How Far Up Should Backsplash Go?

Adding a backsplash to your kitchen not only protects your walls from splashes and stains, but it can also serve as an eye-catching design feature. When installing a backsplash, one of the key considerations is deciding how high it should extend up the wall. Here is a guide to determining the ideal backsplash height for your kitchen.

Factors That Influence Backsplash Height

There are a few key factors to take into account when determining how high your backsplash should go:

Distance from Countertop to Wall Cabinets

The main purpose of a backsplash is to protect the wall area between a countertop and upper cabinets from water, grease, food, and other messes. So the height of your backsplash will depend on the vertical distance between your countertop and wall cabinets.

In general, the bottom of wall cabinets is around 18 inches above the countertop. So if you have a standard counter height, the backsplash should go about 18 inches up the wall.

Style of Backsplash

The visual style and design of the backsplash will also impact the ideal height. For example, a backsplash made of 4-inch ceramic subway tiles will look better going all the way up to the cabinet bottom.

But a backsplash with a decorative border or accent tiles may only need to go 12-15 inches up from the counter.

Height of Surrounding Features

Consider the height of other features in the vicinity of the backsplash, such as windows, aprons, or adjacent backsplashes. You’ll want the backsplash to line up nicely with surrounding elements.

For example, if you have a window over the sink, extending the backsplash to the window sill creates a finished look.

Minimum Recommended Heights

Here are some general guidelines for minimum backsplash heights in common kitchen configurations:

  • With no cabinets above – go up at least 4 inches from the counter
  • Under a wall cabinet – go up to bottom of cabinet (usually 16-18 inches)
  • Next to a tall appliance like a refrigerator – go up at least 4 inches above the appliance
  • With a window above – go up to the window sill
  • Surrounding a sink window – go all the way up to provide protection

The standard minimum height is considered 4 inches. This protects the immediate wall area behind the counter. However, best practice is go all the way up to meet wall cabinets or other features when possible.

Maximum Backsplash Heights

There are a few maximum height guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Don’t go above wall cabinets – this creates a disjointed look
  • Don’t exceed 12-16 inches without a design reason – ultra tall backsplashes can seem overwhelming
  • With 4-inch tiles, don’t go above 18-24 inches – the small tiles can seem distracting
  • Consider the look of surrounding tiles/finishes – transitioning from one type of tile or finish to another over 24 inches high can be visually disruptive

In most cases, keeping the backsplash contained to the area below the wall cabinets creates a clean, finished look. Going all the way to the ceiling is rarely necessary.

Special Considerations

Here are some other special factors to keep in mind when determining backsplash height:

  • Accent tiles – if adding a decorative inset or accent tiles, this often looks best 12-15 inches up from the counter
  • Tile size – small mosaic tiles or mini subway tile can go higher than large tiles
  • Upper cabinets are higher than 18 inches – adjust height accordingly
  • No upper cabinets – consider doing a full height backsplash for a seamless look
  • Protect areas prone to splashing – behind sinks and ranges

Design Flexibility

When planning your backsplash height, don’t be afraid to break the “rules” to match your personal style. Here are some unique design scenarios:

  • Go super tall behind the stove – protects the wall and makes a bold statement
  • Do a two-tiered backsplash with one height near the counter and a second tier higher up
  • Add floating shelves in place of upper cabinets to limit the backsplash height
  • Use multiple backsplash materials – tile below cabinets and glass above
  • Extend tile to the ceiling behind open shelves for a cohesive look

The most important thing is that you love how your finished backsplash looks and functions!

How High Should My Backsplash Go – Key Takeaways:

  • Standard backsplash height is 18 inches – from countertop to bottom of wall cabinets
  • Minimum recommended height is 4 inches above the counter
  • Consider surrounding elements like windows, aprons and appliances
  • Don’t exceed 12-16 inches without a design reason
  • If no upper cabinets, go as high as desired for a seamless look
  • Adjust height based on backsplash material and tile size
  • Feel free to break the “rules” to match your personal kitchen style!

FAQ About Backsplash Heights

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how high to install a kitchen backsplash:

How high should a 4 inch backsplash be?

For a standard 4 inch backsplash tile, the minimum recommended height is 4 inches above the counter. However, best practice is to extend the backsplash all the way up to meet upper cabinets, usually 18 inches.

What is the standard height for a kitchen backsplash?

The standard backsplash height is 18 inches. This extends from the top of the countertop to the bottom of most wall cabinets.

Where should backsplash end if no upper cabinets?

With no upper cabinets, the backsplash can extend as high up the wall as desired. Typically it looks best to do a full height backsplash from counter to ceiling.

What if distance to upper cabinets is more than 18 inches?

If the upper cabinets are installed higher than 18 inches above the counter, adjust the backsplash height accordingly to meet the bottom of the cabinets.

Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?

In most cases, it is not necessary for the backsplash to go all the way to the ceiling. Stopping at the standard 18 inches creates a clean look. Full height works well only if no wall cabinets.

What height should backsplash be around a window?

Around a kitchen window, extend the backsplash up to meet the height of the window sill. This frames the window nicely. For a sink window, do a full height backsplash on those wall sections.

Can I do two different backsplash heights?

Absolutely! A two-tiered backsplash with one height near the counter and a second tier of tile higher up is a great way to customize your design.


Determining the optimal backsplash height requires balancing functional protection of your walls with visual design considerations. While standard height is 18 inches from countertop to cabinets, feel free to adjust to suit your kitchen’s unique style and features. Analyze the placement of surrounding windows, appliances and fixtures before deciding what range of wall area to cover. With smart planning and custom choices, your backsplash will not only guard against splatters but also provide the perfect decorative accent.