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Home » Should Kitchen Backsplash End at Cabinet or Countertop? [Ultimate Guide]

Should Kitchen Backsplash End at Cabinet or Countertop? [Ultimate Guide]

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The primary purpose of a backsplash is to protect the wall behind your kitchen sink and stove from splashes and spills. But beyond its utilitarian function, a backsplash can also add style and personality to the overall space.

Should Kitchen Backsplash End at Cabinet or Countertop?

However, when installing a backsplash, you’ll need to decide on several factors such as how high to take it? Should your backsplash end at the countertop or should it extend up to the bottom of the cabinets?

Installing a backsplash in areas where it is not needed violates the aesthetic of functional living space. It should complement, not compete with, the other design elements in your kitchen. This applies to any interior design. Furthermore, a backsplash should be placed throughout the whole countertop area.

There are some important factors to consider when installing a backsplash. Keep reading, I have discussed everything you need to know before you make your final decision.

Ending Backsplash at The Cabinet or Countertop?

Many homes have an odd kitchen appearance simply because most contractors don’t know where to finish the construction.

If you’re building a new home, keep in mind the overall kitchen design when making this decision before you hand down the backsplash to the contractor to install it.

However, if you’re renovating a current kitchen, you may be limited by the preexisting construction.

Some types of backsplashes are installed before the countertop is put in place while others are after the countertop such as mosaic or subway tile. So it is best to ask the store where you’re purchasing your backsplash materials what is the best way to finish the installation.

In general, it is best to end the backsplash at the bottom of the cabinets. This provides a clean and finished look. Furthermore, since there will be no gap between the two, it will be easier to keep the backsplash area tidy.

If you have a stove with a range hood, you may want to extend the backsplash to the bottom of it. This provides a clean, uninterrupted line from the hood to the backsplash.

According to the fundamental interior rule; forms follow function. Hence, make sure every design element has a specific purpose.

Why You Should Have Backsplash in Your Kitchen?

Water can cause serious damage to your walls, so it is essential to have a backsplash in place to protect them. In addition to this practical function, a backsplash can also add style and personality to your kitchen.

Below are 5 reasons why I think you should have a backsplash in your kitchen:

  1. A kitchen backsplash protects your wallpaper and painted walls from daily stains caused by cooking. If you don’t have it, these stains can be rather tough to remove.
  2. When it is put around the counter, it creates a clean and modern aesthetic.
  3. Your kitchen will have a much more refined appearance. Because a backsplash creates a comprehensive look without giving the impression that something is lacking.
  4. Having a backsplash increases the overall cost of your kitchen significantly when compared to not having one.
  5. It is a great solution to hide minor holes that show up when your countertop isn’t perfectly aligned with your walls.

Where Does Backsplash Start and End?

As a rule of thumb, backsplashes usually start at the edge of the countertop and end at the bottom of the cabinets. However, some of them extend up to the bottom of the range hood or even the ceiling.

Generally, you’ll notice a backsplash run between the upper and lower cabinets. It should also extend to the end of each side counter. The standard width is 4″, but it can be wider or narrower depending on your kitchen’s design.

In some cases, you may want to install a backsplash that covers the entire wall. This is especially true if you have an open-concept kitchen.

TIP: When choosing a backsplash, make sure it complements the other design elements in your kitchen such as the countertop, cabinets, and appliances.

What To Do With Backsplash When Upper and Lower Cabinets Don’t Line Up?

This is a common issue in many kitchens, especially in older homes. The best way to deal with this is to install the backsplash up to the lower cabinets and then stop it.

If you want to continue the backsplash up to the ceiling, you can use molding or trim to create a clean line.

Another option is to install open shelves in place of the upper cabinets. This will not only give you more space but will also solve the alignment issues and bring more balance to the overall look.

Alternatively, you can install the backsplash only on the wall behind the stove. This will still protect your walls from splashes and stains while allowing you to have a design element that ties the space together.

