How High Should a Backsplash Go?

A backsplash is an important design element in any kitchen that serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. The height of the backsplash is an important consideration when designing and installing a backsplash. There are several factors to take into account when determining how high your backsplash should go.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a protective surface that is installed on the wall behind sinks, stoves, ranges, and countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas where water damage is possible. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, metal, glass, stone, or other water-resistant materials.

The main purposes of a backsplash are to:

  • Protect the walls from water damage, grease splatters, and stains.
  • Provide an accent and decorative focal point in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Tie together and complement the countertops, cabinets, and other design elements.
  • Reflect your personal style.

Backsplashes not only serve practical purposes but have become an eye-catching part of the overall kitchen or bathroom design.

Factors to Consider for Backsplash Height

There are several factors to take into account when determining the ideal height for your backsplash installation:

Countertop Height

The standard height for most kitchen countertops is 36 inches. The backsplash height is directly related to the height of your countertops. Most designers recommend a minimum backsplash height of 4 inches above the counter. This protects the wall from water, spills, and debris.

For a countertop height of 36 inches, the minimum backsplash height would be 40 inches. However, many designers recommend going taller for more protection and design impact.

Backsplash Material

The type of material you select for the backsplash will impact the ideal height. Tile backsplashes tend to go to standard heights of 4-6 inches above the counter. However, materials like stainless steel, glass, or stone allow you to take the backsplash to greater heights as a design statement.

Faucet and Window Height

Consider the height of your faucet spout and any windows in proximity to the backsplash. You want the backsplash to be tall enough to protect the wall areas surrounding both. Having the backsplash meet the bottom of the window sills also creates a seamless transition.


Take into account the height of any appliances, like ranges or dishwashers, that will be installed in front of the backsplash. Make sure the backsplash meets or exceeds the height of these appliances to get full protection. This is especially important with a range backsplash.

Floor to Ceiling Height

If you want to take the backsplash all the way up to the ceiling for a full accent wall look, measure the floor to ceiling height to determine total backsplash height. This floor-to-ceiling look works well with contemporary kitchen designs.

Electrical Outlets

Consider the placement of any electrical outlets on the backsplash wall. You want to make sure they remain accessible and not covered over by the backsplash. Place outlets higher on the wall or remove them altogether if doing a full backsplash.

Design Statement

For some homeowners, the backsplash is an opportunity to make a bold design statement in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to take the backsplash over standard height limits if you want to emphasize the backsplash as a key design element.

Standard Backsplash Heights

While the height of your backsplash is ultimately your choice, here are some general backsplash height guidelines and standards to consider for your project:

  • 4-6 inches above countertop – This is the minimum recommended height to protect walls from splashes and spills. Best for basic tile or small mosaic tile backsplash designs.
  • 8-12 inches above countertop – Extends higher up the wall while allowing some bare wall space between countertops and cabinets. Allows more creativity in materials used.
  • 16-18 inches above countertop – A medium height popular for accentuating backsplashes made of stone, glass tile, or other materials suited to a larger scale design.
  • Full wall to ceiling height – For a full backsplash accent wall, take the backsplash all the way from countertops to ceiling. Only recommended if space allows.
  • Bottom of upper cabinets to countertops – A full backsplash that meets lower cabinets. Offers a built-in finished look.
  • Above windows or high focal areas – Use extra height above sinks, ranges, or windows to draw the eye upwards.

Factors That Impact Backsplash Installation Height

Existing Backsplash

If your project involves replacing an existing backsplash, its height will likely impact how high you can take the new backsplash. Removing old tile or wall materials above a certain level can mean damaging the wallboard beyond repair. In many cases, it is best to stick with a similar height.

Electrical and Plumbing

The location of electrical outlets, wiring, plumbing, and pipework on the backsplash wall may dictate how high you can install the backsplash. These areas may not be able to be covered or accessed if the backsplash is overly large.

Wall Material

Drywall can only support a backsplash of certain heights and weights. Heavy stone or glass tile backsplashes may require additional wall support. Consult with architects on the weight limits.


In some cases, budget is a factor in backsplash height. More backsplash material is required for taller applications. Creative material usage may allow you to get the look you want without breaking the budget.

Ceiling Height

The distance from countertop to ceiling may simply not allow for an overly tall backsplash in your space. Measure first before assuming a full floor-to-ceiling application is possible.

Standard Backsplash Heights by Area

Beyond the general height guidelines, here are common backsplash installation heights specific to certain kitchen areas:

Kitchen Sink Backsplash

  • Full height at faucet area – Protects wall from heavy water use.
  • 4-6 inches minimum above countertops elsewhere.
  • 8-10 inches common if wide decorative border.

Stove/Range Backsplash

  • Minimum 18 inches above cooktop.
  • Commonly full height behind range to protect from grease.
  • Glass panels sometimes used for full-height protection.

Bar/Island Backsplash

  • Usually 4 inches above counter for seating areas.
  • Can extend to 12-16 inches if part of an accent wall design.

