Installing a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can upgrade your space visually while also protecting your walls from water damage and stains. With some planning and the right materials, doing a backsplash yourself can be an achievable DIY project, saving you money compared to the cost of professional installation. Here is a step-by-step guide to teach you how to do backsplash yourself.
Choosing Your Backsplash Materials
When deciding on materials for your backsplash, take into account your budget, the look you want, and how easy the material will be to install. Some top options include:
Tile allows for lots of design flexibility with colors, textures, shapes, and patterns. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are most common. Make sure to use tiles rated for walls/backsplashes.
Natural stone like granite, marble, or slate can create a high-end, sophisticated look. Stone is more expensive than tile but is very durable.
Glass tile is available in tons of colors and styles. It has a shiny, sleek contemporary vibe. Glass tile can be prone to cracking or chipping.
Metal backsplashes like copper, stainless steel, or tin can give an industrial modern look. Keep in mind metal shows scratches and needs to be cleaned carefully.
Peel-and-stick backsplash panels come in many materials like metal, glass, or acrylic. They have adhesive backings for easy “peel-and-stick” application.
Once you’ve picked your backsplash materials, gather the other supplies you’ll need:
- Adhesive: Recommended adhesive for backsplash is modified thinset mortar. Use white so color doesn’t bleed through glass or stone.
- Grout: Pick grout in a color that complements your backsplash material. Unsanded grout works for narrow grout lines.
- Backsplash panels: If using backsplash panels, get any needed mounting hardware.
- Tools: Trowel, grout float, sponge, bucket for mixing thinset, grinder for cutting stone, hole saw for outlet cutouts, painter’s tape, etc.
- Sealant: Get sealant designed for backsplashes to apply as a protective finishing coat.
Preparing Your Backsplash Area
Before installing the backsplash itself, you need to prep the area:
- Remove existing backsplash if there is one already in place. Scrape off all old adhesive.
- Thoroughly clean the wall surface and make any needed drywall repairs. Fill any holes or cracks with spackle.
- Look for outlets or switches on the wall and plan ahead for how you’ll cut the backsplash around them.
- Prime and paint the backsplash area if needed so your walls are fresh and ready.
- Measure precisely and map out the backsplash layout – this prevents mistakes or having to make cuts later.
Installing the New Backsplash
Now you’re ready for the fun part – putting up the backsplash! The installation method differs slightly depending on your material:
- Mix up batches of thinset mortar adhesive as you go, applying it to small sections of the wall at a time.
- Press tiles firmly into the thinset, using spacers for consistent grout line width.
- Once dry, mix grout and work it into the grout lines, wiping away excess. Seal grout once fully cured.
- Stone backsplash can be installed similarly to tile using thinset mortar.
- For a professional finish, consider having stone slab backsplashes fabricated and installing them in one large piece.
- Prepare the wall surface – fill any uneven areas so panels lie flat.
- Apply adhesive to the back of the panels, carefully following product directions.
- Press panels onto the wall surface one by one, smoothing out any bubbles in the adhesive.
- Use silicone caulk to seal all perimeter edges and seams between panels. Allow to fully cure.
The final steps complete your newly installed backsplash:
- If needed, use a hole saw to cut out the backsplash around outlets or switches.
- Apply sealant to give the backsplash surface a protective finish that repels moisture and stains.
- Caulk along the bottom edge and around the perimeter of the backsplash using a flexible kitchen & bath caulk.
- Reinstall switch plates, outlet covers, fixtures or anything that was removed during the installation process.
- Stand back and admire your work! Adding a backsplash is a relatively easy way to update the look of a kitchen or bathroom.
Doing a backsplash yourself allows you to customize the materials and finished look, while saving the expense of hiring a professional installer. With the right preparation and by carefully following the instructions for your chosen backsplash materials, you can achieve beautiful results and transform the feel of your space.
Frequently Asked Questions About Doing Backsplash Yourself
What tools will I need to install a backsplash?
Basic tools like a tape measure, level, pencil, utility knife, caulk gun, and drill are essential. Material-specific tools are also needed like a tile cutter for tile or a compressor and nail gun for backsplash panels. Safety gear like gloves, eye protection, and a mask are also recommended.
What is the typical cost to do a backsplash myself?
The total cost depends heavily on the material you choose, but doing it yourself can save 50% or more compared to professional installation. Simple peel-and-stick backsplashes start under $50. Tile ranges from $5-50 per square foot. Natural stone is the most expensive at $50-100 per square foot.
What should I use to seal my backsplash?
Sealing is an important step to protect from moisture damage. For natural stone, use a penetrating sealer. On tile or glass, use a topical sealer. On peel-and-stick, use a clear silicone caulk along all seams and edges.
How do I cut backsplash tile around outlets?
Use a rotary tool or hole saw to cut circular openings in tiles where outlets are located. Cut tile to fit neatly around outlet boxes before installing those pieces. Take care not to damage electrical wiring hidden behind the wall.
Can I install a backsplash over existing wall tile?
It is possible but not ideal. Extra thickness can cause unevenness. The layers may separate over time. It is better to remove old tile if possible and start fresh with the new backsplash.
Installing a backsplash is very doable as a DIY project if you’re up for the challenge. Focus on proper planning, prep your workspace, gather the necessary tools and materials, and work slowly and carefully. Take time to make precise measurements and cuts. Thoroughly read product directions. If using tile or stone, make sure the surface is completely even before applying mortar. Once finished, be sure to seal and grout the backsplash properly to get the maximum benefits. With patience and the right technique, you can save money and change up your space by learning how to do backsplash yourself.