Where to Start and Stop Kitchen Backsplash

Backsplashes are a great way to add visual interest and protect the walls behind kitchen counters and sinks. However, deciding where to start and stop a kitchen backsplash can be tricky. Follow these tips to determine the optimal backsplash layout for your space.


A kitchen backsplash is a must-have for any home cook. Not only does a backsplash provide style and personality, but it also protects the walls from splatters, spills, and grease. However, many homeowners struggle to determine the exact area a backsplash should cover. Should it start directly behind the stove? Extend to the edges of the countertops? Or cover a portion of the wall space?

Properly defining the boundaries of your kitchen backsplash impacts the overall look, functionality, and cost of your design. Carefully considering where to start and stop kitchen backsplash will ensure your new backsplash complements your space. Read on for useful guidelines to plan the ideal backsplash layout.

Where to Start Kitchen Backsplash

When determining where to start kitchen backsplash, focus on the major kitchen appliances and fixtures. Backsplashes are meant to protect the walls behind areas prone to messes, like sinks, stoves, and ovens. Starting the backsplash in the correct spot will maximize splatter protection.

Behind the Kitchen Sink

The sink area tends to get wet, soapy, and dirty on a regular basis. A backsplash provides a water-resistant barrier behind the sink to prevent damage to the walls. For single basin sinks, the backsplash should start right at the edge of the sink basin and extend upwards a minimum of 4 inches.

For larger double basin sinks or sink/stove combinations, start the backsplash at the outer edge of the fixtures. Be sure to account for any protruding features like faucets or soap dispensers. Extend the backsplash to at least 4 inches above the tallest point to fully protect the wall space.

Behind the Stovetop and Oven

Cooking inevitably leads to splatters of oil, sauce, and other messy substances. A properly placed backsplash is crucial to keep walls clean and undamaged.

For standalone stovetops, begin the backsplash directly behind the back edge of the stovetop. Check if your model juts out further when the burners are on vs off—this ensures you allow adequate coverage when the stove is in use. Continue the backsplash vertically a minimum of 18 inches above the stovetop.

For standalone ovens or combined stove/oven units, start the backsplash along the outer edges of the appliance(s). Make sure to account for any knobs, vents, or handles that protrude outward. The backsplash should rise at least 4-6 inches above the highest point of the appliances.

Along Countertop Edges

Some homeowners opt to extend backsplashes beyond the major appliances to cover a portion of countertop-to-wall junctures. This can help protect additional areas prone to drips, crumbs, and spills.

If desired, run the backsplash along the edges where countertops meet walls. For a coordinated look, start the backsplash at the same point as behind the appliances. The vertical height depends on your preferences—4-6 inches provides basic protection while a full wall-length backsplash makes a striking visual statement.

Where to Stop Kitchen Backsplash

Knowing where to end a kitchen backsplash prevents awkward unfinished edges and keeps project costs reasonable. Here are some guidelines for determining ideal stopping points:

At Countertop End Points

A common location to stop kitchen backsplash is wherever countertops end. This creates a tidy, seamless transition from countertop to wall. The backsplash and counter will essentially “frame” the kitchen wall space.

When countertops run continuously through multiple walls, decide if you want backsplash on just one wall or wrapping around multiple walls. Ending at countertop endpoints keeps the look tailored and purposeful.

At Cabinet End Points

Another popular stopping point is at the edges of kitchen cabinetry. Cabinets create obvious divisions from countertops to wall space, so ending backsplashes along these lines keeps the look cleanly delineated.

Backsplashes can stop at the outer corner of wall cabinets or extend until just below wall cabinet bottoms. For a coordinated appearance, maintain the same stopping height across all cabinets.

At Doorway Thresholds

For backsplashes extending beyond sink and stove areas, terminating at doorway thresholds provides a natural stopping point. Door frames visually separate kitchen and non-kitchen spaces.

To avoid awkward gaps or overlaps, measure carefully to end the backsplash precisely at the door trim. You may need to account for uneven walls and floors for a straight edge.

At Least 4 Inches Above Appliances

As a general rule, kitchen backsplashes should extend at least 4 inches above the highest point of appliances and fixtures. This minimum helps protect walls from grease splatters and water splashes.

Higher backsplashes that reach 18-24 inches are even better for heavy-use kitchens. But in general, plan to extend at least a few inches above appliances for both function and finished appearance.

