A backsplash serves both form and function in a kitchen. Not only does it protect the walls from water damage and stains, but it also adds visual interest and ties the whole space together aesthetically. When designing a backsplash, one of the key considerations is determining where it should end. There are a few principles to keep in mind when deciding where to end your backsplash.
Height of the Backsplash
The most common height for a backsplash is 4 inches, covering the space between the countertops and bottom row of wall cabinets. However, the height can vary depending on your preference and kitchen style.
Here are some typical backsplash height options:
4 Inches High
This is the minimum recommended height for a functional backsplash. 4 inches will protect the wall from basic splashing and spills during food prep and cleanup. This height complements contemporary, modern or minimalist kitchens that feature sleek lines.
6 Inches High
Extending the backsplash to 6 inches provides more protection from bigger spills and splashes. The extra height also allows more creativity with materials and patterns. A 6 inch backsplash works well for transitional kitchens.
Installing the backsplash material from countertop to ceiling creates a bold, dramatic look. Besides offering maximum splash protection, a full height backsplash maximizes the visual impact in traditional or cottage-style kitchens. It can serve as an accent wall.
For a light, airy aesthetic, the backsplash can end at a height somewhere between the countertop and cabinets. For example, ending it about 2/3rds up the wall leaves some breathing room before meeting the upper cabinets. This is a great option for small kitchens or minimalist designs.
To Bottom of Cabinets
Alternatively, you can extend the backsplash to meet the bottom of the wall cabinets for a seamless, integrated look. This helps connect the countertops to the upper portions of the kitchen.
Above Bottom Cabinets Only
If you want to highlight your bottom cabinets or kitchen island, limit the backsplash to only the space above those areas. Leave the wall above the countertops bare before reaching the upper cabinets.
Inside Corners or Outside Corners
When ending a backsplash, you’ll need to decide whether to finish with inside corners or outside corners where the backsplash meets side walls, windows and other obstructions.
Cutting the tile or other backsplash material to fit neatly into inside corners provides a clean, streamlined look. This gives the backsplash a frame-like appearance with defined edges on each side. Inside corners work well for backsplashes ending partway up the wall.
Letting the backsplash wrap around outside corners creates a seamless, enveloping effect. The backsplash surrounds adjacent walls and windows. Outside corners lend themselves to full-height backsplashes or designs where the idea is for the backsplash to fade into the wall.
You can also combine inside and outside corners in the same kitchen. For example, you may have the backsplash wrap around the window in an outside corner but meet the side wall in an inside corner. Mix and match based on the corners of your kitchen layout and your visual goals.
Factors to Consider
Several factors come into play when determining the optimal ending spot for your backsplash:
Consider the workings of your kitchen. Do you regularly cook foods where larger messes and splatters may occur? Is there a busy sink area prone to water spills? Maximizing splash protection is key here. You may want a full backsplash behind the range or at least a 6 inch height above countertops.
Look at high traffic zones where cabinets and counters meet. Ending the backsplash a few inches shy of upper cabinets in these work areas allows a cleaner look versus ending at the cabinet bottom exactly. Inside corners work better for high traffic boundaries.
Take windows, doorways and other openings into account. You likely will want to end the backsplash at these obstructions either in an inside or outside corner situation. Pay attention to angles and corners created by the windows.
Cabinets & Shelving
If upper cabinets don’t extend fully to the ceiling, consider ending the backsplash right where they end. This gives the upper shelf area an integrated look. For open shelf segments, either end the backsplash at the shelf bottom or extend it to the ceiling.
Lighting & Electrical
Be aware of any lighting, electrical boxes or other wall-mounted elements. Leave some space between the backsplash and light fixtures or electrical boxes to allow room to work. But you can extend the backsplash to meet outlets seamlessly.
Sink & Faucet Configuration
With an undermount sink, you may want the backsplash to frame the sink area closely. For vessels or apron-front sinks, you have the option to end it right at the sink bottom or below. Coordinate with the lines of any wall-mounted faucets as well.
Take note of the height of major appliances like refrigerators and ranges. Ending the backsplash right at the top of these large appliances can give a custom, fitted look. Make sure to account for any outlets or switches located behind appliances too.
Backsplash materials vary widely in price. Going to the ceiling may bust the budget. Staying within a certain height range can provide cost efficiency in expensive stone, tile, or glass.
Full height backsplashes provide the maximum surface area requiring cleaning. Limiting the height makes that daily maintenance slightly easier. Inside corner edges also are easier to clean than outside rounded corners.
Where NOT to End a Backsplash
Just as important as choosing where to end the backsplash is deciding where NOT to end it:
In the Middle of a Wall
Ending a backsplash randomly mid-wall with no transition looks choppy and odd. The eye expects to see some sense of closure and framing. An inside corner or outside corner creates that.
At a Wall Junction
Don’t just have the backsplash meet adjacent walls in a basic butt joint. Creating either an inside or outside corner for a polished finish.
In a Super Awkward Spot
Don’t end the backsplash where it meets the countertop in a strange, inconvenient area. Avoid ending it right where your knees hit when sitting at a raised bar countertop for example.
