One of the most common mistakes we see is the installation of the stainless steel backsplash panel.  The backsplash panel has a number of functions and one of the most important ones is the fire protection capability. Behind the cooking appliances a fire may occur, thus the wall supporting the backsplash and hood must be protected.

Most often the backsplash is installed with a 2″ standoff from the back wall… which is incorrect.  It must always be 3″ standoff allowing for a 3″ air space to limited-combustible material like drywall or 3″ standoff with internal insulation to combustible material like wood studs.

The code references are in NFPA-96-14:

  • Protection [backsplash panel] shall be provided on the wall from the bottom of the hood to the floor… to the same level as required in 4.2.1.

  • 4.2.1 …. shall have a clearance of at least 18 in. to combustible material, 3 in. to limited-combustible material, and 0 in. to noncombustible material.

Ok so in section 4.2.1 it states if we have combustible material we need to maintain 18″!  That is not realistic so what NFPA accepts is a clearance reduction system as per section that allows us to install 1″ insulation internal to the backsplash.

  • Where a clearance reduction system consisting of 22 gauge sheet metal [in our case we must use stainless steel due to Health Department requirements] 1 in. mineral wool batts or ceramic fiber blanket reinforced with wire mesh or equivalent spaced 1 in. on noncombustible spacers is provided, there shall be a minimum of 3 in. clearance to combustible material.

Below is a photo taken from the General Contractor circling the integral backsplash on the cooking appliance as the sole means to protect the wall from a fire.  As per NFPA this is not acceptable, the protection must be from the finished floor to underside of the hood:


Below the contractor removed the incorrect backsplash panel and furred out 3″ steel stud wall:


Below is the final product of a 3″ stainless steel backsplash panel spaced out 3″:

What is the simple take away from this?

  • For dry wall structures behind the cooking appliances the stainless steel backsplash panel must always maintain a 3″ air space.

  • For wood structures behind the cooking appliances the stainless steel backsplash panel must always maintain a 3″ air space with 1″ insulation.

Please feel free to provide any comments and feedback!

James Hicks P.Eng

Evolve Mechanical Solutions