Adding a stylish backsplash to your bathroom vanity can dramatically update the look of your space. With the right materials and some DIY know-how, you can install a backsplash in a weekend. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to add backsplash to a bathroom vanity.
Choosing Backsplash Materials
There are many options when it comes to backsplash materials for your bathroom vanity. Some popular choices include:
Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile are classic backsplash materials. Tile comes in endless colors, sizes, textures, and patterns. Subway tile, penny tile, and mosaic tile are popular options. Make sure the tiles are rated for use in wet areas.
Natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate can give a high-end luxurious look. Stone backsplashes provide a seamless, upscale appearance. Honed stone looks modern, while tumbled has more texture.
Metal backsplashes like zinc, copper, or stainless steel give an industrial modern vibe. Metallics add shine and reflect light well in small baths. Aluminum composite is waterproof and durable.
Glass tile or sheet backsplash can give a sleek contemporary look. Fused glass, clear glass, or colored glass come in exciting combinations. Glass is easy to clean and maintain.
For a reflective surface that visually expands the space, mirrored backsplash is an option. Use safety-backed mirror tiles or adhesive mirror sheets. Illuminate with proper lighting.
Water-resistant laminate sheets mimic materials like metal, stone, or wood. Affordable, easy to install, and available in many patterns. Great for renters.
Real wood adds natural warmth, but needs sealing. Wood-look porcelain or ceramic tile gives the look without the maintenance. Rustic, reclaimed boards make a charming backsplash.
Consider your bathroom’s overall decor style, needs, and budget when selecting backsplash materials. Visit home improvement stores to view samples in person.
Preparing the Vanity
Proper prep work ensures your backsplash adheres properly for the long haul.
- Remove existing backsplash if present. Scrape off old caulk and adhesive with a putty knife.
- Clean the wall surface thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner to remove grease, dirt, and soap scum. Rinse and let dry completely.
- Repair any damage to the wall like holes or cracks with spackling paste. Sand smooth when dry.
- Paint the wall if needed with moisture-resistant bathroom paint and let cure fully. This provides a fresh surface for the backsplash to adhere to.
- Measure the backsplash area and mark the midpoint. Use a level to draw plumb vertical lines at the edges and middle. This keeps tiles aligned.
How to Install a Tile Backsplash
Tile backsplashes require more skill and labor than other materials. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Plan the Layout
- Measure the backsplash area and determine the tile layout. Draw a diagram to visualize placement.
- Calculate the number of whole tiles needed. If partial tiles are needed, plan to cut border tiles to proper size.
- Mix tiles from several boxes together. Arrange a dry layout before installation to map placement.
Step 2: Prepare Backerboard
- Cut cement backerboard to size using a utility knife. Seal exposed edges.
- Apply thinset mortar to the back of the backerboard with a notched trowel. Firmly press and screw it into place.
Step 3: Apply Waterproof Membrane
- Cover the backerboard with a waterproofing membrane like RedGard. Use a paintbrush or roller per product instructions.
Step 4: Spread Thinset Mortar
- Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of thinset mortar on the backsplash area.
Step 5: Set the Tiles
- Working in small sections, press the tiles firmly into the mortar. Use spacers for consistent grout lines.
- Cut border and outlet tiles with a wet saw or tile cutter. Grind cut edges smooth.
- Let the thinset cure fully per manufacturer directions before grouting.
Step 6: Grout the Tiles
- Mix sanded grout per package instructions. Use a grout float or rubber grout tool to spread it evenly over the tiles, pressing into joints.
- Wipe diagonally across the tiles with a damp sponge to clean grout residue. Rinse sponge frequently.
- Remove spacers once grout has cured, usually 24-48 hours.
Applying a quality sealant is an important final step for a durable, easy to clean backsplash.
Installing Other Backsplash Materials
Stone, metal, glass, and other backsplash materials each have their own unique installation methods. Always follow manufacturer instructions. Here are some general guidelines:
For stone backsplashes:
- Use mastic adhesive for marble, granite, slate, or travertine. Apply to stone back and wall surface.
- Carefully set stones and tap gently to adhere. Use spacers and shims as needed.
- Let adhesive cure fully, then apply grout between stones. Clean excess.
For metal backsplashes:
- Measure and cut panels to size with snips. File cut edges smooth.
- Apply adhesive (silicone, construction, or panel tape) evenly to back of panels.
- Press metal firmly to the wall. Use a roller to smooth.
For glass backsplashes:
- Cut glass tiles or mesh-mounted sheets with a glass cutter. Wear safety goggles.
- Spread thinset mortar on the wall and glass backs with the trowel.
- Set glass tiles gently into place. Use plastic spacers.
- Let mortar cure before applying silicone or colored grout.
Always thoroughly clean the finished backsplash and seal as needed. Caulk edges with flexible silicone caulk. Finally, enjoy your stunning new backsplash!
FAQs About Adding Backsplash to Bathroom Vanity
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing backsplash behind a bathroom vanity:
How high should the backsplash be installed?
The backsplash should extend 4-6 inches above the top of the vanity countertop. Standard height is 4 inches. For a full wall look, take it all the way up to the ceiling.
What about the faucet – do I need to remove it?
If the faucet and handles protrude from the wall, you will need to detach them temporarily to install the backsplash behind and around them properly.
Should the bottom match the countertop?
The bottom edge of the backsplash can either sit flush atop the counter or overlap it slightly. Matching the countertop creates a seamless look.
How do I cut outlet holes in tile backsplash?
Trace the outlet using a template. Drill holes inside the outline with a diamond drill bit. Tap out the center with a hammer and chisel. File the edges smooth.
Can I install backsplash directly over existing drywall or plaster?
It is recommended to install cement backerboard before tiling over drywall. This provides an even, durable surface for the tile to adhere to long-term.
Is it cheaper to do backsplash myself or hire a pro?
DIY backsplash installation can save on labor costs, but keep in mind the rental fees for tools. A pro can complete the work efficiently if you lack the skills. Evaluate your ability.
Installing a backsplash behind your bathroom vanity elevates your space with style and protects your walls from water damage. With the right materials and preparation, it can be a relatively easy weekend DIY project. Just be sure to thoroughly research the process for your chosen backsplash material and take safety precautions. The finished result provides a custom, high-end look and improves functionality. With a small investment of time and money, your dream backsplash can be a reality.