Where to Place Backsplash in Kitchen

Backsplash is an integral design element in any kitchen. It serves both aesthetic and functional purposes. The strategic placement of backsplash can enhance the overall look of your kitchen while also protecting the walls from splashes and spills. When planning your kitchen backsplash, there are several factors to consider regarding placement. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the key considerations for optimal backsplash placement in your kitchen.

Determining Backsplash Location Based on Work Triangle

The kitchen work triangle is a widely utilized design principle for efficient kitchen layouts. The work triangle connects the three main work zones of the kitchen – the sink, stove, and refrigerator. Most designers recommend keeping work triangle legs between 4 to 9 feet long. When determining backsplash placement, you want it to fall within the boundaries of the work triangle.

Focus the backsplash around areas where you will be doing the most food prep work and cooking – near the sink and stove. You especially want it surrounding the range where splatters are common. The backsplash should protect a portion of the wall space around these high work zones.

Placing your backsplash within the work triangle creates a logical look while also covering the most crucial walls from cooking mess and damage. Of course, you can extend the backsplash beyond the work triangle if desired. Just be sure the main backsplash area falls within the functional heart of the kitchen.

Selecting Backsplash Height

Standard backsplash height is 4 inches tall. This protects a decent portion of the wall from water, oil, and food. If you want even more coverage, you can opt for a 6 inch or even full height backsplash.

Full height backsplash provides maximum protection. It creates a tile surface from counter to ceiling. The seamless look is attractive in contemporary kitchens. However, full height backsplash requires more tile work which increases costs. It also collects more grease and grime, requiring frequent cleaning.

For most kitchens, a 4 to 6 inch backsplash height is ideal. It hits the prime splash zone where messes accumulate, without overdoing it. When determining height, consider your cooking style and kitchen habits. If you fry foods frequently or have exuberant cooks in the home, opt for a 6 inch height.

Extending Backsplash to Adjacent Areas

While the main backsplash resides within the work triangle, you may want to extend it beyond. Backsplash can be brought to other areas of the kitchen in strategic ways.

Behind Kitchen Sink: Expand backsplash to cover the wall behind the kitchen sink. Since sinks see a lot of water action, moisture protection is key. Covering the wall behind the faucet and sink area prevents water damage and makes for easy wipe-down.

Onto Side Walls: Wrap backsplash onto side walls several inches beyond counters. This gives a streamlined look while guarding side walls that are vulnerable to food prep messes. Just a 6 to 12 inch extension onto side walls does the trick.

Onto Nearby Islands: If you have a kitchen island or peninsula nearby, consider bringing backsplash onto side surfaces. Covering the side walls nearest cooking areas protects the wood or laminate from splatters.

Inside Open Shelving: Use small strips of backsplash tile to line the inside area of open shelving. This adds an attractive detail while also guarding the shelf interiors from drips, spills and grease buildup.

Be strategic when extending backsplash to other kitchen areas. Focus on covering vulnerable walls that need moisture and stain protection. Avoid overdoing it, which can make the backsplash look invasive.

Incorporating Backsplash with Other Design Elements

Here are some ways to integrate backsplash design with other elements of your kitchen:

Coordinate with Countertops: Select backsplash tile that complements your countertop. Using the same material, finish or color helps tie the areas together. Natural stone backsplash like granite, pairs well with granite counters. Or choose glass, ceramic or metal backsplash tile in a matching hue.

Tie to Cabinetry: Coordinate backsplash color and style with your cabinetry finish for a cohesive look. For example, use glossy subway tile backsplash with glossy white cabinets. Or combine wood stained cabinets with natural stone mosaic backsplash.

Match Appliances: Tailor the backsplash design to fit your specific appliances. For traditional stainless steel appliances, use a classic subway tile backsplash. With professional ranges, do a full stone or metal backsplash. Let the backsplash enhance the appliances.

Flow with Flooring: Try to have some visual consistency between the backsplash and flooring. Keeping the surfaces somewhat coordinated enhances the overall flow. Just ensure the backsplash remains the accent, so it doesn’t compete with the floors.

