Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. But where exactly should you install a backsplash in your kitchen? Here is a detailed guide on optimal backsplash placement to help you make the best design decisions.
A kitchen backsplash is a protective surface that is installed on the wall behind countertops, sinks, stoves and other kitchen fixtures. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, metal, glass, stone or other water-resistant materials. Beyond just protecting the walls from splashes and spills, backsplashes also serve as an important decorative element in kitchen design.
When deciding where to put backsplash in a kitchen, there are a few key factors to consider including protecting areas prone to messes, complementing countertops, highlighting focal points and considering traffic areas. Carefully thinking through backsplash placement can help you maximize both form and function in your kitchen’s layout and design.
Where Should You Install a Kitchen Backsplash?
When mapping out your backsplash design, here are the key kitchen areas where you will want to install backsplash:
Behind The Stove
The wall behind the stove and oven is an absolute must for backsplash installation. This high-heat zone is prone to splatters, splashes and grease buildup from cooking. A properly installed backsplash will protect the walls from stains, moisture damage and heat.
Tile, metal and stone are great backsplash options for heavy-duty protection behind stoves. Be sure to use heat-resistant adhesives and grout as well. Extend the backsplash from the rear wall to 18-24 inches on either side of the stovetop or oven range.
Behind The Kitchen Sink
The sink area tends to get wet and messy during daily use. Water splashes while washing dishes, and food prep near the sink can leave crumbs, juices and grease on surrounding walls.
Installing a water-resistant backsplash behind the sink and on side walls protected from water damage and stains. Glass, ceramic tile or stainless steel make excellent sink backsplash materials.
Backsplashes along countertops also help defend walls from minor splashes and spills during food prep and cooking. Continuing your backsplash material up the wall from countertops also creates a polished, seamless look.
For best protection, backsplashes should overlap countertops by at least 4 inches. This helps prevent water from getting behind the backsplash and damaging the walls.
On Peninsula Walls
If your kitchen features an open-concept design or peninsula layout, consider wrapping backsplash around the perimeter walls.
Adding backsplash to exposed end walls improves spill protection and aesthetically ties the whole space together. Use complementary backsplash materials that align with your countertop selection.
Around Switch Plates and Outlets
Any outlets, switches or plugs located in your main backsplash areas should be wrapped by the backsplash material. This improves moisture protection and prevents splashes from getting behind them.
Be sure your backsplash overlaps by at least 4 inches beyond the edges of electrical boxes. Consult local building codes for exact specifications.
Don’t forget to bring your backsplash into inside corners where countertops meet in an L-shape. Keeping the backsplash continuous provides an unbroken back wall that prevents liquid from getting trapped in grout lines.
Mitered tiles or careful grout work helps create clean finished corners. Ending backsplash randomly in inside corners looks unfinished.
Key Factors When Determining Backsplash Placement
When deciding exactly where to install backsplash in your kitchen, keep these guidelines in mind:
Focus backsplashes in areas most prone to spills, splashes and high heat like behind stoves, sinks and prepping zones. This provides maximum shielding were you need it most.
Select backsplash materials like tile, glass or stone that align with your countertop selections. This creates a cohesive kitchen design.
Highlight Key Areas
Use statement backsplash tile behind cooktops or sinks to add accent details to your kitchen focal points.
Consider Traffic Areas
Avoid very glossy or delicate backsplash materials along countertops or busy walkways where they are more prone to scuffs and damage.
Work With Windows and Lighting
Strategic backsplash placement can enhance natural lighting from windows. Or you can install a backsplash with built-in LED lighting for extra drama.
Design Tips for Planning Backsplash Placement
Follow these tips when mapping out your kitchen backsplash layout:
- Create a backsplash layout drawing to experiment with shape and size options.
- Lay out a mock backsplash on the wall with low-tack tape to visualize placement.
- Think about patterns. Use large statement tile or extended patterns to make small spaces feel bigger.
- Add multiple backsplash zones in large kitchens. Use different materials to define cooking and cleaning areas.
- Combine standard backsplash height with a taller accent wall behind stoves or sinks for more drama.
- Use natural breaking points like inside corners, appliances or windows to define backsplash sections.
Common Backsplash Heights
Most standard kitchen backsplashes fall between 4-6 inches in height. However, you can install backsplashes ranging anywhere from a few inches tall up to 4 feet or more. Here are some typical backsplash dimensions to consider:
- Partial backsplash: 4-6 inches high. Offers basic protection for limited budget.
- Standard backsplash: 18-24 inches high. Protects common splash zones without overwhelming.
- Full height backsplash: Extends from countertops to cabinets. Makes a bold statement.
- Accent wall: Over 24 inches, often behind cooktop. Creates a focal point.
Integrating Backsplash With Other Materials
When planning backsplash placement, also consider how the materials will integrate with surrounding kitchen finishes:
- Match grout color to stone or quartz countertops for uniform look.
- Use similar tones and textures for countertops and backsplash for cohesive style.
- Treat wood cabinets to protect against moisture damage above sink or stove backsplashes.
- Select durable lower wall paints that can withstand occasional splashes next to backsplashes.
- Seal natural stone around edges abutting backsplash to prevent moisture penetration behind.
Incorporating Electrical and Plumbing Fixtures
Proper planning is crucial when incorporating sinks, outlets and lighting around backsplashes:
- Coordinate outlet and switch placements with backsplash design.
- Check local building codes for minimum outlet placement next to backsplashes.
- Set sink faucets and soap dispensers into tile rather than mounting on surface.
- Use waterproof light fixtures and concealed LED lighting strips.
- Ensure all fixtures are properly sealed to prevent moisture damage behind backsplash.
FAQ About Backsplash Placement
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing kitchen backsplashes:
Should backsplash match counter or cabinets?
It is up to personal preference. Matching backsplash to either material can look seamless. Contrasting your backsplash creates more visual interest.
How high should backsplash be behind a stove?
For adequate protection, backsplash should extend 18-24 inches beyond the edges of the range or cooktop.
Can you put outlets on backsplash?
Yes, outlets can be installed directly on backsplash material provided proper electrical boxes are used and clearance requirements are met.
Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?
Full height backsplashes make a dramatic statement but aren’t essential. Standard 18-24 inch height protects key areas from splashes.
What’s the best backsplash for behind a kitchen sink?
Ceramic, porcelain or glass tile and stainless steel make great sink backsplashes thanks to their water resistance. Avoid very glossy materials that show water spots.
How do you finish edges of a backsplash?
Backsplash edges often end in inside corners or where walls meet cabinets. Bullnose tiles or edge treatments give a polished finish.
Strategically installing backsplash in high use kitchen areas provides both form and function. Focus on protecting splatter zones behind stoves, sinks and countertops. Complement other materials like cabinets and countertops with your backsplash design. And use backsplashes to highlight decorative focal points or illuminate spaces. With proper planning and placement, you can install a backsplash that both safeguards your kitchen while elevating the aesthetic appeal.