The kitchen backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes in a kitchen. Located on the wall between the countertops and kitchen cabinets, the backsplash protects the walls from splashes, stains, and moisture while also adding visual interest to the kitchen. While many homeowners opt for full backsplashes that cover the entire wall between cabinets and countertops, others may want a more focused backsplash design that ends at a specific point. Knowing how to properly end a kitchen backsplash ensures a cohesive, finished look.
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the key factors to consider when deciding where and how to end a kitchen backsplash. We will provide design ideas, material recommendations, and installation tips to help you seamlessly incorporate a focused backsplash into your kitchen décor. With the right planning and execution, an ended backsplash can give your kitchen a stylish, unique look.
Where to End a Kitchen Backsplash
When designing an ended backsplash, the first decision is where you want it to stop. Here are some of the most common ending points and how to achieve a polished look:
Ending at Wall Corners
Ending the backsplash at an inside or outside corner where two walls meet is a natural stopping point. The corner provides a definitive end to the backsplash. For outside corners, simply stop the backsplash tile at the edge. For inside corners, you can terminate the backsplash tile in a vertical line or miter the tile for a more finished appearance.
Ending at Countertop Seams
If your countertop has seams where sections join together, ending the backsplash at the seams creates clean lines. The countertop provides a horizontal visual break. Make sure to precisely align the backsplash with the edge of the countertop sections.
Ending at Window or Door Trim
Windows, doors, and other architectural elements like framed arches offer excellent end points for an ended backsplash. Carry the backsplash tile up to the exact dimensions of the trim or frame. The wood or molding trim provides a definitive border.
Ending at Appliances
Ending a backsplash to align with a built-in wall oven, refrigerator, or other appliance can give your kitchen a fitted, built-in look. Measure the appliance and tile up to the edges. You may need to cut border tiles to fit.
Ending at Decorative Inlays
For a decorative flourish, end the backsplash at a decorative inlay, medallion, or design motif. For example, stop at a tile border or wall stencil. This creates a framed look for your ended backsplash.
Ending at Light Fixtures or Plugs
While less common, you can end a backsplash design at practical elements like an electrical outlet, switch, or hanging light. Be sure to maintain the proper clearance from the backsplash materials. The fixture or outlet can serve as a boundary.
Backsplash Ending Ideas by Kitchen Layout
The best place to end your backsplash may also depend on the overall floorplan and layout of your kitchen:
Galley Kitchens: With cabinets and countertops on both sides, galley kitchens often have backsplashes covering each wall. End the backsplashes on the inside wall corners where they meet perpendicular walls or at the seam where peninsula/island countertops begin.
L-Shaped Kitchens: In an L-shaped kitchen, end the backsplash where the two sections join together at the corner. You can also end it at upper cabinet ends or near the sink and stove sections.
U-Shaped Kitchens: For a U-shaped kitchen, end the backsplash sections at the inside wall corners where each leg of the U meets. Terminate each side at upper cabinet ends or appliances.
Island Kitchens: With open floor plans and islands, you have flexibility. End the backsplash at the corner where the island starts, or extend it wider to end at a focal point like a range or sink.
Peninsula Kitchens: For a peninsula or half-island kitchen, end the backsplash where the peninsula begins. You can also end it at the edge of an appliance like the range.
Material Considerations for an Ended Backsplash
The material you select for an ended backsplash can influence the overall look. Consider these material-specific tips:
Tile: Tile backsplashes offer straight, clean lines ideal for strategic ending points. Select similar grout colors for a seamless transition.
Metal: Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, or tin can end cleanly along corners or seams. Overlap pieces slightly for stability.
Glass: Glass tile or decorative glass panels make for a shiny, eye-catching ended backsplash. Use silicone caulk for clean edges.
Stone: Natural stone like marble, granite, or slate needs a straight edge but creates an elegant border. Use bullnose edges for safety.