Compliment Countertops: Use the backsplash to complement countertops like granite that have movement or veining. Pair with a solid subway tile. Or add interest next to plain countertops with an artsy glass, mosaic or metal backsplash.

Accent the Style: Let your backsplash accentuate your desired kitchen style. Use limestone backsplash to complement farmhouse style. Frame the range with a geometric Art Deco backsplash. Get creative!

Styling the Stove Surround

Special attention should be given to styling the stove surround with backsplash. Since this area endures heavy cooking activity, moisture and grease protection is crucial. Here are some great stove surround designs:

Full Range Hood Cover: Use backsplash tile to cover the entire area behind and surrounding the stove range. This includes covering the wall behind the stove, the sides of a range hood and a few inches left and right of the stove. Protecting this entire zone makes clean-up easy.

Stone Range Hood: For a luxury look, install a stone slab range hood and extend the stone onto the backsplash. This gives the stove area a sleek, built-in appearance. Granite, marble or soapstone make excellent stone range hoods. Use bullnose edges for safety.

Focal Shape Behind Range: Add interest behind the stove by framing it with a geometric focal tile pattern. This commands attention behind the range. Use this technique in contemporary or eclectic kitchens.

Expand Range Tile: Select a special stove tile that is wider than the backsplash tile. Extend this wide tile above and behind the stove surface to differentiate the range.

Frame It: Frame the stove with tile bands that sit slightly proud of the main backsplash. This literally highlights the range area. Use decorative listello, mosaic or trim pieces to frame it.

Get creative with stove surround backsplash. This area sees the most action, so protect it while also making it a focal feature in the heart of the kitchen.

Factoring in Windows, Doors and Openings

Kitchen backsplashes must work around existing architecture like windows, doors, and openings. Approach these areas thoughtfully when designing backsplash placement:

Above Window: Extend the backsplash above window areas several inches to protect the window sill and bottom of window trim. Use a slim backsplash strip for a clean look. Size it appropriately to not obstruct any views.

Next to Windows/Doors: Run the backsplash to the side of windows and doors, stopping before you reach the frame. Leave a small gap between the backsplash edge and window/door trim. This keeps each architectural element distinct.

Below Upper Cabinets: If upper cabinets stop short of the ceiling, take the backsplash from the top of the lowers to the bottom of the uppers. Avoid leaving an awkward gap between cabinets and backsplash.

Around Vent Hoods: Wrap backsplash tile around overhead kitchen vent hoods. Blend it seamlessly into the tile surrounding the stove area. Let the vent hood recede into the backsplash.

Behind Open Shelving: Bring backsplash tile into the interior area of floating open shelves. This allows you to see the coordinated tile from the front exterior.

Around Electrical: Carefully cut backsplash tile around outlets, switches and light fixtures. Leave a bit of space around them so they don’t look cramped.

Take backsplashes right up to adjoining architecture. Just leave a bit of breathing room and caulk the edges for a clean finish.

Choosing Backsplash Materials

Kitchen backsplash comes in a huge array of materials. Consider the pros and cons of each when selecting:

Ceramic/Porcelain Tile: Affordable, easy to clean, durable. Can mimic stone, metal, glass. Subway, mosaic, decorative options.

Glass Tile: Shiny, sleek and modern. Resilient to heat and moisture. Can become dated if trendy colors used.

Metal Tile: Stainless steel, tin, copper. High end, eye-catching sheen. Needs cleaning to avoid fingerprints and grease buildup.

Stone: Elegant granite, marble, travertine, limestone, onyx. Adds luxury. Requires sealing. Can stain and etch. Avoid dark porous stone behind cooktops.

Acrylic Sheeting: Waterproof, seamless, low maintenance option. Cut into shapes or backlit. Plastic-like appearance won’t appeal to all.

Consider the look you want along with practical factors like budget, durability, and ease of cleaning. Ultimately choose a material you find beautiful that fits the style of your kitchen.

