Asked on Apr 20, 2013

Tile backsplash when there is existing countertop backsplash

We are thinking about how to add a backsplash to our kitchen. Unfortunately when we had our countertops installed we ordered a small backsplash that comes part way up the wall. I am not sure how I feel about adding subway tile or another tile to the wall if it is going to come down and meet the existing black backsplash. So, do I keep the wall bare like it is, tile the way it is and meet the black backsplash with another tile, or can I take out the counter backsplash that is there? What do you think?
Here you can see the amount of space available to tile if I left the current backsplash intact.
Trying to decide if I can tile the wall as it is now.
  76 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Apr 21, 2013
    I done this both ways...the easiest is to leave the solid piece in place and tile above it. The end result will give you a look that the lower piece appears thinner. Caulk and or grout can ease the transition.
  • Hi Kate: We had the same thing in our new kitchen. We added the beveled edge subway tiles all around, and on top of the existing backsplash/counter (which I don't like and want to change eventually!); even added it in the window frame area. I'm very very happy with it!
    • Joyce Kainec Joyce Kainec on Mar 02, 2014
      @Libby at An Eye For Detail Libby, I have plans to add a beveled edge subway tile and am debating about removing the 4" countertop back splash. I would love to see a picture of what you have done.
  • C & K Custom Remodeling C & K Custom Remodeling on Apr 21, 2013
    I personally prefer to remove the matching back splash and and install tile full height. You are pretty safe either way because both will look great. It's personal preference and I would do a web search for pictures to see both ways.
  • Karen Johnson Karen Johnson on Apr 21, 2013
    keep wall bare
  • Deidrea O Deidrea O on Apr 21, 2013
    Either way would be fine but it you tile the backsplash go with contemporary style tile.
  • Colleen H Colleen H on Apr 21, 2013
    We put weincotting on our backsplash and I painted it. I love it!
  • Kari Davis Kari Davis on Apr 21, 2013
    When we had our kitchen done, we left it bare above the 4" backsplash.
  • Amy Amy on Apr 21, 2013
    I think a glass tile would look nice. how about teal? Maybe you can try just painting the backsplash area a different color to see if you like the way it looks first.
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Apr 21, 2013
    If you wanted a different look try using paint to stencil, make stripes, or use a different color to accent the back splash without using tile. Paint is cheaper and I have found that sometimes I don't need to make such a drastic move to get the same results. You could also use the glazes that are available in metallic shades. (silver, gold, bronze or shimmery)
  • Thank you all so much for the advice. Painted beadboard might look nice but I wonder if it would be too hard to keep clean. I love a subway tile so we might try a white glass or marble. I love the idea about painting the backsplash area first to see if it looks good. This is fun. I can't ask my husband these design questions......
  • I really like your kitchen remodel. I vote for white subway tile, It's timeless.
  • Shirley Shirley on Jul 24, 2014
    Get a package of craft paper in various colors and tape them up beneath your cabinets. Try all black, all white, etc. Then you will be able to tell what colors would look best. I'll bet the contemporary staggered glass and stone tile would make your white cabinets "pop" and blend in nicely with your countertop and existing backsplash. We got ours at Menards and they are awesome!
  • Jim L Jim L on Jul 30, 2014
    Go for the subway tile. When I had the black granite counter top installed, I had the 4" back-splash added...on purpose! I have white, beveled edge subway tile above that. In addition, since I am 6'4" tall, I had the counter top raised 4 inches. The small strip that is tiled looks great. Also, the cabinets are white. I have no regrets...
  • Diane Arnold Diane Arnold on Aug 13, 2014
    I would leave the existing backsplash. You can tile, paint or whatever above it, but what you need in your beautiful kitchen is a pop of color. Good luck, have fun!
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 13, 2014
    Leave the existing backsplash with paint above it. Looks terrific the way it is. The continuation of the wall colour adds cohesiveness and visual flow.
  • Cathy B Cathy B on Aug 23, 2014
    Personally I am over the trend of tile EVERYwhere. Leave it as is.
  • Jane Hayes Jane Hayes on Sep 11, 2014
    It looks great as it is. Tile or paint would be fine with the backsplash. It is your it like you want it.
  • Lori Lori on Oct 19, 2014
    I would tend to ignore the part of the backsplash to an extent, choose a tile, then but a thin border of co ordinating tile, you know, like a piece of the rope tile or something to pull the two pieces together. If you go with the white subway, which I love too, then a blk and white border is good.
  • Sasstown Sasstown on Oct 21, 2014
    I'd recommend removing the ledge and tile from the counter for the complete look. You could tile above the ledge if you're reluctant to remove it, but proportionally use a smaller sized tile. You could still use smaller subway shaped tiles.
  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Dec 12, 2014
    @Kate @ Eating in the Shower I love the "KITCHEN" above the cabinet. How was that done? I think your kitchen looks lovely as it is.
  • Pat Pat on Dec 12, 2014
