish our backsplash. Our backsplash will only cost us the time to sand cut to size and nail glue and a sealer. The only quote I got for something I would get tired of was around $1,200. I not worried about being able to clean it. With the finish on it, it will clean great. Not worried about swelling and drying up, the sealer will take care of that. I am so excited that your posting confirmed what I really wanted to do in the first place. Thanks

  • I love this idea soooooo much. What did u do around the plugins? I’m worried that the cover wont b flush.

  • Wow! what a nice work, it is looking awesome. The color combination and interior decoration is also great. Especially The contrasted against our black cabinets looks great, and this new look will deferentially start a new trend regarding the kitchen decoration. Very thanks to you to share this amazing post with us.

  • This is fantastic! And the suggestions to use heat treated (stamped HT) and sealing it with matte-finish waterbased poly are excellent, too. This idea is going in my kitchen tout suite. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Looks wonderful. But I’d be concerned abou clean up. Porous surfaces in a splashy food prep area–seems like that would be a magnet for a mess. Let us know how this works.

  • Love the look of reclaimed wood paired with the painted white cabinets. I’ve seen this a couple other times with white shaker cabinets (and stainless hardware) and it looked amazing. I’d definitely be interested to see how this holds up to cleaning.