Creating Focal Points

While backsplash serves a practical function, it also provides opportunity for embellishment. Use backsplash as a focal point by incorporating:

  • Mirror tiles for shine and visual expansion
  • 3D tiles for artsy shadows and depth
  • Metallic tiles in gold, silver or copper for glamour
  • Glass tiles in vibrant colors to create a mosaic feature
    *meaningful Emily
  • Decorative inlays at focal areas like behind stove
  • Listello or trim borders that stand out atop the backsplash
  • Contrasting shapes or textures to add interest

Another idea is to highlight the niche area behind cooktops. Frame it attractively with coordinating tiles or a bold listello piece. This becomes a focal spot behind the range.

Backsplash doesn’t have to be boring. Add tasteful ornamentation to enhance the design. Use it to make a statement and showcase your personal style.

Avoiding Common Placement Mistakes

While planning your backsplash, beware of these common placement mistakes:

  • Installing backsplash tile directly behind cooktops. Leave at least 4 inches above cooktops to allow heat to dissipate.
  • Extending backsplash the entire perimeter of room. Can make kitchen feel boxy and closed in.
  • Running small backsplash tile up behind open shelves. Looks cluttered. Opt for single large tiles or none at all.
  • Framing upper cabinets with backsplash. Interferes with cabinetry by blocking views.
  • Putting dark backsplash tile behind cooktops. This accentuates grease. Use lighter reflective tiles to diffuse hard cooking stains.
  • Using porous natural stone tile unsealed. Risks staining and damage, especially around stoves.
  • Skipping backsplash behind sinks or dishwashers. Leaves walls susceptible to water damage.

Be thoughtful about placement. Avoid amateur mistakes by focusing backsplash where it needs to function most – surrounding the work zones. Extend it further if it enhances the overall aesthetic.

Backsplash Installation Tips

Once you’ve determined the optimal backsplash placement, it’s time to install it. Follow these tips for successful execution:

  • Thoroughly clean the wall area first. Remove existing wallpaper, panels, grease and grime so tiles adhere properly.
  • Plan the layout. Dry lay tiles on the counter to map out spacing. Account for delicate tiles that require special cuts like mosaics.
  • Use proper adhesive and carefully follow product directions. This ensures strongest bond.
  • For natural stone, use proper sealant and seal tiles before and after install.
  • Carefully cut work around windows, outlets and switches. Use edge trim where needed.
  • Grout properly, tooling joints for maximum penetration and consistency. Allow full drying time before sealing grout.
  • Caulk perimeter edges where backsplash meets countertops, ceilings and walls. This gives a tidy finish.
  • Take time with careful cuts and details. Rushed jobs look sloppy. Measure twice, cut once!

With proper planning and careful execution, you can install a backsplash that both protects and beautifies your kitchen. Place it thoughtfully and it will provide lasting function and style.


How high should the backsplash go?

Standard backsplash height is 4 inches. For more protection, 6 inches is common. Full height backsplash from counter to ceiling is dramatic but requires extensive tiling.

Should backsplash match countertops?

It looks best if backsplash color relates to countertops. Using the same material or coordinating complimentary materials like granite and glass tile achieves harmony.

How do I finish edges of backsplash?

Caulk where vertical backsplash edges meet other surfaces like walls and ceilings. For top edges against countertops, use caulk, trim pieces or special edging tiles.

Can backsplash be installed just behind the stove?

Backsplash should surround the sink and stove areas at minimum. Limiting it to just behind the stove misses key splatter zones and looks strangely placed. Extend it more harmoniously.

Is it OK to use more than one backsplash material?

Yes, combining two compatible materials like subway tile and glass mosaic can add interest. Just take care that the overall look remains cohesive. Defining the zones helps.


Strategizing your kitchen backsplash placement is an important factor in achieving a functional and visually appealing design. Focus backsplash within key work zones, especially surrounding the sink and stove. Extend to adjacent areas as needed for protection and style. Taking advantage of backsplash as a focal feature or decorative accent elevates your kitchen further. Avoid common mistakes like cramping backsplash or using poorly suited types. Plan smart backsplash placement and reap the benefits of a kitchen at once purposeful yet beautiful.