    I have seen this question before the experts say to remove the back portion before tiling. I have this situation myself. Have no tile as yet, but would love to do it. I just dread having to remove that granite. They say it is glued up with silicone and there is a lot of work involved in getting all the silicone off. I have seen pictures of it left in place and tiled above the small backsplash pedge.
  • Ijensen Ijensen on Jan 02, 2015
    Kate.....what did you end up doing? I am at this point now, and also have the 4" backsplash on my counter.
  • It is done either way. The only difference is preference. It's not a lot of trouble to take the back splash down. Install hardy board over the sheetrock and install your tile. Paint would be fine too. It's your personal preference.
  • Connie K Connie K on Jan 30, 2015
    Please don't regret installing the small backsplash with your counter tops. You can still add a beautiful tile, stone, or other type of backsplash to your wall. It is done this way a lot. Earlier, I did a search on "kitchen backsplash ideas" and noticed that a lot of the kitchens had the countertop installations just like yours yet they had added beautiful backsplashes, too. I think it is simply personal choice. So do a search a see what results you get or just look at lots of photos of kitchens to see what is being done. Then,pick a style you like and go for it. I did see one where the kitchen was predominately white and the countertop, which I think was gray, was installed like yours. A glass subway tile in a dark gray had been used for the backsplash with a mosaic tile inset in the taller space above the sink area. So, as you are the one using the kitchen, look at lots of photos to determine your style, then go for it! Be certain to post "after" photos.
  • DebLynn DebLynn on Feb 12, 2015
    I can only add that I do believe the "Granite" Backsplash band might be wider/thicker than the added tile causing a sill or rim not being flush to the wall tile. I'd definitely go for a multi colored tile in black, gray and white to complement your already beautiful Kitchen!
  • Becky Greenwald Becky Greenwald on Feb 23, 2015
    Leave the granite backsplash and tile up from it. Easier and still very attractive. Less work.
  • Sue Sue on Mar 22, 2015
    Go ahead and add whatever you would like. It is your home and can bring in any WOW that you want not what others say.
  • Kathy Munson Kathy Munson on Mar 22, 2015
    I say add the tile above the granite set on splash. If you remove it you may have remains of the caulking on the horizontal granite counter top and the new tile would not be as thick to cover that area. I would think a multicolor selection that ties together your black, white, tan and stainless colors would look terrific.
  • Kate: We had a similar problem! The corian countertop was already installed when we moved in and was in good shape so we have chosen to leave it as is (for a while…) But I wanted subway tile as the backsplash: I had had white walls in our old house for 25 years and wanted a change! So take a look at my post I had done and you might get some ideas: Hope this helps a bit!
  • Nancy Huckabee Nancy Huckabee on Apr 22, 2015
    Im am having same issues..I have even thought of wallpaper that looks like rock...then I remove it when I want house is rustic...Iv even thought of painting it to look like somkind of rock
  • Sandyc Sandyc on Apr 23, 2015
    I would hope Kate decided to do nothing at all. This is a totally charming kitchen as is and I'd have it in a minute. I'm so bored with everyone believing they have to have a backsplash and that the standard 4" lip is so "out" and the busier the backsplash, the better.
  • Nancy Nancy on Apr 28, 2015
    Stop with the tile. A maintenance disaster The cheaper option is to to do a glass splash back on top of the wall colour of your choice....very easy to maintain....or if your budget allows, just do solid black granite that you have in the rest of your kitchen...easy to maintain and looks so chic....but it is @ $$$
  • Zeebo Zeebo on Jun 15, 2015
    You have a lovely kitchen as is. I would not install a backsplash.
  • Cindy Richmond Cindy Richmond on Jun 17, 2015
    I think whatever tile you choose will look wonderful and add some color. Most kitchens have some countertop extending up the wall to protect liquids, etc, from seeping down. Go for some color - you'll love how it brightens the room.
  • Carol Carol on Jul 23, 2015
    I agree with the others that think you should not do anything. Your kitchen is Beautiful, it does not need anything more. I love the gray walls. You have actually helped me... I have a very nice kitchen as well, and have been thinking I should do a backsplash, but now I am settled in my mind that I do not need it. It's just that we love our houses so much and want to continually improve them! We should just settle down and relax. :)
  • Lisa Weisedel Lisa Weisedel on Sep 20, 2015
    I do love it just as is--- but if you are going to do a backsplash, you would need to remove the 4" granite backsplash for it to look correct.
  • Connie K Connie K on Sep 21, 2015
    Many of the kitchens shown in photos (Houzz, etc.) as well as most of the Model Homes I have looked at still have the 4" strip above the granite counter-tops and the backsplash begins above it. It may limit you in your choice of time but it is mostly a case of personal preference. In my different houses throughout the years (I won't say how many) I have had kitchens with and without a backsplash. Without seems to need painting more frequently so I would talk to a paint expert, given the newer paint options, about which paint will work best. As for the tile, if tiled correctly, I have found it to be easy to clean and very long-lasting. Just make certain you can live with your choice for a long period of time since it can be expensive. Given your kitchen is already so beautiful, if you are looking to add interest and color, it can be done with accessories and decorative items which are easy to change when you desire a new look. The space above you cabinets is an option for some decor though use a "more is less" approach since to much can make for a cluttered look and feel. You might try accessorizing to see of it works for what you are trying to accomplish since it is an easy and inexpensive option. Then, if that doesn't work, you can still go on to other options such as a backsplash. Oh, and consider the style of the rest of your home when choosing a backsplash if you decide to go with that option so your style will still flow throughout your home.
