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

I’ll often get asked to explain the different kitchen terms I use with clients on a day-to-day basis. With so many items, accessories and unique words, you otherwise wouldn’t come across, it can all get a bit confusing.

So, in this post, I’ll explain what an upstand is and what its purpose is as well as show some images giving examples and different design options.

Let’s get into it!

What Is An Upstand?

An upstand is a border strip of material, usually the same material your kitchen worktop is made from, that sits upright 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 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, but 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 a 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 behind the hob only. The rest of the kitchen wall area is painted with kitchen paint.

An upstand with tiles on-top behind a range cooker
Source: Neptune

An upstand with tiles on top behind a range cooker. As well as an upstand with shiplap on top behind the sink area.

Tiled down to the worktop. No upstand

Kitchen wall tiles down to the worktop.

Glass Splashback down to the worktop. No upstand.

A full-height glass splashback down to the worktop.

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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, will you include an upstand in your new kitchen?



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.