Where Should Backsplash Stop?

Backsplash is an important design element in any kitchen. It protects the walls from splashes and stains while cooking. But a common question that comes up when planning a backsplash is – where should it stop? Here are some tips on determining the ideal backsplash height and coverage area for your kitchen.

Height of the Backsplash

The standard recommendation is to install backsplash that extends 4 to 6 inches above the countertop. This protects a decent portion of the wall from water, oil, and food splatter.

For a full splash look, you can extend the backsplash all the way up to the bottom of the upper cabinets. This creates a bold, dramatic appearance but requires more tile work.

If your backsplash accentuates a particular area like behind a stove or sink, you can limit the height to just 12 to 18 inches around those spaces. This focused treatment can draw attention to a specific spot without overdoing the tilework.

Ultimately the height depends on your style preference, kitchen configuration, and budget. Just ensure a minimum 4-inch backsplash above countertops for sufficient protection.

Horizontal Coverage of Backsplash

In terms of width, the general guideline is to install backsplash on any wall sections containing countertops, cabinets, appliances, sinks, or stoves. The backsplash should extend all the way from one end of the countertop to the other without gaps.

For a continuous look, you can also run the backsplash along the entire perimeter of the room, tying in all four wall sections. This makes the space feel larger and makes a bolder design statement.

Alternatively, you may opt for a focal point backsplash that accents a particular area. For example, a mosaic tile backsplash highlighting just the stove zone. This type of installation focuses attention on key areas without overdoing the tilework.

Factors that Influence Backsplash Extent

Several factors come into play when determining the appropriate backsplash coverage for your kitchen:

  • Your design style – Contemporary and modern spaces tend to feature full-height backsplashes. More traditional kitchens may limit backsplash to just around the stove or behind sinks.
  • Presence of windows or artwork – If the kitchen walls have attractive windows or art that you want to keep visible, limit the backsplash area so it doesn’t cover up those elements.
  • Kitchen size and shape – Small, narrow kitchens can lookExpanded with a backsplash running the full perimeter of the room. Larger kitchens may dial it back to key zones.
  • Your budget – Backsplash tile can be an expensive investment. Determine how much you want to spend and where you want to splurge.
  • Ease of cleaning – Full backsplashes are easier to wipe down than small segmented sections.

Where Should Backsplash Stop? Key Takeaways

  • Standard backsplash height is 4 to 6 inches above countertops. For full impact, extend to bottom of upper cabinets.
  • In terms of horizontal span, backsplash should cover all walls with countertops, sinks, or appliances.
  • Factors like kitchen shape, windows, artwork, style, and budget impact how much area you backsplash.
  • Focus on areas prone to splashes like behind sinks and stoves if you want to limit backsplash.

With some planning and consideration of your kitchen layout, style, and needs, determining where your backsplash should stop is easy. Extend it high enough to protect the walls and wide enough to cover key cooking zones while complementing your overall aesthetic.

FAQs about Where Backsplash Should End

Should backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?

Backsplash does not necessarily have to go all the way to the ceiling. The standard height recommendation is just 4 to 6 inches above the counter. Full ceiling height backsplash creates a bold look but requires extensive tiling and may overwhelm a small kitchen.

Should backsplash extend to open shelving?

If you have open shelving instead of upper cabinets, it is not essential to extend backsplash to the underside of the shelves. Leaving a few inches gap between backsplash and bottom of shelves looks fine in most kitchens. Focus on covering the main cook zones.

How far should backsplash extend horizontally?

Horizontally, backsplash should cover all counter areas against walls around sinks, stoves, and other appliances. For a continuous look, run backsplash along the entire kitchen perimeter tying in all four wall sections.

Should backsplash be behind or under cabinets?

Backsplash should stop at the bottom edge of upper cabinets. Do not run it behind or underneath cabinetry. This keeps the tilework within view. The under-cabinet area usually does not need splash protection.

What about non-tile backsplash like stainless steel?

Non-tile backsplash materials like stainless steel, glass, or panels should follow the same height and coverage guidelines. They should extend 4 to 6 inches above counters and cover all sink, stove, and counter zones.

What if I have a tall prep area or bar countertop?

For tall counter prep areas or bar countertops exceeding 36 inches in height, extend the backsplash to 12 to 18 inches above the counter surface. This provides adequate splash protection for the taller counter zone.


Determining where your backsplash should stop takes some careful consideration of your kitchen plans. Focus on covering any areas vulnerable to splashes like sinks and cooktops. For a designer look, extend tile from counter to ceiling or perimeter to perimeter. Allow your style, kitchen size, and budget to guide you in choosing the ideal backsplash height and coverage. With smart planning, you can create a backsplash design that both protects your walls and provides decorative flair.