  • Int2363025 Int2363025 on Sep 27, 2015
    From a designers viewpoint! The tile must go down to the countertop. Remove the 4" black countertop backsplash just as quick as you can. Then your new tile backsplash is unlimited. Go, go, go....a new idea that I've used, 13"x13" tile installed on the diagonal fills in all the space between countertop and cabinets....beautiful and creative !
  • Anne Howell Anne Howell on Sep 28, 2015
    Nope tileing old hat refresh with paint just using the small flashback
  • Pat whitmus Pat whitmus on Oct 04, 2015
    Personal choice. Take picture of tiles you like...print on paper. Put paper on splash area to see if you like the look. Go from there once you decide. ")
  • Patricia Trish Royer Patricia Trish Royer on Oct 08, 2015
    How about a durable, washable vinyl wallpaper? Something with tone on tone striations that kind of looks like linen or Asian grass paper. Just don't go too dark. With a black counter top and a dark back splash you create 'too much visual weight' and that space will look like a dark hole. I'd go with a grey or grey/tan - or - warm brown/tan that is about 8 to 10 shades lighter than black. It'll create contrast and texture to the space and look more finished. Also it will compliment your current window treatment and be neutral enough for future window treatments (fabric patterns). Cover your light switch plates with the same wall paper -OR - change your switches and outlets to grey and but stainless steel looking switch covers. It'll blend with the wall paper nicely and look upscale.
    • AKP AKP on Oct 26, 2015
      @Patricia Trish Royer You are the second person talking about wallpaper as a backsplash - I love that idea and had never even thought of it! We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel and the backsplash has me perplexed. Well, it HAD me perplexed! Now I am thinking wallpaper! You mention vinyl, another blogger mentioned paintable and then covering with epoxy. Genius! Thank you!
  • Mary-Ann Mary-Ann on Oct 12, 2015
    Your kitchen is lovely. You do not need a backsplash-like it just the way it is.
  • Sherrie Slaboda Sherrie Slaboda on Oct 13, 2015
    I like the clean, not busy look. If I did anything I would try various colored paint. It is inexpensive and can easily be changed when you get new ideas.
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Oct 13, 2015
    Back splash is used more to bring colors together and to bring interest and excitement to the kitchen more then to just make it easier to clean. I like back splash..I have a multi colored counter the walls are a different color and the cabinets and floor colors are brought together in the back splash. I like the pop that a back splash gives. I think it is all up to what you want..have a picture in your mind about how you want your kitchen to look..and go for it. I am pretty safe when it comes to colors and the back splash was my wild side.
  • Sheli Cockerham Dillon Sheli Cockerham Dillon on Dec 28, 2015
    How about the tin ceiling type panels. They are fairly flat and would make a great back splash. They come in several colors. I think the silver matte finish would compliment the dark counter top and your appliances.
  • Jean Proctor Jean Proctor on Jan 19, 2016
    Did you know there is paint-able wall paper that has the design of tin embossed ceiling tiles? You could paint it what ever color you feel would work best with your kitchen and it would be a inexpensive fix.
  • Re Re on Mar 21, 2016
    go with a marble look ceramic tile. The veining would look so pretty with your black and white.
  • Sue Ryan Sue Ryan on Aug 17, 2016
    Nothing wrong with keeping the existing backsplash. I would simply add a nice either white subway tile with grey grout or a nice glass grey subway tile. I would also go to the ceiling with it.
  • Chelle Chelle on Aug 20, 2016
    I recently put silver glass tiles (see image) as my backsplash between my cherry cabinets and a black multi-silver speckled granite counter. I took me 3 years to decide and I am so happy. The brightness and reflection it gives my kitchen is amazing. We also put an under cabinet string of lights so the backsplash just sparkles. Hope this gives you some great ideas.
  • Jean Proctor Jean Proctor on Aug 25, 2016
    I know Lowe's has it. I think Home Depot but wouldn't be surprised if if it was available on Amazon. It could be painted with metallic paint.
  • Chelle Chelle on Aug 26, 2016
    I got the silver foil glass tile at a tile store, it is much lighter and larger than the Lowes version.
  • Diane Schule Diane Schule on Aug 30, 2016
    What is this lovely wall color you used here? Really warms up the black and white just enough.
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Aug 31, 2016
    Put up the back will be fine with that little back splash you have.
  • L. Criswell L. Criswell on Sep 18, 2016
    Do not combine two wall treatments on your wall. Either remove the black backsplash and do one continuous wall treatment, or leave it alone as is.
  • Ardale Ardale on Feb 26, 2017

    I have a little different idea for you to consider. I used textured wallpaper on my back splash and it looks so pretty. The best part is it's easy to find, inexpensive compared to tile, easy to hang, is paintable so you can paint it any color to coordinate with your existing kitchen colors and everyone who sees it just has to touch it and comment on how pretty it looks. They have tons of different patterns to choose from to suit any ones taste. It comes in a roll like wallpaper but has the texture and feel of puff paint on a thick paper background . I used a texture paper that sort of looks like a fine textured knock down sheet rock wall then painted mine once dry a sage green color to match the upper walls in my kitchen. I have chair rails on the walls in my kitchen with a pretty rose print border then a dark tan color from chair rail down to the baseboards. Another good thing about using this thick wallpaper is you won't have to replace all your outlet and switch boxes to extend them out like you would if you put up regular tile and the paper is thick enough to hide any minor flaws in your walls. I even have this wall paper on my formal dining room ceiling in a pressed tin pattern and it is beautiful. You can keep the back splash that you have and bring the wall paper down to meet it. I've had my back splash wall paper up for several years and it still looks as pretty as the day I put it up. It's easy to wash with a wet dish rag or sponge but I don't use abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals on it. Just a little down and warm water takes anything off it. I used regular wall paper glue to hang it with and smoothed it out with a plastic car bondo spreader but you can use a wallpaper brush just as well. BEWARE make sure your wall paper is the kind that looks like puff paint sitting on a paper surface not the wall paper that looks like the designs are pressed through from the backside of the paper. You can tell the difference by gently pushing your fingernail into the design. If the design doesn't have a little bit of spring to it or leaves a dent that doesn't slowly rise once you lift your nail off it it's probably the pressed design pattern. This paper stretches to much and is much harder to hang. Another fool proof way to tell the difference in these wall papers is if you can see the back side of the paper the pressed paper will have the surface design in it in reverse where the good kind of wall paper will have a flat smooth back side.

