How to Install Backsplash on Bathroom Vanity

Installing a stylish backsplash behind your bathroom vanity is an easy upgrade that can completely transform the look and feel of your space. With the right materials and a bit of DIY know-how, you can add an eye-catching focal point to your bathroom’s decor.

A bathroom vanity backsplash not only serves as a decorative element, but it also protects your vanity and wall from water damage and stains. Tiled, stone, glass, and other backsplash materials create a water-resistant barrier that prevents moisture from seeping into drywall or wallpaper.

Upgrading your bathroom with a backsplash is a relatively easy project that most DIYers can tackle in a weekend. By following some simple steps, you can cut and mount the backsplash materials and give your bathroom a fresh new look.

Selecting Materials for Your Backsplash

The first step is choosing the right backsplash materials for your bathroom vanity area. There are lots of options to match any design aesthetic and budget. Consider the following popular backsplash tile and surface materials:


Tile is one of the most common choices for bathroom vanity backsplashes. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles come in endless colors, sizes, shapes, textures, and patterns. Glass, metal, and mosaic tiles are also options. Benefits of tile include:

  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Can create decorative patterns
  • Variety of price points

Make sure to choose smaller tiles for a backsplash instead of large floor tiles. Smaller tiles are easier to handle behind a vanity.


Natural stone like marble, travertine, slate, and granite make elegant and durable backsplash materials. Stone has these advantages:

  • Provides high-end, luxurious look
  • Withstands moisture and stains
  • Available in large slabs or small mosaics
  • Can be cut to custom sizes

Stone is usually more expensive than ceramic or porcelain tile.


Glass tile and mosaics are eye-catching choices for modern, stylish backsplashes. Pros of glass include:

  • Reflective, shiny surface
  • Available in vivid colors and patterns
  • Adds a luxurious feeling
  • Resilient to moisture and stains

Use caution with transparent glass, as adhesive and grout lines will be visible from underneath.


For an industrial vibe, metal backsplashes made of stainless steel, tin, copper, or aluminum provide a sleek, contemporary look. Benefits of metal include:

  • Modern, trendy aesthetic
  • Highly water-resistant
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Can mix metals for custom look


Backsplash laminates like Formica offer an affordable and low-maintenance option. Consider laminate for:

  • Hundreds of colors and patterns
  • Glossy, matte, or textured finishes
  • Quick and easy application
  • Seamless look with no grout lines

Laminates aren’t as durable or moisture-resistant as tile and natural stone.

Once you select your materials, make sure to purchase slightly more than you need to account for irregular edges and miscuts.

Preparing the Work Area

Installing a backsplash makes a bit of a mess, so properly preparing your workspace is a key first step. Follow these tips to get set up:

  • Clear the area of any items or belongings.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like the countertop and floor with rosin paper or drop cloths.
  • Remove the vanity top if possible to simplify installation.
  • Have materials and tools nearby and ready to use.
  • Turn off power at the main breaker.
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves.

Thoroughly cleaning the wall surface provides the best surface for the backsplash to adhere to. Use a multi-surface cleaner or vinegar solution to clean off dirt, oils, residue, and soap scum. Rinse and let the wall dry completely.

If the wall behind the vanity has wallpaper, remove it carefully with a steamer or chemical stripper. Scrape off any leftover adhesive residue after stripping wallpaper. Sand glossy paint down to a flat finish so the backsplash materials adhere properly.

Plan the backsplash layout to determine the precise cutting needed for the perimeter edges. Hold up materials to visualize how the end pieces should be cut for the cleanest look. Having a layout diagram drawn out helps keep the project organized and ensures a custom fit.

Install the Backsplash

The installation process will vary slightly depending on the specific backsplash materials you choose. Here are some general guidelines for how to install common backsplash options:

Tile Backsplash

Tile requires a few more steps than other materials, but following the right techniques will result in a stunning finish:

  1. Cut the perimeter tiles to the proper size using a wet saw or tile cutter. Cut edge pieces so gaps around the perimeter are minimized.
  2. Mix thinset mortar according to package directions. Apply a layer of thinset to the wall area using a notched trowel.
  3. Press tiles into the thinset, one by one, using spacers to ensure consistent grout lines. Push tiles firmly into the thinset.
  4. Let the thinset cure for 24 hours. Remove spacers and mix grout according to package instructions.
  5. Spread grout over the tile using a rubber grout float. Push grout into joints and gaps. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge.
  6. Apply grout sealer once dry for maximum stain resistance.

Following these tile setting steps carefully results in a seamless backsplash that resists moisture and everyday use.

Stone Backsplash

For natural stone, follow a similar installation process:

  1. Dry fit stones and cut edges for a tight fit. Use a wet saw with a diamond blade.
  2. Spread thinset mortar on the wall where stones will be placed.
  3. Set stones into the thinset one by one. Tap gently with a rubber mallet to adhere.
  4. Let thinset cure fully before applying grout between stone pieces.
  5. Seal surfaces with a natural stone sealer for protection.

Take care when cutting and handling heavy natural stone materials. Ask a helper to assist with holding stones during installation.

