How to Apply Backsplash


Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. A stylish backsplash serves both form and function – protecting your walls from splashes and stains while also acting as an eye-catching focal point. With so many materials and designs to choose from, it may seem daunting to know where to start. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps involved in applying a kitchen backsplash, from choosing the right materials to proper installation. With some thoughtful planning and smart techniques, you can achieve the backsplash of your dreams!

Choosing Your Backsplash Materials

The first step is selecting the right backsplash materials for your kitchen. Here are some of the most popular options to consider:


Tile allows for endless customization with colors, patterns, textures, and sizes. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are most common. Glass, metal, and stone tiles are also options. Tile backsplashes can be subtle or bold.


Natural stone like marble, granite, or slate brings elegance. Stone backsplashes are durable and heat-resistant. Their natural patterning has visual interest.


Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, or tin provide an industrial, modern look. Some metals like stainless steel are easy to clean and sanitize.


Glass tile or mirrored backsplashes open up a small kitchen with reflective light. Glass backsplashes are smooth and sleek for a contemporary style.

Consider the look you want and how the material fits your lifestyle and budget. Make sure to purchase a few extra tiles for future repairs.

Preparing Your Kitchen for Installation

Once you’ve selected your backsplash material, it’s time to get your kitchen ready for installation. Proper preparation is key to a successful application.

First, thoroughly clean the installation area. Remove any old backsplash, then wash the wall to get rid of dirt, grease, or soap scum. This allows the backsplash to properly adhere.

Next, make any necessary wall repairs. Fill holes, fix cracks, and smooth imperfections for the best backsplash appearance.

If outlets are inconveniently placed, relocate electrical outlets so they don’t interfere with your design. Turn off power at the breaker before doing this.

Protect surrounding surfaces with painter’s tape and drop cloths. This shields floors, countertops, and cabinets from damage during installation.

Finally, remove existing switch plates and outlet covers. You’ll replace these after the backsplash is up.

With these steps done, your kitchen is prepped for backsplash installation.

How to Install a Tile Backsplash

For many homeowners, tile is the most popular backsplash choice for its versatility and customization potential. Here is a step-by-step guide to tiling your backsplash:

Step 1: Measure and Mark the Area

  • Measure the backsplash area and sketch out your tile layout. Mark the center point.
  • Place a level line where you want the bottom row of tile to start.

Step 2: Cut the Tile (If Needed)

  • If edges need tile cuts for a custom fit, measure and mark tiles with a tile cutter.
  • Cut tile edges with tile nippers. File edges smooth.

Step 3: Prepare the Tile Adhesive

  • Mix thinset mortar adhesive according to package directions.
  • Apply painter’s tape “spacers” at tile edges for consistent grout lines.

Step 4: Apply the Tile Adhesive

  • Spread a thin layer of adhesive on the wall area, using a notched trowel.
  • Apply only enough adhesive that tiles can be set before it dries.

Step 5: Set and Apply Force to the Tiles

  • Press tiles into the adhesive firmly. Use a rubber grout float to apply pressure.
  • Check lines are straight and tiles are aligned. Adjust as needed.
  • Once in place, do not disturb tiles until adhesive cures.

Step 6: Grout the Tile

  • After adhesive fully cures, mix grout and apply to tile joints with a rubber grout float.
  • Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Once grout cures, caulk corner and edge joints.

Step 7: Seal and Finish

  • Apply grout sealer to protect from moisture and stains.
  • Replace switch plate covers and outlet covers.
  • Clean tiles with a damp microfiber cloth. Seal and polish as desired.

Follow these key steps, taking care with prep and alignment, for a stunning DIY tile backsplash!

How to Install a Stone Backsplash

For a natural rustic or polished look, a stone backsplash brings elegance to any kitchen. Follow these tips for proper stone backsplash installation:

  • Have stone slabs cut to fit your backsplash area by a stone supplier or home improvement store.
  • Prepare the wall surface by cleaning thoroughly and evening out any imperfections.
  • Apply mortar adhesive using a notched trowel. Check that it adheres well before applying stone.
  • Set the stone pieces in place, pressing firmly into the adhesive. Use spacers for consistent grout lines.
  • Let adhesive fully cure (24-48 hours) before grouting.
  • Grout stone with a latex-based grout, wiping away excess. Seal grout lines.
  • Use a grout release product to make grout cleanup easier if desired.
  • Seal and polish stone with specialty stone cleaners and sealers.

