Installing a backsplash in your laundry room serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. Not only does a backsplash protect your walls from water damage and stains, it can also add visual interest and tie together your laundry room’s decor. With some planning and the right materials, installing a laundry room backsplash is a DIY project that can make a big impact.
Choose Your Backsplash Material
The material you choose for your laundry room backsplash will affect the overall look, durability, and cost of the project. Here are some of the most popular options to consider:
Tile is a classic choice for backsplashes. It is available in a huge range of styles, colors, shapes, and textures to complement any design aesthetic. Ceramic and porcelain tile have high durability and water-resistance. Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, and granite add elegance. Tile offers endless customization options.
The downside is that tile can be labor intensive to install. It also requires periodic sealing to maintain water protection. Overall cost depends on the type of tile selected.
Glass tile backsplashes add brilliant color effects and shine. The glass material is impervious to water. Glass tile comes in various colors, shapes, and styles such as subway tile or mosaics.
Installation is similar to ceramic or porcelain tile. Glass tile is prone to cracking or chipping if hit directly, so care must be taken when handling and cutting. Glass tile tends to be more expensive than ceramic.
Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, or tin add contemporary, industrial flair. Metal is water-resistant and easy to clean.
Metal panels are simple for DIY installation. Drawbacks are higher cost and susceptibility to scratches and dents during cleaning. Keeping the patina of natural metals like copper requires careful maintenance.
Laminate backsplashes provide the look of tile, stone, or metal at a lower cost. Laminates are made from resin and paper fused to a plastic backing. Popular options include faux subway tile, marble, granite, and stainless steel.
Laminates are affordable, easy to install, and come in large sheets to minimize seams. However, they are prone to chipping or peeling over time, especially near the sink or appliances. Laminates lack the richness and depth of real tile or stone.
For a quick and budget-friendly backsplash solution, consider painting the wall with semi-gloss or high-gloss latex paint formulated to withstand moisture and stains. This is best suited for smooth, primed surfaces.
Paint is easy to apply, dries fast, and allows creative freedom with color choices. However, the finish will not be as durable as tile. Touch ups may be needed over time as the paint wears down.
Plan the Layout
Once you have settled on a backsplash material, think about the size and layout:
- Measure the overall height and length of the backsplash area to determine how much material you need to purchase. Leave a few extra tiles or sheets to account for cuts and errors.
- Plan out your design. For tile, decide on the orientation (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal), pattern, and creative accents like borders or mosaics.
- Determine whether to install the backsplash on the entire wall from counter to ceiling, or just a shorter strip near the sink and appliances.
- For painted backsplashes, map out any designs, accent walls, or painter’s tape techniques.
Having a layout plan will ensure you buy enough materials and achieve the finished look you want.
Gather Materials and Tools
Installation will go smoothly if you assemble all the necessary supplies beforehand:
- Backsplash tiles, panels, or paint
- Grout and sealant if using tile
- Adhesives like thinset mortar or construction adhesive
- Support boards if needed for heavy tile
- painter’s tape for crisp edges if painting
- Tape measure
- Tile cutter for straight cuts
- Nippers for irregular cuts
- Trowel for spreading mortar
- Spacers for consistent tile joints
- Grout float for applying grout
- Grout sealer
- Caulk and caulk gun
- Bucket for mixing mortar
- Tile saw for intricate cuts (can be rented)
- Safety gear – gloves, goggles, knee pads
Having the right tools for each installation step will ensure the job is done properly. Don’t forget clean-up supplies like sponges, rags, and buckets.
Prepare the Wall Surface
To achieve the best backsplash installation, start with a smooth, clean, and dry wall surface:
- Remove any existing backsplash material or old adhesive/grout.
- Fill any holes or cracks with spackle compound. Allow to dry completely.
- Sand down high spots or uneven areas. Wipe away dust.
- Prime bare drywall with a sealant primer to reduce absorption.
- For glossy painted backsplashes, apply two coats of semi-gloss primer and paint. Allow to fully dry before installing.
Proper wall prep establishes a sound base for the backsplash materials to adhere to. This improves the final look and longevity.
Install the Backsplash
Now comes the fun part – installing your chosen backsplash material! Follow these tips:
- Mix a batch of thinset mortar adhesive. Check the package for exact water ratios.
- Spread a layer of thinset on the wall using a notched trowel. Apply only as much as can be tiled in 30 minutes before drying.
- Press tiles into the thinset and use spacers to maintain even grout lines. Perpendicular layouts look best.
- Cut any edge or outlet tiles to fit using tile nippers or a wet saw.
- Allow thinset to cure for 24 hours before grouting.
- Mix grout and apply over the tile using a rubber grout float. Clean excess grout with a damp sponge. Allow to dry 24 hours.
- Seal grout lines with penetrating grout sealer. Apply caulk along the edges and corners.
Follow all thinset and grout manufacturer instructions for best results. Take care to achieve straight, level installation.
For Laminates or Metal:
- Cut laminate sheets to size with tin snips. Measure carefully to minimize seams.
- Apply adhesive (construction adhesive or silicone) to the back of the laminate.
- Smooth panels against the wall, pressing firmly for several minutes to ensure adhesion.
- Use caulk along the seams and perimeter for water protection.
Cut outs for electrical boxes or plumbing fixtures can be made before or after applying the panels. Follow manufacturer directions.
- Use painter’s tape to define clean edges along ceilings, trim, and cabinets.
- Apply two coats of semi-gloss latex paint formulated for kitchen and bath areas. Allow 4-6 hours of drying time between coats.
- Carefully remove the tape before the paint fully dries to create clean lines.
- Consider using higher-sheen enamels for added durability and wipe-ability.
Patience leads to the best results with a painted backsplash. Meticulous taping and smooth paint application are key.
Once your backsplash installation is complete, finish it off with these final details:
- Seal natural stone tile or grout to protect from stains and water damage. Use multiple coats of penetrating sealer.
- Allow adhesive or grout to fully cure for 24-48 hours before using the laundry room.
- Reinstall any electrical switch plates removed during installation.
- Apply clear silicone caulk along seams between the backsplash and cabinets, trim, or walls.
- Wipe away any dust, dirt, or adhesive residue.
- Treat any chips, cracks, or grout imperfections with sealants or caulks.
Taking the time to properly seal and finish the backsplash will help it maintain its beauty over the long term. Stand back and admire your handiwork!
FAQs About Laundry Room Backsplash Installation
What is the standard height for a laundry room backsplash?
The most common height for a backsplash is 4 inches from the countertop, extending up the wall to 18-24 inches. Full wall backsplashes from counter to ceiling are also popular laundry room options.
What screws should be used to install backsplash panels?
Self-tapping screws specifically designed for backsplash panels are recommended. They have wide heads to securely attach panels to studs or drywall without risk of pulling through.
Should the backsplash go behind or around the washer and dryer?
For best water protection, the backsplash should wrap around sinks, washers, dryers, and any other appliances or fixtures it meets. Sealing and caulking these seams is important.
How do I cut laminate backsplash sheets?
Use a utility knife and ruler to score the laminate face, then snap it cleanly along the score line. A circular saw with a fine tooth blade can also be used. Go slowly to avoid chipping.
What thinset mortar is best for laundry room backsplash tile?
A polymer-modified thinset is ideal, as it has higher adhesion strength and is more water-resistant once cured. White thinset works well for most tile colors.
How long does thinset mortar take to dry before grouting?
Thinset drying times range from 16-48 hours depending on the product. Always follow manufacturer recommendations, as premature grouting increases chances of damage.
Should sanded or unsanded grout be used for laundry room backsplash?
Unsanded grout is recommended for grout joints smaller than 1/8 inch. It fills narrow spaces well and resists shrinking or cracking. Sanded grout is best for wider grout lines.
What color grout is most stain resistant?
Lighter grout colors like white, off-white, or light gray show fewer stains than darker grout. Contrasting grout can be used strategically for design accents.
How often should backsplash grout be sealed?
Sealing grout every 1-2 years is recommended for laundry rooms. More frequent sealing may be needed for natural stone tile or other porous materials. Watch for signs of staining.
Installing a backsplash is an achievable weekend DIY project that can completely transform the look and functionality of your laundry room. With the right planning, materials, tools, and techniques, you can create a backsplash design that precisely matches your personal taste and space. Whichever material you choose, take care to thoroughly prep the wall, meticulously install, cleanly finish, and properly seal. In no time, you’ll have a stunning backsplash that elevates your laundry room’s decor while providing much-needed protection from daily water exposure. Let your backsplash creativity run free!