How to Do Backsplash Tile


Installing a backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and protect your walls above countertops or sinks. Tile backsplashes come in endless design options, like subway tile, ceramic, glass, and stone. With some planning and effort, you can create a stunning backsplash that will make your kitchen or bathroom really stand out. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do backsplash tile.

Choose Your Tile

The first step is selecting the tile. Consider the look you want and how it will coordinate with your existing decor. Some popular options include:

  • Ceramic or porcelain: Classic, durable, and affordable. Available in tons of colors, shapes, and patterns.
  • Glass: Gleaming and modern. Glass tiles can be plain, textured, or even mixed with other materials.
  • Natural stone: Elegant and timeless. Options like marble, travertine, and granite make a statement.
  • Metal: Industrial chic. Metal tiles add shine and visual depth. Great for a contemporary style.
  • Mosaic: Artsy and eclectic. Tiny mosaic tiles form a unique patchwork design.

Think about the tile size too. Larger tiles are faster to install while small mosaic tiles create a busier look. Pick a grout color that complements your tile.

Plan the Layout

Decide on your tile pattern and layout before installing. A basic grid is the easiest option. Or get creative with patterns like herringbone or chevron. Use tile spacers to get consistent grout lines and plan any accent rows or border tiles.

Make sure to buy 10-15% extra tile to account for cuts, waste, and future repairs. Lay out your tiles on the floor first to visualize placement.

Prepare the Surface

Installing on a clean, smooth surface ensures proper tile adhesion. Start by removing any old backsplash and thoroughly cleaning the wall area.

Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Sand glossy paint to degloss it so the thinset mortar sticks. Prime porous drywall before tiling. Allow any primer/paint to fully dry.

Install the Tile

Now you’re ready for the fun part! Follow these steps:

  1. Apply thinset mortar: Spread it evenly across a small section of the wall using a notched trowel.
  2. Press tiles into place: Starting at the bottom, firmly press tiles into the mortar. Use spacers between tiles.
  3. Check alignment: Periodically check for even lines and orientation. Adjust tiles if needed.
  4. Let tiles set: Allow the thinset to cure for 24-48 hours before grouting. Remove spacers.
  5. Apply grout: Spread grout over the tiles using a rubber grout float. Let it sit briefly before wiping away excess.
  6. Clean tiles: Use a damp sponge in a circular motion to remove residue and haze once the grout has cured.
  7. Seal grout: Once cured, apply a penetrating sealer on the grout lines for added waterproofing.

Maintaining Your Backsplash

With the right care, your backsplash tile will stay looking beautiful for years. Here are some tips:

  • Use non-abrasive cleaners to avoid dulling or scratching the surface.
  • Re-apply grout sealer periodically to prevent staining.
  • Inspect for any cracked or missing grout and repair as needed.
  • Take care not to drop heavy objects that could chip tiles.

Installing a tile backsplash requires planning and patience. But the end result is a custom, eye-catching focal point that can really take your space to the next level. With so many tile designs to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect look for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions about Backsplash Tile

What type of tile is best for a backsplash?

Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone like granite and marble are ideal backsplash materials since they are durable, water-resistant, and come in many different sizes, colors, and textures. Glass tile can also make a beautiful backsplash with its reflective, glossy finish.

How do I cut tiles for my backsplash?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade specifically designed for cutting tile. Mark your measurements, run water over the blade, then cut through the tile slowly and steadily. Use angled cuts for edges and openings.

Should I use white or colored grout for my backsplash?

White grout provides a clean, uniform look and works with almost any tile. Colored grout can create a bolder, more unique style but is harder to keep clean. With light colored natural stone, use white grout to avoid discoloration over time.

How do I stick tiles to the wall without them falling off?

A strong tile adhesive like thinset mortar is necessary to firmly bond tiles to the wall. Apply it to the wall using a notched trowel, firmly press tiles in place, and allow proper drying time before grouting. This prevents tiles from detaching.

What can I use to finish the edges of my backsplash?

Bullnose tiles with rounded edges are ideal for finishing the top and sides of a backsplash. Metal strips and trim pieces also give a clean, finished look. For a simpler option, caulk where the tiles meet the wall or countertop.

How do I prevent my backsplash grout from getting dirty?

Applying a penetrating grout sealer after installation helps protect the grout from stains and dirt. Reapply yearly. Use a gentle cleaner diluted with water for regular upkeep. Avoid abrasive scrubs.


Installing a tile backsplash can definitely be a DIY project if you’re up for the challenge. With the right materials, preparation, and techniques, you can achieve beautiful results. Pay attention to the details of choosing complimentary tiles, proper thinset usage, evenly spaced tile alignment, and sealing the finished product. Your new backsplash will not only enhance your space visually but also improve functionality by protecting the walls. With proper care, it will stay looking freshly installed for years of enjoyment.