Fiberglass-reinforced panels and melamine panels are two good options for use on kitchen walls. Both types of panels offer moisture resistance and are easy to clean. These panels are available in a variety of patterns, textures and colors, and they work well as a backsplash for kitchen cabinets or for covering an entire wall. Installation is usually easy enough for most homeowners.
Pattern choices for fiberglass-reinforced panels include wood grain, smooth or tile. A tile finish uses scored lines to offer the appearance of tile without the difficulties of installing it. Panels are also available in photo prints or graphic art to create a durable, visually interesting finish.
Manufacturers produce melamine panels by thermally fusing the finish onto particleboard or other backer board. The process allows the use of reclaimed wood fibers, making it economically friendly. Melamine panels are available in many of the same finishes as fiberglass, but also have the option of wood grain or a natural stone look. As of 2015, manufacturers use digital images, improving the patterns available on melamine panels over those of earlier products.
The panels do not require staining or painting once they are in place. Normal woodworking tools allow the installer to cut them to the size the application requires.