How Hard is it to Tile a Backsplash?

Tiling your own backsplash can be a satisfying DIY project, but it does require some tile setting skills. With proper planning and preparation, you can have a beautiful, high-quality backsplash that you installed yourself. Here is a comprehensive guide on how hard it is to tile a backsplash and tips for success.

What Will Make Tiling a Backsplash Difficult?

Several factors can make tiling a backsplash more challenging:

Cutting the Tile

  • Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles require a wet saw to make precise cuts. This saw is expensive and requires skill to operate safely. Cuts need to be accurate for the tiles to fit together properly.

Tile Layout

  • Planning the tile layout takes time and preparation. Tiles may need cutting to fit edges and openings neatly. The layout must be aligned properly starting from the center.

Surface Preparation

  • The backsplash area must be cleaned and sanded. Any wall imperfections can show through the tile. Proper adhesion materials need to be applied.

Proper Application of Mortar and Grout

  • Mortar must be mixed to the right consistency and applied evenly. Tiles need to be set in the mortar and spaced evenly. Grout also requires mixing and even application between tile joints.

Wall Moisture and Cleanliness

  • Excess moisture on the wall can prevent proper adhesion. Dust or grease can also inhibit bonding. The wall surface needs to be dry and cleaned before tiling.

Time-Consuming Process

  • From surface prep to cutting tiles and careful application of mortar and grout, tiling a backsplash takes much more time compared to other kitchen upgrades.

How Hard is it For a Beginner?

For a beginner with no prior experience, tiling a backsplash can be a very hard DIY project. Here are some key difficulties beginners will likely face:

  • Using a wet saw properly to make accurate cuts requires practice and skill. Tile can crack or edges can chip if cuts are imperfect.
  • Achieving a perfectly aligned layout is challenging for beginners. Even slight misalignments become glaringly obvious once tile is set on the wall.
  • Applying mortar and grout evenly and properly takes practice. Beginners often end up with excess grout needing cleanup.
  • Lack of knowledge on setting materials and prep work can lead to adhesion issues down the line.
  • Spotting potential moisture issues on walls and addressing them requires some expertise.

Without proper guidance, beginners attempting their first tile backsplash often end up with uneven grout lines, cracks, chips, uneven alignment, or other flaws that require redoing sections. The learning curve is quite steep.

How Hard is it For Someone With Some Tiling Experience?

For a DIYer who has some previous experience successfully tiling bathroom or floor surfaces, a kitchen backsplash project is moderately difficult. Here’s how it compares:

  • The smaller tile size is trickier to work with than larger tiles. Small backsplash tiles require more precision in cutting and setting.
  • The backsplash area typically has more edges and openings to tile neatly around. More planning and tile cutting is needed.
  • Vertical tiling requires getting mortar and tile alignment right, so the tiles don’t slide down. Some temporary supports may be needed.
  • Grout clean-up on a vertical backsplash is trickier compared to floor tile. The grout is more likely to smear onto tile surfaces.
  • The backsplash location requires extra care to keep the area around it clean during installation. Drop cloths and masking is essential.

With good preparation and materials, an experienced DIYer can certainly take on a backsplash tiling project. But the small scale and vertical layout do present some unique challenges versus other tile jobs.

Tips to Make Tiling Your Backsplash Easier

Here are some tips to make your backsplash tiling project more manageable as a DIYer:

Use a Tile Backer Board

Cement backer board provides a flat, stable, and moisture-resistant surface for backsplash tiles. Avoid tiling directly onto drywall.

Choose Larger Tiles

Larger tiles require fewer cuts and precision. Check that your layout doesn’t require many small cuts.

Layout Plan with Tile Spacers

Map out the tile layout and use temporary spacers to set tile spacing. This avoids alignment issues.

Practice Cuts on Scrap Tile

Use spare tiles to practice straight cuts. Make sure you have the proper blade. Take it slow.

Apply Mortar Evenly in Small Sections

Don’t spread out mortar too far ahead. Work in smaller sections for even adhesion.

Clean Grout Haze Quickly

Wipe grout haze away before it dries using a sponge and clean water. Tiles will look cleaner.

Allow Proper Cure Time

Don’t grout too soon. Allow mortar to cure fully over 24 hours before grouting.

Have Cleanup Tools Ready

Mask surrounding areas and have rags, sponges, and cleaning products nearby to keep the workspace tidy.


Installing a tile backsplash as a DIY project takes careful planning, skill with tools like a wet saw, and attention to detail. For beginners attempting their first tiling job, the learning curve can be quite steep. With some tiling experience under your belt and proper preparation, a backsplash project is very doable. To make the job easier, use large format tiles, create a tile layout, practice cuts, work cleanly in stages, and allow materials proper curing times. The result will be a high-quality, eye-catching backsplash you can feel proud of.