Backsplash Behind Cooktop/Range

  • At minimum, 18 inches above cooktop.
  • Often extended to hood vent or cabinets above for range.
  • For full protection, take to ceiling.

Backsplash Behind Kitchen Sink

  • Minimum of 4-6 inches above sink and countertop.
  • Often taken to bottom of window sill or cabinets.
  • May extend to full wall behind the faucet.

Backsplash Behind Bathroom Sink/Vanity

  • Usually 4-6 inches above counter.
  • Can extend taller behind faucet/mirror areas.
  • Often ties in with bathroom wall tile height.

Contemporary Full-Height Backsplash Designs

Contemporary kitchen design embraces the backsplash as a major design element by taking it to full wall height. Here are some ideas:

Floor to Ceiling

A floor-to-ceiling backsplash becomes a dramatic accent wall in an open concept kitchen or dining room area. Glass, metal, or stone are ideal materials.

Wall of Tile

Large format tiles in marble, travertine, or porcelain tile can create a seamless backsplash wall that makes a statement.

Penny Tiles

Taking small penny tiles from countertop to ceiling offers a visually striking historical reference.

Mixed Materials

Using a mix of backsplash materials, like a countertop level glass tile strip and a metal sheet on the upper portion creates interest.

Shelving Incorporated

Open floating shelves or recessed shelving can be worked into a full-height backsplash wall. This adds function and interest.

Window Embedding

Placing the backsplash material around and between window areas creates a cohesive look.

Backsplash Height Design Considerations

  • Purpose – Make sure height provides adequate protection for the spaces needed.
  • Traffic Areas – Consider heights appropriate for heavily used cooking or sink areas.
  • Cleanability – Height must allow easy cleaning without awkward reaching.
  • Style – Let your personal style and overall kitchen design determine the look.
  • Focal Points – Use backsplash height to accentuate and draw the eye to key areas.
  • Lighting – Proper lighting on a statement backsplash highlights the design.
  • Accessibility – Keep electrical outlets, windows, and fixtures accessible.

How High Should a Backsplash Go Above Countertops?

Backsplash height is a matter of both function and style. Here are typical backsplash heights above countertops:

  • Minimum height is 4-6 inches above countertops.
  • Standard height is 8-12 inches above countertops.
  • Feature height is 16-18 inches above countertops.
  • Full height goes from countertops to ceiling.

The minimum 4-6 inch height protects from splashes. The standard 8-12 inch height allows more impactful materials like glass or stone. Feature height draws the eye upwards for focal impact. Full height makes a dramatic contemporary statement.

How High Should a Backsplash be Behind a Range?

It is recommended that backsplashes behind kitchen ranges extend a minimum of 18 inches above the cooking surface. This protects the wall from grease splatter and heat.

Many designers recommend taking the range backsplash all the way up to the range hood, vent, or cabinets above for full protection. Glass panels or tile can provide an attractive full-height backsplash solution behind ranges.

For optimal protection and ease of cleaning, a range backsplash height from 18 inches above the cooktop to the ceiling is ideal. This can turn the range area into a focal point in an open concept kitchen.

How High Should a Backsplash Go Behind a Kitchen Sink?

The area behind the kitchen sink tends to see a great deal of water exposure from dishwashing and other cleanup tasks. As such, it merits special backsplash protection.

For a kitchen sink backsplash height:

  • Go a minimum of 4-6 inches above the counter and sink.
  • Extend to at least 8-10 inches high in a wide border around the sink.
  • Take it to the bottom of window sills or cabinets directly above the sink.
  • For a single bowl sink, you may want to extend the backsplash its full height behind the faucet area only.
  • For a double bowl sink, extend extra height in the area between the two sinks.
  • If you have the space, create a full wall backsplash from countertop to ceiling behind the entire sink.

How High to Go With Bathroom Backsplash?

The backsplash heights for bathroom vanity and sink areas are similar to kitchen backsplash height guidelines:

  • Minimum of 4-6 inches above bathroom countertops.
  • Can extend up to 8 inches high if creating a decorative border.
  • Take backsplash up to mirror/medicine cabinet height behind the faucet.
  • Coordinate heights with the shower and tub surround wall tile.
  • Allow heights that work with existing plumbing and electrical placements.
  • If space allows, consider a floor-to-ceiling statement backsplash behind vanities.

How High Should Backsplash Go Behind Cooktop?

It’s important for the backsplash behind cooktops and ranges to adequately protect the wall from heat and splatters. Recommended cooktop backsplash heights:

  • Minimum of 18 inches above the countertop behind the cooktop.
  • For full range protection, continue backsplash to minimum of 8-10 inches above cooktop.
  • For optimal protection and easy cleaning, take it all the way to hood/vent or ceiling.
  • Make sure it meets or exceeds the height of the tallest pot used on the cooktop.
  • If range is on an island, a full surround backsplash is recommended.

How High Should Backsplash Go With Granite Countertops?

