Backsplashes are an important design element in any kitchen. Not only do they protect your walls from splatters and spills, but they also add visual interest and tie your whole kitchen together. When installing a backsplash, one of the biggest decisions is determining where exactly to end it. There are a few common options for ending a backsplash that can work in most kitchens.
Height of the Backsplash
The most common heights for ending a backsplash are:
- 4 inches – A 4 inch backsplash comes just above the countertop. This is the minimum recommended height for a functional backsplash.
- 8 inches – An 8 inch backsplash rises half way up the wall between the countertops and cabinets. This is a happy medium, giving you some splatter protection without overwhelming the space.
- Full height – A full height backsplash goes all the way up to the undersides of the upper cabinets. This option gives maximum splatter protection and makes a bold visual statement.
The height you choose depends on your personal preference and kitchen style. Modern kitchens tend to favor a taller backsplash, while traditional kitchens often use a shorter 4 inch one. If your kitchen is transitional or eclectic, an 8 inch backsplash is a good middle ground.
Backsplash End Point Relative to Cabinets
Besides the height, the other factor that determines where you end a backsplash is how it meets up with your cabinets. Here are some of the most common options:
End the Backsplash at the Inside Edge of Cabinets
Ending the tiles right at the inside edge of the cabinetry is the most common approach. This allows the backsplash to fully protect the wall without expanding into the cabinet space. The inside edge creates a nice clean line and clear visual separation between the backsplash and cabinets.
- Creates clear delineation between backsplash and cabinets
- Doesn’t interfere with cabinet space or doors
- Gives full wall protection behind countertops
- Can create a void space where splatters can still hit the wall if you don’t end at full height
End the Backsplash at the Outside Edge of Cabinets
Alternatively, you can end the backsplash at the outside edge of the cabinets instead of the inside. This positions the tiles ever so slightly overlapped under the bottom of the upper cabinets.
- Allows backsplash to fully reach upper cabinets for maximum protection
- Eliminates any void space between backsplash height and cabinets
- Integrates cabinets and backsplash for a seamless look
- Tiles overlap onto side of cabinet boxes slightly
- Can interfere with cabinet door swings
- Creates more complex cuts and installations around cabinets
End the Backsplash in Line with Cabinet Face Frame
If your cabinets have a face frame, you can also end the backsplash tiles flush with the face frame. The face frame is the frame built around the front of the cabinet boxes.
- Creates clean,flush transition from backsplash to cabinets
- Avoids overlapping onto sides of cabinet boxes
- Fairly simple installation
- Leaves a small void space between backsplash height and lower edge of face frame
- No splash protection behind face frame overhang
Factors that Influence Backsplash Height
When deciding the best place to end your backsplash, here are a few things to consider:
Faucet and Window Placement
Take note of the placement of your faucet and any windows in your sink area. Ending the backsplash at least 4-6 inches above these features will help protect your walls.
If you have exposed lower cabinets with appliances like a microwave or toaster oven, consider ending the backsplash at full wall height. This will fully protect the walls around your appliances.
There are no set rules – go with a height you find visually appealing for your kitchen. Shorter backsplashes keep the look light and airy, while full height makes a bolder style statement.
Material cost may factor in if doing a full wall of pricey tile. A shorter backsplash uses fewer tiles and saves on expenses.
Backsplash End Options for Different Situations
Beyond the standard height and position choices, there are a few special situations where you may end your backsplash a bit differently.
For a kitchen peninsula, many homeowners opt to end the backsplash tiles right at the inside corner where the peninsula meets the main kitchen wall. This avoids extra installation work on multiple free sides.
Since a kitchen island has exposed sides, you can either end the backsplash right at the edge around the entire perimeter, or leave the island backsplash free. Using at least a 4 inch backsplash helps protect the island wall somewhat.
Farmhouse Sink Apron
If your sink has an exposed front apron, you can end the backsplash right at the bottom edge of the apron. This allows your pretty sink design to be a focal point.
For a wall-mounted cooktop, you’ll need to end the backsplash below the bottom of the cooktop backguard. The backguard provides the necessary heat and splatter protection behind the cooktop rather than tiles.
When tiling an inside corner, you can end the tiles in a vertical line or an L-shape. Ending in a vertical line gives a clean look, while an L-shape provides more corner protection.
How High Should a Backsplash be Behind a Range?
