Where to End the Backsplash

A backsplash is an integral design element in any kitchen. Not only does it serve a functional purpose by protecting the walls from splashes and spills, it also makes a huge impact aesthetically. When designing your backsplash, one of the most important decisions is determining where to end it. There are a few factors to consider when deciding where to end the backsplash for the most cohesive and visually appealing look.

Height of the Backsplash

The standard height for a backsplash is 4 inches above the countertop. This is the minimum recommended height for practical purposes. Ending the backsplash at 4 inches allows it to adequately protect the wall fromDaily kitchen spills and splashes while cooking and cleaning.

However, you may want to extend the backsplash beyond the standard 4 inches for design purposes. An extended height backsplash can make more of a decorative statement. Here are some guidelines on backsplash height:

Standard Backsplash Height

  • A standard backsplash ends 4 inches above the countertop. This is the typical minimum height.
  • The 4 inch height is the most common since it provides essential wall protection.
  • Best for a basic, classic backsplash look at a budget friendly cost.
  • Typically used with basic backsplash materials like ceramic tile or stainless steel.

Extended Backsplash Height

  • Backsplashes extended beyond 4 inches create a bolder, more eye-catching aesthetic.
  • Popular extended heights are 6 inches, 8 inches, or all the way to the underside of the upper cabinets.
  • Allows you to incorporate more ornate or complex backsplash designs.
  • Works well with stone, glass tile, or mosaic backsplash materials.
  • Gives the illusion of higher ceilings by drawing the eye up.
  • Provides more spill protection and easier cleaning with less dust build up.

No matter what height you choose, make sure the bottom edge aligns evenly with the top of the countertops. An uneven line will look sloppy and distracting.

Backsplash Return

The term “backsplash return” refers to the edges of the backsplash and how far they wrap around adjoining walls before ending. The return is another important factor in giving your backsplash a polished finish.

You have two options for backsplash returns:

Partial Backsplash Return

  • The backsplash ends at a specific point without wrapping the corner.
  • Usually ends at a cabinet, a change in wall direction, or window.
  • Minimal return allows you to highlight a specific wall space.
  • Best for contemporary, modern kitchen designs.
  • Easier installation and uses fewer materials to keep costs down.

Full Backsplash Return

  • The backsplash continues around the corner to cover a side wall.
  • Provides a more finished look with no visible seams between walls.
  • Ideal for more traditional kitchen aesthetics.
  • Gives the illusion of a larger space by removing hard angles.
  • Helps hide any uneven cuts where walls meet.
  • More expensive with increased materials and labor.

Ending at Countertop Seams

For the most seamless look, extend the backsplash to align with countertop seams and edges. This makes the transition from countertop to backsplash appear intentional rather than haphazard.

Aligning with Sections

  • If you have countertop sections of different lengths or materials, end the backsplash where the countertops meet.
  • Allows you to terminate the backsplash neatly without awkward unfinished edges.
  • Looks like the backsplash was purposefully designed around the countertops.

Aligning with Corners

  • For countertops that turn corners, wrap the backsplash to exactly match.
  • Ending in line with the countertop corner provides symmetry.
  • Makes the backsplash appear custom fit to the space.
  • Eliminates gaps that allow spills and debris to get behind backsplash.

Terminating at Cabinets and Windows

Cabinets and windows also provide natural stopping points when determining where to end the backsplash. Aligning these elements creates a cohesive look.

Ending at Cabinets

  • For full backsplash returns, end horizontally in line with adjoining cabinetry.
  • Stops the backsplash short of overlapping onto wood cabinets.
  • Looks custom sized to fit perfectly between cabinets and countertops.
  • Allows cabinets to act as bookends that frame the backsplash.

Next to a Window

  • End the backsplash just shy of the window trim or frame.
  • Prevents the backsplash materials from interrupting the window aesthetics.
  • Provides plenty of splash protection without encroaching on window space.
  • If desired, a narrower backsplash border can be added at windows.

Backsplash with Open Shelving

If you have open shelving instead of upper cabinets, the backsplash requires some additional planning. You have a few options for handling the backsplash in this situation:

Carry to Shelf Bottom

  • Extend the backsplash to the underside of the lowest shelf.
  • Visually anchors the shelves while still allowing openness.
  • Provides splash protection on the wall space below the shelves.
  • Looks built-in and intentional versus a random stopping point.

Align with Shelf Edges

  • End the backsplash flush with the outer edges of the open shelves.
  • Gives the shelves a frame and finished look on each side.
  • Allows you to highlight floating shelves as part of the design.

Partial Backplash Sections

  • Do a full backsplash near the countertops and behind appliances.
  • Then do another section of backsplash along the shelves.
  • Breaking it into two sections of backsplash looks more fitted.

Backsplash Meets Range Hood

The area where the backsplash and range hood meet also requires special consideration regarding where to end the backsplash.

