How to Cover a Tile Backsplash

Covering an existing tile backsplash can update the look of your kitchen without undergoing a full remodel. Depending on your goals, covering a tile backsplash can be a simple weekend project or a more involved renovation. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to cover a tile backsplash in your kitchen.

Choosing New Materials

When deciding how to cover up your existing backsplash, first think about the look you’re trying to achieve. Consider the following popular backsplash materials:


Tile is a classic and versatile option. It’s available in a huge range of styles, colors, shapes, and textures. Tile backsplashes are durable, easy to clean, and resistant to moisture. porcelain, ceramic, glass, and natural stone tiles all work well. Match your new tile to your home’s aesthetic.

Subway tiles in white or bold colors give a timeless, clean look. Handmade art tile creates a one-of-a-kind backsplash. Mosaics make a big visual impact. Large format tiles like 12” x 24” are modern and sleek. For a truly custom look, mix and match tile sizes, textures, and colors.


Natural or engineered stone slabs make a sophisticated, upscale backsplash. Granite, marble, and quartz are luxurious options. They provide a seamless, elegant look. Polished stone offers smooth shine. Honed or textured finishes give more depth. The natural patterns in stone are unique.

Stone is heat-resistant and very durable. It’s easy to clean. Stone backsplashes work with traditional or modern designs. Go for a natural stone color like white marble or sandstone. Or choose an exotic, vivid stone like emerald green or bright blue quartzite.


Metal backsplashes are contemporary and eye-catching. Stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum are striking choices. Metal comes in tile, sheets, or planks. It has an industrial, sleek, and modern look.

Metal backsplashes are very strong, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean. Brushed or hammered finishes hide fingerprints and watermarks. Use metal backsplashes in edgy, modern spaces, or to brighten up a kitchen with lots of wood cabinetry.


Glass tile provides brilliant shine and reflectivity. It comes in every color and finish imaginable. Use large glass tiles for a seamless look. Tiny mosaic glass tile creates sparkle and visual interest.

Glass backsplashes suit contemporary, modern, and eclectic home styles. Clear glass maintains an open, airy look. colored, frosted, or mirrored glass makes a bold design statement. Glass is very easy to keep clean.


Painting over tile is the easiest, most affordable way to refresh your backsplash. Use high-quality epoxy paint formulated for tile and gloss finish for scrub-ability. White paint brightens up a dark kitchen. Deep colors like navy or charcoal gray are dramatic.

With painted backsplashes, prep is key– thoroughly clean and scuff up the tile so paint adheres well. Paint allows you to inexpensively change up the color scheme as trends come and go. Use painter’s tape and paint pens for a hand-painted tile look.


Wallpaper offers unlimited design options, from geometric prints to scenic landscapes. Self-adhesive wallpaper is easy to apply right over existing tile. Peel-and-stick wallpaper with a decorative metal or stone look update a backsplash affordably.

Remove wallpaper easily to change up the look again. Use wallpaper for a backsplash accent wall behind a stove. Combine wallpaper and painted backsplash areas. Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully for proper installation and removal.


Wood brings warmth and texture to backsplashes. Use real wood planks or veneer sheets. unfinished wood can be stained any hue. Distressed wood has casual cottage appeal. simulated wood-look porcelain tiles recreate the visuals with more durability.

Wood backsplashes pair perfectly with wooden cabinets. Use wood sparingly on the backsplash to complement granite or stone countertops. Wood backsplashes work in country, traditional, rustic, craftsman, or farmhouse kitchens.

Prepping the Surface

Prepare your existing backsplash tiles properly so the new materials adhere cleanly and securely. Take these steps:

  • Clean thoroughly – Scrub every inch of the backsplash with degreasing dish soap and warm water. Rinse and let dry completely. Remove any soap residue.
  • Smooth and roughen – Use 100-120 grit sandpaper to scuff up the glazed tile surface. This helps the new material or adhesive stick. Sand lightly in a circular motion.
  • Remove loose tiles – Pop off any cracked, chipped, or damaged tiles with a putty knife or chisel. Scrape off all old caulk or debris.
  • Fill holes and uneven areas – Mix epoxy filler per package instructions to fill any holes, chips, or cracks. Allow to fully cure and dry before covering. Sand smooth.
  • Prime – Apply a coat of primer specially formulated for tile and metal surfaces. This optional step provides extra adhesion for the new backsplash.

How to Cover with Tile

Tile over existing tile for a fresh new look while saving time and money on labor. Here’s how to install tile over tile backsplash:

Step 1 – Adhere cement backerboard

First, cut and mount cement backerboard over the entire backsplash area. Backerboard prevents warping and provides stability for the tile. Use screws to affix to the wall studs.

Step 2 – Mark the tile layout

Map out the pattern of your new tile. Mark the center point and work outward. Use spacers to account for grout lines and prevent uneven spacing or misaligned edges.