Behind a stove or range, it’s recommended to have a backsplash that extends at least 18 inches above the cooking surface. This adequately protects the wall from grease splatters and steam. It also meets code requirements for minimum height above the range.
For optimal protection, extending the backsplash all the way up to the hood vent or underside of wall cabinets is ideal behind a cooking range. This leaves no voids where splatter can hit exposed wall.
Can You Use Two Different Height Backsplashes?
Absolutely! Mixing two different backsplash heights can add great visual interest. Here are some creative ways to use two height levels:
- Do a full height backsplash behind the stove only, with a shorter one elsewhere.
- Use two different colors of tile at different heights.
- In an L-shaped kitchen, do a taller backsplash on one wall and shorter on the other.
- Use glass tile for a 4-8 inch aesthetic backsplash, then simple ceramic tile to the ceiling.
- Install floating shelves over a short backsplash to fill the wall space.
Combining backsplash heights adds architectural flair and allows you to creatively mix materials. Just be sure to keep any lower backsplash at least 4 inches high for functionality.
Backsplash Height for Bathroom Vanity
The guidelines for backsplashes in kitchens apply to bathrooms as well. The key is protecting the walls from water splashes.
For a bathroom vanity backsplash, we recommend ending it around 6-8 inches above the top of the faucet. This ensures splashing water doesn’t run down the wall or soak into drywall.
As in kitchens, you can also do a full height backsplash tile behind a bathroom vanity. This can look especially nice with floating vanities that don’t have cabinetry above.
Backsplash Considerations for Open Shelving
Open shelving has become a popular kitchen trend. But without upper cabinets, ending a backsplash nicely becomes a bit trickier. Here are some options:
- End at a standard 4-8 inch height, then add an coordinating edge trim above.
- Take the backsplash to the ceiling behind open shelves. This keeps the aesthetic streamlined.
- End the backsplash at the top of the shelves. Be sure to seal the tile edge.
- Use a narrower accent tile from counter height up to the ceiling.
The key is keeping the transition clean where you end the backsplash below open shelves. Take care to properly seal the raw tile edge.
Creating a Finished Look When Ending Backsplash Tile
No matter where you choose to end your backsplash, properly finishing the exposed tile edges is key. Here are some tips for a polished look:
- For a natural stone backsplash, apply edge trim strips. Metal, wood, or matching stone strips all work.
- Bullnose tiles that curve slightly over the edge create a finished appearance.
- Seal all raw tile edges with silicone caulk in a matching grout color.
- For a modular backsplash, some systems snap together for easy installation with no exposed seams.
Taking the extra time to properly finish the ending edges of your backsplash will elevate the entire look of your kitchen in a subtle but meaningful way.
What is the standard backsplash size?
The most common backsplash size is 4-8 inches high. Full height backsplashes that go all the way up to the underside of cabinets are also popular. Standard backsplash lengths are whatever span you need to cover behind sinks, ranges, and countertops.
How high should backsplash be behind stove?
It’s recommended to have a backsplash at least 18 inches high behind a stove or range. For full protection, extending the backsplash all the way up to the range hood exhaust or underside of cabinets is best.
Can you end backsplash tile in inside corner?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to end backsplash tile in an inside corner. You can either stop in a straight vertical line, or take it around the corner in an L-shape. Make sure to properly seal the unfinished edges.
Should backsplash end at cabinet face frame?
Ending the backsplash tiles flush with the cabinet face frame is one option. It creates a clean transition. Just be aware it may leave a narrow void space above where the face frame overhangs.
Is it OK to have two different backsplash heights?
Having two different backsplash heights can add great visual interest! Some options are a full height backsplash only behind the cooktop, different colors at different heights, or taller and shorter backsplashes on different walls.
How do you finish backsplash edge?
To achieve a polished, finished look for exposed backsplash edges, you can apply edge trim strips, use bullnose edging tiles, seal the edges with caulk, or opt for an interlocking modular backsplash system.
Determining where to end your backsplash tile is an important design decision that can make a big impact on your kitchen’s style. While typical height options are 4, 8 or full height, don’t be afraid to get creative! Mixing materials and backsplash heights can elevate your space to the next level. Just be sure to keep functional factors in mind, properly finish any raw edges, and dress up the transition areas for a cohesive look. With the right backsplash endings, you can take your kitchen from basic to beautiful.