Upstands, tiles or splashback? Not sure what to go for in your new kitchen design? 

Basically, all of them are designed to protect your walls from kitchen splashes, stains and steam. What you choose really comes down to personal preference and the type of look you’re trying to achieve. 

When picking your choice of material to protect the kitchen walls above your worktop, bear in mind that some materials will show the dirt more easily. Some choices will be easier to clean than others and some options will be more robust and durable.

Let’s look at each of them in turn and what they can do for your kitchen design, both practically and visually.

We’ll also look at some splashback ideas and things to consider with tiles.


What are upstands?

Upstands are placed at the back of a worktop or countertop where it joins the wall, to protect it. 

An upstand creates a seal between the worktop and the wall. By doing this, no liquids can seep behind the cabinets.

Upstands are only designed to  protect the lower part of your kitchen wall as they are generally only just 12cm high. However, they do catch a lot of the day-to-day splashes and mess.

If you are generally fairly careful in the kitchen, this is probably all you need, to stop appliances banging against the paintwork. After all, upstands are much easier to clean than your kitchen walls.

You can combine upstands with tiles or a splashback above, if you feel your walls need extra protection. 

Standing out or blending in

Upstands are generally made out of the same material as the worktop. This gives them a seamless appearance and enhances the sleek lines of your kitchen design.

When deciding on your upstand material, you can either choose to stand out or blend in.

Most people choose to match their upstands to their worktop material. This creates a seamless design throughout the kitchen.

However, if you want your upstand to stand out, why not go for a pop of colour? A contrasting coloured upstand draws the eye around the kitchen and highlights the footprint of the space.

Whatever you decide, you may want to consider decorating your walls with durable or washable paint. But if your cooking and prepping tends to get a bit messier, it might be worth considering something more substantial, like a splashback.


What are splashbacks?

Splashbacks are much taller than upstands and may run the entire length of your wall, from the worktop to the overhead cabinets or shelves.

Alternatively, they can be located just in the areas where they are most needed, such as behind the sink and the hob.

Splashbacks protect a much larger area of your kitchen walls and are easy to keep clean and maintain.

Glass splashbacks are a popular choice, made from toughened glass. But they can also be made from the same surface as the worktop. Materials that work well for this are Dekton, Durat recycled plastic and recycled glass. And these are just a few splashback ideas.

Splashbacks can also provide a stunning focal point in a contrasting colour. Alternatively, for a more minimalistic design, choose a splashback that matches with your wall colour.


Tiles need no explanation! Ideal for a kitchen splashback or wall protection, you can really go to town with tiles and splashbacks in your new kitchen design.

Tiles are a stylish choice and can change the whole look and feel of your kitchen. They can complement the design, or create a feature or focus for your space.

Tiles and patterns

There are a myriad of tiles to choose from on the market, in different shapes, materials, colours and sizes. 

Different tiling patterns can add different dimensions to your space. For example, a vertical tiling pattern draws the eyes upwards and adds height to a room.

Hexagon or geometric tiles are another great way to add texture and pattern to your new kitchen.

Metro tiles are a timeless classic, but they can be arranged in different ways to create different effects. Neatly lined up tiles look fantastic in a country-style or more traditional kitchen, or a brickwork pattern can provide a modern industrial style.

Coloured tiles

Where tiles can add texture, they can also add colour. Tiles can be the focal point of your kitchen if you choose.

Where you are feeling bold or prefer something more subtle, tiles can add visual interest. even in a small surface area behind a hob or range. Chosen carefully, coloured feature tiles can really lift a kitchen space.

Don’t forget the grout!

You may just want to tile the area behind your hob and sink area, or you may decide to tile the whole space. But whatever you choose, it’s worth bearing in mind that tiles could be more difficult to keep clean, so pick the colour of the tiles and grout carefully.

Don’t forget about your grout colour when it comes to being bold. Simple tiles can be transformed into something truly distinctive using an unusual grout colour. A popular choice for grout is grey, which is great for hiding dirt and looks good for longer with minimal maintenance.

In conclusion

We’ve taken you through upstands, tiles and splashbacks, so you can see how they work in a kitchen design. Remember, you can mix them up and combine them as you don’t just have to choose one of them.

Have the confidence to find the combinations which works best for you. The only limit to splashback ideas is your imagination!

Need more kitchen inspiration? See our kitchen gallery or our advice centre for more ideas. 

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