How to Install Backsplash Bathroom Sink

Installing a backsplash behind your bathroom sink is a great way to add an extra touch of style and protect your walls from water splashes. With some careful planning and the right materials, installing a backsplash is a DIY project that can be completed in a weekend. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to install backsplash bathroom sink.

Choose the Right Backsplash Material

The first step is deciding on the right backsplash material for your bathroom. Here are some popular options to consider:


Tile is a classic choice for backsplashes. Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile can provide a water-resistant and attractive backdrop behind the sink. Subway tiles, mosaics, and larger format tiles are all great options. Make sure the grout is sealed properly to prevent staining.


Natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate can create a high-end look, although these materials are more prone to staining and etching from acids. Use a sealant to protect the surface. Stone tiles or slabs are beautiful but can be on the heavier side to install.


Metal backsplashes like copper, stainless steel, or tin can lend an industrial vibe. Stainless steel is extremely water-resistant. Copper and tin will patina over time for more character. Metal backsplash sheets offer sleek lines.


Glass tile or solid back painted glass panels give a modern, sleek look. Glass tile comes in different shades and finishes like subway tiles or mosaics. Backpainted glass panels are seamless. Glass is easy to clean but more prone to shattering.


Wood adds warmth, although traditional wood boards are not water-resistant. Use engineered wood planks made specifically for kitchen and bath backsplashes. Waterproof laminate panels that look like wood are also an option.


Laminate backsplash panels are inexpensive, water-resistant, and come in many patterns and colors. Laminate sheets install with adhesive and can mimic the look of more expensive materials like natural stone or ceramic tile.

Consider the overall style of your bathroom, functional needs, and budget when selecting a backsplash material. Make sure it has water-resistant properties and cleans up easily.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Once you have decided on the backsplash material, gather the other supplies needed for installation:

  • Backsplash tiles, panels, or sheets
  • Mortar or adhesive for the backsplash material
  • Grout
  • Trowel for spreading mortar or adhesive
  • Grout float for applying grout between tiles
  • Spacers for proper spacing between tiles
  • Tile cutter and nippers for cutting irregular edges if needed
  • Sealant/sealer to protect the backsplash material if recommended
  • Caulk for sealing around edges and corners
  • primer/mastic for certain surfaces
  • Paintable latex caulk for the gap between the countertop and backsplash
  • Drop cloth to protect floors and surfaces

Make sure you have all the right tools, materials, and supplies on hand before starting the project. This will help the installation process go smoothly.

Prepare the Surface

Proper surface preparation is key to a long-lasting backsplash installation:

  • Remove the existing sink, faucet, handles, soap dispenser etc. You’ll need full access to the wall behind the sink.
  • Inspect the wall surface. It should be clean, dry, and free of old adhesive or wallpaper.
  • Repair any damages to the wall surface with joint compound, sand smooth, and prime with a water-based primer intended for bathrooms.
  • For glossy painted walls, sand the surface dull and wipe clean before applying primer. This helps the mortar adhere properly.
  • Install additional wall support like cement board if the surface is damaged drywall or plaster.
  • Apply painter’s tape vertically along the edges of the planned backsplash area to define the installation space.
  • Cut and lay the backsplash material to confirm the layout and fit before installation.

Taking time to prep the surface will prevent the backsplash from failing prematurely.

Apply the Adhesive

With the surface ready, it’s time to prep and apply the adhesive:

  • For backsplash tile, mix a batch of thinset mortar. Apply it evenly to the wall surface using a notched trowel in straight rows.
  • For backsplash panels like laminate, metal, or glass use a water-resistant panel adhesive. Spread an even layer on the wall with a trowel.
  • Only apply as much adhesive as can be covered in tiles or panels before the adhesive dries. Work in sections.
  • Follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions carefully for setup time and application method.
  • Press tiles or panels gently but firmly into the adhesive. Install spacers between tiles.
  • Check periodically that tiles or panels are level and evenly spaced as the installation progresses.

Applying the right amount of adhesive is key to getting a strong bond between the backsplash and wall surface. Don’t allow the adhesive to skin over or dry out.

Cut and Install the Backsplash Pieces

Once the adhesive is prepped, carefully install the backsplash:

  • For tile, begin with whole tiles in the center and work outward towards the edges.
  • Use tile nippers to nip small irregular edge pieces if needed. Make precise cuts with a wet saw tile cutter.
  • For backsplash panels, measure and mark the surface first, then cut panels with a utility knife and straightedge.
  • Place cut edge pieces at edges and corners. Drill holes for plumbing fixtures.
  • Continue installing pieces, working in small sections. Check alignment and spacing as you go with tile spacers.
  • Allow adhesive to cure per manufacturer instructions after installation (typically 24-48 hours).

Take your time during installation to get clean edges, proper alignment, and consistent spacing between backsplash pieces.