The height of the backsplash will often coordinate with the backsplash materials rather than the countertop materials. You can mix and match materials like granite countertops with a glass tile backsplash.

Recommended backsplash heights for granite countertops:

  • Minimum of 4-6 inches above countertops.
  • 10-12 inches high to allow granite to remain the focal point.
  • 16-18 inches if doing an accent wall backsplash area.
  • Full height works with open concept granite countertop kitchens.

Match any overmounted sink and cooktop backsplash heights to protect the wall while complementing the granite.

Best Practices for Backsplash Installation Heights

Here are some general best practices to follow for backsplash heights during planning and installation:

  • Review all height clearance issues on the back wall like electrical, plumbing, windows, and vents.
  • Select backsplash materials that can withstand all required backsplash heights.
  • Consider weights of heavy backsplash materials and reinforce walls as needed.
  • Demolish walls properly to avoid damage if removing a previous backsplash.
  • Take detailed measurements for each backsplash application area before cutting.
  • Use level and shim techniques to ensure an even backsplash installation.
  • Coordinate grout widths if taking tile backsplash from counter to ceiling.
  • Accentuate height behind focal points like sinks, ranges, or shelving areas.


The ideal backsplash height involves both form and function considerations. While the minimum height is 4-6 inches above countertops, you may want to go taller behind key areas like sinks and ranges. Contemporary designs use floor-to-ceiling backsplashes as an accent wall. Just be sure to coordinate with windows, electrical, plumbing, and cabinets. Select your perfect backsplash height to create both a practical and eye-catching focal point.

How to Choose the Right Backsplash Height for Your Space

Determining the appropriate backsplash height requires balancing practical considerations with your overall design vision. Use these tips to select heights that work in form and function for your kitchen or bath.

Measure Your Countertop Height

  • The standard countertop height is 36 inches.
  • Measure your existing countertop height if uncertain.
  • Backsplash height is determined in relation to the countertop.

Minimum Height for Protection

  • Minimum of 4-6 inches above the countertop to prevent splashing.
  • Meets general standards and protects walls from moisture damage.

Material Choice Determines Height

  • Small tile works best at minimum heights of 4-6 inches.
  • Larger format tiles, glass, or stone backsplashes beg to be taken to greater heights.

Focal Points

  • Use additional backsplash height behind sinks, stoves, and key areas to draw the eye.
  • Coordinate height with windows or cabinets located above the backsplash.

Full Wall Backsplash

  • Contemporary backsplashes can be taken floor to ceiling as an accent wall.
  • Requires appropriate wall materials and framing for the weight.

Purpose Dictates Height

  • Higher backsplash behind cooktops and sinks where splashing is likely.
  • Allow convenient cleaning reach by not going too tall in some areas.

Tips for Measuring and Planning

  • Create a detailed sketch of the backsplash wall with measurements.
  • Note all windows, outlets, fixtures, and potential obstructions.
  • Plan an appropriate height for each section of the backsplash.
  • Consider the final look and impact of the planned heights.
  • Allow room to shim out uneven walls during the installation.
  • Incorporate extra height behind key focus areas.

Achieving an Ideal Backsplash Height

With planning and forethought, you can determine and execute an ideal backsplash height that achieves both aesthetic appeal and functional protection. Always keep in mind the usage of the space, the design vision, and practical limitations. Combining minimum protective heights with taller statement heights creates a well-conceived backsplash. With the right mix of heights tailored to your kitchen or bath, the backsplash installation can enhance both the design and function of the space.

How High Should the Backsplash Go Behind a Range?

The range backsplash is one of the most important protective backsplash areas in a kitchen. With intense heat and a high potential for splatter and grease, ranges require special backsplash consideration.

Basic Range Backsplash Height Tips

  • Minimum of 18 inches above the countertop behind range.
  • Take backsplash all the way up to bottom of range hood or cabinets above.
  • For stand-alone ranges, a full wall height backsplash provides optimal protection.
  • Make sure range backsplash meets or exceeds height of the tallest cookware.
  • Glass panels are a great full-height backsplash solution behind ranges.

Factors to Consider

Type of Range – Freestanding ranges need more coverage than slide-in or drop-in range types.

Ventilation – Coordinate range backsplash height with overhead range hood height.

Cookware – Consider the height of pots and pans used on the range.

Seated Cooking – If seated cooking areas, keep lower backsplash heights in mind.

Island Range – Ranges on an island need a full surround backsplash.

Full Wall Vs. Partial Height Backsplashes

Full Wall

  • Offers the most protection.
  • Easier to clean grease off glass or tile.
  • Acts as a design accent.
  • More expensive in terms of backsplash materials.

Partial Height

  • Meets minimum height standards above range.
  • Saves on cost of materials.
  • Allows display of other wall finishes.
  • May leave unprotected wall space above range.

Protecting Walls and Cabinets Around Ranges

  • Use non-combustible materials rated for high heat.
  • Outside corners susceptible to grease buildup. Use backsplash to protect.