Wood: Wood planks offer a warm, rustic look. Stain or finish the edges to match, and use trim for definition.
Paint: Paint is an affordable backsplash option. Tape off edges sharply for clean painted lines, or feather the paint for a subtle transition.
How to Install an Ended Backsplash
Proper installation techniques ensure your ended backsplash looks polished and professionally finished:
- Measure precisely – Mark ending points and measure the entire backsplash area. Account for uneven walls and corners.
- Cut border tiles – Most likely you’ll need to cut tiles to fit at edges and corners. Use a wet saw for clean cuts.
- Include an end border – For a clean look, add a trim, bullnose, or decorative end border tile.
- Use caulk/grout – Fill any edges and gaps with either grout (for tile) or flexible caulk. Smooth for a seamless appearance.
- Apply end caps – End caps or trim pieces give a finished edge to materials like wood, metal, or glass.
- Overlap materials – With metal or glass sheets, allow overlapped ends for stability and to avoid visible seams.
- Prime and paint edges – When painting, prime the edges first for better adhesion and create sharp paint lines with painter’s tape.
- Follow up with caulk/sealant – After installation, apply additional caulk or sealant along any edges, corners, or borders.
Design Ideas for an Ended Backsplash
Ending a backsplash doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Here are some ideas to add allure with an ended backsplash:
- Incorporate decorative end border tiles or trim strips in a contrasting color. This frames the design and becomes a visual feature.
- Choose a colorful, patterned, or mosaic tile backsplash material. The eye-catching effect draws attention upwards.
- Use a coordinating wall stencil, medallion, or ornament above the ended backsplash to provide continuity.
- Flank the area above the backsplash with framed photos, shelves, or meaningful wall art. This continues the focal point upward.
- Install pendant or track lighting right above where the backsplash ends. Illumination emphasizes the border.
- Select a polished metal like brass or nickel for the ended backsplash. The sheen reflects light beautifully.
- Carry the backsplash material up onto a side wall or focal area for a wraparound effect.
- Add floating corner shelves where the backsplash ends to maximize space while accenting the borders.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ended Backsplashes
Many homeowners have additional questions about incorporating an ended backsplash into their kitchen design. Here are answers to some of the most common queries:
What are the benefits of an ended backsplash?
Ended backsplashes allow you to strategically highlight key areas while saving on cost and labor compared to a full backsplash. They also lend versatility in design, letting you mix and match materials.
What areas should you avoid ending a backsplash?
Avoid ending a backsplash mid-wall with no border or boundary. This looks unfinished. Also avoid ending at the exact width of a window or other opening. Extend at least 4 inches beyond.
Should you end the backsplash before or after the boundary element?
For inside corners and appliance edges, end directly in line with the edge. For trim or moldings, end about 1/4 inch shy of the frame so that the tile tucks behind slightly.
What’s the best way to end metal or glass backsplash sheets?
These sheets should overlap by several inches rather than simply butting up. Use clear silicone caulk to join for stability and a smooth look. Never end metal or glass mid-wall.
How do you finish an ended backsplash edge?
Always include an end border like bullnose tile, trim strips, or caulked edges for a completed look. For tile, match the grout color. For painted backsplashes, caulk and then paint the edges.
Should you seal ended backsplash edges?
Definitely seal up edges with a waterproof silicone caulk or sealant. This prevents moisture damage, especially around materials like wood or drywall. Use a matching colored caulk for a invisible finish.
The kitchen backsplash provides both form and function. While a full backsplash offers maximum impact, an ended backsplash can be just as stylish. By strategically determining an appropriate ending spot, incorporating complementary materials, and installing with care, you can achieve a polished, professional look.
Accent the edges of your ended backsplash with trims, borders, or decorative treatments. Choose eye-catching materials and colors to draw the eye. Don’t be afraid to get creative with patterns, textures, or wraparound designs. With the right backsplash ending ideas, you can give any kitchen a stylish focal point perfect for entertaining.