Renovating your home can quickly become overwhelming when you are not sure what order to do each project in.
Doing everything in the best order reduces the amount of work and prevents big mistakes.
When it comes to the kitchen, many homeowners want to know if they should install their backsplash before the countertops.
Usually, no, the backsplash should not be installed before the countertops. A countertop needs to be placed in an exact position, whereas the backsplash has more flexibility, so it is typically much easier to install the countertops first. Some people do install a bolder backsplash first.
Keep reading to learn more about why the countertops should be installed first, as well as why there is an exception where some homeowners install the backsplash first.
Why You Should Install the Countertops Before Backsplash
Nine times out of ten, it will make more sense for you to install the countertops before the backsplash, as it will make the entire process easier in a few ways.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.
The countertop should almost always be installed first for the following reasons:
Countertops Need Exact Placement
Your countertops will need to be placed in their exact locations against the walls and on top of counters to keep their weight distributed properly and keep them all looking even.
This is so important that if a countertop is slightly off in dimensions, it must be fixed to prevent future problems.
If you were to install the backsplash first, you would have to predict where exactly the countertops are supposed to sit, which is difficult, stressful, and unnecessary.
You will not have to worry about predicting anything if you simply have the countertops installed first.
Countertops Are a Bigger Visual Lead
Most homeowners choose to install a countertop that is more visually interesting than the backsplash.
If both were to have intricate looks, they would clash and be very difficult to make sense of.
Basically, the kitchen would look too chaotic.
Since the countertop has to be placed exactly and it takes up more surface area, many people choose to install it first and make it the more visually complex focus.
After installing something like a patterned marble, for example, you could then select a backsplash that is simpler in design and neutral in color.
Countertops Protect the Cabinets
Not only does installing the countertops first eliminate the need to predict where they are supposed to go, it also makes it so that you will not have to worry about grout or other liquids dripping down into the cabinets as you have the backsplash installed.
The countertops will act as a buffer as you work on installing the backsplash, which is simply physics. Since the backsplash is being applied to a vertical plane, some dripping is more or less unavoidable.
The horizontal plane of the countertop keeps this drippage from going too far and making a bigger mess.
When You Could Install the Backsplash Before Countertops
Although it does normally make more sense to install the countertops first, in this one scenario, it can actually be better to install the backsplash before the countertops, especially if an expert is doing all of the work.
You could have the backsplash installed first in the following situation:
If the Backsplash is the Visual Lead
Starting with the backsplash is possible if you would rather have a more visually complex backsplash paired with a simpler countertop.
Many contractors will install a stone backsplash before the countertops to ensure that everything lines up visually.
Tips for Installing Countertops and Backsplash
In addition to the information above, the following advice should be considered as you are in the process of creating your dream kitchen.
These tips will help you with your renovation project:
Be Sure to Plan Ahead
While most people install the countertops before the backsplash because it creates less work for them, you will want to decide if the countertops or the backsplash are going to be your visual focus before you make any other choices.
Once you have your complex design for one and your simpler design for the other, you can have the more visually interesting element installed first.
Then, if the simpler one does not quite match, you can choose a different subtle backsplash or countertop that will match.
Use Caulk Between Countertop and Backsplash
You will be using grout for the majority of installing the countertop and the backsplash, and it is tempting to seal the seam between them with more grout, but it is better to seal this seam with caulk.
Caulk is less likely to crack in this area from stress, though you will want to try to find a silicone or water-based caulk that matches the color of your grout.
Although you could install the backsplash before the countertops, unless your backsplash is much bolder than the countertops you wish to install, it makes more sense to have the countertops put in first.
Even if your backsplash is more visually complex, you will probably want to have a skilled contractor installing it first.
Otherwise, you will have a much easier time installing the countertops first, as you will not need to worry about predicting exactly where they need to go.
Having the countertops installed before the backsplash also makes it easier to protect the interior of your cabinets and other surfaces from drippage as you work on the backsplash.