I will be hanging drywall and cement board on my kitchen wall before installing cabinets. However, I'm wondering at what height should the bottom of the cement board start. The base cabinets are 34.5" tall and the countertop will be 3cm (1.18"). I will be installing marble 3x12 tile.

My options appear to be:

  1. Start the bottom edge of the cement board behind the cabinets (approx. 32" from the floor)
  2. Start the bottom edge of the cement board at the top of the cabinets (34.5" from floor)
  3. Start the bottom edge at the height of the top of the countertop (approx. 36")
  4. Start the bottom edge a inch or so above the countertop height (approx. 37" to 38")

Does anyone know the height or general rule for where to start the cement board?

The cabinet layout will look like the following:

enter image description here

And the cement board installed something like this

enter image description here

  • Not sure why you are doing this- typically tile or stone backsplashes are adhered directly to the drywall. If you insist, then any of your options seem fine except option # 1 which, to me, could interfere with mounting your lower cabinets.
    – Kyle
    Commented Apr 13 at 20:33
  • Why make easy stuff complicated? Use the same drywall, no need for cement board for backsplash. Additionally backsplash tile can be mounted with mastic rather than thin set.
    – RMDman
    Commented Apr 13 at 20:36
  • I should have mentioned that I'm installing 3x12x0.5" marble backsplash tile and was told to use cement board. Otherwise I would have planned for just drywall.
    – slock
    Commented Apr 13 at 20:49
  • Cement board is needed if you are installing stone or marble tile on a floor. Not needed for the wall. I have installed plenty stone and marble tile over regular drywall when doing a backsplash or accent wall.
    – RMDman
    Commented Apr 13 at 21:11
  • On the contrary. Tile is an expensive finish in money and labor. Cementboard is a superior tile substrate (compared to tdrywall) that adds very little to the overall cost of the job.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 14 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


If it's covering the whole area you want to apply tile to, it does not matter how much it goes beyond that area. If it reaches from the countertop to the upper cabinets, you're good.

If you have several inches of overlap to play with, divide them in half and put half the overlap above, half below, perhaps, but anything that gets 100% coverage of the exposed wall you will tile is fine - don't overthink it.



I will answer this really really simple. Marble backsplashes were huge in our area ~20ish years ago and are picking up again. We have never ever installed fiber (I can lay out many reasons not to, can't give you one reason why you should).

You want your kitchen walls flat. Chopping up the walls with different substrate and mudding more is not easy or conducive to good cabinet installation. We try to mud as little as possible behind cabinets and you want to put a seam right on the edge? A huge huge seam because fiberboard to drywall is never easy/flat.

I have 3 guys I would consider master tilers and they do my showers and "fancier" kitchens. (I pay kids to put up the normal mosaic sheets) All three of these guys have never asked me to switch to cementboard for marble or granite. They use a white modified thinset so there isn't staining of the marble. Some of these installs were many many years ago and never heard of one issue.

The advice you are getting is going to cost you time and money and making the install worse.

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