Do it Yourself Backsplash Installation


Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. But many homeowners find the idea of installing a backsplash themselves to be daunting. With some planning and preparation, a DIY backsplash installation is totally achievable. Here is a comprehensive guide to walk you through the process.

Choosing Your Materials

The first step is selecting your backsplash materials. Some popular options include:

  • Ceramic tile: Classic and timeless, ceramic tiles come in a huge variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and textures. They are durable, easy to clean, and relatively affordable.
  • Glass tile: Adds a touch of brightness and shine. Glass tiles have high visual appeal but tend to be more expensive.
  • Stone tile: Natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate can create a sophisticated, high-end look. Stone is more porous than ceramic or glass tile.
  • Metal tile: Great contemporary option. Metal tiles can be prone to scratches.
  • Peel-and-stick tile: Budget-friendly and easy to install. Peel-and-stick tiles are not as durable as traditional tile.

Consider the overall style you want for the kitchen, your budget, and how much maintenance you are willing to do when choosing materials. Purchase a bit extra to account for broken or damaged tiles.

Gather Your Tools and Supplies

Installing a backsplash requires some specific tools and supplies. Be sure you have the following on hand:

  • Tiles and tile adhesive
  • Grout and grout float
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Caulk and sealant
  • Trowels for spreading adhesive
  • Grout sealer
  • Bucket for mixing adhesive
  • Sponges and rags
  • Safety gear like gloves, goggles, knee pads
  • Drop cloths or painter’s tape

Having all your tools and supplies organized ahead of time will make the installation process go much more smoothly.

Prepare the Surface

Before beginning installation, you need to make sure your backsplash area is properly prepared.

  • Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any old adhesive, grease, or soap scum.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and let dry completely.
  • Paint the surface if desired. Use latex paint for best adhesion.
  • Mark the tile layout on the wall with a pencil so you can visualize placement.

Proper prep work will allow the tiles to adhere properly.

Lay Out Your Tile Pattern

Now comes the fun part – deciding on your backsplash design! Sketch out tile patterns on paper first. Things to determine:

  • Standard grid or decorative pattern like herringbone?
  • Variety of tile sizes/textures or single type?
  • Accent tiles for borders or other focal points?
  • Placement of range hood, outlets, switches?

Don’t be afraid to get creative with shapes, colors, and designs. Just make sure your final layout is cohesive and well-planned.

Apply the Tile Adhesive

With your materials and pattern ready, it’s time for installation. Begin by applying a thin layer of tile adhesive to a small section of the wall using a notched trowel. Only apply enough adhesive that tiles can be set before it dries.

Press tiles firmly into the adhesive, using spacers between them to achieve consistent spacing. Work in small sections to avoid the adhesive drying before tiles are placed. Repeat process until the entire backsplash area is tiled.

Cut Any Custom Tiles

For areas around switches, outlets, corners, or edges, you’ll likely need to cut some custom tile sizes and shapes. Measure and mark tiles to be cut. Use a wet tile saw or manual tile cutter to make precise cuts.

Set custom cut tiles in the same manner as full ones using tile adhesive. Having a few extra tiles on hand allows room for error on any tricky custom cuts.

Apply the Grout

Once all whole and cut tiles are firmly set in the adhesive, you’re ready to grout. Using a grout float, spread grout over the tiles in a thick layer to fill in all seams and gaps. Work in small sections and use a diagonal motion.

Let the grout sit for a bit before wiping away excess with a damp sponge. Don’t let it fully dry or it will be difficult to clean off. Once grout has been applied to all seams and wiped clean, give it 24 hours to fully cure.

Seal and Finish

Apply a bead of caulk around the edges of the backsplash using a caulk gun. This helps seal edges and prevent moisture getting behind the tile. Wipe away excess caulk with a damp finger or sponge.

Last, apply a grout sealer as a protective barrier according to manufacturer instructions. This will help prevent staining and make grout easier to clean. Admire your handiwork and enjoy your stunning new backsplash!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the easiest backsplash tile for beginners to install?

Peel-and-stick tile is the easiest for DIY beginners to install. It applies directly to the wall and does not require special tools, adhesive, or grout.

How do I cut holes in tile for outlets and switches?

Use a rotary tool or small handheld tile cutter to score the hole and gently tap the tile piece loose. File the edges smooth. Be sure to turn off power when working around electrical.

What should I seal my grout with?

Look for grout sealers made specifically for your grout material. Common options are epoxy-based sealers for ceramic tile grout or water-based sealers for cement grout. Always follow manufacturer instructions.

How do I remove old backsplash tile?

Use a putty knife or oscillating tool to gently pry under tiles and scrape away old adhesive. Go slowly to avoid damaging the wall. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves during demolition.

Can I install a backsplash over existing drywall or plaster?

Yes, in most cases you can install tile or peel-and-stick backsplash right over properly prepared drywall or plaster. Just ensure the surface is clean, smooth, dry, and primed first.


Installing a kitchen backsplash yourself has the potential for significant cost savings versus hiring the work out. While it takes some planning, patience, and handy work, a DIY backsplash installation can give you the exact look you want for your kitchen. Follow the techniques and tips outlined here for maximum success. And don’t be afraid to call in some helping hands from family and friends to get your stylish new backsplash in place!