Backsplash in Kitchen Without Upper Cabinets

If you don’t have upper cabinets, you can still install a backsplash. This may be the best option for protecting your walls from splatters.

There are a few things to keep in mind when installing a backsplash without upper cabinets.

First, you’ll need to decide how high you want the backsplash to go. It can extend up to the bottom of the range hood or even the ceiling, or you can stop it at the countertop or lower cabinets.

Secondly, you’ll need to choose a material that can stand up to heat and moisture. A tile is a great option for this, but you can also use stainless steel, glass, or even stone.

Thirdly, you’ll need to decide on a design. You can keep it simple with a solid color or go for something more elaborate with patterns or textures.

Lastly, you’ll need to install the backsplash. This is generally a fairly easy process, but you may want to hire a professional if you’re not confident in your DIY skills.

Backsplash Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Make sure all corners are properly sealed with caulk or grout. You can also use trim or molding to create a clean line.
  • Remove the switchboard covers before tiling. This will make it easier to tile around outlets and avoid having to cut them to fit.
  • Choose a material that can stand up to heat and moisture and complements other elements.

Don’t:

  • Use sheetrock or drywall as your backsplash material. These materials are not heat or moisture-resistant and will not last long behind the stove.
  • Use caulk or grout as your only means of sealing corners and joints.
  • Attempt to DIY backsplash installation if you’re not confident in your skills. This is a job best left to the professionals.

Furthermore, watch the video below on how the tile setter’s corner explains the difference between a poorly installed backsplash versus a proper one.

Does Backsplash Have to Go All the Way up to Cabinets?

The backsplash should extend from the counter to the bottom of the upper cabinets. I strongly advise you to design it in this manner; otherwise, it will appear outdated, as shown in the bottom image.

Does kitchen backsplash have to go all the way up to cabinets?

A backsplash will also guard against spills if it extends to the upper cabinets.

This photo was taken on my vacation with my family in a rented flat. It appears to be somewhat unusual. What are your thoughts?

Should Backsplash Go on Side Walls?

If your top cabinets are not over the side walls, I strongly advise against putting a backsplash on them. This is because it will create alignment issues and will instantly kill the aesthetic of the overall design. The below image shows what I mean.

Source: Pinterest

In the worst-case situation, if you have a sink close to the sidewall, consider covering it with latex-based paint to keep water and stains out.

However, there will be instances where you can install a backsplash on the side wall without making it an eyesore. For example, in the below picture the backsplash blends well with the paint, also the countertop does not stop so it creates a smooth transition.

What Is Kitchen Backsplash?

The material (stone, tile, metal, etc.) that we use to protect the region of the wall between the kitchen countertop and upper cabinets is referred to as a backsplash.

Remember when you choose a backsplash, make sure it is extremely durable and can withstand any substance that may come into contact with it while maintaining an exquisite appearance.

Are 4-Inch Backsplashes Outdated?

I would not say 4-inch backsplashes are outdated; they are just not as common as they used to be. The new trend is to have a 6-8 inch high backsplash which provides more protection against spills and splatters.

A 4-inch backsplash will still look good if it is installed properly and complements the rest of your kitchen design. In addition, if you’re tight on a budget it is better to go with this option.

What Are Different Types of Backsplashes?

There are a plethora of backsplash materials that you can choose from glass, tile, stainless steel, natural stone, and more. How do you choose the correct one for your kitchen when there are so many options?

Let’s have a look at them:

One emerging trend is to use two different materials for the backsplash. For example, you can use subway tiles for the bottom portion and then install a strip of mosaic tiles as an accent.

1. Ceramic Tile

This is the most widely used backsplash material on the market. In any kitchen, ceramic tiles can offer a striking perspective.

They come in a variety of geometric shapes and hues. Ceramic is a low-cost, easy-to-maintain material. One of the most important characteristics is lustre.

The only drawback is that they are not heat resistant and can easily crack if exposed to high temperatures.