  • Typically, the bottom of the range hood sits 30-36 inches above the countertop.
  • For standard height backsplashes, match where the tile meets the underside of the hood.
  • This prevents leaving an uneven gap between the backsplash and hood.
  • For extra tall backsplashes, consider ending it 6 inches below the hood.
  • Allows the hood to act as a visual boundary while also protecting wall space around the cooking surface.
  • Use caulk or sealant to close any seams for water resistance.

Inside Corners and Joints

Inside corners where two backsplashes meet require extra precision for a streamlined look.

  • Overlap the edges slightly so the joint lands on the middle of the tile.
  • This avoids a blunt edge next to the corner.
  • Using a specialty trim piece like a bullnose helps hide any uneven cuts.
  • Take extra care to properly seal inside corners to prevent moisture issues.
  • Use caulk that matches the grout color for the most invisible seal.

Final Edge Terminations

The way you choose to finish the final edge can impact the overall look once installed. Here are some options:

Bullnose Tile trim

  • A rounded bullnose tile trim piece gives the edge a refined finish.
  • The curve helps conceal any slight gaps or uneven cuts.
  • Looks more substantial compared to caulk alone.
  • Matches the backsplash design instead of clashing materials.

Metal Trim

  • Metal trim in stainless steel, copper, or nickel provides a sleek edge.
  • Makes a contemporary design statement compared to basic tile.
  • Offers high durability and matches metal accents.
  • Helps protect the tile edge from chipping over time.


  • Caulking the seams and edges neatly finishes off the install.
  • Use caulk that matches the grout color.
  • Provides a watertight seal to prevent moisture penetration.
  • Minimal look keeps the focus on the backsplash itself.
  • Most budget friendly option.

No matter which edge treatment you select, take measures to create a clean finished termination line. Leave an even reveal wherever you choose to end the backsplash for the most seamless look.

Styling Tips

  • Separate upper cabinets from the backsplash with crown molding to accentuate their height.
  • Add floating shelves next to the backsplash for open storage and to highlight the finish materials.
  • Paint the wall above the backsplash a contrasting color to differentiate the tiled space.
  • Install pendant lighting over a kitchen peninsula to draw attention to the backsplash behind it.
  • Anchor the ends of the backsplash with tall cabinetry or statement decor pieces on each side.

FAQs About Where to End the Backsplash

What is the standard height for a backsplash?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches above the countertop. This allows it to provide adequate splash protection while remaining visually minimal.

Should you end the backsplash at cabinet seams?

It is recommended to align the ends of the backsplash with cabinet seams for the most seamless look. Terminating the backsplash precisely where the cabinetry meets makes it appear custom fit to the space.

How do you finish the edge of a backsplash?

Common options for finishing the edge of a backsplash include bullnose tile edging, metal trim strips, caulking, or simply cutting the tile for a straight edge. Choose an edge finish that matches the backsplash design and your kitchen aesthetics.

Can you end a backsplash partially up a wall?

Yes, it is possible to do a partial backsplash that only covers a section of the wall. This is often done behind sinks, stoves or in areas that need the most protection. The partial backsplash can then terminate at a specific point based on the layout.

Should you end the backsplash under open shelves?

When designing a backsplash with open shelving, you can end the backsplash along the underside of the lowest shelf. This anchors the shelf while allowing the wall space to remain open above.

How do you end a backsplash against a window?

The best practice is to end the backsplash just short of window framing or trim. Avoid overlapping the backsplash onto the window itself. If desired, do a narrow border of tile as an accent along the window perimeter.

Can you end a backsplash in the middle of a wall?

Ending a backsplash awkwardly mid-wall with no design termination point will look cut off and incomplete. It is better to end it where it intersects cabinets, countertops, or transitions in wall direction for a intentional appearance.

What’s the best way to end a backsplash where there are no cabinets?

In open concept kitchens without upper cabinets, options include terminating the backsplash along the ceiling, soffit or any horizontal architectural elements. You can also end it inline with outer edges of open shelving for a finished look.

How do you hide the end of a backsplash?

The use of trim and edge profiles will help conceal the end of a backsplash and any uneven cuts. Bullnose tiles, metal trim strips, or caulking that matches the grout all help hide seams while giving a tidy finish.

Should I caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop?

Yes, it is recommended to caulk along the bottom edge where the backsplash and countertop meet. This waterproofs the seam and prevents water or debris from getting behind the backsplash. Match the caulk color to the grout.


Determining where to end the backsplash requires careful planning, precise measurements, and attention to aesthetics. While there are some general guidelines, your kitchen layout, cabinetry, countertops, and overall design will dictate the ideal stopping points for your backsplash. Take into account partial or full returns, alignment with cabinets and fixtures, and how the edges will be finished for the most professional looking result. With some strategic design choices, you can ensure your beautiful new backsplash has a polished beginning, middle and end.