A backsplash is a vertical surface installed on the wall behind a sink, stove, countertop or other work area in kitchens or bathrooms. Backsplashes serve both decorative and functional purposes, protecting the walls from water damage, stains and splatters while also adding visual interest to the space. With the wide range of affordable and easy-to-install backsplash materials available today, it’s simpler than ever for DIYers to add this important finishing touch to their rooms. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the process of how to do an easy backsplash installation that can quickly update any kitchen or bath.
Selecting a Backsplash Material
The first step is choosing a material for your backsplash. Here are some of the most popular easy-to-install options:
Peel-and-Stick Backsplash Tiles
Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles have an adhesive backing, making installation as simple as peeling off the adhesive strip and firmly pressing the tiles to the wall. They come in vinyl, ceramic, glass and other materials in a vast array of colors, finishes and patterns. This removable, repositionable material is one of the easiest affordable backsplash solutions.
Faux Tin Backsplash Panels
Faux tin backsplash panels mimic the look of traditional tin tile in a lightweight, inexpensive material. The square panels lock together and mount directly to the wall with adhesive. This gives a vintage, rustic feel that’s easy to install.
Removable Backsplash Wallpaper
Removable backsplash wallpaper rolls or sheets can be easily applied right over existing surfaces. When it’s time to change the look, the paper peels off without damaging the wall underneath. Self-adhesive wallpaper is another effortless option.
Beadboard Backsplash Panels
Beadboard backsplash panels are available in plastic and wood materials. The simulated shiplap design snaps or locks together to cover the backsplash area. This charming cottage style is family-friendly and budget-friendly.
Laminate Backsplash Sheets
For a seamless appearance, laminate sheets can provide a backsplash in almost any color or pattern. The laminate adheres right to the wall and trims out with coordinating edging strips. Durable, moisture-resistant laminate offers the sleek look of ceramic tile without the difficult installation.
Preparing the Work Area
Once you’ve selected your backsplash material, it’s time to prepare the workspace for installation. Follow these steps:
- Clear the counter and remove any items from the backsplash area.
- Protect nearby surfaces like countertops with drop cloths to avoid damage during installation.
- Clean the wall surface thoroughly and repair any damage to provide a smooth area for installation.
- Measure the backsplash area and cut your backsplash material to size if needed per the product specifications.
- Apply painter’s tape to the edges of the countertop, outlets, cabinets and any adjacent surfaces you don’t want to cover.
- Have all necessary tools assembled and ready to go, such as a utility knife, caulk gun, grout float, etc.
Installing Peel-and-Stick Backsplash Tiles
Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles make an easy upgrade. Follow these instructions for a successful installation:
Step 1: Plan the Layout
- Measure the backsplash area and divide by the dimensions of your tile to calculate how many you’ll need.
- Map out the tile layout on paper, shifting arrangement as needed to avoid narrow cut tiles around edges.
- Cut border and corner trim tiles as needed.
Step 2: Ensure Proper Adhesion
- Thoroughly clean the wall surface with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry completely.
- Apply painter’s tape around the outer edges of the installation area.
- Divide the backing paper to expose just a small section of adhesive and press tile to the wall.
Step 3: Apply the Tiles
- Peel off more backing paper and firmly press tiles to the wall in your layout pattern.
- Apply even pressure across the entire tile surface for optimal adhesion.
- Continue peeling and pressing tiles, working in small sections.
- If tiles shift, gently pull up and reapply for proper placement.
Step 4: Finish the Installation
- Use a utility knife to trim any perimeter tiles to fit.
- Run a damp sponge across tiles to remove dust and debris.
- Allow to set overnight before use according to manufacturer directions.
Step 5: Seal and Maintain
- Apply a bead of silicone caulk around tile edges and let dry 24 hours.
- Check adhesive bond regularly and reapply tiles as needed over time.
- Clean tiles with mild soap and water; avoid abrasive cleaners.
Installing Faux Tin Backsplash Panels
Faux tin backsplash panels quickly provide an affordable, trendy rusted metal look. Follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Measure and Cut Panels
- Measure width and height and calculate how many full panels are needed.
- For partial sections, use tin snips to cut panels to proper size and shape.
Step 2: Apply Adhesive
- Run a bead of liquid panel adhesive around the panel edges and in an X pattern across the back.
- Follow adhesive directions for application and working time.
Step 3: Mount Panels
- Line up the first panel and press firmly on the wall, squeezing out excess adhesive.
- Align joint tabs and press the next panel into place, wiping away any excess adhesive with a damp cloth.
- Work outward from corner to corner, securing and leveling as you go.
Step 4: Install Trim
- Measure and cut aluminum trim pieces with tin snips and miter box.
- Apply trim over all seams and edges using panel adhesive.
Step 5: Clean and Seal
- Wipe away dried adhesive residue with a cloth.
- Seal trim edges with silicone caulk and wipe away excess.
