How High Should Kitchen Backsplash Be?

A kitchen backsplash is an important design element that serves both aesthetic and functional purposes. When designing your backsplash, one of the key considerations is determining the ideal height based on your needs. Here is a comprehensive guide on how high your kitchen backsplash should be.

What Is The Purpose Of A Kitchen Backsplash?

A backsplash is a vertical surface made of tile, metal, glass, or any other material installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. The main purposes of a backsplash are:

  • Protect the walls from water damage, grease splashes, and food spills.
  • Serve as an accent that can tie the whole kitchen decor together.
  • Makes cleaning easier since backsplash materials like tile are impervious to stains.
  • Provides an opportunity to showcase your design style.

What Factors Determine Backsplash Height?

There are several factors that will influence the ideal backsplash height for your kitchen:

Distance Between Countertops and Cabinets

The space between your counter and the bottom of your wall cabinets will determine the maximum height of your backsplash. Standard cabinet height is 18 inches while counter height is 36 inches. This leaves you with 18 inches of vertical space to work with.

Kitchen Work Triangle

The kitchen work triangle between the sink, stove, and refrigerator will guide the minimum height needed. The backsplash should adequately protect the walls from water and grease where you do most food prep.

Ceiling Height

The height of your kitchen ceiling is another consideration. If your ceiling is on the lower side, a full height backsplash can make the space feel cramped.

Personal Preferences

Your personal design tastes can also guide the backsplash height. Some homeowners opt for a minimal 4-6 inch backsplash as an accent while others prefer it to run all the way to the ceiling.

Common Backsplash Heights

Here are some of the most popular backsplash height options:

4-6 Inches

A 4-6 inch backsplash is the minimum recommended height. It serves as a basic splash guard behind sinks and stoves. This works well if you want to highlight backsplash materials like decorative tiles. It ties the countertops and walls together without being overpowering.

10-12 Inches

For a medium height choice, 10-12 inches is a great option. This protects a larger area of the wall from splashes and spills while allowing you to incorporate decorative borders. It works especially well with subway tiles as you can lay them vertically.

18 Inches

An 18 inch backsplash will cover the entire space between standard counter and cabinet height. This is the most common choice as it completely protects the walls within the work triangle area. The simple clean lines also appeal to homeowners.

Full Height

Full height backsplashes run from counter to ceiling. This full coverage is great for high use kitchens. It offers maximum protection. Full height backsplashes make a bold visual statement and suit contemporary kitchen designs.

Partial Height

Partial backsplashes run from counter to bottom of wall cabinets but stop short of the ceiling. This gives you more flexibility as you can use two different materials. For example, a decorative tile backsplash with plain paint above.

Recommended Minimum Height

The absolute minimum backsplash height should be 4-6 inches. Anything below that will not offer adequate wall protection. The recommended minimum is to install backsplash that covers at least the area between the counter and wall cabinets. Standard cabinet height is 18 inches so that tends to be the absolute minimum height for most kitchens.

Factors That Determine Full Height Backsplashes

Here are some things to consider if opting for a full height backsplash:

  • Ceiling height of 9 feet or greater works best for a floor to ceiling backsplash. Lower ceilings can feel oppressive.
  • Contemporary kitchen designs suit full height backsplashes. More traditional kitchens may clash with a full wall treatment.
  • Use water-resistant materials like subway tiles, stainless steel, or stone. Drywall or wallpaper can deteriorate from moisture exposure when installed too close to sources of water.
  • Consider using decorative borders or mosaics to add visual interest rather than just a plain slab of tile.

Installation Tips

Here are some key tips to get your backsplash height perfect:

  • Measure from counter to ceiling and counter to cabinets first to determine your backsplash dimensions.
  • Use a level during installation to ensure an even look.
  • For heavy materials like natural stone or travertine, provide adequate support either on the counter or by installing backerboard behind the backsplash.
  • Use caulk between the backsplash and counter or cabinetry for clean finished edges.
  • Take electrical outlets, lighting, and plumbing into account when mapping placement.


How high should a backsplash be behind a stove?

Behind a stove, the minimum backsplash height should be 18 inches. Protecting the wall areas around the stove is crucial because this is where grease accumulation and splattering will be the highest.

What is the standard height for a kitchen backsplash?

The most common and generally recommended standard backsplash height is 18 inches. This suits most kitchens well and fully protects the walls within the main work triangle between the sink, stove and prep areas.

Can you have different height backsplashes in the same kitchen?

Absolutely! It is perfectly fine from a design perspective to have different height backsplashes in your kitchen. For example, you may want a 4-6 inch glass tile accent behind your sink, 10-12 inches of marble subway tile behind the stove, and a full height porcelain tile backsplash covering your prep/work area.

Should backsplash match countertops?

It is not essential for your backsplash to match your countertops exactly. Contrasting materials and colors can look very eye-catching together. Just ensure the overall scheme complements each other. Your backsplash is an opportunity to use a different texture or material from the countertop.

How high should backsplash be in bathroom?

Bathroom backsplashes should have a minimum height of 4-6 inches around sinks and vanities. Full height backsplashes suit contemporary shower enclosures. Take lighting into account in bathrooms as you don’t want the backsplash material to obscure sconces or fixtures.


Determining the ideal backsplash height requires taking into account your kitchen layout, cabinetry, work triangle, ceiling height and personal tastes. While the absolute minimum is just 4-6 inches, most designers recommend a backsplash of at least 18 inches high. This covers the standard distance between counter and cabinet and provides adequate protection. Full height backsplashes are trendy too but best suited for larger contemporary kitchens. With the wide range of backsplash materials today, you can find beautiful options to suit any desired height.