Additional Tips and Considerations

  • If installing a tile backsplash, map out your tile layout to avoid super narrow pieces around edges and corners.
  • Backpaint joints where backsplashes meet countertops for a watertight seal.
  • Use caulk or trim pieces to cover any gaps at stopping points.
  • Take vertical measurements from the highest point—don’t just measure from the counter or stove top.
  • For standalone islands, a backsplash is not necessary since no walls are present.
  • Consider how cabinets, lighting fixtures, and vent hoods may impact the backsplash boundaries.
  • Glass backsplashes can extend to the underside of wall cabinets for a seamless appearance.

With proper planning upfront, you can determine the ideal backsplash start and stop points. Always account for the major kitchen fixtures and appliances when designing your layout. Consider the overall look you want to achieve as well in order to create a cohesive and stunning kitchen design.

FAQs About Where to Start and Stop Kitchen Backsplash

Many homeowners have additional questions about properly laying out a kitchen backsplash. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Should a backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?

Extending a kitchen backsplash to the ceiling can provide full wall protection and make a dramatic design statement. However, full-height backsplashes also have some disadvantages:

  • More expensive in terms of materials and labor.
  • Can make the space feel busy or closed-in.
  • Requires precise cutting around light fixtures, vents, etc.
  • Makes it harder to change if remodeling later.

In most cases, it is not essential for functionality to run backsplash to the ceiling. An 18-24 inch height will sufficiently guard vulnerable walls. Full-height backsplash is best suited for contemporary, ultra-modern spaces.

What about a floating backsplash separated from countertops?

Leaving a small gap between backsplashes and countertops creates a floating effect. Some homeowners prefer this look for a lighter, airier appearance. However, there are a few downsides:

  • Less protection from spills and splatters.
  • More difficult to keep clean – debris can fall in gap.
  • Harder to achieve a watertight seal.

Floating backsplashes work best for low-mess applications, like protected bar areas. They require diligent cleaning to prevent grime buildup between counter and backsplash.

Should backsplashes match countertops?

Countertops and backsplashes don’t necessarily have to match, but coordination is key. Backsplashes can subtly pick up colors from granite counters or provide a total contrast to stainless steel. Just ensure the finishes and tones complement one another.

Using the same material for both can create a streamlined, monolithic look. But mixing materials allows each surface to showcase its unique traits. Ultimately, choose materials and colors that align with your overall kitchen aesthetic.

How can I avoid obvious seams between backsplash sheets?

Careful planning is required to minimize seams when installing backsplash panels like ceramic tile or metal sheets. Here are some tips:

  • Strategically start layout from focal point.
  • Draw detailed plans to align seams with architectural features.
  • Use linking or border tiles to conceal seams.
  • Opt for small tile size to reduce number of seams.
  • Use trim pieces or caulk to blend seams.

Seamless materials like glass or acrylic backsplashes can eliminate seams. But planning is still crucial for proper fit and optimal appearance.

Should the backsplash match or complement the countertops?

Matching the countertops and backsplash creates a streamlined, monolithic look since the two surfaces visually blend together. However, contrasting backsplashes can provide a nice pop of color against neutral countertops. The key is making sure the finishes complement each other through color, texture, sheen, or material. Tone-on-tone pairings are failproof. But dramatic contrasts can work with the right countertop and backsplash materials.

Ultimately, choose color/material pairings that align with your overall kitchen aesthetic – contemporary, rustic, traditional, etc.

The Perfect Backsplash Layout

When designed thoughtfully, kitchen backsplashes can provide incredible function and style. First determine where to start the backsplash based on fixtures like sinks, stovetops, and ovens. This ensures adequate mess protection where it’s needed most.

Next, decide on an end point – whether at the end of countertops, cabinets, or doorways. Finishing at these architectural elements keeps the look clean and purposeful. In general, extending the backsplash at least 4 inches above appliances maintains proper protection.

With smart planning upfront, it’s easy to perfect the boundaries of your kitchen backsplash layout. Proper installation will lead to years of clutter-free, easy-to-clean walls that further enhance your kitchen’s beauty.


Determining where to start and stop a kitchen backsplash is important for both aesthetic and functional reasons. Following the guidelines provided will help you identify the ideal backsplash boundaries for your unique kitchen layout and usage.

Key takeaways include:

  • Start behind sinks, stoves, ovens to protect walls and reinforce boundaries.
  • Stop at countertop endpoints, cabinets, or doorways for clear divisions.
  • Go at least 4 inches above appliances for proper protection.
  • Map out tile layouts to minimize seams and gaps.
  • Consider flow, work zones, and aesthetics for your kitchen.

With upfront planning and measurement, you can install a backsplash tailored to your precise space. Just be sure to account for any protruding fixtures and make sure the height adequately guards your walls. The end result will be a backsplash that seamlessly blends style and function.