Ceramic tile Kitchen backsplash

2. Natural Stone

Natural stones such as travertine, marble, limestone, and granite will add a touch of elegance to your kitchen. They are available in a wide range of colors and textures.

Natural stone kitchen backsplash
Kitchen backsplash with natural stone

Natural stone backsplashes are often quite durable and can be used for many years if properly maintained.

The main downside of natural stone is that it needs to be sealed periodically to prevent staining. In addition, they are quite expensive.

NOTE: It is essential to do your research on how to upkeep a certain type of backsplash before you decide on one.

3. Glass Tile

Glass tiles have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. This type of backsplash is versatile and may be used in any kitchen design, from modern to traditional.

They are available in several tones. Furthermore, it is quite easy to clean and maintain. Also, they can be found in different styles such as subway or mosaic sheets and can be used to cover a large area.

glass kitchen backsplash

Moreover, glass tiles’ price may vary, depending on the type you choose, but they may be fairly costly. Installing them would also require the assistance of a professional, hence adding to the overall expense.

4. Concrete

This style is distinct, and it may not be suitable for everyone. With a concrete backsplash, you can add a striking modern touch to your kitchen.

Concrete backsplashes, like ceramic tile, are available in a wide range of colors and are relatively easy to maintain. Furthermore, they can be cast to match an existing concrete countertop, giving it a more cohesive appearance.

Minimalistic kitchen with concrete backsplash

If you don’t have the budget or the ability to invest in a concrete backsplash but enjoy the look, there are some less expensive alternatives. You may achieve the concrete look by using:

  • Concrete-colored PVC wall stickers are both waterproof and oil-resistant. They may hide any imperfection and are quite simple to install and remove. It is a great choice for a backsplash because of its flame-resistant property. 
  • Ardex feather has a similar finish to that of concrete. It is perfect for adding an extra layer of protection to counters and backsplashes. Moreover, it is significantly less expensive than constructing a true concrete or quartz countertop.

5. Stainless steel

Adding a stainless steel backsplash to your space will add visual appeal and an exquisite perspective. They are available in a variety of design options, including sheets, tiles, and textures.

Cleaning and maintaining a stainless steel backsplash is a breeze. Durability and heat resistance are two of the best features. This is why they are the most common material used in commercial kitchens.

NOTE: Stainless steel, like other materials, is difficult to harm, however, it can dent or scratch easily. Acidic liquids, such as juice or coffee, can cause discoloration if not cleaned up soon.

Furthermore, if money is a concern, be aware that depending on whether you like sheets or tiles, this sort of backsplash can be fairly costly.

Stainless steel backsplash
Stainless steel backsplash

How to Choose the Right Type of Backsplash for Your Kitchen?

Before you choose the ideal type for your kitchen, you’ll need to think about a few things. Listed below are a few of these factors to consider:

Style and Mood of Your Home

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the overall design style that you have in mind for your home?
  • Is your house decorated in a Moroccan style?
  • Are you a minimalist enthusiast?
Morocco-style backsplash.

Once you have your design style figured out, you can start thinking about what type of backsplash will help complete the look. Some contemporary-minded people are unlikely to consider backsplash in the manner depicted in the above picture. Right?

Similarly, if you’re going for a more industrial look, then a stainless steel backsplash would be perfect. If your style is on the rustic side, then a concrete or brick backsplash would complement your décor nicely.

Backsplash Material

Some backsplash materials can be rather costly, so you must ask yourself whether you’re willing to pay the price or if there is a less expensive alternative.

For example, marble backsplashes might look fantastic in a traditional kitchen layout, but they can be quite expensive. In this case, you should consider purchasing a beautiful tile or glass backsplash to achieve a similar but less expensive result.

REMEMBER: Ceramic and glass backsplashes don't require much maintenance. Clay or cement tiles, on the other hand, are porous and will need to be sealed repeatedly.

Colors or Neutral

I like to use neutral ground earth hues in conjunction with white and black tones. The backsplash does not have to be the same color as the kitchen in the majority of the cases.

