Do You Install Backsplash Before Countertop?

Installing a beautiful backsplash can really take your kitchen to the next level in terms of aesthetics and functionality. But when it comes to installation, many homeowners wonder – should you install the backsplash before or after the countertops? Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of each approach.


When renovating or building a new kitchen, the order of operations is very important. The sequence in which you install cabinetry, countertops, and the backsplash can impact the ease of installation and the final look. Many homeowners struggle with deciding whether to install the backsplash before or after the countertops when designing their dream kitchen.

While there is no definitive right or wrong answer, there are some clear benefits to installing your backsplash before your countertops. There are also good reasons why you may want to install your countertop first. Understanding the pros and cons of each approach will help you decide the best order for your specific kitchen remodel.

Installing the Backsplash First

Here are some of the benefits of installing the backsplash before putting in the countertops:

Easier Installation

Installing the backsplash first means you don’t have to cut tiles around an existing countertop. The backsplash can be installed flush to the wall without anything obstructing it. This leads to easier installation, with fewer custom cuts needed.

Better Alignment

With the countertop not installed yet, the backsplash can align perfectly with the cabinets and any other design elements along the wall. The range of movement is greater to achieve the desired look.

Continuity of Design

The backsplash design can flow seamlessly across the entire wall surface without being disrupted by the countertops. This allows for more creativity in backsplash patterns.

Protection During Countertop Installation

The backsplash will be securely in place before the countertops are installed. This prevents any damage from occurring to the backsplash during the countertop installation process.

Ability to Integrate Backsplash and Countertop

With the backsplash installed first, you can select a countertop that integrates well with the backsplash design. The two elements can work together as a cohesive finished product.

Installing the Countertop First

On the other hand, here are some reasons why you may want to install the countertop prior to the backsplash:

Avoids Gaps Between Surfaces

Installing the countertop first means you can then install the backsplash directly against the edge of the countertop. This provides a seamless transition and avoids any gaps between the countertop and backsplash.

Easier Planning

With the countertop in place, you can use it as a guide when selecting, measuring, and cutting the backsplash. This can make planning and installation easier.

Protects Countertop During Backsplash Installation

The countertop will already be securely installed before the backsplash is put in. This prevents any damage from occurring to the countertop edges during the backsplash installation.

Ability to Match Backsplash and Countertop

If your design calls for the backsplash and countertop to complement each other, installing the countertop first lets you see the exact color and pattern before selecting the backsplash materials.

Provides a Finished Surface

The countertop provides a finished surface and clean lines along the wall before the backsplash goes in. This can make the installation process neater.

Key Considerations

When deciding whether to install the backsplash or countertop first, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Type of materials – Natural stone requires more careful installation than ceramic or glass tile.
  • Complexity of design – Intricate backsplash patterns are easier to install before countertops are in.
  • Countertop overhang – Minimal overhang leaves little margin for adjustments during backsplash installation.
  • Cabinetry installation – New cabinets often require the countertop to be installed first for proper fit.
  • Appliance installation – The order may be dictated by needs for cutouts behind appliances.
  • Plumbing and electrical – Pre-existing utilities may determine which goes first.
  • Budget – More customized installations typically require installing the backsplash first.


While there are great reasons for installing your backsplash both before and after your countertops, most experts recommend doing the backsplash first whenever possible. This provides the greatest flexibility for a seamless, well-aligned installation. However, if your kitchen layout prevents installing the backsplash first, don’t stress. Pay close attention to prep work, precise measurement, and details during installation to ensure your finished kitchen looks polished. With proper planning your backsplash and countertops can work in harmony to create a dream kitchen no matter the order.

FAQs About Installing Backsplash Before Countertops

Should I install backsplash before or after countertop?

Most experts recommend installing the backsplash before the countertop whenever feasible. This allows for easier installation, better alignment, and a more cohesive look.

What issues arise from installing countertop before backsplash?

Installing the countertop first can lead to gaps, misalignment, and a disjointed look between the surfaces. The countertop edge may also get damaged during backsplash installation.

What backsplash goes best with quartz countertops?

Quartz countertops pair well with glass, metal, stone, ceramic, porcelain, or mosaic tile backsplashes. Match the backsplash color with the veining or patterns in the countertop.

How do you attach backsplash to countertop?

Use a high-quality silicone caulk to seal the backsplash to the countertop. This fills any gaps and creates a waterproof seal. Avoid adhesives, as caulk allows for expansion and contraction.

Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?

The backsplash should at minimum reach the bottom of the upper cabinets. Extending to the ceiling is an option for full height backsplashes, but requires carefully sealing all seams.

What should I know before installing a backsplash?

Before installing a backsplash, check that the walls are properly prepared and make precise measurements. Have all materials and tools ready. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions.

How long should backsplash installation take?

The time varies depending on size, but simple self-installed backsplash projects typically take 2-3 days. More complex designs require 5-7 days. Hiring a pro shortens installation time.

What’s the best height for a backsplash?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop. Full height backsplashes extend to the bottom of the upper cabinets, typically 18-24 inches.


Choosing to install your backsplash before or after your countertops is an important decision that can impact the installation process, overall look, and seamlessness of the final design. Carefully weigh the pros and cons for your specific kitchen layout and materials. With proper planning and precision, you can achieve a stunning backsplash design that perfectly pairs with your countertops – regardless of which you install first.