Where to End Tile Backsplash in Kitchen

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can add visual interest, protect your walls from splatters and spills, and increase the value of your home. One important decision when planning your backsplash is determining where to end it. Here are some tips on deciding where to terminate your kitchen backsplash.

End at Bottom of Wall Cabinets

Ending the backsplash at the bottom of the wall cabinets is a popular and practical option. This ensures the backsplash protects the walls behind and slightly above countertops, where a lot of cooking, food prep, and clean up take place. Ending at the wall cabinet line also gives the backsplash a polished, intentional look.

To end the backsplash here:

  • Measure from the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets.
  • Cut the tiles to fit this dimension.
  • Install the last row snugly along the cabinet line, using trim if needed.

If your countertops and cabinet bottom are not level, measure each section and cut tiles to fit. A laser level can help get highly accurate measurements.

End at Top of Countertops

Ending the backsplash right above the countertops is another clean, integrated look. This protects the wall behind sinks, ranges, and other counter areas prone to splashes and stains. It offers a minimal, seamless transition from countertop to wall.

To end at the countertop:

  • Measure from the countertop up to the desired height. 18-24 inches is common.
  • Cut tiles to fit this height. Use bullnose or other finishing tiles along the top edge.
  • Install the last row snugly above the countertop using trim if needed.

Make sure there is a small gap between the countertop and tiles for expansion and to prevent cracking.

End Partway Up the Wall

Extending the backsplash only partway up the wall is a budget-friendly option. This stylishly protects the most used wall space, while allowing you to install a more affordable amount of tile. It also enables easy access to upper wall outlets.

To end partway up:

  • Determine desired height. 12-15 inches is typical.
  • Measure and cut tiles to fit. Finish the top edge attractively.
  • Center the backsplash section on the wall, or align it to sink or range location.

Make sure to thoroughly tape off the area above during installation to keep splatters off the upper wall.

Consider Backsplash Height

  • Standard backsplash height is 4 inches above countertops, covering the back wall between counters and cabinets.
  • Full-height backsplashes extend from countertops to bottom of wall cabinets for a bold statement.
  • Typical partial backsplash height ranges from 12-24 inches.
  • Make sure the last row aligns well with your cabinets, window trim, or other terminating point.

Complement the Countertops

Choose backsplash tile color, pattern, and texture to coordinate with or accent your countertop finishes. For example:

  • Match subtle stone or quartz countertops with mosaic, marble, or stone backsplash tiles.
  • Pair busy granite countertops with a solid glass, ceramic, or metal backsplash.
  • Complement butcherblock with natural stone or ceramic tile designs.

Tying the countertops and backsplash together makes the whole space look cohesive.

Transition from Backsplash to Drywall

Installing trim provides a clean transition from tile to drywall and neatly finishes the termination edge. Options include:

  • Bullnose tiles: Curve outward to cover the rough tile edge.
  • Pencil tiles: Narrow, straight border tiles.
  • Metal strips: Sleek finishing strips install over tile edges.
  • Wood strips: Warm, rustic looking finish option.

Carefully seal trimmed edges with caulk to prevent moisture damage.

Extend Backsplash to Range Hood

For a continuous finished look, extend backsplash tile from the countertops to meet the bottom of wall-mounted range hoods.

To achieve this:

  • Measure distance from countertops to range hood base.
  • Cut and install tiles to cover this full vertical span.
  • Use finishing pieces like bullnose tile, pencil trim or metal strip at the top edge.

Make sure the backsplash materials are heat resistant if installed near ranges.

Backsplashes with Islands

For a cohesive look in kitchens with islands:

  • Install matching backsplash tile on the island wall behind the stove or sink.
  • End the island backsplash at the same height as the perimeter backsplash.
  • Use the same techniques like bullnose tile or trim to cap off edges.

Extending backsplash tile to the island improves traffic flow and prevents splashes on exposed wall areas.

Full Height Backsplashes

Floor to ceiling backsplashes make a dramatic statement and provide complete wall protection. Considerations include:

  • Measure wall height carefully to calculate full tile needs.
  • Use smaller mosaic tiles or decorative accents near the top since they are harder to clean.
  • Match existing window, door, lighting trim for an integrated look.
  • Incorporate electrical outlets seamlessly into the tile design.

Full height backsplashes work best on accent or feature walls away from high traffic areas.

DIY Installation Tips

Installing a kitchen backsplash is often a manageable DIY project for motivated homeowners. Here are some backsplash installation tips:

Prepare the wall surface – Remove old backsplash tile or materials. Fill any holes or imperfections in the wall to create a smooth surface for the tile. Prime and paint if needed.

Plan tile layout – Map out your tile pattern. Account for outlets, windows, corners and ending boundaries.

Set level baseline row – Start tiles on a perfectly level line. Use spacers for consistent grout lines.

Apply adhesive properly – Spread thinset evenly with proper trowel size. Beat in thoroughly on wall and tile backing.

Handle tricky tasks – Measure and cut border and accent tiles neatly to fit. Use Raffia or tape spacing for uniform grout lines.

Grout and seal tiles – Let tile cure fully before grouting. Grout carefully for clean finished look. Seal tiles to protect from stains and moisture.

With the right planning, materials and care, you can tackle a DIY backsplash project and get beautiful, professional looking results.

Where to End Kitchen Backsplash – FAQs

Where is the most common place to end a kitchen backsplash?

The most common place to end a kitchen backsplash is at the bottom of the wall cabinets above countertops. This protects the back wall area prone to splatters while cooking and gives a finished look by aligning with cabinetry.

Should you end the backsplash at the same height all around?

It is generally best to terminate the backsplash at a consistent height on all sides for a seamless look. However, it is okay to end it differently depending on elements like windows or varying cabinet heights on each wall. Mixing heights can work with the right design.

Is it okay to end backsplash partway up the wall?

Yes, ending the backsplash partway up the wall is perfectly acceptable. Many homeowners opt for a shorter backsplash area for style and budget reasons. Typically 12-24 inches high is popular, protecting the most utilized wall space near countertops.

Should backsplash always go to ceiling?

Backsplash does not have to extend fully to the ceiling. While a full height backsplash makes a dramatic statement, a shorter backsplash is very common and perfectly functional. Full height works best as a focal feature wall versus covering all kitchen walls.

How do you finish the edge of a backsplash?

To professionally finish the raw edge of backsplash tile, install treatments like bullnose tiles, pencil liner tiles, metal strips or wood trim. Seal the edges carefully with caulk. The finishing edge should align nicely with your terminating point.


Determining where to end your kitchen backsplash involves both practical and aesthetic considerations. Take into account your cabinetry, windows, appliances and overall style. A backsplash that protects the work area above countertops while coordinating with the rest of the kitchen design will not only look great but perform its job beautifully. With smart planning and careful installation, terminating your backsplash properly can yield stylish, splash-free kitchen walls.