Do You Put Backsplash Behind Microwave?

Adding a backsplash behind your microwave can be a great way to protect your walls from splatters and spills while also enhancing the look of your kitchen. Here is a comprehensive guide on whether you should put a backsplash behind a microwave and how to install it.


A backsplash refers to a protective covering on the wall behind appliances like sinks, stoves, and microwaves. Backsplashes are typically made from tile, metal, glass, or other water-resistant materials.

There are a few reasons why installing a backsplash behind your microwave is recommended:

  • Prevent Messes and Stains – Microwaves get splattered easily when heating up food. A backsplash prevents sauces, oils, and food debris from getting on your painted drywall. This saves you from having to repaint messy walls.
  • Easier to Clean – Backsplash materials like metal, tile, and glass are much easier to wipe down and clean compared to drywall. A backsplash makes cleaning microwave messes simpler.
  • Enhance Visual Appeal – A backsplash can lend a sleek, put-together look to your kitchen. Tiled or glass backsplashes coordinate nicely with countertops and add stylistic interest.
  • Protect Wall Over Time – Even if you don’t make a lot of microwave messes, a backsplash will keep your wall pristine over years of use. Slow splatters and grease buildup can discolor paint.

While a backsplash behind a microwave is recommended, it is not an absolute necessity. Plenty of kitchens function fine without one. Consider your own needs and style when deciding.

Below we discuss in detail if and how to install a microwave backsplash in your kitchen.

Should You Put a Backsplash Behind a Microwave?

Here are some factors to consider when determining if you should put a backsplash behind your over-the-range or countertop microwave:

Microwave Placement

  • Over-the-Range – If your microwave is installed above your stove, then a backsplash is strongly recommended. This area sees a lot of cooking splatters and needs frequent cleaning. A backsplash is useful protection.
  • Countertop – For a microwave sitting on your countertop, a backsplash is less essential but still useful. Food prep near your microwave can lead to some messes on the wall. A backsplash here is more aesthetic than strictly practical.

Wall Material Behind Microwave

  • Painted Drywall – If the wall behind your microwave is standard drywall with paint, a backsplash will preserve the paint from splatters, grease, and steam over time.
  • Tile – If your wall already has a tile backsplash, extending it behind the microwave may be redundant. However, small gaps in existing tile can trap gunk. Covering with a seamless glass sheet can help.
  • Wood Paneling – Wood walls will need protection from microwave splatter. A backsplash is highly recommended to prevent stains and water damage on wooden surfaces.

Microwave Usage

  • Heavy – If you use your microwave frequently for steaming vegetables, reheating sauces, and popping popcorn, consider a durable backsplash. Heavy splattering will occur over time.
  • Moderate – Even occasional microwave use leads to some accumulated messes. A low-maintenance backsplash is sensible for moderate usage.
  • Sparse – If you rarely use the microwave or just reheat milk and leftovers, a backsplash is lower priority. Minimal splatter may not justify the effort.

Cleaning Habits

  • Frequent – For those who wipe down the microwave after each use, backsplash is lower priority. Frequent cleaning will prevent built up mess.
  • Inconsistent – If you only wipe messes every now and then, a backsplash will minimize grime build up in-between deep cleans.
  • Rare – Infrequent cleaners will benefit most from a backsplash, preventing old stains from getting out of hand.

Aesthetic Preferences

  • Simple – If you prefer a minimalist look, a backsplash may seem unnecessary. A simple wall paint job likely suffices.
  • Upgraded – For a polished, put-together kitchen, a sleek glass or tiled backsplash complements the appliances nicely.
  • Eclectic – Some may want a colorful mosaic or even metallics for an eye-catching, unique backsplash. Get creative!


  • Limited – Basic backsplash materials like a metal sheet or tile sample cost very little. However, installation adds labor costs.
  • Moderate – For a nicer finished look, invest in good tile, glass, or other easy-to-clean backsplash materials.
  • Open – With an open budget, one can get creative! Designer tiles, 3D surfaces, and natural stone create upscale backsplashes.

Consider the factors above to decide if a backsplash suits your microwave placement, kitchen style and usage patterns. An over-the-range microwave above a stove generally benefits most from a backsplash.

What Kind of Backsplash Looks Best Behind a Microwave?