Apply the Grout

Grout fills the seams between tiles, seals and finishes the installation:

  • Allow adhesive to fully cure before grouting, typically 24-48 hours.
  • Apply painter’s tape along the top edges of the backsplash to keep grout off the walls.
  • Mix a batch of grout per package instructions. Apply it carefully over the surface, forcing it into seams with a grout float.
  • Let the grout firm up slightly, then scrape off excess grout with a rubber grout float.
  • Once the grout has set up enough not to smear, use a damp sponge to clean grout haze off the tiles. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Allow grout to fully cure for 72 hours. Seal grout with a penetrating sealer if needed.

Proper grouting will keep your backsplash looking fresh. Always follow product instructions closely.

Finish Up the Installation

The final details complete your new backsplash installation:

  • Remove painter’s tape and adhesive residue with a plastic scraper and mineral spirits.
  • Seal natural stone, grout, or other porous materials with a penetrating sealer for protection.
  • Caulk along countertop-backsplash junction, corners, and around fixtures with paintable latex caulk.
  • Reinstall the sink, faucet, handles, soap dispenser and other bathroom fittings removed before installation.
  • Check that all plumbing connections are tight with no leaks after re-installation.
  • Apply a bead of clear silicone caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop for water protection.
  • Wipe down the entire backsplash surface with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Let cure fully before using sink and water.

Pay attention to detail with the finishing process to end up with a durable and beautiful backsplash installation.

Maintenance Tips

Here are some tips for keeping your new backsplash looking like new:

  • Seal porous natural stone backsplashes annually to prevent staining and etching.
  • Re-apply grout sealer every 2-3 years to protect from moisture and mold.
  • Use mild soap and water to clean. Avoid harsh abrasive cleaners.
  • Immediately wipe up any caustic spills like hair coloring or drain cleaner to prevent damage.
  • Don’t use the backsplash as a cutting surface. Use a cutting board to protect from knicks and cuts.
  • Check caulk lines periodically and re-apply caulk as needed to prevent water getting behind backsplash.
  • Avoid hanging heavy items like towel rods directly on the backsplash that could loosen its bond.

With proper care, your new backsplash can stay beautiful for many years. Follow any specific maintenance recommendations from the backsplash manufacturer as well.

Tips to Make Installation Easier

Here are some additional pointers to help make the installation process go smoothly:

  • Gather all tools and materials ahead of time so you don’t have to stop mid-project.
  • Keep the thinset mortar or adhesive moving – don’t let it dry out in the bucket or on the wall.
  • Work patiently in small sections for best results, especially when applying adhesive and spacers.
  • Have a helper to mix adhesive and grout batches while you focus on installation.
  • Let each step fully cure before moving to the next for best durability.
  • Keep a damp rag handy to immediately wipe up any excess thinset or grout from the tiles before drying.
  • Plan your tile layout ahead of time if using decorative or specialty tiles. Measure twice, cut once.
  • Use painter’s tape to keep the work area contained and protect surrounding surfaces.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for prep work, installation, cure times and grouting recommendations.

Stay organized and work methodically for a stress-free installation. Take your time to get it right.

Common Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing a backsplash:

How long does it take to install a backsplash?

In general, allow 2-3 days for a DIY backsplash installation:

  • Day 1 – Prep work and applying adhesive
  • Day 2 – Installing backsplash pieces
  • Day 3 – Grouting and finishing up

What’s the best height for a backsplash?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches above the countertop surface. Full height backsplashes that go all the way to the underside of wall cabinets are also popular.

How do I cut holes in the backsplash for plumbing?

Use a drill to make holes for faucet handles and the soap dispenser. For the faucet spout, mark the shape and use a rotary tool or small saw to cut the hole to the right size. Make holes slightly larger than the fixture.

Can I apply new backsplash over existing tile?

It is possible but not recommended. Removing the old tile for a smooth, uniform surface will give the best long term results.

Is it okay to get backsplash wet?

Most backsplash materials like ceramic, glass or metal tile are waterproof and designed to get wet, making them perfect for backsplashes. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper care.


Installing a backsplash is a straightforward project that can make a big impact in your bathroom’s style. With some careful planning upfront to prepare the surface, gather materials and map out tile placement, you can achieve beautiful results. Focus on good adhesion, proper grout application, and careful final detailing. In a weekend, you can have a backsplash revamp that upgrades your whole sink area with color, texture, and protection from water splashes.

How to Choose Backsplash for a Bathroom Sink

Selecting the perfect backsplash tile or panels is key to achieving the look you want for your bathroom sink area. With so many colors, textures, materials and styles to pick from, here are some tips for choosing backsplash for a bathroom sink:

Consider the Style of Your Bathroom

Match the backsplash to the overall design aesthetic of your bathroom:

  • Contemporary: Glass, metal, or mosaic tile in bold colors
  • Traditional: Subway tile, marble, or stone backsplashes
  • Eclectic: Mix and match materials like handmade ceramic + glass tile
  • Minimalist: Solid surface backsplash material like quartz
  • Rustic: Natural stone tile or reclaimed wood panels

Pick a backsplash that aligns with the style you are envisioning.