    I also think using ceramic or stone tiles especially tumbled stone would look beautiful as well and I'd take your existing back splash off and bring the wall tile all the way down to the counter top. If using the wall paper I'd keep your back splash as is and bring the wall paper down to it. Hope this helps! Just another option to consider.

  • Betsy Betsy on Mar 01, 2017

    Leave what you have and sculpture the rest. Joint compound with a simple swirl would be nice. You need to practice prior to doing the kitchen if you wish to do it yourself. Once it dries you can paint it the color of your choice.

  • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Mar 05, 2017

    You've had lots of thoughts/opinions already. To add mine, I vote to leave your current backsplash in place and add tile above. Really, though, you should do what makes you happy. My sister gets a picture in her head and nothing will suit until she achieves it, cost bedamned. Me, I'm a frugal-and-least-resistance kind of gal so that's what sparks my suggestion. You do have a lovely kitchen and whatever you decide will only make it better. Hope you show us your end results.

  • Rojy Rojy on Apr 08, 2017

    I think it would be better to keep the wall bare like it is, and you can find out latest kitchen backsplash ideas easily from here this will help you to get the best thing to do.

  • Barbara Hoyt Barbara Hoyt on May 07, 2017

    I have the same issue. I am trying to decide if this would be ok. We have 6 inch granite backsplash and I want subway tile. I have it tacked up there to get an idea of how it would look.

  • Cynthia Gilliard Cynthia Gilliard on Dec 30, 2017

    Tile over it

  • My2scents My2scents on Dec 30, 2017

    In our area it’s quite common to tile down to the existing backsplash, or even just the area between the cabinets and the backsplash, which is quite nice. Because there is not much wall that needs to be done and this is a small kitchen, you will want to avoid loud and busy colors and designs. Let your accessories (like those bright red flowers!) provide seasonal color.

    A small 1x2” tile on a mosaic layout in a solid one color brick pattern would look really pretty here. See if you can find the same color as the floor. Use the same color grout.

    Change the fabric over the sink to a valance with a solid color and level the top of it even with the tops of the adjacent cabinets.

    This uniformity will help with resale.

    Hope this helps.

  • Christine Christine on Nov 08, 2019

    We just went through this and I wanted to remove our granite backsplash and add subway tile BUT when the installers came, it turned out the granite counter didn't go all the way to the wall, (the backsplash covered a gap between wall and counter) so IF we tiled to the counter, there would be a gap. UGH. So we left the granite backsplash and tiled above it. Black grout going in today (pendant lights still off, stove out) but you get the idea....(notice in the photo with installers, there are items on the counter and you can't even see the backsplash, so I think it will work beautifully) Bottom line, you can make either work for you!

  • Sarah T Sarah T on Sep 04, 2020

    Can you post which way you decided to go? My kitchen is very similar and I’m curious what you ended up doing or if you left it as is.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 02, 2023

    I think Kitchen looks great as it is, but if you wanted to you could put one above the standup!

  • Deb K Deb K on Feb 06, 2023

    Hi Kate, hope this helps you out. You can add tile above the existing countertop backsplash. Many countertops come with a partial backsplash that extends 4 to 6 inches above the surface of the countertops. This feature, typical with laminate, granite and solid surface countertops, generally consists of the same material as the countertop. If you'd prefer your backsplash to extend up to the bottom of the cabinets, simply add tile starting at the top of the existing backsplash.

    Choose from tiles made from faux tin or other metals, glass mosaic or traditional ceramic in colors that complement your existing backsplash and countertops. Use a bead of tub-and-tile caulk between the top of the existing backsplash and your first row of tile to seal out moisture

  • You can remove the small backsplash you have and then tile.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 06, 2024

    You mean a tile backsplash above the countertop extension? No. And I would not suggest doing a countertop extension at all. Look at pics of tile backsplashes with a clean countertop that does not extend 4" up the wall. So much cleaner and updated look so the 4 inch back splash really dates a kitchen.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 21, 2024

    You could use Perspex (Plexiglass) or Tile or Mosaic or Tile covers or Sticky backed Plastic - Contact, Cork tiles, Old Coins, Bottle Tops, Fabric, Wallpaper etc.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 22, 2024

    I've seen many homes with tile above the countertop edge. I would take it all the up on the cabinet end as well I think.

  • Janice Janice on Feb 22, 2024

    I wonder what was decided about the backsplash? The question was first posted over 10 years ago, so seems those offering advice now is strange. Could the original poster let us know what they did and maybe provide a picture? Thanks! :)

  • Dee Dee on Feb 24, 2024

    Go to Floor and decor and look at their sheet tiles. You can definitely install above the 4 inch border. or Take off the border and install tiles all the way down.