Step 3 – Apply mortar and set tile

Mix thinset mortar suitable for wall tile. Use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer on the backerboard. Press tiles into the mortar and wiggle to ensure full coverage.

Step 4 – Let tile set

Allow the mortar to cure for 24 hours. Use tile spacers to keep consistent grout lines. Don’t walk on or disturb tiles while the mortar sets.

Step 5 – Grout tile joints

Mix grout per package instructions. Use a rubber grout float to spread it across all tile joints. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrape excess grout off the tile faces with a damp sponge.

Step 6 – Seal and finish

After another 24 hours, apply grout sealer to protect from moisture and staining. Caulk the edges and you have a fresh new tiled backsplash!

How to Cover with Stone Veneer

Natural stone veneer panels are made from thin slices of real stone adhered to a lightweight fiber backing. Here’s how to install stone veneer over an existing backsplash:

Step 1 – Cut veneer sheets

Measure the backsplash space and cut veneer sheets to size with a wet saw or circular saw with diamond blade. Add 1/8” extra to all sides to account for mortar spreading.

Step 2 – Prepare backsplash

Clean and scuff up the existing tile. Fill any uneven spots with thinset mortar to create a smooth surface. This prevents warping or cracking of the stone veneer.

Step 3 – Apply mortar

Spread a layer of thinset mortar on the backsplash area using a notched trowel. Maintain a 1/8” depth for the veneer sheets. Work in small sections so mortar doesn’t dry out.

Step 4 – Set stone veneer

Position the cut veneer sheets on the mortar. Press firmly to ensure full adhesion and prevent air pockets. Use shims to maintain even grout lines. Let sit undisturbed overnight.

Step 5 – Grout veneer

Mix unsanded grout to match the stone color. Spread into the seams with a grout float or squeegee. Wipe excess grout off the veneer face with a damp sponge. Let dry completely.

Step 6 – Seal and finish

Apply stone sealer to protect the surface from stains and etching. Use clear silicone caulk in corner joints for waterproofing. Your new stone veneer backsplash is ready to enjoy!

How to Cover with Metal

Metal backsplashes add contemporary style and unique visual appeal. Here are some tips for installing metal over existing tile:

Step 1 – Select metal material

Choose brushed stainless steel, copper, or aluminum sheets. Also look at metal laminates adhered to fiberboard or mesh sheets for easy installation.

Step 2 – Cut metal

Measure and mark the backsplash area. Cut the sheets to size with aviation snips, a hacksaw, or a circular saw with proper metal blade. Wear gloves and eye protection.

Step 3 – Create finished edges (optional)

Use edge bending pliers to fold over sharp edges of cut metal and create a finished, rounded look. Or install metal trim pieces along the edges.

Step 4 – Adhere metal

Thoroughly clean the tile and apply adhesive primer. Cover the back of the metal with adhesive specifically for metal backsplashes. Carefully align and press metal sheets into place.

Step 5 – Grout seams

Where multiple sheets meet, apply clear silicone caulk to create smooth seams. Tool the caulk with a rounded object. Let cure completely before exposing to moisture.

Step 6 – Seal and maintain

Apply sealant made for metal backsplashes to protect from moisture damage or tarnishing. Routinely clean with mild soap and water. Enjoy your new metal backsplash!

How to Cover with Paint

Painting over an outdated tile backsplash is a budget-friendly makeover. Follow these tips for the best long-lasting results:

Step 1 – Thoroughly clean the tile

Use TSP cleaner and scrub brushes to remove all grease, dirt, and soap residue from the tile. Rinse thoroughly and let dry. Degloss with sandpaper.

Step 2 – Repair grout lines

Scrape out any cracked or missing grout. Re-grout if needed so the wall surface is as smooth as possible. Let new grout cure fully before painting.

Step 3 – Apply bonding primer

Use a high-adhesion bonding primer specifically for glossy surfaces like ceramic tile and metal. This helps the paint stick tightly. Do 2-3 coats, allowing drying in between.

Step 4 – Paint with epoxy enamel

Use semi- or high-gloss epoxy paint formulated for tile, metal and masonry. Latex or acrylic paints can peel off slick surfaces over time. Apply 2-3 thin coats with a brush, roller or paint sprayer.

Step 5 – Remove paint from tile surface

While the final coat is still wet, scrape excess paint from the tile face using a plastic putty knife. This prevents peeling. Let the paint in the grout lines completely dry.

Step 6 – Seal and protect

Apply two coats of clear polyurethane for added protection from moisture and scrubbing. Don’t use harsh cleaners – mild dish soap and water keep your painted backsplash looking fresh.

How to Cover with Wallpaper

Self-adhesive wallpaper, also called peel-and-stick, provides infinite design options for refreshing backsplashes. Here’s how to apply:

Step 1 – Clean the surface

Thoroughly wash the tile with TSP cleaner and rinse to remove any residue. Sand glossy tile lightly to help the wallpaper adhere. Fill any damaged areas.