Installing Removable Backsplash Wallpaper
For renters or those who want an easy backsplash update, removable wallpaper is a great solution. Here is how to install it:
Step 1: Prep the Surface
- Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth.
- Wipe away debris, dampen wall, allow to dry completely. Apply primer if needed.
Step 2: Plan the Layout
- Measure area and determine how many sheets you need per manufacturer directions.
- Draw plumb lines with a level to ensure straight application.
Step 3: Apply Adhesive
- Brush wallpaper adhesive evenly over backsplash area, following product instructions.
- For peel-and-stick wallpaper, remove backing to expose adhesive strips.
Step 4: Mount Backsplash
- Hang sheets edge-to-edge, smoothing out air bubbles and excess adhesive as you go.
- Use a plastic smoother or putty knife to ensure strong adhesion.
- Use a utility knife to trim excess paper at edges.
Step 5: Seal Edges
- Apply painter’s tape around all edges to prevent lifting or tearing over time.
- Brush wallpaper sealer along border edges for added protection.
Installing Beadboard Backsplash Panels
Beadboard backsplash panels provide vintage cottage charm in any kitchen. Here’s how to install them:
Step 1: Take Measurements
- Measure width and height of backsplash area. Mark plumb lines.
- Cut panels to size as needed with a circular saw.
Step 2: Join Panels
- Dry fit panels, aligning tongue and groove edges. Tap joints gently with hammer if needed.
- Number panels and disassemble. Apply wood glue to tongues and grooves. Reassemble.
Step 3: Mount Panels
- Apply a bead of silicone adhesive caulk to wall area where panels will sit.
- Press panels into place, wiping away any excess caulk with a damp cloth.
Step 4: Finish Edges
- Seal all seams and edges with silicone caulk and a caulk tool. Allow to dry.
- For decorative edges, install matching trim pieces with wood glue and nails.
Step 5: Seal and Protect
- Lightly sand any rough edges. Wipe surface free of debris.
- Apply two coats of water-resistant polyurethane, allowing full drying time between coats.
Installing Laminate Backsplash Sheets
For a sleek modern look, laminate sheets create a seamless backsplash surface. Follow these tips:
Step 1: Take Measurements
- Measure the backsplash area at multiple points to account for any unevenness.
- Cut laminate sheet 1/4-inch smaller than measurements on all sides.
Step 2: Prepare the Wall
- Fill any imperfections and sand wall until smooth. Clean thoroughly.
- Apply painter’s tape around perimeter edges to prevent adhesive dripping onto other surfaces.
Step 3: Apply Adhesive
- Spread thin, even layer of construction adhesive on back of laminate sheet with a notch trowel.
Step 4: Mount Backsplash
- Line up one edge and press sheet firmly to wall, smoothing outward while removing any air bubbles.
- Use a J-roller or hand tamper to ensure strong, even adhesion.
Step 5: Finish Installation
- Use a file to smooth cut edges. Apply matching laminate edging strips with adhesive.
- Seal all seams and edges thoroughly with silicone caulk. Allow to cure 24 hours before use.
Tips for Easy Backsplash Maintenance
Follow these tips to keep your easy DIY backsplash looking like new:
- Use mild soap and water to clean. Avoid harsh abrasive cleaners.
- Rinse backsplashes well after cleaning to prevent buildup of soap residue.
- Reapply caulk periodically to prevent moisture from penetrating seams.
- Limit exposure to moisture from heavy splashing to prevent damage over time.
- Check for loose tiles, grout cracks or adhesive issues and repair immediately to avoid further damage.
- Protect backsplash from staining by wiping up spills quickly. For tough stains, investigate stain removal techniques for your specific material.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of installing a backsplash?
Backsplashes protect walls from water damage, stains and splatters while also adding visual appeal. They reflect your personal style, are easy to clean, and can increase a home’s value.
What should I avoid cleaning my backsplash with?
Avoid abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, sharp tools, or anything that can scratch or damage the surface. Stick to mild detergent or specialist stone/tile cleaners.
How do I cut backsplash tile or other materials?
Use a circular saw with a finetooth blade for wood panels or laminates. Use a wet tile saw for ceramic tile or a score and snap cutter for glass. Use tin snips for metal panels.
What kind of caulk should I use to seal and grout?
For kitchens, use mildew-resistant silicone caulk rated for high temperatures. Make sure it matches the color of your grout. For bathrooms, use standard silicone.
How long does backsplash installation take?
Installation time varies based on size of the area and complexity of the design. Peel-and-stick tiles can be installed in a few hours. Beadboard or laminate may take an afternoon. Plan a full day or weekend for tile.
Adding a backsplash is one of the easiest ways to update any kitchen or bathroom. With the variety of affordable products available today specifically designed for DIY installation, you can tackle this project in virtually any design. Just follow the preparations, measurements, proper installation techniques and maintenance tips outlined to achieve success. In just an afternoon or weekend, you can gain an eye-catching, mess-protecting backsplash and bring new life to your living space.