Complement the Sink and Faucet

Your backsplash will serve as the backdrop to the sink, so make sure it complements the look of your sink and faucet fixtures.

  • Match a colorful printed ceramic vessel sink with a solid glass tile backsplash
  • Pair an apron front sink with Carrara marble subway tiles
  • Choose stainless steel metal tile behind an industrial style drainboard sink

Tie it all together with a cohesive design aesthetic.

Consider Maintenance and Water Resistance

Since the backsplash will get splashed regularly around a busy bathroom sink, it’s important to choose a material that is water resistant and easy to clean.

  • Porcelain and ceramic tile are very water resistant and handle moisture well.
  • Natural stone is prone to etching from acids, so be sure to seal it.
  • Metal backsplashes like stainless steel wipe clean easily.
  • Glass tile and solid surface materials resist water but can shatter if hit hard.

Balance the material’s beauty with its functional waterproof properties.

Choose Colors and Patterns You Love

Backsplashes provide an opportunity to add visual interest behind the sink with cool colors, patterns and textures.

  • Use mosaics or small tiles to create patterns
  • Stack rectangular subway tiles in contrasting grout colors
  • Waterfall long narrow tiles vertically behind the sink
  • Install a backpainted glass backsplash with bold color

Pick colors and designs that will make you smile each morning.

Consider Ease of Installation

Some backsplash materials are easier for DIY installation than others.

  • Tile sheets have a mesh backing for simple mounting
  • Peel-and-stick backsplash panels make installation a breeze
  • Lighter weight materials are beginner-friendly vs heavy natural stone
  • Simple solid tiles avoid tricky tile cutting compared to mosaics

Factor in your DIY skill level when selecting backsplash material.

The backsplash is a key design element for any dream bathroom. Take into account the overall aesthetic, function, and ease of installation when choosing the perfect backsplash material and style. Create a focal point behind the sink you’ll love seeing and using every day.

How to Remove Existing Backsplash by the Sink

If you want to replace an outdated or damaged backsplash around your bathroom sink, removing the existing backsplash tile or panels is the first step. Here is a step-by-step guide to safely take out the old backsplash prior to installing a new one:

Gather Materials

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Hammer
  • Chisel and putty knife
  • Goggles and work gloves for eye and hand protection
  • Flat pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Garbage bags
  • Shop vacuum

Clear the Sink Area

Before starting demo work, you’ll need full access to the backsplash area:

  • Clear away items on the countertop and stow away toiletries and supplies.
  • Remove the sink, faucet, handles, towel bars, mirrors or other fixtures attached over the backsplash area.

Score Grout Lines on Tile

If the existing backsplash is set in mortar or grout:

  • Use a utility knife to score through the grout between the tiles. This breaks the grout seal.
  • Work horizontally and vertically to score lines across the entire backsplash area.

Carefully Chisel Away Grout

With the grout lines severed:

  • Use a chisel and hammer to carefully chisel away grout working in small sections.
  • Apply force gradually to avoid damaging the drywall behind the tile.
  • Vacuum up debris as you work. Dispose of removed grout chunks.

Pry Off Individual Tiles

Once grout is removed tile by tile:

  • Insert a pry bar carefully under one corner of each tile and gently pry it off the wall.
  • Work your way across the surface to remove tiles individually without damaging the wall.

Scrape off Adhesive

For backsplashes installed with adhesive:

  • Use a putty knife to gently scrape residual adhesive off the wall surface. Take care not to gouge the drywall.
  • Clean off old caulk or mastic from the edges around the backsplash area.

Clean Surface

With the backsplash removed:

  • Vacuum and wipe down the now exposed wall surface to remove any remaining debris.
  • Fill any gouges or holes in the wall with spackle compound and sand smooth.
  • The surface should be clean, dry and ready for your new backsplash installation.

Safely removing the existing backsplash takes time and patience, but prepares the way for your new backsplash design. Take care not to damage the underlying wall surface during removal.

How to Prepare Walls for New Backsplash Installation

Preparing your bathroom walls correctly before installing a new backsplash is vital for a long lasting finish. Here are tips for getting your walls backsplash-ready:

Clean Surface

Start with walls that are clean and clear of debris:

  • Wash walls with mild soap and water, then rinse.
  • Remove any existing wallpaper or adhesive residue until you hit the bare wall surface.
  • Sand glossy painted walls lightly to dull the shine so the backsplash adhesive adheres properly.

Fill Any Holes or Imperfections

Walls should be flat and flawless:

  • Fill any holes, cracks, gaps, or imperfections with spackle compound. Allow to fully dry.
  • Sand smooth for an even finish. Wipe away dust.
  • Spot prime repairs with a water-based primer before applying new paint.

Apply Primer

Priming helps backsplash adhesive stick to the wall:

  • For new drywall, use a drywall primer sealer to prepare the surface.
  • On existing painted walls, apply a water-based primer coat.
  • Use a mold resistant bathroom paint primer in humid areas.
  • Follow primer label directions for proper drying time before the next step.

Paint Walls

Apply fresh new paint before backsplash installation: