Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does a backsplash provide an extra layer of protection for your walls from splashes and spills, it also serves as a stylish focal point in the kitchen. Installing a backsplash is a relatively easy DIY project that can be completed in a weekend. With some planning, the right materials, and these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to add a gorgeous, functional backsplash to your kitchen.
Selecting Materials for Your Backsplash
There are several options when it comes to materials for kitchen backsplashes. Consider the overall look you want to achieve, your budget, and how durable you need the material to be when choosing backsplash tiles or panels. Here are some of the most popular backsplash material options:
Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
- Pros: affordable, available in endless colors/patterns, durable, easy to clean
- Cons: can chip or crack, grout lines may get dirty
Natural Stone Tile
- Pros: elegant look, heat/stain resistant, natural pattern variations
- Cons: expensive, heavy, porous so sealing required
- Pros: variety of colors, easily wiped clean, reflective qualities
- Cons: tiles can crack or break, installation can be tricky
- Pros: modern look, very durable, easy to clean
- Cons: shows water spots/smudges, can dent, high cost
Metal or Mosaic Tile
- Pros: good for contemporary look, extremely durable
- Cons: expensive, harsh/cold look
Peel-and-Stick Backsplash Panels
- Pros: affordable, easy DIY install, removable, lots of styles/colors
- Cons: less durable than tile, doesn’t last as long
Think about your kitchen’s existing style, cabinetry, countertops and flooring when selecting a backsplash. You’ll want your new backsplash to complement the overall design. Natural stone, ceramic or glass tile offer a classic look, while stainless steel or metal suits modern kitchens well.
Preparing Your Kitchen for Backsplash Installation
Installing a backsplash requires some preparation of your kitchen walls and countertops. Follow these steps to get your kitchen ready for the new backsplash:
- Remove any existing backsplash by prying off tiles or panels with a putty knife or chisel and hammer. Scrape off remaining debris or adhesive with a putty knife.
- Clean walls thoroughly after removal to get rid of dirt, residue, or grease on the surface where new backsplash will be installed. Use a degreasing cleaner and rinse well.
- Fill any holes, cracks or uneven areas in the wall surface with spackle compound. Sand smooth after drying.
- Paint walls if needed with primer and latex kitchen paint for a fresh surface. Allow paint to dry fully.
- Clear countertops and remove any appliances or items on backsplash area. You don’t want anything to hinder your work.
- Gather all materials/tools needed for installation ahead of time, including tiles, grout, adhesive, grout sealer, sponges, buckets, trowel, spacers, tape measure, level, utility knife, caulk and caulk gun.
Prepping your kitchen properly before installing the new backsplash will help ensure it adheres correctly and looks perfect. Take your time with each step.
How to Install a Tile Backsplash
Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile backsplashes make a durable, easy-to-clean choice. Follow this step-by-step guide for properly installing a tile backsplash:
Step 1: Plan Tile Layout
- Measure the backsplash area and decide on tile size to determine how many you need. Having a few extra tiles on hand is recommended.
- Create a layout to see how the tile fits on the backsplash and where you’ll need to cut tiles. Avoid using thin slivers of cut tiles.
- Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout line width. Standard grout line width is 1/8 inch but can vary.
Step 2: Cut Tiles (If Needed)
- Measure and mark any tiles that need cutting to fit around outlets, corners or edges.
- Use a wet tile saw to make straight cuts through tiles. This tool gives the cleanest cut.
- Edge pieces can be cut with a tile nipper. Irregular holes are cut using a tile drill bit.
- Having a few extra tiles allows for any errors in cutting.
Step 3: Prepare Backsplash Surface
- Before applying tile adhesive, fill any voids in the surface with caulk or joint compound so the area is smooth.
- Apply painter’s tape vertically along the edges of the area to prevent adhesive and grout from getting on nearby walls or countertops.
- Mix up adhesive mortar, following product instructions. Apply evenly with a notched trowel held at 45 degree angle.
Step 4: Install Backsplash Tiles
- Working in columns from bottom to top, press tiles into adhesive and use spacers to maintain consistent grout line width.
- Cut edge tiles as needed and press into place. Check tiles are level with a long straight edge tool.
- Allow adhesive to cure fully (usually 24-48 hours) before applying grout. Follow adhesive product instructions.
Step 5: Apply Grout and Sealant
- Mix grout following package directions and apply over the tiles, using a rubber grout float. Push into tile joints.
- Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge frequently to keep it clean. Allow grout to cure per product instructions.
- Once cured, apply grout sealant to protect from moisture and make cleaning easier. Allow to dry completely.
And that’s it! With the tile backsplash installed and grouted, your kitchen has a stylish new focal point and extra protection. Enjoy your upgraded kitchen.
How to Install a Peel-and-Stick Backsplash
Peel-and-stick backsplash panels make for an easy do-it-yourself project. Follow this guide for installing a vinyl, metal or other peel-stick backsplash:
Step 1: Ensure Surface is Clean
- Thoroughly clean the backsplash area with soap and water first. Rinse well and let dry fully.
- Degrease the surface by cleaning with an alcohol-based degreasing solution. This helps the panels adhere properly.
Step 2: Measure and Cut Panels
- Measure the backsplash area and cut panels to size as needed with a utility knife.
