How to Attach Backsplash to Drywall

Installing a beautiful backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. But before enjoying that finished product, you need to properly attach the backsplash tiles to the wall surface. When your wall surface material is drywall, there are some important considerations to ensure a secure and long-lasting installation. Here is a comprehensive guide to attaching backsplash tiles to drywall.

Preparing the Drywall Surface

The first step is making sure the drywall is ready for tile application.

Clean and Sand

Wipe down the drywall to remove any dust or debris. Lightly sanding will roughen the surface so the tiles adhere better. Be sure to vacuum up any dust after sanding before moving on.

Seal and Prime

Sealing the drywall is crucial before attaching tile. Use a drywall sealer or primer designed for tile backing. Apply an even coat and let it fully dry. The sealer fills any pores and creates a uniform surface.

Check for Moisture

Excess moisture under the backsplash can lead to debonding. Test the drywall for any moisture issues and address them before adding tile. Let new drywall fully dry for at least one week before tiling.

Choose the Right Materials

Using the proper materials will ensure your backsplash holds up well over time.


While you can attach tile directly to drywall, it’s better supported with backerboard. Cement, fiber cement, or glass-mesh backerboard provides an even more stable surface.

Modified Thinset

Choose an adhesive mortar designed for drywall and tile. A lightweight, polymer-modified thinset works best. Make sure it adheres well to both tile and drywall.


Choose an appropriate grout for the tile material and space width. Unsanded grout works for narrow grout lines. Make sure it provides a waterproof seal.

Apply the Thinset and Tiles

With the surface prepped, now comes the fun part – laying and attaching the tiles.

Load the Trowel

Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of thinset adhesive on the installation area. Spread only as much as you can tile over in about 10-15 minutes.

Press and Set Each Tile

Firmly press each tile into the fresh thinset with a slight twisting motion. Use tile spacers for consistent grout lines. Follow the layout lines.

Check for Full Coverage

After setting a few tiles, remove one and check the back to ensure at least 80% thinset coverage. The mortar should fully grip the backside.

Allow Time to Cure

Let the thinset fully cure for at least 24 hours before grouting. Curing time depends on temperature and humidity. Check the thinset directions.

Grouting Between the Tiles

Once cured, it’s time to complete the job with grout.

Apply Grout

Use a rubber grout float or squeegee to fully work the grout into the tile joints. Hold at an angle to avoid dislodging tiles. Wipe excess grout off the tile surface.

Clean Grout Haze

Once the grout dries to a haze, buff the tiles with a soft cloth to remove any residue. Use a minimally damp sponge for stubborn haze.

Seal and Protect

After grouting, apply a penetrating sealant made for grout. This prevents stains and damage from moisture. Routinely reapply the sealant as needed.

Tips for a Flawless Drywall Backsplash

Follow these tips for the best results with your drywall backsplash project:

  • Stagger the backsplash tile layout for added strength. Avoid aligning the grout lines.
  • Cut holes for outlets and fixtures before attaching tile. Mark locations precisely.
  • Use a laser level or chalk lines to keep tiles even and properly aligned.
  • Plan out the tile layout and test fit pieces before spreading thinset.
  • Use caulk instead of grout for changes in plane, like countertop to wall joints.

With the right prep and materials, you can achieve a stylish, durable backsplash on your drywall. Just take your time and follow proper installation techniques. Protect your investment by sealing and maintaining the grout over time. Get ready to enjoy your updated space!

Frequently Asked Questions About Attaching Backsplash to Drywall

What type of thinset should I use on drywall?

Use a polymer-modified thinset adhesive specifically designed for drywall and tile. The polymers add strength. Look for terms like “flexible” and “fortified”.

Should I use backerboard over drywall?

Backerboard provides an extra-stable surface but isn’t required. For heavy tile or stone, backerboard is recommended. For lightweight porcelain or ceramic tile, quality drywall may be sufficient if properly prepared.

How long does thinset need to cure before grouting?

Check the thinset manufacturer’s directions, but most need 16-24 hours to fully cure before grouting. Make sure the adhesive mortar has dried completely and hardened before applying grout.

Can I use sanded grout for drywall backsplash?

It’s best to use unsanded grout for grout lines 1/8” or less. Sanded grout can scratch softer drywall if it gets stuck in the joints. Unsanded grout provides a flexible, waterproof seal.

Do I need to seal the grout on a backsplash?

Yes, apply a penetrating grout sealant after installation and routinely reapply per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Sealing grout prevents moisture damage, stains, and growth of mold or mildew.


Attaching tile backsplash to drywall requires some special considerations, like proper sealing and priming. With the right prep and quality tile setting materials, you can achieve a stunning finished product. Planning the layout, using backerboard, and expertly applying thinset adhesive all lead to success. Keep the tiles securely adhered by sealing and maintaining the grout over time. Follow these tips for a backsplash you’ll absolutely love.