With proper planning to cut slabs and prep the wall, installing a stone backsplash creates a focal point that elegantly enhances your kitchen.

How to Install a Metal Backsplash

For a sleek modern or industrial vibe, metal backsplashes like stainless steel make a bold statement. Follow these tips when installing a metal backsplash:

  • Take exact measurements of the area for custom metal sheet sizing.
  • Clean and smooth the wall for proper adhesion. Fill any uneven spots.
  • Apply adhesive mortar to the back of the metal sheets, not the wall. This prevents excess oozing.
  • Apply metal sheets to the prepared wall area. Press firmly to adhere evenly.
  • If needed, use metal trim to cover any raw wall edges.
  • Use silicone caulk for corner joints and seams for water protection.
  • Clean metal backsplash with non-abrasive metal cleaners and microfiber cloths.

With sleek custom-cut metal sheets and careful caulking, installing a metal backsplash lends an industrial modern vibe.

How to Install a Glass Backsplash

For a contemporary kitchen, glass backsplashes create an illusion of expanded space with reflective light. Here’s how to install one:

  • Measure the space and order glass tile sheets sized correctly.
  • Clean and dry the wall area so tiles adhere properly.
  • Apply thinset adhesive to the wall area, not the tiles, using a notched spreader.
  • Arrange glass tiles in the thinset, using spacers between tiles.
  • Press glass tiles firmly but carefully to avoid cracking. Allow adhesive to fully cure.
  • Grout glass tiles with a specialty grout made for glass. Remove excess grout.
  • Polish and seal the grout according to manufacturer directions.
  • Caulk perimeter edges with a matching silicone caulk.

With proper prep and careful tile handling, a glass backsplash installs easily. The light-reflecting result brightens any kitchen.

Tips for a Successful Backsplash Project

  • Plan out your design and tile layout in advance on graph paper.
  • Gather all materials – tiles, adhesive, grout, spacers, caulk – before starting.
  • Always thoroughly prep walls so backsplash adheres properly.
  • Carefully mix and apply adhesives and grout according to directions.
  • Use release agents and damp sponges to make grout cleanup easier.
  • Take time with alignment and spacing to prevent uneven tile lines.
  • Seal and polish finished backsplash according to product directions.
  • Protect surrounding surfaces from damage during install with tape and drop cloths.

With careful planning, prep, and technique, you can achieve a stylish, quality backsplash that enhances your kitchen for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplashes

What is the best height for a kitchen backsplash?

The typical backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets. Full height backsplashes that go all the way to the underside of the upper cabinets are also popular.

How do I cut tiles for an outlet?

Use a tile nipper to notch out small v-shaped sections on tile edges to fit around outlets and switches. Take care not to crack tiles.

Can I install a backsplash directly over existing tile?

It is not recommended to install a backsplash over existing tile. Remove old tile completely to create the smooth, even surface needed for proper backsplash adhesion.

How long does tile adhesive take to dry before grouting?

Tile adhesive dries in 24-48 hours typically before grouting can begin. Consult the product directions as drying times vary by material. Do not grout until adhesive is fully cured.

Should I seal my backsplash after installation?

Sealing is highly recommended to protect the finish, prevent stains, and make backsplashes easier to clean. Use specialty sealers made for your backsplash material like stone, grout, or metal.


Installing a backsplash is an achievable DIY project that can completely transform your kitchen’s style with dramatic visual impact. With the right materials and proper technique, you can create a stylish, quality backsplash tailored to your unique taste. Preparation is key – approach the project step-by-step, giving care and attention to each process. Once completed, a stunning new backsplash will enhance your cooking and entertaining experience for years of beauty and functionality to come.