Where to Stop Kitchen Backsplash


Kitchen backsplashes not only provide a decorative flair to your kitchen, but they also protect the walls from spills, splatters, and stains. When designing and installing a backsplash, one of the most important decisions is determining where exactly it should end. There are several factors to consider when deciding where to stop your kitchen backsplash. Following proper guidelines will ensure your backsplash appears cohesive with the overall kitchen design.

Where to Stop Backsplash with No Upper Cabinets

If your kitchen does not have upper cabinets, the standard recommendation is to run the backsplash all the way to the ceiling. This gives a clean, seamless look. Ending the backsplash prematurely when there are no upper cabinets can make the backsplash appear like an afterthought. Continuing the backsplash to the ceiling gives it a built-in, purposeful appearance. It also provides more protection from drips and stains.

Stop at Bottom of Upper Cabinets

The most common placement is to end the backsplash at the bottom edge of the upper cabinets. This allows the backsplash to nicely frame the wall space between the countertops and cabinetry. Visually, it looks balanced and gives the backsplash an intentional appearance, like it was part of the original kitchen design. Ending at the cabinet also means you don’t have extra unused backsplash behind the cabinets.

Consider Backsplash with Open Shelving

If your kitchen has open shelving rather than upper cabinets, the guidelines are slightly different. In this case, you have a few options:

  • Stop the backsplash above or below the shelf. Ending it right at the shelf can appear awkward and choppy.
  • Run it to the ceiling. This looks clean and seamless.
  • End it at a natural break point, like the top of a window or a change in wall color.

Consider the overall look and balance. You want the backsplash to appear intentional. An uneven choppy end point can disrupt the cohesiveness.

Guide to Stop Backsplash with Windows

Windows require extra consideration. You’ll want to integrate your backsplash around the window seamlessly. Here are some guidelines:

  • Stop above or below the window trim or frame. Avoid ending it mid-frame.
  • Run to the ceiling. This allows the backsplash to essentially frame the window.
  • If there are multiple windows, continue the backsplash across them to create a unified look.

Pay attention to any architectural details or changes in wall color/material around the windows. Allow these features to guide where you stop the backsplash.

Where to End Backsplash with Tile

Tile backsplashes provide their own unique considerations. Since tile has defined edges and patterns, you’ll want the ending point to flow with the design. Here are some tips:

  • Wherever possible, end at a grout line rather than bisecting a tile. This gives a cleaner finish.
  • If necessary, you can cut a tile. Use the center point or a third/two-thirds split for balance.
  • End on an accent tile if your pattern has them. This creates a finished look.
  • Consider a special edge or bullnose tile to give a polished look to the ending edge.

Factors that Impact Backsplash Stop Point

  • Existing features – Consider the location of lighting fixtures, outlets, windows, cabinets and how to incorporate the backsplash around them.
  • Wall condition – If there are flaws or imperfections in the upper wall area, you may opt to end lower to avoid covering with backsplash.
  • DIY skill level – If tiling to the ceiling is beyond your skill level, end at a more manageable spot.
  • Budget – Tiling to the ceiling will add cost in both labor and materials.
  • Aesthetic taste – Personal preference for a busier/simpler look impacts the ending spot.

Backsplash End Point Guidelines

No matter where you choose to end your backsplash, follow these general guidelines:

  • Choose an intentional end point that complements the overall kitchen design.
  • Avoid a choppy, uneven, or awkward ending spot.
  • Match up grout lines and accent tiles if possible.
  • Consider special trim or edge tiles for a polished look.
  • Frame existing windows, lighting, and wall elements.
  • End at architectural details like changes in wall color or material.


Where should I end my backsplash if I have a window over the sink?

Either stop above or below the window trim to integrate it seamlessly. Another option is to run the backsplash to the ceiling to essentially frame in the window.

What if my upper cabinets don’t line up evenly with each other?

If the cabinet bottom edges are uneven, end the backsplash at the lowest cabinet. Carrying it to match the highest cabinet will leave an awkward empty gap.

Can I end my backsplash in the middle of the wall?

It’s best to avoid ending a backsplash randomly mid-wall. Extend it to a natural end point like cabinets, a window, or an edge where the wall color/material changes.

How can I finish the edge of a tile backsplash cleanly?

Use a bullnose tile or special trim piece made to match your tile. This covers rough edges for a polished look.

What if my backsplash tile has a decorative border pattern?

Plan the end point to coordinate with the tile design. End on a full border row, or cut border tiles to size if needed.

Should I end my backsplash at the same point as my countertops?

This can work in some cases, but it’s not essential. Often the countertop flows past the wall cabinets. Visually the backsplash end point should align with the cabinets.


Determining the ideal stopping point for your kitchen backsplash requires careful consideration of your existing layout and overall design vision. While the standard recommendation is ending at the cabinet bottom, you may prefer to run to the ceiling for a sleek look. Take into account windows, shelving, tile patterns, and other elements to seamlessly integrate your backsplash. With mindful planning and strategic design choices, you can achieve the perfect ending spot. The finished look should appear intentional, balanced and complementary to your kitchen’s style.