Do You Install Backsplash Before Cabinets: Things You Need To Know




I don’t like any mess on my kitchen wall. I found out that the backsplash could be the most important thing to protect my kitchen walls from any kind of mess.

Then, a few months ago, I decided to install a backsplash on my kitchen wall, and I did it. If you are wondering, Do you install backsplash before cabinets? Well, I did that.


It is hard to answer it in one sentence. You can install backsplash both before or after the cabinets. However, installing before the cabinets has some additional benefits that you may want to consider before deciding on reduced risk of damage.

These are just some facts. If you want to get a look at the entire topic, you need to read ahead. Still interested to learn? What’s stopping you? Let’s jump into it!

Some main facts-

  • Glass tiles are surprisingly durable, resistant, and suitable for installing before cabinets.
  • You can use peel-and-stick wallpapers as backsplash tiles.
  • You must secure and add temporary support to help the backsplashes adhere better.
Estimated Cost Estimated DurationSkill Level
$60048 hoursBeginner

Do You Install Backsplash Before Cabinets?

You can do both. So, whether to install the backsplash before the cabinets or after completely depends on you. Both of these processes have advantages and disadvantages. 

However, if you ask: Do you install backsplash before countertop? The answer is No. Countertops must be installed before the backsplash, especially if that is granite countertops or stone countertops.

Do You Install Backsplash Before Cabinets

I suggest getting familiar with both after and before the cabinet process and then deciding what to do. To help you with that, I am going to share all the things you need to know to install backsplash before cabinets. So, buckle up!

Reasons For Installing Backsplash Before Cabinets

Do you install cabinets or backsplash first? Any of them can be installed first. I recommend installing the backsplash before the kitchen cabinets. Why? There are some reasons behind this. These are:

Easy Application

You have no idea how easy the kitchen renovation becomes if you install backsplash before cabinets. You don’t need to worry about damaging the cabinets or putting in extra effort to make it look seamless.

Also, you don’t need to measure the space repeatedly and cut the tiles into shapes. Instead, you just plan and design the tile floor accordingly.

Seamless Finish

If you install the kitchen backsplashes before the cabinets, you will not have to put extra time and effort into hiding the gaps between the wall and the cabinets. 

It will provide a more polished look and appear seamless without even trying. Does backsplash go behind cabinets? It depends on your preference. In this chance, you can refinish the hickory cabinets if needed.

Flexibility In Design

Installing backsplash before upper cabinets give you the privilege of the design process and arranging the tiles however you want. 

If there are cabinets and you try to install the backsplash, trust me you will freak out on how you will have to throw tiles aimlessly to fit in the limited space. Also, you can replace kitchen tiles without removing cabinets.

Time And Cost Efficient

If you install cabinets before the backsplash, it will cost you double the time and money you spend now. Installing backsplash before cabinets reduces the risk of damaging the cabinets.

You may think it increases the risk of redoing the backsplash to match the cabinet. Let me tell you, it doesn’t because you can plan the backsplash kitchen design while keeping the layout of the cabinets in mind. Also, you can easily replace cabinets and keep granite countertops.

Now, if someone asks you Do you install backsplash before or after cabinets and why?’, you have the answers. 

Types Of Backsplash Materials Suitable For Early Installation

Should you install backsplash or cabinets first? It can be both. However, if you decide to install the backsplash before the cabinet and range hood vent, you must be mindful of the materials used for that. 

Types Of Backsplash Materials Suitable For Early Installation

Do you want to know what types of materials are suitable for early installation? Here you go;

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are known for their ability to withstand wear and tear. Backsplashes are prone to damage because of their daily and consistent use, especially when in high-traffic places.

However, the resistance and durability of ceramic tiles beat it all. So, there is less chance of damaging the backsplash while installing cabinets. If you use an under-cabinet range hood without a cabinet, ceramic tiles are a great option for you.

It comes with a lot of different colors and patterns, which match the wall with the aesthetic of the place. Ceramic tiles are highly available at an affordable range of prices.

Glass Tile

You may think glass tile backsplashes are vulnerable to damage. I used to think that too. To my surprise, glass tiles are remarkably durable and resistant to water, moisture, heat, and daily wear and tear. 

It is versatile and comes in a wide variety of styles. I absolutely love a mosaic tile made of glass tiles. This just adds a modern and sleek look to the wall. On top of all, glass tiles are eco-friendly. It consumes less energy compared to the other types of flooring.


Vinyls are easy to install as they are lightweight. These are low maintenance and easy to clean. I was surprised at how effortlessly I was able to clean the vinyl wall with just soap, water, and a piece of cloth. 

Vinyls are also versatile. There is a wide range of types and colors of vinyl, which makes it easy to match the vibe of the rest of the room.

Peel-And-Stick Backsplash Tile

If you want more like a temporary solution to the backsplash, it is the one for you. It is easy to install and peels off easily. So, if you are someone who likes to change the setting of the wall frequently, here’s your solution.

No risk of damage, easy to change, awfully versatile, highly accessible, time and cost-efficient. Woof! That’s a lot.

You can also use peel-and-stick wallpapers after replacing kitchen cabinet doors with IKEA doors to decorate them.

If you want to install before cabinets and you’re conflicted about whether you should install the backsplash before or after painting cabinets, the answer is before painting cabinets. It will help to prevent damage to the freshly painted cabinets.