Laminate Backsplash

Laminate backsplash installation doesn’t require adhesives or grout. Here’s how to easily apply laminates:

  1. Make sure the wall surface is smooth, clean, and dry first.
  2. Measure and cut laminate pieces to fit using a utility knife and straightedge.
  3. Peel off adhesive backing and press laminate directly onto the wall. Smooth out any air pockets or bubbles.
  4. Use trim or caulk around edges for a seamless look.

Laminate sheets can cover large backsplash areas quickly with fewer seams.

Metal Backsplash

Metal backsplashes require careful measuring, cutting, and mounting using special adhesives:

  1. Draw out a detailed installation template for precise cutting.
  2. Use aviation snips to cut metal sheets following your template. File any rough edges.
  3. Clean and dry the wall thoroughly. Apply adhesive primer.
  4. Spread adhesive on the back of metal pieces. Press firmly onto the wall.
  5. Use silicone caulk between metal seams for water resistance.

Follow all safety precautions when working with sharp metal materials. Wear gloves to avoid cutting hands and fingers.

Regardless of the material, thoroughly clean the finished backsplash with a non-abrasive cleaner and water. Remove any haze, residue, or remaining adhesive. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and maintenance.

Backsplash Ideas for Bathroom Vanities

Now that you know the basics of how to install a backsplash, explore some of these gorgeous backsplash design ideas to match your bathroom’s style:

Subway Tile

Classic rectangular white subway tiles laid in a brick pattern provide a clean, timeless look. Add visual interest by installing tiles vertically or on the diagonal.


The zigzag herringbone pattern adds great visual texture and interest. Try tiling with contrasting colors or mosaic tiles.

Penny Round Tile

Tiny penny-sized ceramic tiles in glossy black, white, blue, or bold colors make a serious style statement.

Marble Tile

Marble tile and mosaics exude elegance. Combine various marble shapes and sizes for a custom look.

Metal Tiles

Geometric metal tiles in copper, bronze, and other metallic finishes add eye-catching shine.


Adhesive vinyl backsplashes offer quick, affordable options in hundreds of colors and patterns.

Glass Sheet

A single sheet of glass or mirror as a backsplash provides sleek, seamless lines. Illuminate with LED lighting for dramatic effect.

Stone Slab

Honed natural stone slabs like marble, travertine, or quartzite create a spa-like ambiance.

Mix and Match

Don’t be afraid to get creative and mix up materials like combining tile, metal sheets, stone, and glass. The eclectic look is totally trendy.

No matter which material and design you select, follow the installation steps properly. Take your time to get clean edges and properly seal and grout the finished backsplash. With the right prep work and materials, you can install an eye-catching backsplash in your bathroom vanity area and enjoy a fresh new look.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Bathroom Vanity Backsplashes

Ready to install a backsplash behind your bathroom vanity but still have some questions? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about bathroom vanity backsplash installation:

What tiles are best for a bathroom backsplash?

Porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles are best for backsplashes since they resist moisture and stains. Glass and metal tiles also make nice backsplash options. Choose smaller sized tiles rather than large floor tiles.

How do I cut tile for a backsplash?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade to accurately cut ceramic, porcelain, or stone tiles. Make detailed cuts for perimeter tiles first.

Can backsplash tile go straight to the wall with no board?

Yes, tiles can be installed directly onto drywall or existing finished walls in most cases, as long as the surface is cleaned and primed first.

What thinset mortar is best for backsplash tile?

A polymer-modified thinset offers a stronger bond and more flexibility for tiles in wet areas like backsplashes.

How long does thinset take to dry before grouting?

Tile thinset adhesive needs a full 24 hours to cure before applying grout between tile joints.

What color grout is best with white subway tile?

White or very light gray grout keeps the focus on clean white subway tiles. Avoid dark grout colors that could outline and distract from white tiles.

Can you use backsplash adhesive instead of thinset?

Adhesive alone is not recommended—it is essential to use thinset mortar behind tiles in wet areas for the strongest bond.

How do you attach stone backsplash to the wall?

Stone slabs and tiles require a mortar or adhesive designed specifically for heavy natural stone materials.

Do you have to seal backsplash tile?

Sealing tiles and grout is highly recommended for all backsplashes. The sealant protects from stains and damage from water and humidity.

How do I cut laminate backsplash?

Use a utility knife and ruler to carefully score and cut through laminate sheets. Make multiple passes with the knife to cut all the way through the material.

With the right planning, materials, and techniques, installing a backsplash behind a bathroom vanity is totally doable as a DIY project. Just take it slow and steady. The finished backsplash provides a major style payoff in your bathroom!


Installing a new backsplash behind your bathroom vanity can make a dramatic impact on your space’s overall look and feel. With so many tile, stone, metal, glass, and laminate options to choose from, you can find the perfect materials to match your design style and budget.

Carefully preparing the work area, using proper tools and techniques for cutting and installation, and thoroughly grouting and sealing the finished backsplash will ensure you end up with a high-quality, long-lasting accent wall that protects your vanity and adds decorative flair.

While tiling large areas can be intimidating for DIYers, a small vanity backsplash project is a great starter way to hone your skills. Take all necessary safety precautions, follow product instructions closely, and don’t be afraid to call in a pro if certain steps seem too difficult.

With some elbow grease and dedication to doing the prep work and installation correctly, you can gain a major sense of accomplishment along with a beautiful new backsplash.