How Hard is it to Install a Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can transform the look and feel of the space. However, many homeowners wonder – how hard is it really to install a backsplash? With some planning, patience and the right materials, installing a backsplash is a very doable DIY project.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a decorative, protective wall covering that is installed directly behind sinks, stoves, ranges and other kitchen fixtures that are prone to splashing. Backsplashes are typically made of tile, metal, glass or other water-resistant materials. Not only do they add visual appeal to the kitchen, they also prevent water damage and make clean-up easier.

Reasons to Install a Backsplash

There are several benefits to installing a backsplash in your kitchen:

  • Aesthetics – Backsplashes come in a wide array of colors, patterns, textures and materials. They are a great way to add personality and visual interest to your kitchen decor.
  • Protects Walls – Backsplashes prevent water damage and stains on the wall behind appliances and sinks. This saves you from costly wall repairs down the road.
  • Easier Cleaning – Backsplash tiles are smooth and water-resistant, making them easier to clean than drywall. Food splatter and grease wipes off easily.
  • Increases Value – The addition of a backsplash can increase the value and appeal of your home, especially if you choose a trendy or high-end material like glass or marble tiles.

How Hard Is It to Install a Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash is considered an intermediate to advanced DIY project, depending on the complexities of your design. Here are some factors to consider when determining the difficulty level:

  • Layout – A full wall backsplash is easier than one that wraps around corners or angles along the counter. Complex patterns and mosaic tiles also increase the difficulty.
  • Demolition – Removing old backsplash materials or wall layers like drywall can add time and labor.
  • Material – Ceramic or porcelain tiles are the easiest option. Materials like metal or glass require more precision. Large format tiles also make installation more challenging.
  • Experience – If you have tiling experience and access to the right tools, the project will be much more manageable. First-timers should expect a learning curve.

Overall, installing a backsplash is totally doable for an ambitious DIYer willing to learn. Patience and attention to detail are must-haves if you want it done right. Hiring a professional is recommended for complex designs or unusual materials.

DIY Backsplash Installation Process

If you’re up for tackling a backsplash installation on your own, follow this general process:

Gather Supplies

First, assemble all the necessary supplies:

  • Backsplash tiles
  • Mortar or mastic adhesive
  • Grout
  • Trowel for spreading adhesive
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter (if needed)
  • Mixing bucket
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Grout sealer
  • Caulk
  • Utility knife
  • Carpenter’s square

Prepare the Surface

Proper prep work is crucial for a long-lasting backsplash installation.

  • Remove existing backsplash if there is one
  • Clean the wall thoroughly
  • Fill any holes or uneven spots with spackle
  • Sand until smooth
  • Apply primer if painting

Plan Your Layout

  • Measure the area and sketch your backsplash design.
  • Plan the tile layout, spacing and pattern.
  • Dry fit tiles and cut any edge pieces as needed before installation.

Apply the Adhesive

  • Spread mastic adhesive evenly across the installation area using a notched trowel.
  • Press tiles into the adhesive firmly. Use spacers between tiles.
  • Allow adhesive to cure fully before grouting.

Grout and Seal

  • Push grout evenly into tile joints using a rubber grout float.
  • Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge.
  • Seal grout lines with grout sealer once cured.

Finish and Clean

  • Remove spacers between tiles.
  • Caulk edge seams where the backsplash meets countertops, walls, etc.
  • Clean tiles thoroughly with a pH-neutral cleaner.

And that’s it! Follow these steps correctly and you’ll have a gorgeous, functional backsplash that elevates your whole kitchen.

Tips for an Easier Installation

Here are some tips to make a DIY backsplash installation go smoothly:

  • Carefully read all manufacturer’s instructions for adhesives, grout, etc.
  • Start small – tackle a backsplash behind the stove first before an entire wall.
  • Use painter’s tape outlines and gridlines to keep tiles straight and evenly spaced.
  • Apply a sealant to natural stone tiles to prevent staining and marks.
  • Work in small sections to avoid adhesive drying out before tiles are placed.
  • Let adhesive and grout fully cure before removing spacers or cleaning tiles.
  • Use a tile wet saw for intricate cuts and shaping around outlets or edges.
  • Enlist a helper to hold heavy wall tiles as you work.
  • Don’t rush! Go slowly and double check your work.

When to Hire a Professional

DIYers should consider hiring a professional tile installer for:

  • Large backsplash projects
  • Complicated designs like mosaics or multilevel installations
  • Natural stone tiles like marble or travertine which can stain
  • Tricky kitchen layouts with uneven walls or obstacles
  • Limited DIY experience and tool access

Though hiring a pro costs more upfront, it saves headaches and prevents mistakes down the road. An experienced installer has the skills to handle difficult layouts and materials.

Maintaining Your Backsplash

Once your backsplash is professionally installed or your DIY project is complete, maintaining it properly will keep it looking fresh.

  • Use a gentle pH-neutral cleaner, not harsh chemicals
  • Re-seal grout annually to prevent stains
  • Immediately clean up any food, grease or soap scum
  • Avoid scraping or scrubbing too aggressively
  • Clean spills on natural stone quickly to prevent marks
  • Use caulk to fill any cracks or gaps that develop over time

With regular cleaning and sealing, your kitchen backsplash will stay beautiful and functional for years of daily use.


Installing a backsplash is an intermediate DIY project that adds function and style to any kitchen. With thorough planning, patience, and attention to detail, it can be a very manageable process for a committed do-it-yourselfer. Simple layouts and tile materials make the project less complex for beginners. Seeking professional help is wise for large backsplash installations or complex designs. Follow proper maintenance and your new backsplash will withstand heavy use. Achieving the look of a designer kitchen doesn’t have to break the bank if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease.