Where Does a Backsplash Go?

A backsplash is an important design element that serves both functional and aesthetic purposes in a kitchen. But where exactly should a backsplash go? Here is a detailed guide on the placement and coverage area for a kitchen backsplash.

What is a Kitchen Backsplash?

A kitchen backsplash is a protective surface that is installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. Typically made of tile, metal, glass, or other materials, a backsplash prevents splashes and stains on the wall while adding visual interest to the kitchen.

Backsplashes serve several purposes:

  • Protect the walls from water damage, stains, and splatters while cooking or washing dishes.
  • Create an easy-to-clean surface behind appliances and the sink.
  • Add style and visual appeal to the kitchen’s design.
  • Tie together countertops, cabinets, and other finishes as part of a cohesive look.

Where Does a Backsplash Go in a Kitchen?

Behind the Sink

The sink area is one of the most essential places for a backsplash in the kitchen. Located directly behind the faucet and sink basin, the backsplash catches water splashes and drips during dish washing and other sink activities. A full-height backsplash covering the wall area behind the faucet and sink is recommended.

Behind the Stove

Another key area for backsplash coverage is the wall behind the stove and range. When cooking and sautéing, grease, oil, and food particles will inevitably hit the wall. A properly installed backsplash shields the wall from these cooking splatters. For full protection, the backsplash should extend from the range hood vent or bottom of wall cabinets down to the top of the stove.

Countertop Backsplashes

While not all kitchens require a backsplash behind all countertops, it is a good idea to install a 4-6 inch backsplash along the wall above kitchen countertops. This protects the walls from minor spills and splashes when food prepping or doing other work at the countertops.

Full Wall Backsplashes

For a continuous, seamless look, some homeowners opt to cover entire walls in backsplash tile. A full wall backsplash provides maximum protection and can make a smaller kitchen appear larger visually. Full backsplashes also eliminate gaps that potentially allow food, grease, and liquids to reach the painted drywall behind shorter backsplash applications.

Backsplash Height and Coverage Area

For proper protection, backsplashes should cover wall areas exposed to moisture. Here are some standard measurements:

  • Sink backsplash height: Cover the entire wall area directly behind the faucet and sink, from counter to ceiling.
  • Stove backsplash height: From range hood vent or bottom of wall cabinets to top of stove surface, about 18-30 inches high.
  • Countertop backsplash height: 4-6 inches above countertop.
  • Full backsplash height: Ceiling to counter height.

In terms of horizontal coverage, backsplashes should span the entire width of the sink, stove, or counter areas. For a unified look, materials like tile or metal backsplashes should be installed to create seamless transitions between all covered wall sections.

Where NOT to Install a Backsplash

Backsplashes are less common along walls with no plumbing, appliances, or countertops. Exceptions might include:

  • Behind a kitchen desk area to protect the wall from incidental spills.
  • As decorative accent tiles on a random wall.
  • On a wall with open shelving to subtly protect stored items.

Otherwise, full backsplash installations are not typical on blank kitchen walls or eating areas where no cooking or sink use takes place.

Choosing the Right Backsplash Height and Coverage

When planning a kitchen backsplash, consider the size and layout of your space. Limit backsplashes only to walls that need protection, based on your cooking habits and the kitchen’s work zones. Concentrate on covering walls behind appliances, plumbing, and counters properly. With strategic placement and adequate coverage, a kitchen backsplash serves as a stain resistant, easy to clean focal point that ties your whole kitchen decor together.

Frequently Asked Questions about Where a Kitchen Backsplash Should Be Installed

Where does a backsplash go in a small kitchen?

In a small kitchen, concentrate backsplashes behind appliances and the sink plumbing. Omit countertop backsplashes to avoid too many materials competing in the space. An 18-24 inch backsplash behind the stove and a full height backsplash behind the sink should adequately protect the walls.

Can I install backsplash on only one wall?

Backsplashes only on one wall are fine over an isolated work zone like a sink. But for optimal protection it’s best to cover all walls behind appliances, plumbing, or counters with backsplash.

Should backsplashes match countertops?

Matching backsplash and countertop materials create a cohesive look. But it’s not required. Contrasting or coordinating materials can complement each other nicely.

How long does it take to install a backsplash?

A simple DIY backsplash can be installed over a weekend. More complex tile layouts require several days. Professional installers can typically complete a backsplash in 1-3 days.

Can I install backsplash tile over existing wall tile?

Backsplashes can go over existing tile if firmly attached. The walls must be prepared properly and new tile laid out to prevent uneven surfaces. Professionals are best for tile over tile projects.


Strategically placed behind appliances, plumbing, and countertops, backsplashes protect walls while adding visual appeal. Focus coverage on sink, stove, and counter areas based on your kitchen layout and cooking habits. With adequate height and coverage, a backsplash keeps your walls pristine while tying your kitchen’s style together.