Right Along Countertops
Allow some space between the backsplash and long stretches of countertop. Leaving a 1-3 inch gap prevents a cluttered look and catches spills. Extending to the bottom cabinets can close this gap.
Where Backsplashes Meet
When joining two sections of backsplash, overlap them so the bottom pieces nudges up under the top piece instead of ending in a plain blunt seam. This adds structure and polish.
Ending a backsplash mid-way across a cabinet looks incomplete and choppy. Take it to the cabinet edge, or start and end between cabinets.
Across from a Focal Point
Don’t arbitrarily end the backsplash on a wall across from an area you want to highlight like a stove or sink. Carrying a full height splash on focal areas prevents competing visual endpoints.
Creative Ideas for Ending Backsplashes
Beyond the basics, a few creative options exist for ending kitchen backsplashes in unique, eye-catching ways:
Use an Accent Material
Choose an accent tile or alternate material to form a border at the top of the backsplash. Contrasting colors or textures can define the transition while coordinating.
Add Architectural Molding
Dress up the transition line between backsplash and wall with crown molding, baseboards, or similar decorative trimwork. This delineates the space while adding depth.
Cap with Shelving
Instead of ending at the wall randomly, end the backsplash at a built-in shelf. The shelf provides function while creating a logical endpoint. Open shelves keep the look light.
Use Lighting Effects
Install sconce lighting, under-cabinet lighting or mini pendant lights right where the backsplash ends. The lighting highlights and emphasizes this design aspect.
Continue the Pattern
Have any patterns in the backsplash tile extend onto the wall above to make the ending blend seamlessly. Extending wallpaper onto the ceiling fools the eye.
Use glass tile on the backsplash itself but switch to marble, metal or stone slab above the endpoint. Mixing textures showcases both materials in an eye-catching way.
Add Architectural Interest
Incorporate architectural elements like floating shelves, half-height walls or decorative corbels where you want the backsplash to end. This enhances the visual border.
Layer with Color
Paint the wall above the backsplash endpoint a contrasting color to the backsplash itself. The color change helps define the transition line.
For a furniture-inspired look, end the backsplash at the same height as any nearby kitchen or dining tables. Imagine the tables as extensions of the countertops.
Where Should a Backsplash End?
When deciding where your backsplash should end, start by considering the standard height range of 4-6 inches. Evaluate your kitchen layout, cooking habits, style, and budget to determine whether to go full height, partial height, or limit to certain spots only. Examine inside and outside corners created by walls, windows, cabinets, and fixtures. Look for creative ways to treat ending points through shelving, lighting, color, tile patterns and materials. With the right spot, your beautiful new backsplash will give your kitchen a polished, pulled together look.
Frequently Asked Questions About Where to End Backsplashes
What is the standard height for a backsplash?
The typical backsplash height is 4-6 inches. Full height backsplashes extending from countertop to ceiling are also popular. Partial height backsplashes ending partway up the wall work for some contemporary kitchens.
Should my backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?
Going full ceiling height creates a dramatic accent wall effect. But it also requires cleaning and maintenance. Full height works best for busy cooking zones and minimalist contemporary designs. Partial height offers a lighter look in small spaces.
Where should I end my backsplash with a window?
When ending at a window, you can stop in an inside corner to frame the window or extend in an outside corner wrapping around the window for a seamless effect. Mix inside and outside corners for windows, walls and cabinets as desired.
Can I end a backsplash in the middle of a wall?
It’s best not to end a backsplash arbitrarily mid-wall with no transition. Use inside corners, outside corners, shelving, lighting or an accent border to create a logical endpoint. Avoid a blunt, harsh stop.
Should the backsplash meet the lower cabinets?
That is an option if you want an integrated look. Allow a small 1-3 inch gap between countertops and backsplash to prevent cluttering. Or end at a partial height partway down the wall before lower cabinets for a lighter aesthetic.
How do I transition from the backsplash to drywall?
Use trim moulding, corner bead, or an accent tile transition piece between the backsplash and drywall. Overlapping the materials creates a continuous look. You can also paint or wallpaper the wall above to match.
Can I end a backsplash partially across a wall?
It creates awkward visual tension to end a backsplash only partially across a wall. Carry it across the full length of any wall section for balance. Use inside corners or frames to define the edge.
Should I end the backsplash at my sink or extend below?
With undermount sinks, extending the backsplash fully behind the sink prevents water damage and splashing. For vessel or apron sinks, you can stop at the bottom or extend below depending on preference and counter depths.
How do I end a backsplash with an outlet or light switch?
Outlets can be integrated seamlessly into backsplashes. Leave a standard height space above and around any switches or lights so they are easy to access and use. Size of fixtures impacts spacing.
What’s the best way to end a glass tile backsplash?
Small glass tile lends itself to ending in an obvious transition like a metal trim piece, pencil tile border, or change to a new material like marble. This hides cut edges and delineates the change.
Determining where to end your backsplash comes down to a balance of aesthetics, functionality, and budget. Focus first on meeting typical height standards and picking areas that need splash protection. Then apply design principles for clean transitions, smart corners, and decorative details to create an ending point that looks tailored and polished. With some thoughtful planning, you can achieve the perfect framing for your stunning new backsplash design.