How to Do a Bathroom Backsplash


Adding a backsplash to your bathroom can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does a backsplash provide an easy way to incorporate color, texture, and personality into your bathroom, it also serves the practical purpose of protecting your walls from water damage and stains. Installing a bathroom backsplash is a relatively easy DIY project that can make a big impact. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do a bathroom backsplash.

Things You’ll Need

  • Backsplash tiles
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Trowel
  • Tile cutter
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Tile spacers
  • painter’s tape

Preparing the Wall Surface

Before installing the backsplash tiles, you need to make sure the wall surface is properly prepared. Follow these steps:

  • Clean the walls thoroughly – Use a multi-surface cleaner to remove any dirt, grease, or soap scum on the walls. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely. This allows the tile adhesive to adhere properly.
  • Remove existing wall coverings – If the wall already has wallpaper, paint, or another existing backsplash, remove it completely. Scrape off adhesive residue and sand the surface smooth.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections – Use spackling compound to fill any holes, cracks, or uneven spots so you have a smooth surface for tiling. Allow compound to dry completely.
  • Apply painter’s tape – Use painter’s tape to mask off any edges, corners, or adjacent surfaces you don’t want to get tile adhesive on. This makes for easier cleanup later.
  • Prime the surface – For best adhesion, apply a coat of primer to the entire wall surface where you’ll be installing the backsplash. Allow the primer to dry fully before tiling.

Planning Your Layout

Before you start tiling, take some time to plan the layout. Here are some tips:

  • Map it out – Draw the dimensions of the backsplash area including windows, outlets, or other fixtures. Sketch out your desired tile layout.
  • Select a focal point – Choose a decorative tile design or mosaic to serve as a focal point, like behind the faucet. Build the rest of the layout around it.
  • Choose grout lines – Determine the grout line width you want. Narrow grout lines of 1/8″ are common for small mosaic tiles. Wider lines work well with larger tiles.
  • Account for cuts – Try to plan your layout so tiles at the edges are cut to at least half their size. This prevents having many thin slivers.

Cutting the Tiles

Once you’ve planned the layout, cut your tiles to size using a wet saw or manual tile cutter. A few tips for cutting:

  • Make precise measurements and use painter’s tape to mark cut lines.
  • For openings like outlets, measure and cut tiles to fit around them neatly.
  • Cut border and edge tiles last so you can hold full tiles up to check fit.
  • Cut slowly and steadily for clean edges. Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.
  • Save unused tile scraps in case you need them for filler pieces.

Installing the Tile Backsplash

Now comes the fun part – installing the tile! Follow these steps:

Apply the Tile Adhesive

  • Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of tile adhesive on the wall surface.
  • Apply only as much as you can tile over within 30 minutes. Work in sections.
  • Use the trowel’s flat side to flatten and smooth the adhesive.

Mount the Tiles

  • Press tiles firmly into the adhesive, using spacers to ensure even spacing between tiles.
  • Work in rows, starting at the bottom. Apply force on tiles for maximum adhesion.
  • Periodically check tiles are level using a spirit level tool. Adjust as needed.
  • Allow adhesive to cure fully per manufacturer instructions before grouting.

Apply the Grout

  • Mix grout per package directions. Apply over tiles using a rubber grout float pressing into joints.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles with a damp sponge to clean grout residue. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Allow grout to cure fully before using shower. Apply grout sealer for water protection.

And that’s it – you now have a fully tiled, stylish backsplash that adds function and beauty to your bathroom! Proper prep and taking your time during installation are key for getting professional looking results.

FAQs about Installing a Bathroom Backsplash

What types of tile work best for bathroom backsplashes?

Glass, ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles are popular options. Mosaics made of glass or ceramic are commonly used. Choose tiles with a waterproof, non-porous surface.

How are bathroom backsplashes typically installed?

Most bathroom backsplash tiles are installed using the thinset method – applying a layer of tile adhesive to adhere them directly to the wall surface. Grout is then used between tile joints.

Should I seal my bathroom backsplash?

Sealing is highly recommended. It adds a protective barrier that prevents stains and damage from water exposure. Use a water-based sealer suitable for the tile material. Reapply yearly.

What about the area around outlets or switches?

Outlet or switch cover plates can be removed to allow tiling right up to the edge. Alternatively, measure and cut tile pieces to fit neatly around them.

How do I prep glossy painted walls for installing a backsplash?

Lightly sand to remove the gloss, then clean and apply primer to ensure proper adhesion. A textured paint may also need to be smoothed with spackle.

Can I install a backsplash directly over existing tile?

Yes, if the existing tiles are in good condition with no cracks or damage. Use a tile adhesive specifically formulated for tiling over existing tile surfaces.

How long does a bathroom backsplash installation take?

The total time will vary based on the size of your space, but in general expect the installation process to take 2-3 days from start to finish.


Installing a backsplash is one of the easiest ways to make a big impact in your bathroom. With the right tools, materials, and preparation, you can achieve professional-looking results. Focus on proper planning, precision cutting, and taking your time during the installation process. In just a weekend, you can have a stunning new backsplash that elevates the style of your bathroom. Don’t be afraid to add some personality by using unique tile shapes, textures, and colors. With the right backsplash, you can take your bathroom from drab to fab!