The Pros and Cons of The Four-Inch Backsplash

Written by Brittany Allen

4 inch backsplashThe four-inch backsplash has been a staple of kitchen installations for many years. It’s budget-friendly, it’s practical, and it’s versatile in terms of kitchen design. When full tile backsplashes became the trend, the four-inch variety has been all but left behind, but it still has its merits, which we are going to discuss today.

A four-inch backsplash is pretty standard, design-wise. It’s usually made from the same material as your countertop and is installed at the same time. The alternative is a full-height backsplash, which is the type that continues up the wall, usually to the bottom of your cabinets.

If you are remodeling your kitchen and thinking about doing a four-inch backsplash, you should weigh the pros and cons before you decide. 

Four-Inch Backsplash Pros

There are lots of good things to consider about the four-inch backsplash:

  • It is smaller, so it costs less to fabricate and install.
  • It is simple and clean and compliments many types of kitchen design.
  • If you have high ceilings or a large wall, it can break up the space and make the room seem more balanced.
  • It can be installed at the same time as your countertops so it could make your remodel go a little faster.
  • It allows more versatile design choices in terms of how you paint the walls above it.

4 inch backsplash

Four-Inch Backsplash Cons

Of course, there’s a downside to even the most classic style choices.

For example, if you wanted to do a pattern or an accent in tile, a four-inch backsplash wouldn’t really give you that flexibility.

Here are some of the main negatives you would want to consider:  

  • It may make your kitchen appear dated or unfinished.
  • If it doesn’t match your countertops perfectly, it may look disjointed.
  • Even if it does match perfectly, your visitors may think you ran out of materials or couldn’t afford to finish it.
  • It may not be high enough to protect your walls from messes.
  • If it’s not sealed properly with grout, it may allow grease, water, or foods to drip down the wall behind it.

Breaks Up The Visual Space

If you were doing a full-height tile backsplash, the four-inch backsplash that’s already there would break up the visual space. It would make it look like that four inches is running into the backsplash, and if it doesn’t match or isn’t complimentary, it would look like you have three different surfaces instead of just the countertop and the backsplash. It becomes countertop-short backsplash-second backsplash instead of one cohesive plane.

Looks Like A Second Backsplash

In many cases, the kitchen already has a four-inch backsplash. If you wanted to add tile, you would have to tile above it, making it look like two separate things instead of one plane.

4 inch backsplash

Practical Concerns

Probably the biggest downside to having a four-inch backsplash is that it exposes the wall behind your stove and counters to splashes, splatters, and grease. The solution to this is to install a full-height backsplash behind the range (not necessarily everywhere), but you can always add this later.

For example, if you have purchased a builder-grade home, it will likely have a four-inch backsplash. This is because the countertops are generally installed as a one-piece item that includes the backsplash. If you wanted to add a tile backsplash, you would be installing that above the existing backsplash, and that is quite common.

In another scenario, if we were doing a kitchen remodel project using Cambria, or some other kind of quartz countertop, there are some situations where we would install a four-inch backsplash. It could be that the homeowner didn’t want to do the tile right away. In this case, we would install it in two separate pieces, which is a way to make the four-inch backsplash removable later on.

Making The Most of Your Four-Inch Backsplash

You might decide that a four-inch backsplash is the way to go if, for example, you have your heart set on a high-end countertop and have to choose between that and a tile backsplash. In this scenario, we would suggest going with the countertop, every time. A four-inch backsplash in natural stone will look great no matter what else you do in the kitchen.

Still trying to decide what type of backsplash will look best in your kitchen? Our designers are ready to help with great tips and ideas. Reach out today and learn more about how we can help.

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