How High Do You Tile A Kitchen Backsplash?

When remodeling a kitchen, one of the aspects that creates the most significant impact is the backsplash. But when adding backsplash around other cabinets and design features in your kitchen, many people wonder how high up to tile. We've researched this question to bring you the answer you're looking for.

The backsplash is the area of your kitchen between the upper and lower cabinets. Most of the time, this area measures between 15 to 18 inches high, so the backsplash should be tiled to that height as well. 

However, not all kitchens have upper cabinets. Some have shelving, while others have windows near the backsplash, depending on your kitchen layout. In this article, we'll discuss the purpose of backsplash and the various heights of a tile backsplash. Continue reading to learn more.

Gorgeous white hexagonal tile backsplash and gray countertop, How High Do You Tile A Kitchen Backsplash?

What Is The Purpose Of Backsplash?

Backsplash serves two primary purposes: a functional one and a decorative one. With so many sizes, styles, and material options available, many people choose a backsplash based on how well it fits their kitchen's design style or theme. But the functional purpose of backsplash should be kept in the back of your mind when making your decision.


Perhaps the most important purpose of a backsplash is the functional purpose that it serves. Backsplash serves to protect the wall and underside of your cabinets from spills and food splashes that happen while cooking.

When food splashes and spills get on the drywall in your kitchen, it can damage the drywall or seep through and damage the wood underneath. The spills are also harder to clean off of drywall and leave behind greasy stains or cause mold to grow. Since most backsplash is made of ceramic or porcelain, it can be more easily cleaned than the drywall that lies behind it.


The secondary purpose of a backsplash is that it can be a part of the design of a room. A backsplash is an easy way to tie other features of the room together since kitchens usually don't provide the same opportunities to decorate with curtains, pillows, blankets, and other decorative accents.

White runway tile backsplash and dark black kitchen countertop

Backsplash can create visual interest in a room and is an easy way to decorate the plain wall behind your stove and sink. In small kitchens, choosing the right backsplash can help the kitchen feel bigger. If your kitchen lacks windows and natural light, backsplash that comes in certain colors and materials can also reflect light and help the room look brighter.

Where Should Backsplash Begin And End?

The point at which backsplash should begin and end depends partly on your kitchen layout and partly on your personal preference. There are two standard heights for tiling backsplash: half-height and full-height. We will explore the pros and cons of each and give you various kitchen layouts where you might want to use each one.

Half-Height Backsplash

A view of a bathroom counter focused on the splash guard behind the faucet

We mentioned earlier that the standard amount of space between the upper and lower cabinets is between 15 and 18 inches. If the space in your kitchen falls on the higher end of that range, you may want to opt for a half-height backsplash. Half-height means that you only tile the backsplash halfway up the wall. You would have about 9 inches of tiled backsplash and 9 inches of the wall without backsplash.

One advantage of having a backsplash that covers only half the height of the space is that it creates visual interest by breaking up the space between the countertop and upper cabinets. You can then paint the wall in the rest of the space in a coordinating color. Tiling and painting the wall in this way can help space feel more open.

Another advantage is that only tiling half the height of the space saves you money because you don't have to buy as much tile. But the disadvantage of having a half-height backsplash is that it doesn't offer as much protection to your drywall as a full-height backsplash would.

When To Use Half-Height Backsplash

There are two scenarios where you might want to consider using a half-height backsplash. The first reason is if you don't have upper cabinets. In some kitchen remodels, the upper cabinets are removed and replaced with shelves for a more open concept. Tiling the backsplash to half the height means that your backsplash will end just underneath the shelves.

Brick tiled backsplash kitchen with wooden cabinets and white backsplash

Some kitchens also have a window above the sink, in which the bottom edge of the window sits low and isn't even with the bottom of the upper cabinets. In this case, tiling the backsplash to be level with the height of the bottom edge of the window instead of the cabinets can help create a consistent look.

Perhaps the best reason is if you're on a budget. If you purchase tiles individually, they come in different sizes. Most tiles are around 4 inches high, but they also sell larger ones in varying heights. Depending on the total height of your space and the size of the tile you like, you may only have to buy 10 to 20 tiles to create a half-height backsplash.

Full-Height Backsplash

Modern kitchen interior with white countertop, sink with gray cabinets

Tiling the backsplash to full height means that the backsplash will cover the entire space between the lower and upper cabinets. But of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to this method as well.

This backsplash height will cover the drywall completely, making spill and splash clean up easy and effective. Another advantage of a full-height backsplash is that it creates a consistent and clean look, which helps the kitchen look very streamlined.

One disadvantage to full-height backsplash is that it isn't as budget-friendly because you have to buy more tile to cover the whole area. Another disadvantage is that choosing the wrong color or style of backsplash can make the kitchen feel more closed-in, especially if your kitchen lacks natural light.

When To Use Full-Height Backsplash

 Practically, using a full-height backsplash in the area above the stove is always a good idea. The stove is where most food splashes are likely to occur, so you want the area above the stove to be as protected and easy to clean up as possible.

Even though half-height backsplash can work when you don't have upper cabinets, backsplash tiles to full-height can work as well. Again, if you have open shelving, how high you tile the backsplash depends on the height of your shelves. If your shelves are higher, you can treat the shelves as upper cabinets and tile the entire height from the countertop to the bottom of the shelves.

For people that have both upper cabinets and a window in between two sections of upper cabinets, you can tile the backsplash to completely cover the area between the countertops and the bottom of the upper cabinets, then tile around the window if there is drywall between the sides of the window and the cabinets. If the bottom edge of the window is even with the cabinets, you can tile up to the bottom of the window.

See Also: Should A Backsplash Go Around A Window?

Should You Install Backsplash Or Countertop First?

White kitchen backsplash and white cabinets matching the white countertop

The countertop should be installed before the backsplash. If you install the backsplash first and the countertops second, the countertops could be taller than the bottom of the backsplash, making it fit incorrectly. The countertops could be shorter than that backsplash, leaving a gap that needs to be filled in. Also, it is recommended to match your tile backsplash to your countertop instead of the other way around.

Caulk Or Grout On The Bottom Of A Backsplash?

If you're installing a backsplash for the first time, it is better to use caulk instead of grout for where the backsplash area meets the countertop. This is because grout can crack and chip over time, leaving gaps and holes that allow water and spills to get behind the counter and cabinets. If the counter does shift, caulk will create a better seal and will continue to fill the gap. 

This caulk is waterproof, making it great for use in the kitchen. Click here to see it on Amazon.

What Is The Best Material To Use For A Kitchen Backsplash?

Marble modern kitchen interior

When installing a kitchen backsplash, you want a material that is durable and easy to clean. Because of these reasons, the best material to use is porcelain, ceramic, and glass. Tiles made out of these materials come in many different sizes and styles, but they can be easily wiped clean no matter what you choose.

You May Also Like: How Long Does It Take To Install A Backsplash?

In Closing 

Gorgeous white hexagonal tile backsplash and gray countertop

We hope this guide provided you with the options that are available for tiling kitchen backsplash. In addition to the height at which you tile your backsplash, individual tiles come in different heights as well. Keep that in mind as you decide which kind of tile to choose. But as long as you're happy with the finished look, that's all that matters. Thanks for reading!

A beautiful modern kitchen with white cabinets and countertops, How High Do You Tile A Kitchen Backsplash?

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