How to Do Backsplash Tile in Your Kitchen

Adding a backsplash is one of the best ways to update the look of your kitchen. Not only does it protect your walls from splashes and stains, but it also adds visual interest and personality. Installing backsplash tile may seem daunting, but with proper planning and preparation, you can achieve stunning results. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to successfully tile your kitchen backsplash.

Choosing Your Backsplash Tile

The first step is selecting the perfect backsplash tile for your space. There are endless options when it comes to backsplash tiles. Consider the following factors when making your choice:


Ceramic and porcelain tiles are popular choices. Both are affordable, easy to clean, and come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and designs.

  • Ceramic – Budget-friendly option available in glossy or matte finishes. Prone to chipping.
  • Porcelain – More durable and water-resistant. Withstands moisture and stains.
  • Glass – Elegant and modern. Translucent finish. Requires careful installation.
  • Metal – Bold statement piece. Stainless steel and tin add industrial flair. Prone to scratches.
  • Stone – Natural material like marble, granite, or slate. High-end look. Needs resealing over time.


Consider the overall aesthetic you want for your kitchen. Opt for classic subway tiles, handmade artisan tiles, or bold patterns and colors. Coordinate with your cabinetry, countertops, and decor.


Prices range drastically based on material and style. Budget $5-50 per square foot installed. Factor in additional supplies like grout and sealant.


Small mosaics create visual texture. Large tiles make a bold impact. Standard sizes are 1 inch, 2 inch, 3 inch, 4 inch and 6 inch.

Preparing Your Backsplash Area

Once you’ve selected your backsplash tile, it’s time to prep your installation area. Proper preparation prevents problems down the road.

Clean Thoroughly

Eliminate all grease, dirt and debris from your backsplash area. Degrease any existing wall tiles if installing over an old backsplash.

Remove Outlets

Take out any outlets, switches or fixtures in the backsplash zone. You’ll replace these after tiling.

Inspect Wall Surface

Look for any damaged drywall or uneven spots on your walls. Repair issues to create a smooth surface for your tile.

Install Backerboard

For best results, install cement backerboard over your wall studs prior to tiling. This provides strength and stability.

Plan Your Layout

Map out your tile layout based on the dimensions of your space. Account for edge tiles and corner cuts.

How to Install Backsplash Tile

Follow these key steps for a successful DIY backsplash tile installation:

Step 1: Apply Adhesive

Spread your chosen tile adhesive evenly over the installation area with a notched trowel. Cover only one small section at a time.

Step 2: Place Tiles

Firmly press tiles into the adhesive one by one. Use plastic spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines.

Step 3: Level and Align

As you go, use a level and straightedge to ensure proper alignment. Adjust any crooked tiles.

Step 4: Cut Edge Tiles

Measure and cut L-shaped edge and corner tiles to fit using a wet saw or tile cutter.

Step 5: Let Dry

Allow the adhesive to fully cure and dry overnight before grouting. This prevents tiles from shifting.

Step 6: Grout Tile Joints

Mix grout and apply it over the tiles to fill joints using a rubber grout float. Wipe away excess.

Step 7: Seal Tile

Once grout has dried, apply a penetrating sealer to protect the finish of natural stone tiles.

Step 8: Caulk Edges

Use silicone caulk to seal any joints between tile and cabinets, countertops, or fixtures.

Tips for Achieving a Flawless Backsplash

Follow these pro tips for a seamlessly beautiful tiled backsplash installation:

  • Carefully plan tile layout to minimize small cuts and create a cohesive pattern.
  • Keep extra tiles in the event of breakage. Tile batches can vary slightly in color.
  • Use leveling clips beneath tiles to create straight lines and prevent lippage between tiles.
  • Thoroughly clean grout haze off tile as you go using a damp sponge.
  • Consider hiring a professional if dealing with challenging areas like outlets or tricky corners.
  • Use decorative accents like mosaic tiles, chair rail trim, or medallions to add interest.

Maintaining Your Backsplash

With proper care, your kitchen backsplash tile will maintain its beauty for years to come:

  • Seal grout periodically to prevent staining and resist moisture.
  • Use gentle cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals that can damage tile.
  • Immediately clean spills and stains to prevent absorption into grout lines.
  • Re-apply sealant to natural stone tiles as needed based on manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Inspect for any cracked or damaged tiles. Replace individual tiles as needed.

Installing a tile backsplash boosts style and function in your kitchen. Armed with these tips, you can tackle this project with confidence. Feel free to get creative with materials and patterns to design a backsplash that showcases your personal taste. With strategic planning and careful execution, you can achieve restaurant-worthy results in your own home kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions about Backsplash Tile Installation

What tools do I need to install backsplash tile?

You will need basic tools like a notched trowel, grout float, spacers, tile cutter, mixing bucket, tile nippers, grout sealer, sponges, and more. Specialized tools like a wet saw make cutting easier but are not essential.

What type of adhesive should I use?

Choose an adhesive suitable for your tile material and wall type. Modified thinset mortar adhesive is ideal for most tile backsplash installations. Mastic adhesives are only suitable for very lightweight tile material.

How do I cut the tiles to fit around outlets and corners?

Carefully measure and mark tiles to cut with a tile cutter or wet saw. Use a tile nipper tool to nibble small angled pieces to fit around corners and edges. Use silicone caulk around outlets.

How long does the tile adhesive take to dry before grouting?

Adhesive drying times vary, but you generally need to allow 24 – 48 hours of curing time before applying grout. Your adhesive label will specify exact time.

What is the proper way to apply grout?

Hold the float at a 45° angle and firmly apply grout across tiles, pressing into joints. Drag the float diagonally to remove excess grout. Wipe a damp sponge diagonally across the tiles to clean.

How do I cut glass tile?

Cut glass tiles with a glass cutter or wet saw using a blade designed for glass. You can also have glass tiles professionally cut when purchasing them. Take extra care when handling, as glass can crack and chip easily.


Installing a kitchen backsplash tile transforms the space from ho-hum to wow. With good preparation and strategic planning, you can achieve professional-looking results with a DIY installation. From selecting your perfect tile to expertly cutting and setting each piece, follow the techniques outlined above for a backsplash you’ll absolutely love. Roll up your sleeves, grab those tiles, and get ready to give your kitchen a fresh new focal point.