Step 2 – Measure space

Determine the total square footage of your backsplash. Leave an extra 1-2” on all sides when cutting wallpaper to allow for mistakes and adjustments.

Step 3 – Prepare wallpaper

Unroll wallpaper face down on a flat surface. Use a smoothing tool to remove any air pockets or wrinkles. Cut to size with a utility knife and straightedge.

Step 4 – Remove backing

Peel off backing paper to expose the wallpaper adhesive. Take care not to let the adhesive side touch anything yet.

Step 5 – Apply wallpaper

Start in a top corner. Carefully align the wallpaper and press small sections at a time, smoothing evenly to avoid bubbling. Use a scraper to remove any excess.

Step 6 – Seal edges

Use a seam roller to adhere wallpaper tightly along edges, corners, and seams. Press out bubbles. Let sit 24 hours before exposing to moisture.

Step 7 – Remove wallpaper (future)

When it’s time for a change, carefully lift up a corner and slowly peel off the wallpaper. Remove any adhesive residue with mineral spirits.

How to Cover with Wood

Real or faux wood backsplashes lend cozy, natural style to kitchens. Follow these steps for installation:

Step 1 – Select planks

Choose unfinished poplar, red oak, maple, or birch wood in various widths. Or use wood-look porcelain planks for more durability and moisture resistance.

Step 2 – Cut planks to fit

Measure and mark planks to desired lengths. Cut with a miter saw or circular saw. Use safety glasses and sawdust mask. For a rustic look, cut planks into uneven widths.

Step 3 – Stain or finish (optional)

If desired, apply wood stain in your choice of color for real wood planks and let fully dry. Or use whitewash pickling stain for a worn, vintage appearance.

Step 4 – Prepare and adhere wood

Spread construction adhesive or thinset mortar on the backsplash area with a notched trowel. Press wood planks firmly into place. Use painter’s tape to hold wood in place overnight.

Step 5 – Seal and protect

Apply water-based polyurethane sealant to wood backsplash to guard against moisture damage and staining. Reseal annually to maintain the finish.


Does backsplash tile need to match the countertop?

Not necessarily. Contrasting tile and countertop materials can look very striking. However, keep in mind that matching finishes and colors will give the most seamless, integrated look. Using the same tile on both backsplash and countertop is a foolproof option.

Do I need to hire a contractor to install a new backsplash?

Installing backsplash tile or panels is definitely a DIY-friendly project for many homeowners. With proper preparation and care, you can replace a backsplash without professional help. Complex tile patterns or extensive electrical and plumbing work may require a contractor.

What tools do I need to replace a backsplash?

Standard tools like a tape measure, utility knife, caulk gun, pans for mixing thinset and grout, grout float, sponges and buckets are essential. A circular saw, jigsaw or rotary tool to cut tile, backerboard, or panels are also very helpful to have. Always use safety glasses and gloves.

Should I remove existing backsplash before installing a new one?

In most cases, it is fine to install new tile or other materials right over the existing backsplash. Removing the original backsplash takes more time and labor. As long as the current backsplash is properly prepped, the new one can adhere nicely on top.

How long does a backsplash tile installation take?

The project timeline can range from 1-5 days depending on the scope. Allow proper drying and setting time for thinset, grout and caulk at each step. Working efficiently, an experienced DIYer could tackle tile backsplash installation over a weekend.

Can I paint over glass tile backsplash?

Glass tile is very slick, so specialized etching solutions or abrasion by sandblasting is often needed for proper paint adhesion. An epoxy paint formulated specifically for glass may also work. Test paint in a small area first to ensure it will stick to the glass backsplash.

How do you update a backsplash on a budget?

Peel-and-stick wallpaper, tile decals, or stenciling and painting your existing tile are three wallet-friendly options for temporarily enhancing your backsplash without remodeling. Removable wallpaper or decals allow you to switch up the look as desired.

What’s the easiest backsplash to install?

Peel-and-stick wallpaper offers instant transformation without messy demolition or installation work. Self-adhesive penny tile sheets, metal laminates, or snap-together PVC panels are other easy DIY choices requiring minimal skill or labor to apply over existing surfaces.

Can I put new backsplash tile over drywall instead of cement board?

Tile requires a very sturdy base that resists moisture. Cement backerboard is specially designed for this purpose. Drywall alone does not offer adequate support for tile installation and can deteriorate quickly. Always use cement board behind a new tile backsplash.


Covering an outdated tile backsplash offers an affordable way to refresh your kitchen’s style. With proper planning and preparation, installing new tile, stone, metal, or other materials over your existing backsplash can completely transform the space. Use this guide to help choose new backsplash materials and master the necessary techniques. Take all safety precautions, work carefully, and your new backsplash will provide many years of beauty and function.