How High Should Kitchen Backsplash Go


The height of your kitchen backsplash is an important design consideration that impacts the look, functionality, and feel of your kitchen. While there are general guidelines for backsplash height, the ideal height for your kitchen will depend on your preferences, kitchen layout, counters, and personal style. In this article we’ll go over the factors to consider when determining how high your backsplash should go.

Standard Backsplash Height

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches. This tends to be the minimum height recommended for a basic backsplash installation. At 4 inches, the backsplash protects the wall from minor splashes and spills while cooking and cleaning. While 4 inches is the bare minimum, it can look a bit short and may not provide as much protection or design impact.

Backsplash to Bottom of Cabinets

For a simple clean look, many homeowners opt to extend their backsplash to the bottom of their wall cabinets. This creates a seamless look, with the backsplash tiles flowing into the cabinetry. The exact height will vary based on your cabinet height, but is commonly between 16 to 18 inches. This height works well for protecting the wall from cooking splatters while not overpowering a small kitchen.

Full Height Backsplash

Installing a full height backsplash is a popular design choice, with tiles extending all the way up to the ceiling. This creates a bold impact, maximizes splatter protection, and can make a small kitchen feel larger. The height of a full backsplash will vary based on the room height, commonly ranging from 32 to 36 inches. It creates a contemporary, sleek look. Just keep in mind it requires more tile and a higher installation cost.

Backsplash to Bottom of Wall Cabinets

For a harmonious, integrated look the backsplash can extend to the bottom of the upper wall cabinets. This technique unifies the backsplash with the cabinetry while leaving a portion of the wall exposed. It also protects the wall from grease, water, and stains from cooking. The height is typically between 30 to 36 inches.

Accent Strip Backsplash

An accent strip backsplash offers a minimalist approach, with a thin row of tiles extending 4 to 6 inches above the countertop. It adds a subtle decorative accent without overpowering the kitchen. An accent strip works well for contemporary, rustic, or cottage styles.

Factors to Consider

When deciding how high your backsplash should extend, keep these points in mind:

  • Kitchen style – Contemporary and modern kitchens often feature full height backsplashes, while traditional kitchens may opt for shorter heights.
  • Backsplash materials – Smaller tiles or intricate patterns are better suited to a smaller area, while larger tile scales well to a full height installation.
  • Countertop height/look – Extending the backsplash to the bottom of wall cabinets creates an integrated look with countertops that are level with cabinetry.
  • Cleanability – Full height backsplashes protect more of the wall from grease, water, and food mess.
  • Budget – Larger backsplash areas require more tile and labor, increasing costs.
  • Wall condition – If the wall has flaws, a shorter backsplash may be preferred.
  • Ceiling height – Backsplashes can extend close to the ceiling, but avoid going completely to the ceiling.
  • Personal preference – Consider your functional needs and the look you want to achieve.

Full Height Backsplash

A full height backsplash can make a striking design statement. Here are some benefits of this dramatic choice:

  • Provides full protection from wall stains above counters.
  • Visually expands smaller kitchens.
  • Creates a sense of height in rooms with high ceilings.
  • Allows for bold tile designs and patterns.
  • Offers a modern, sleek, contemporary look.
  • Frames and highlights kitchen windows, focal walls.

Potential drawbacks to weigh include requiring more tile, higher installation costs, oralabsaintenance due to more grout area, and a busy look in some kitchens.

Backsplash to Bottom of Cabinets

Extending backsplash tiles to the lower cabinets creates a finished, streamlined appearance. Benefits of this approach include:

  • Looks integrated and “built-in” with the cabinetry.
  • Elongates the kitchen’s sightlines.
  • Offers full protection behind ranges or cooktops.
  • Clean, simple, and versatile look.

Downsides can be needing more tile, limiting focal wall space, and potential lack of protection on upper walls.

Accent Strip Backsplash

A narrow accent strip backsplash provides an attractive, budget-friendly option. Considerations include:

  • Provides a touch of style without overpowering.
  • Lets wall color, patterns or textures take center stage.
  • Affordable and uses less tile.
  • Easy DIY installation project.
  • Minimal protection from splashes and stains.
  • Less durable than a larger backsplash area.

This understated look works in many kitchens but may not be ideal behind a range.

Backsplash Height by Kitchen Style

Contemporary Kitchens

Full height backsplashes (32 to 36 inches) help create the sleek, modern look contemporary kitchens are known for. Vividly patterned or solidly colored large format tiles make a dramatic style statement.

Transitional Kitchens

Split the difference with a backsplash extending 18 to 24 inches high. This provides fuller coverage than an accent strip, but doesn’t dominate the room. Subway tiles, mosaics, or a combination of tiles work well.

Traditional Kitchens

Traditional kitchens tend to have 4 to 6 inch backsplash accent strips or small backsplash areas extending 8 to 12 inches high. This preserves the classic look while adding some protection. Glass, marble, or ceramic tiles keep the traditional vibe.

Farmhouse Kitchens

For a casual farmhouse feel, opt for simple backsplash tiles extending to the bottom of wall cabinets, around 30 inches. Think white subway tiles, beadboard, or painted wood. Add rustic open shelves for charm.


Why shouldn’t backsplashes go all the way to ceiling?

It’s generally best to leave a small gap between the top of the backsplash and the ceiling. This allows for variations in ceiling height, provides ventilation, and makes the room feel less boxed in.

What height is easiest for self-installation?

DIYers will find it easiest to install a 4 inch backsplash or accent strip that doesn’t require cutting tiles or tricky alignment. Backsplashes over 12 inches high can get tricky.

How high should backsplashes be for hygiene?

The higher the backsplash, the more protected the wall will be from grease, water, food, and bacteria. Full height backsplashes provide the ultimate hygiene.

What if my wall cabinets are installed higher than typical?

In that case you can extend the backsplash to the counter to create a clean look, rather than leaving an extra tall gap between countertop and cabinet.

How high should backsplashes go with floating shelves?

Install the backsplash only to the bottom shelf for a streamlined, built-in look. Take into account items stored on the shelves too.

What height works for kids, pets, and resale value?

For family homes and resale, taller backsplashes around 16 to 18 inches provide fuller protection from the messy activities of daily life.

The Bottom Line

While the standard backsplash height is 4 inches, many homeowners opt to extend tiles to the bottom of wall cabinets or a full height installation. Consider your kitchen’s style, layout, uses, and your personal taste when deciding what works best. Also factor in your budget, as larger backsplash areas require more tile and labor. Take into account counter height, ceilings, windows, and focal walls. And feel free to get creative – you can even mix heights for visual interest.