How to Apply Adhesive Backsplash


Installing an adhesive backsplash is a great way to affordably upgrade the look of your kitchen. Adhesive backsplashes come in a wide variety of materials like metal, glass, and acrylic, allowing you to choose a style that fits your kitchen’s aesthetic. Best of all, adhesive backsplashes are easy for DIYers to install as they simply stick to the wall with adhesive. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to properly apply an adhesive backsplash in your kitchen.

Choose an Adhesive Backsplash Material

There are a few common materials used for adhesive backsplash tiles:

  • Metal: Aluminum and stainless steel are popular choices. Metal backsplashes have a modern, sleek look and are very durable. Stainless steel is more resistant to scratching and fingerprints.
  • Glass: Glass tiles come in clear, colored, and even mosaic styles. They have a shiny, upscale appearance but are prone to chipping.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic backsplash sheets mimic materials like subway tile, marble, and stone. Acrylic is lightweight and very affordable.

Consider the pros and cons of each material for your own kitchen. Factor in elements like your cabinetry, countertops, and appliances. A stainless steel backsplash would complement stainless steel appliances, for example.

Prepare the Surface

Proper surface prep is crucial for the backsplash adhesive to bond well. Follow these steps:

  • Remove any old backsplash if there is one. Scrape off any leftover adhesive or mortar.
  • Wash the wall thoroughly with soap and water to eliminate grease. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Sand glossy painted walls lightly to allow the adhesive to grip. Wipe away dust with a dry cloth.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth when dry.

The surface must be completely clean and smooth for the backsplash to properly adhere. Check for any remaining bumps or debris and remove them.

Plan the Layout

Map out the layout of your backsplash tiles. Mark the center of the backsplash area and work outwards from there. If using rectangular sheet tiles, map out the cuts needed around outlets and corners.

Consider these layout tips:

  • Balance the tile layout visually on the wall.
  • Mix tile sizes or patterns for interest.
  • Align grout lines with cabinetry or countertops.

Having a planned layout will make the installation go quicker. Cut any specialty pieces needed beforehand.

Apply the Adhesive

With the surface prepped and layout marked, it’s time to apply the adhesive. Refer to the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. Here are some general tips:

  • Use an adhesive designed for backsplashes like silicone or mastic.
  • Apply adhesive to the back of the tiles with a trowel or putty knife.
  • Cover 80% of the backsplash tile’s surface area, leaving the outer edges adhesive-free.
  • Press tiles firmly to the wall immediately after applying adhesive.

Apply adhesive and set tiles methodically according to your layout. Don’t adhesive the entire wall at once or the adhesive can dry before setting tiles. Work in small sections.

Set the Tiles

Once adhesive is applied, carefully set tiles into place. Follow these best practices:

  • If needed, use painter’s tape to temporarily hold corners and edges.
  • Check alignment with your layout marks and neighboring tiles. Adjust as needed.
  • Use a small hand roller or the edge of a putty knife to firmly press tiles into the adhesive.
  • Make sure tile edges and seams are tight. Be extra diligent around outlets.
  • Immediately wipe away any adhesive seepage before it dries.

Work systematically to set the tiles flush and evenly. Periodically step back to check alignment and make any necessary adjustments.

Finish the Seams

For a seamless look, fill any gaps between the tiles. Review manufacturer’s recommendations, but typically:

  • Allow the adhesive to fully cure first. Check instructions.
  • Clean and dry the seams thoroughly before applying sealant.
  • Use a color-matched silicone sealant and apply with a steady hand.
  • Wipe away any excess sealant with a damp cloth.

Take your time sealing the seams for clean results. Let the sealant fully dry before use. Avoid abrasive cleaners near seams to prevent damage.

Enjoy Your New Backsplash!

With your new adhesive backsplash properly installed, you can now enjoy an upgraded, stylish kitchen. Just keep a few care tips in mind:

  • Use non-abrasive cleaners and soft cloths to clean the backsplash.
  • Avoid direct high heat exposure from pots and pans.
  • Re-seal seams periodically if needed.

Your smart investment in an adhesive backsplash will keep your kitchen looking fabulous for years to come! Let us know if you have any other questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does adhesive backsplash installation take?

For an average sized kitchen, adhesive backsplash installation may take 2-3 hours with proper prep work and clean up. Working in sections allows you to complete the project over a couple sessions if needed.

What tools do I need to install an adhesive backsplash?

Common tools needed are a tape measure, level, utility knife, caulk gun, trowel/putty knife, painter’s tape, sandpaper, and clean cloths. A mini roller can help smooth the tiles. Always safety gear like gloves and eye protection.

Should I remove my existing backsplash?

It is best to remove the old backsplash completely to get down the bare wall for proper adhesive bonding. Covering over an existing backsplash with adhesive tile can lead to future failure.

How long does the adhesive need to dry before sealing seams?

Check your adhesive manufacturer’s instructions, but typical drying times before sealing is 24-48 hours. The adhesive must fully cure to prevent oozing or product failures at the seams.

Can I install an adhesive backsplash over tiles or drywall?

Adhesive backsplashes can be applied over most drywall, painted surfaces, plaster, tile, laminate, or acrylic as long as the surface is properly prepped and smoothed. Avoid heavily textured surfaces.

What’s better: peel-and-stick or adhesive backsplash tiles?

Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles use a self-adhesive while adhesive tiles require mastic or silicone. Adhesive tiles form a stronger bond on the wall. Peel-and-stick is easier for DIY installation but may not last as long.


Installing an adhesive backsplash provides an easy and budget-friendly way to refresh your kitchen’s style. With the right prep work, tools, and technique, you can achieve beautiful results that upgrade your space. Just take your time following the adhesive directions and working methodically. In a few short hours, you can gain an attractive new backsplash with long-lasting durability.