If you have a colorful kitchen, a white or black backsplash would be ideal because it will help tone down the space and provide some contrast.

However, for a more subtle approach, try using a backsplash with colors that are already present in your kitchen. This will tie everything together nicely without being too overbearing.

Feel free to experiment with different colors, but keep in mind the overall design of your room. For instance, I won't use more than 2 or 3 colors

Size of the Area

The size of your kitchen backsplash will play a role in choosing the right material. If you have a small space, then a glass tile or stainless steel sheet would be ideal because they won’t overwhelm the area.

On the other hand, if you have a large space to work with, then you can experiment with different materials, patterns, and colors. This is where you can get creative!

Think about the Future

If you plan on selling your home in the next few years, then you’ll want to choose a more timeless backsplash that will appeal to a wider range of buyers.

Concrete, stainless steel, and glass are all good options because they have a wide appeal. If you’re not planning on selling anytime soon, then you can choose something a little more unique that reflects your style.

Furthermore, do check out my other post on painting and refacing kitchen cabinets here.

Should Kitchen Backsplash Match the Floor?

It depends on the style or overall effect you want to achieve, but I don’t believe the backsplash must match the floor. It should not, however, become the main point and eyesore of a specific space.

Kitchen cabinets, countertops, and general design should all be in harmony with the backsplash. Getting too dramatic will only result in a kitchen that looks and feels small, and you should avoid that at all costs.

How to Pick Backsplash to Match Countertop?

I would urge you not to necessarily match the backsplash to the countertop. Instead, find a happy middle ground that complements both materials without being too overbearing.

The important thing is to create some contrast while still tying everything together nicely.

For example, if you have a light-colored countertop, then a dark backsplash will create a nice contrast. Conversely, if you have a dark countertop, then a light backsplash will do the trick.

You can also choose a completely different material for your backsplash. For instance, if you have a granite countertop, then you might want to consider a ceramic or glass tile backsplash.

Can You Use Two Different Backsplashes in Kitchen?

Although you can mix and match two different backsplashes to create your unique look, I would urge you to use some caution.

The most important thing is to make sure the two materials blend well together without being too overpowering. A two-tone backsplash can add visual appeal to your kitchen if done appropriately.

I believe keeping things simple is always the best approach and would not try this method, but if you’re feeling adventurous, then go for it!

Is Glass Tile Backsplash Too Trendy?

Glass tile backsplashes are widely considered to be a fantastic modern and contemporary material choice. When viewed through wide angles, a glass tile backsplash is such a universal material that it can fit perfectly even in traditional-style kitchens.

Related Questions

Do You Leave a Gap Between Countertop and Backsplash?

It’s not necessary to leave a gap between the countertop and backsplash, but I would recommend doing so. This will allow any water or grease splatters to fall behind the backsplash instead of on top of it. Furthermore, it will make cleaning much easier because you won’t have to worry about getting water or cleaning solutions on your countertop.

What Is Standard Backsplash Height?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches, but this can vary depending on the material you choose. For instance, if you’re using mosaic tiles, then you might want to go with a taller backsplash so that each tile is visible.

Should Backsplash Be Same as Countertop?

No, the backsplash does not have to be the same as the countertop. I would recommend choosing a backsplash material that complements the countertop instead of matching it. For example, if you have a granite countertop, then you might want to consider a ceramic or glass tile backsplash.

What is The Best Way to End the Backsplash on Open Wall?

There are a few different ways to end the backsplash on an open wall. The most popular method is to simply use caulk or grout to fill in the gap between the backsplash and the wall. Another option is to install trim pieces along the edge of the backsplash. 

How High Should Kitchen Backsplash Go?

There is no definitive answer to this question since it depends on personal preference. However, I would recommend installing the backsplash up to the bottom of the cabinets. This will create a clean look and make your kitchen feel more cohesive.

Where to Stop Backsplash Behind Stove?

The backsplash should extend up to the bottom of the hood. Look for a natural stopping point such as molding or a soffit and end the backsplash there.