Where to Place Backsplash in Kitchen


The kitchen backsplash serves both functional and decorative needs in any kitchen design. Strategically placing backsplash tile protects the walls from high traffic areas while also providing visual interest. When determining where to place backsplash in the kitchen, consider placement based on the work triangle, optimal height, extending to other zones, tying in with cabinets/counters, and highlighting cooking areas. Avoid common mistakes like cluttering the space or using wrong materials. Proper planning and installation insures your new backsplash is both practical and stunning.

Where Function Meets Style

  • Focus within work triangle formed by sink, stove, refrigerator
  • Cover vulnerable high use zones
  • Extend to adjacent areas as needed
  • 4-6 inch standard height, or full height for drama
  • Use materials that are durable, moisture-resistant
  • Coordinate with cabinetry, counters, appliances
  • Frame range for focal impact
  • Accent with glass, ornate tiles
  • Avoid cluttering perimeter or blocking views

Design Details

  • Place along walls with primary work zones
  • Surround sink, stove tops fully
  • Continue backsplash behind sinks, around fixtures
  • Extend up approx. 8 inches on side walls
  • Wrap minimum 4 inches around range hood
  • Frame range with decorative tiles / patterns
  • Place at front of open shelving units
  • Use stone, metal, or glass for ease of cleaning
  • Skip dark tones behind stove (highlight grease)
  • Match tones of cabinets, counters, floors
  • Accent with mosaic, medallions, or trim
  • Avoid covering entire kitchen perimeter
  • Leave space between backsplash and window / door trim

Installation Tips

  • Clean walls thoroughly before tiling
  • Map layout before setting tiles
  • Follow adhesive instructions closely
  • Use sealants on natural stone tiles
  • Carefully cut around outlets, switches, windows
  • Allow proper time for grout and caulk to dry
  • Tool grout lines smoothly for clean finish
  • Caulk edges between counters, walls, ceilings


What height should backsplash be?

4-6 inches is typical. Full height dramatic but higher cost.

Should it match countertops?

Cohesive look if backsplash relates to counters in material, finish or tone.

How to finish raw tile edges?

Use caulk, trim pieces or special edging tiles along top and side edges.

Can you do just a stove backsplash?

Better to extend around sink and stove minimum for unified look and splatter protection.

Can you combine two kinds of tile?

Yes, contrasting materials can add interest. Keep overall look cohesive.


Smart backsplash placement provides a perfect marriage of form and function in the kitchen. Focus on high use primary zones to protect where you need it most while tying in with existing elements for harmony. With proper planning and installation, the backsplash contributes both beauty and practicality.

Where to Place Backsplash in Kitchen

Adding a backsplash is one of the best ways to protect your kitchen walls while also elevating the style. When deciding where to place backsplash tiles in your kitchen, there are several factors to consider. Follow these tips for optimal placement:

Focus Within the Work Triangle

The main kitchen work zone is defined by the sink, stove, and refrigerator to form a work triangle. This is where backsplashes are needed most. Concentrate backsplash tiles near the sink and stove since these areas endure heavy use and cooking splatters. Cover a portion of the walls surrounding these appliances to protect the surface while adding visual interest.

Determine Proper Height

Standard backsplash height is 4-6 inches. This sufficiently guards the wall from moisture and stains in key areas. For a dramatic look, you can install a full height backsplash from counter to ceiling. Just know this requires substantially more tile work. The 4-6 inch range hits the prime “splash zone” without overdoing it.

Extend to Nearby Areas Strategically

In addition to the main work triangle, extend backsplash tiles to other spots that need protection. Common areas to continue backsplash include:

  • Behind the faucet and sink
  • Up the wall several inches on either side of the stove
  • Around eat-in islands or peninsulas
  • Inside open shelving units

Take care not to overdo it. Just bring