Pros And Cons Of Installing Backsplash Before Cabinets

Do you tile backsplash before or after cabinets? To answer this question, you must know the advantages and disadvantages of both situations. To help you with that, here are the pros and cons of installing backsplash before cabinets;

The absence of cabinets during backsplash installation makes it a lot easier to install.Installing backsplash before cabinets means it is bound to get some damage while installing cabinets. 
It takes significantly less time as you don’t need to measure and cut the backsplash to fit under cabinets.The backsplash may need to be adjusted or redone because of the cabinet layout or design.
Installing backsplash in a plain wall without any cabinet gives it a more seamless look.If somehow the backsplash gets damaged or needs to be redone, it will cost double the actual cost.

Learning the pros and cons helps you to decide better. I hope it helps!

How To Install Backsplash Before Cabinets?

After learning the reasons and advantages of installing backsplash before the cabinet, you may have decided to give it a go. To help you on the journey, here is the entire process of installing backsplash before cabinets;

Measure And Plan Outline

Before you start with the actual installation or kitchen remodel process, take precise measurements of the space. Plan a layout of how you are going to place the tiles.

You can make it in your mind or if you want a precise outline, you can create a 3d graphics of the design. Visualization helps to work efficiently.

Prepare The Wall

Remove all the appliances from the entire kitchen. Properly clean the wall so that there are no imperfections that might affect the installation.

After cleaning it completely, apply a primer to it. It helps the backsplash to attach to the wall surface strongly.

Install The Backsplash

First, mix the thinset. The right consistency and timing are crucial for the thin set. So, be careful while mixing it.

To install the backsplash, start from the center base of the wall. Apply the thin set to the wall and attach the tile. 

Make sure to apply an adequate amount of thin-set. It should not be too thick or too thin. Similarly, continue with the rest of the tile installation.

For the sides and corners of the wall, measure the space and cut the tiles accordingly. Then, attach the tiles. However, if you use the peel-and-stick backsplashes, you don’t need any of these.

After applying the primer, just peel the wallpapers and slowly attach them to the wall. Be careful during the attachment. Make sure that there are no bumps or air bubbles under the wallpaper. 

Secure The Backsplash

The tiles must be perfectly aligned and secure with each other. Make sure there are no grout lines between the tiles. If there are spaces, fix them while installing the tiles.

You can use spacers to maintain the consistent spacing and alignment between the tiles.

Add Temporary Support

To make sure that the tiles are properly secured to the floor, add some temporary support to the tiles. It will also promote a strong adhesion to the wall. After the thin-set is completely dried and secured to the wall, remove the supports.

Finishing Touches

If there are any improper fits or obstacles, fix them for a seamless appearance. You can always cut the tiles according to your personal preference. 

Does backsplash have to go all the way up to the cabinets? It depends on your personal preferences. If you want, you can extend it up to cabinets. It is one of the kitchen projects where you can decide how you want things to be.

Considerations For Cabinet Installation After Backsplash

There are some things you must consider while installing a backsplash that will help not only the backsplash installation but also the cabinet installation process. These are;

Considerations For Cabinet Installation After Backsplash


There must be effective coordination between the backsplash installer and cabinet installer as the layouts might create conflict. Any miscommunication will result in redoing the whole process again.


While planning for the installation of the backsplash, keep room for any moderation that you may encounter in the future. It will make the plan and installation more flexible for future adjustments.


Your target should be to install the backsplash in a way that looks seamless after installing the cabinets. Pay attention even to the smallest details, especially the corners, edges, and transitions.

You must keep these things in mind or you may need to redo the entire backsplash installation while installing the cabinets.

Tips For Successful Backsplash Installation Before Cabinets

Aside from the actual process, there are always some tips that help with the process. Here are some backsplash dos and don’ts that will help with a successful installation;

  • Invest a lot of time in planning. I suggest taking time to precisely measure the space’s square foot and planning a detailed layout for installation. 
  • Plan the positioning of the backsplash along with the cabinets so that you don’t need to redo the backsplash while installing the cabinets. 
  • Properly clean the surface so that the dust and debris don’t hinder the process. It will make the installation a lot smoother.
  • You may think using temporary support doesn’t help the process that much but I highly recommend using those. It helps with adhesion and better attachment.
  • Make sure there are no grout lines between the tiles and they are perfectly aligned and consistent.
  • If you face any difficulty during the entire process, seek professional help immediately. From my personal experience, you definitely do not want to stick out or fall off tiles.
  • Give the wall enough time to rest before using the space for anything.

Now, if you are asked When should backsplash be installed?I hope you have the answer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

When Should Backsplash Be Installed?

Backsplash can be installed both before and after cabinets. However, if you want to install a countertop too, you must install the backsplash after the countertop.

Should You Install a Backsplash Or Cabinets First?

You can install a backsplash both before and after cabinets. 

Is It Cost-Effective To Install A Backsplash Before Cabinets?

Yes, it saves a lot of time as there’s less risk of damaging the cabinets.

Can I Choose To Install A Backsplash After the Cabinets?

Yes, there are a lot of benefits of installing a backsplash after the cabinets.

Which Comes First Backsplash Or Countertop?

Countertop always comes first, especially if it is a granite countertop or stone countertop.


So, Do you install backsplash before cabinets? If you have come so far, you have already learned it entirely depends on what you need and how you want it. It was a small attempt from me to help you learn everything about installing backsplash after cabinets. Compare all of these with installing backsplash after cabinets. Then, you decide on how you like it to be.

If you are interested in learning more about restoring a Cabinets, stay with- Restore Journey.

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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