Can You Put Backsplash on Textured Wall?

What is a Textured Wall Surface?

A textured wall has an uneven, non-smooth surface texture. Some examples of textured wall finishes include:

  • Popcorn ceilings – This spray-on finish has a bumpy, cottage cheese-like appearance.
  • Knockdown texture – A wall texture created by knocking down high points in joint compound with a trowel to create valleys and peaks.
  • Skip trowel – A heavily textured finish that resembles stucco, created by an irregular trowel motion.
  • Orange peel – Resembles the texture of an orange peel and is applied with a special spray gun.
  • Sand finish – Fine sand is mixed into paint or joint compound to create a gritty texture.

Textured walls became popular in the 1970s and 80s as a way to hide imperfections in drywall installation. However, they can complicate the installation of backsplash tile.

Challenges of Installing Backsplash on Textured Walls

Installing backsplash tile on a textured wall presents a few problems:

  • Uneven surface – The peaks and valleys of a textured wall are difficult to flatten out, which can lead to an uneven backsplash installation. This may result in cracking grout and tile.
  • Lack of adhesion – Tile mortar has difficulty bonding to the irregular surface, increasing the chance of tiles becoming loose or detached over time.
  • Visible texture – The wall texture will still be somewhat visible underneath translucent glass, stone, or marble backsplash tiles. This can create an unattractive or disrupted visual effect.
  • Extra preparation work – Textured walls will need more smoothing and flattening before backsplash installation, increasing necessary labor and materials.

Solutions for Installing Backsplash on Textured Walls

Although challenging, it is possible to install a backsplash on a textured wall surface successfully. Here are some solutions to overcome the difficulties:

Skim Coat Over the Texture

Apply a thin layer of joint compound or plaster over the textured wall to create a smooth, even surface for the backsplash tiles to adhere to. Allow the skim coat to fully dry before installing the backsplash.

Use a Membrane Between the Tile and Wall

Installing a membrane, such as cement backerboard, provides an intermediary layer for the backsplash tiles to stick to, rather than directly onto the textured wall. This creates a more stable surface for installation.

Consider Larger Format Tiles

Larger format backsplash tiles are less likely to become detached from an uneven wall surface than small mosaics or tiles. 12 x 24 inch subway tiles or 6 x 12 inch rectangles are a good minimum size.

Use a High Quality Mortar

A premium polymer-modified thinset mortar will grip better on a textured wall and provide a superior bond. This reduces the chance of tile detachment or cracked grout joints.

Seal the Textured Wall First

Applying a masonry sealer to the textured wall before backsplash installation will firm up the surface, allowing for better adhesion.

Opt for a Painted Backsplash

A painted backsplash sanded smooth presents the easiest solution for getting an attractive, protective backsplash on a textured wall. Use a high quality primer and paint formulated for kitchen and bathroom use.

Preparing and Installing the Backsplash

Once you’ve selected the right backsplash materials and solutions for your textured wall, careful preparation and installation is crucial for success. Here are some key tips for the process:

  • Clean the textured wall thoroughly before starting.
  • Apply sealer or skim coat evenly over the entire surface. Allow complete drying before the next steps.
  • Use modified thinset mortar suitable for textured wall application.
  • Spread mortar evenly with the proper trowel size and maintain even depth and coverage.
  • Press tiles firmly into the mortar for maximum adhesion. Use tile spacers for consistent joints.
  • Check for evenness and flatness as you go to ensure proper installation over the texture.
  • Allow tile mortar to fully cure before grouting the joints.
  • Select high performance grout designed for wet, uneven substrates.
  • Apply grout carefully over the existing texture using a grout float. Clean thoroughly.
  • Caulk edges with flexible, waterproof caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop or cabinets.

Maintenance Tips for Backsplash on Textured Wall

Once your backsplash tile is successfully installed on your textured wall, follow these tips to keep it looking great:

  • Use a gentle, pH-neutral cleaner formulated for natural stone if you have a stone backsplash.
  • Re-apply grout sealer periodically to protect grout joints from moisture damage.
  • Inspect for any loose, cracked, or detached tiles and re-adhere promptly to prevent further issues.
  • Take extra care cleaning around textured areas to avoid catching the grout joints or edges of tiles.
  • Caulk any new gaps that appear between the tile and countertop or cabinets to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • Consider re-painting a painted backsplash periodically to keep it looking fresh and touch up any problem spots from splashes.


While backsplash installation on heavily textured walls requires special consideration, it can absolutely be done successfully with the right combination of preparation, materials, and technique. Carefully smoothing and flattening the wall, selecting the appropriate backsplash materials, using high quality setting mortars and grouts, and meticulous installation will result in a long-lasting, beautiful backsplash that provides elegance and functionality. With proper maintenance and care, your backsplash can continue enhancing your kitchen or bath for many years before any renovation of the existing textured wall may be required.

Can You Put Backsplash on Textured Wall? – FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about installing backsplash tile on textured walls:

Q: What type of backsplash tiles work best on textured walls?

A: Large format tiles at least 4 inches by 4 inches are best. Solid natural stone, marble, or glass tiles mask texture better than small mosaics. Avoid glossy tiles which reflect more. Matte finishes help hide underlying texture.

Q: Can I install subway tile backsplash on an orange peel textured wall?

A: Yes, subway tiles can work but cement backerboard should be installed first to provide a smooth surface for the tile. Use a high quality thinset mortar and take care to flatten any high points in the texture so tiles don’t pop off.

Q: Should I remove a knockdown ceiling texture before installing backsplash?

A: For best results, it’s advisable to skim coat over the knockdown texture with joint compound to flatten it before installing the backsplash. Removing the texture entirely is difficult and damages the wall surface.

Q: What membrane can I install to allow backsplash on popcorn ceiling?

A: Both cement and fiberglass backerboard panels create a more stable subsurface for the backsplash over heavily textured popcorn ceilings. Make sure to secure them properly.

Q: Can I use glue on backsplash tiles for textured wall?

A: Adhesive is not recommended. Always use a quality thinset mortar rated for use on uneven, textured surfaces so the backsplash bonds securely long-term.

Q: How do I grout backsplash tiles on irregular textured wall?

A: Use a grout float to spread grout carefully over the texture for the smoothest finish. Avoid smearing. Check for voids and fill them. Use a flexible, stain-resistant epoxy grout if needed.

Q: Should I texture the wall under backsplash tiles for easier installation?

A: No, adding texture under backsplash makes application harder. The backsplash surface should be as smooth and flat as possible for proper thinset mortar adhesion and easiest tile installation.


Installing backsplash on a textured wall surface is certainly doable with careful planning, preparation, materials selection, and installation techniques. Always consult manufacturer guidelines and enlist professional help for best results. With patience and care, you can achieve a stunning, functional backsplash over existing wall textures that will stand the test of time.