There are several great backsplash options for a microwave, based on your kitchen’s decor and needs:


Tile backsplashes have visual interest, manage messes, and suit most kitchen aesthetics. Choices include:

  • Ceramic tile – traditional, inexpensive, easy installation
  • Porcelain tile – low maintenance, stain resistant, durable
  • Glass tile – shiny, sleek, elegant
  • Mosaic tile – artistic, combines small tile pieces
  • Metal tile – contemporary, reflective material

Make sure grout lines are narrow to prevent food and grease accumulation. Use a sealant on grout to allow easier wiping.


Glass backsplashes create a seamless, sleek look. Types include:

  • Solid glass sheet – modern, simple, and protective
  • Frosted or etched glass – obscures view, diffuses light
  • Colored glass – bold backsplash accent
  • Recycled glass tile – eco-friendly with texture

Use tempered glass and ensure professional installation for safety. Clean with a specialty glass cleaner.


Metal backsplashes have an industrial, contemporary appeal. Options include:

  • Stainless steel – affordable, food safe, and durable
  • Copper – warms up the space with an earthy look
  • Tin – eye-catching and reflects light beautifully
  • Aluminum – budget-friendly and conducts heat

Seal and polish regularly to prevent oxidation damage. Use care when cleaning to avoid scratches.


Natural stone backsplashes provide upscale elegance. Types to consider:

  • Marble – classic, opulent material that patinas over time
  • Travertine – rustic, natural texture and appearance
  • Granite – speckled pattern, heat and stain resistant
  • Limestone – creamy, organic look but softer than other stone

Use sealant to prevent staining and etching on natural stone.

Other Materials

Some unique backsplash ideas include:

  • Wood planks – warm, organic look
  • Penny tiles – vintage flair with copper accents
  • Fabric/wallpaper – removable and customizable
  • Laminates – affordable, glue-on sheets
  • Corrugated metal – industrial appeal, mimics tin

Get creative with materials to match your perfect kitchen style!

How to Install a Backsplash Behind a Microwave

Installing a backsplash behind your microwave is a relatively simple home improvement project. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Choose Backsplash Material

Select your desired backsplash material – tile, metal, glass, etc. Measure the wall area to purchase the right amount. Include extra materials in case of breakage.

Prepare the Wall

If drywall is already installed behind the microwave, sand and prime it so the backsplash can adhere properly. For other materials, remove any obstacles and clean thoroughly.

Cut Pieces to Size

Measure space carefully and cut backsplash pieces to fit, factoring in gaps as needed. It helps to make a template from cardboard first. Use a wet saw for tile.

Apply Adhesive

Spread adhesive mortar/mastic on the wall and back of the backsplash pieces using a trowel. Work in manageable sections so adhesive does not dry out.

Set Backsplash Pieces

Place backsplash pieces gently but firmly onto the adhesive. Push out any air pockets. Use spacers for even gaps if needed.

Let Adhesive Dry

Allow adhesive to fully cure overnight before grouting or sealing. Time drying depends on product used. Follow manufacturer guidelines.

Grout and Seal (For Tile)

For tile backsplashes, apply grout between the tiles and let dry. Use a grout sealer to protect from moisture and stains.

Seal or Polish (Other Materials)

Follow any final sealing, polishing, or protective steps recommended for your material type once fully installed.

And that’s it! Proper prep and patience yields professional-looking results. Contact an installer if uncomfortable DIYing. Enjoy your new clean, stylish microwave backsplash zone!

6 Key Tips for Installing a Microwave Backsplash

Follow these top tips for maximum success when installing a backsplash behind your microwave:

  • Leave a 1/8″ gap between backsplash and countertop. This prevents buckling from natural expansion and contraction.
  • Use non-yellowing, heat-resistant silicone adhesive if backsplash abuts countertop material like quartz.
  • When cutting ceramic tiles, use a wet saw for clean, precise cuts.
  • Wipe away any thinset or mortar that gets onto the front tile faces before it dries. Use a damp sponge.
  • For kitchen backsplashes, apply water-resistant grout. Let it cure fully before sealing.
  • Carefully read and follow all manufacturer instructions for the backsplash materials used.

Can You Put Backsplash Only Behind Microwave?

It is possible to install a backsplash on the wall solely behind the microwave rather than along the entire wall. Here are some tips for this selective backsplash approach:

  • Use trimmed pieces of tile, metal, or other sheeting material to fit just the microwave area.
  • Make sure height extends from countertop to underside of cabinet or vent hood.
  • If existing backsplash is present on surrounding areas, inset new backsplash pieces carefully for a seamless look.
  • Fill any gaps between materials with clear silicone.
  • Match trim or border pieces along the edges for a polished finish.
  • Select durable backsplash materials that can withstand heat and moisture.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation if backsplash material is non-breathable.

