What Is An Upstand? (And Do You Need One In Your Kitchen?)

What is an upstand

What Is An Upstand?

An upstand is a border strip, usually of the same material your worktop is made from, which sits at the back of your worktop against the wall. They are typically 60-150mm high and 20mm thick.

An upstand running along the back of the kitchen worktop behind the sink
An upstand running along the back of the worktop behind the sink

What Is The Purpose Of An Upstand?

An upstand is used to create a seal between the worktop and the wall to help keep any liquid or crumbs from falling down behind the cabinets.

It also helps to make a neater finish against the wall if the wall isn’t dead straight (they rarely are) or if there are any small expansion gaps in the worktop.

Upstands can also protect the wall from splashes when cooking or washing up and are much easier to wipe down than the wall itself.

Lastly, an upstand can just be an aesthetic choice. Visually, it helps to blend the worktop and wall together to make a softer and more pleasing finish.

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What Is The Difference Between A Splashback And An Upstand?

Although very similar, the difference between an upstand and a splashback (or backsplash) is the height. Typically, anything over 200mm high is called a splashback, and anything shorter is an upstand.

Usually, splashbacks are used for the area behind the hob (and sometimes sink) where there is more chance of splashes from cooking or washing up. It protects the walls and makes for easier cleanup.

Splashbacks are often made from glass or stainless steel, but they don’t have to be. You can have a splashback made from the same material as your worktop or you could use tiles to create one.

The difference between splashbacks and upstands isn’t the material, rather the height and area it covers.

Kitchen with a full height splashback made from the same material as the worktop

Do You Put A Splashback Or Tiling On Top Of An Upstand?

This is down to personal preference, there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever you think looks and functions best for your kitchen and lifestyle.

However, personally, if I’m tiling or putting a glass splashback throughout a kitchen, I won’t have an upstand. If I’m only putting a small glass splashback or feature tiles behind a hob, then I’ll have upstands as well.

Either way, I want to make sure something is creating that seal between the worktop and the wall.

Another point to consider is that the depth of the upstand (which is typically 20mm) is usually deeper than the thickness of a tile or glass splashback. This will create a small ledge with the difference in thickness. There isn’t any problem with this, just something to be aware of aesthetically when making your choice.

I’ve put some images below showing different combinations of upstands and splashback, so you can see which way you prefer.

An upstand with a glass splashback on-top
An upstand with a glass splashback on-top
An upstand with tiles on-top behind a range cooker
An upstand with tiles on-top behind a range cooker
Source: Neptune
Tiled down to the worktop. No upstand
Tiled down to the worktop.
Glass Splashback down to the worktop. No upstand.
Glass Splashback down to the worktop.

Final thoughts…

There you have it! A quick and easy answer to a question I get asked a lot.

The only question left now is if you will include an upstand in your new kitchen.

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