- For corners or around outlets, overlap panels. Cut through the top panel so the bottom fits into place.
Step 3: Remove Backing and Press onto Surface
- Peel off adhesive backing partially to attach panels one by one. Remove as you go.
- Starting at one end, press panels firmly onto backsplash surface. Smooth out any air pockets or bumps.
Step 4: Seal Edges
- At top and side edges of the backsplash, apply clear caulk to seal panels and provide a finished look. Smooth with finger.
- Wipe away any excess caulk with a damp cloth before drying. Allow caulk to dry completely.
- Enjoy your stylish, low-maintenance peel-and-stick backsplash makeover!
How to Add Backsplash Behind Stove
The area behind a kitchen stove tends to get messy from splatters and spills. Follow this guide to install stove backsplash protection:
Prepare Stove/Wall Area
- Unplug stove and pull out from wall to access backsplash area. Use level to ensure it’s properly aligned when replacing.
- Clean wall surface thoroughly behind stove with degreasing cleaner to remove residue. Rinse and let dry.
- Measure area to be covered by backsplash. Include a few extra inches beyond edges of stove.
- Purchase tiles, panels or metal slightly larger than measurements to provide full coverage.
Cut Backsplash to Fit
- For tile, measure and mark pieces to fit space. Cut with wet saw. Peel-and-stick panels can be cut with utility knife.
- Cut metal backsplash pieces to size with tin snips. Hem edges with crimping tool for clean finish.
- For tile, apply adhesive mortar with notched trowel and press tiles into place. Grout once cured.
- Peel adhesive backing on panels and firmly adhere to wall.
- Use adhesive or double-sided tape to attach metal backsplash pieces. Secure top edge with trim.
- Slide stove back into place against new backsplash. Provides stylish protection from spills!
Installing backsplash behind your stove keeps this high-use area protected. Choose material that can handle heat and cleanups easily.
FAQs About Adding Kitchen Backsplash
What are some tips for selecting a backsplash color?
- Consider the color scheme in your kitchen cabinets, countertops, floors and walls. Contrasting or coordinating colors work well.
- Look at the undertones in your cabinetry and counters to determine which backsplash shades will pair best. Warm woods look nice with warm backsplash tones.
- If your kitchen uses cool colors like grays or blues, vibrant backsplash colors can provide contrast while metallic tones nicely coordinate.
- Natural stone or ceramic tile backsplashes provide opportunity to incorporate multiple colors for a unique blended look.
What’s the best backsplash for a small kitchen?
- Solid colored tiles with thin grout lines help small kitchens look less busy. Minimal patterns are okay but avoid large tile designs.
- Small mosaic tiles or mini brick-shaped tiles are great for small kitchen backsplashes. Their scale suits the limited space.
- Mirrored or metal backsplash tile amplifies light to make a small kitchen feel more open. Glossy tiles also reflect light well.
- Low-contrast colors for your backsplash help prevent a closed-in look. Soft hues of the same color family are ideal.
Can you put backsplash over existing tile?
Yes, it is possible to install a new backsplash right over existing tile or another existing non-porous backsplash surface if the area is properly prepped. Here’s how:
- Clean the existing tile thoroughly and roughen the surface with sandpaper so the new tile adhesive adheres better.
- Apply a thin coat of mortar adhesive over the old backsplash. This creates a base layer.
- Allow that first coat to cure fully before applying fresh adhesive and setting new tile.
- Use a quality tile adhesive designed to bond well to multiple surfaces.
- Grout and seal the new backsplash tiles as normal once fully cured.
How do you attach backsplash to wall?
Backsplashes are commonly attached to walls using the following methods:
- Adhesive: All types of backsplash tiles can be installed using adhesive mortar applied to wall and backsplash pieces. Grout after curing.
- Screws: Metal backsplashes can be screwed directly into drywall or using anchor inserts in tile or concrete walls.
- Double-sided tape: Foam tape can adhere vinyl, metal or other backsplash panels easily without mess. Great for temporary installs.
- Construction adhesive: Can attach lightweight materials like beadboard or plexiglass backsplashes. Provides flexibility if wall surface isn’t perfectly smooth.
Be sure to follow the specific product instructions for the backsplash materials you choose. Some may have special installation requirements.
How much does it cost to add backsplash to kitchen?
The cost to add a backsplash can vary quite a bit based on the size of your kitchen and materials used:
- Ceramic tile: $7 to $20 per sq. ft. installed
- Glass tile: $15 to $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Natural stone: $40 to $100 per sq. ft. installed
- Metal: $15 to $30 per sq. ft. installed
- Peel-and-stick: $2 to $7 per sq. ft. for materials
In general, you can expect to spend $200 to $1000 for an average sized backsplash area of 25-30 sq. ft. Factors like special tile shapes or finishes, extensive backsplash height, higher-end materials and professional installation will increase cost.
Adding a backsplash provides the perfect opportunity to amplify your kitchen’s style and protect the walls behind a busy workspace. With many material options like tile, metal and peel-and-stick panels, you can find a backsplash to suit your budget and design preferences. Preparing the installation area properly makes a world of difference, allowing your new backsplash to adhere correctly. Follow the steps outlined in this guide closely and take your time to get beautiful, long-lasting results. Bring your backsplash vision to life and enjoy the new focal point in your kitchen!