Limiting backsplash to just the microwave zone creates a clean, focused appearance. It also saves effort and material costs compared to a full backsplash installation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a Microwave Backsplash

  • Not adequately measuring and cutting backsplash materials leading to gaps or need for fillers
  • Forgetting to account for outlet placement behind microwave leading to power access issues
  • Selecting poor quality grout or caulk that cracks or stains over time
  • Allowing adhesives or thinset to dry on face of backsplash pieces leading to extra work cleaning
  • Not leaving proper gaps resulting in buckling or cracking as materials expand
  • Using regular drywall instead of moisture-resistant materials behind backsplash
  • Not sealing natural stone leaving it prone to staining
  • Covering ventilation openings or fans leading to microwave overheating
  • Opting for poor quality backsplash material that scratches, discolors or deteriorates quickly

Microwave Backsplash Ideas

Here are some attractive and functional backsplash ideas to consider behind your microwave:

Rustic Wood

Reclaimed wood planks create a charming, country-style backsplash that protects the wall behind a microwave placed on a countertop or cart. The wood tones warm up the space.

Hexagonal Tile

Small hexagonal tiles in earthy hues like terracotta make for an eye-catching backsplash. The mosaic design works well behind a microwave mounted over the stovetop.

Marble + Subway Tile

Pair classic white subway tiles with marble inserts for an elegant take on the standard metro tile backsplash. It coordinates beautifully with countertops.

Etched Glass

Frosted or etched tempered glass is a sleek, modern backsplash choice that protects the wall while allowing light to pass through. It has a clean, minimalist look.

Recycled Mixed Glass

For an environmentally-friendly backsplash, use a vibrant mix of recycled glass pieces. The color variations create visual interest behind the microwave.

Black Metal

For contemporary industrial edge, try a black metal backsplash insert behind your countertop microwave. Stainless steel is also an option for sheen.

Patterned Wallpaper

Use chic patterned wallpaper as a removable and affordable backsplash alternative. Florals, geometrics, or Damask patterns add drama.

FAQs about Microwave Backsplashes

Does a microwave need a backsplash?

A backsplash is highly recommended behind microwaves to protect walls from splatters and moisture damage. Above the stove, a backsplash is especially useful to contain cooking spills.

What size backsplash for microwave?

The backsplash should extend from counter to the underside of wall cabinets or exhaust hood. Measure your microwave location to determine needed size. Standard backsplash height is 4 inches.

How thick should a microwave backsplash be?

Microwave backsplash thickness depends on material. Tile and stone is around 1/4 – 1/2 inches thick. Metal can be 1/16 – 1/8 inches thick. Glass sheets are around 1/8 inch thick or more for durability.

What is the best backsplash for behind a microwave?

Glass, metal and glazed ceramic or porcelain tile are best backsplash choices for behind a microwave. They clean up easily, are heat resistant, and protect against splatters.

Can you put decorative tiles behind a microwave?

Yes, decorative tiles like hand-painted motifs or mosaic sheets can be installed behind the microwave for a pretty, customized look. Use heat-resistant tiles and protect edges from chipping.

Should backsplash go all the way up to microwave?

The backsplash should extend from counter to underneath cabinetry. If no cabinets, go from counter to at least 4 inches above microwave. Fully protecting the wall is recommended.

Can backsplash end at microwave?

It is possible to end a partial backsplash installation at the microwave edges. Use trim pieces along the sides for a finished look. The wall area around the microwave will not be protected.

Does backsplash have to go under upper cabinets?

Backsplash under upper cabinets is not essential but recommended to prevent dust and grease accumulation on the wall over time. An easy-to-clean material is helpful in this space.


Installing a backsplash behind your microwave can help maintain your kitchen’s cleanliness and visual appeal over many years of use. A backsplash prevents stains on the wall from spills, splatters, and steam. It also makes cleanup much simpler.

Carefully consider your particular microwave location, kitchen aesthetics, and budget when deciding on a backsplash. Glass, glazed ceramic or porcelain tile, and metal make excellent microwave backsplash materials for their durability, moisture-resistance, and easy cleaning abilities.

Install the backsplash securely, making sure to prepare the wall surface properly and allowing all adhesives and grout to fully cure. Take care to measure correctly and make cuts precisely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

With proper installation and care, a backsplash behind your microwave will stand the test of time, while keeping your walls pristine. This affordable update can make a big difference in the functionality and visual coherence of your kitchen.