How to Install Brick Backsplash

A brick backsplash can add warmth and texture to any kitchen. Installing a brick backsplash is a big project but can create a stunning focal point in your kitchen. With some planning and the right materials, you can install a beautiful brick backsplash yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install brick backsplash.

Planning Your Brick Backsplash

Before starting your project, you’ll need to make some important planning decisions. This includes choosing the right brick, mortar, and grout for your backsplash.

Choose Your Brick

The first decision is choosing what type of brick you want to use. There are a few main options:

  • Clay bricks – Traditional and most common option. Choose solid clay or face bricks instead of cheaper hollow clay bricks. Look for uniform bricks without cracks or chips.
  • Concrete bricks – More affordable but still attractive. Often have an aged, weathered look.
  • Faux bricks – Lightweight and cheap. Made from clay, concrete, or foam. Easier to install but less realistic looking.

Consider the size of bricks too. Standard bricks are around 2 1⁄4” thick. Thinner bricks are lighter and don’t require specialized cutting tools. Larger bricks make a bolder statement.

Choose bricks in the color and style you want. Reds and browns are classic, but tan, gray, black, and white bricks can look modern. Consider distressed, glazed, or tumbled bricks for more character.

Choose Your Mortar

Mortar is the adhesive material that bonds the bricks together. For backsplashes, use a polymer-modified thin-set mortar. Avoid standard mortars which can be too thick and stiff.

A polymer-modified mortar has latex added to make it more flexible and adhesive. This allows some natural movement of the bricks without cracking. It also makes it easier to spread smoothly and work with.

Choose a mortar color that matches or complements your bricks. Gray is popular for a modern look. White and off-white are classic. Colored mortars like buff, terra-cotta, or black make a bold statement.

Choose Your Grout

Grout fills the joints between the bricks. Like mortar, choose a grout color that matches or complements the bricks. White and gray are common. For wider joints, colored sanded grout is a good option.

Use a polymer-modified grout for backsplashes. Avoid standard cement grouts which can crack. Make sure the grout matches the mortar thickness – thin grout for thinset mortar and thicker grout for thicker mortars.

Other Materials

You’ll also need some additional materials:

  • Tile spacers – plastic crosses to get even grout lines.
  • Grout sealer – protects grout from stains.
  • Grout haze remover – cleans off grout residue.
  • Foam brush – for grout and sealer application.
  • Trowel – for mortar spreading.
  • Tile cutter – cuts bricks neatly.
  • Wet saw – for intricate cuts and shimming.
  • Mixing bucket – for mortar and grout.
  • Sponge – for cleaning.
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, mask.

Preparing Your Backsplash Area

Once you’ve gathered your materials, you can start preparing the backsplash area:

Clean the Surface

Start by thoroughly cleaning the backsplash area. Remove any old caulk, grease, or soap residue. Clean off dust or debris to create a pristine surface for the mortar to adhere to.

Use denatured alcohol or another degreasing cleaner. Avoid soapy cleaners which can leave a film. Let the surface dry completely.

Remove Outlets and Appliances

If you have outlets, switches, or appliances like the range hood on the backsplash area, these will need to be removed prior to tiling. Turn off the power supply and disconnect them carefully before removing them from the wall.

Create Straight Lines

Create clean, straight lines for your backsplash area. Use a level and pencil to mark straight horizontal and vertical lines as a guide. This helps keep your brick layout neat and even.

Fill in any uneven spots on the wall surface with drywall joint compound so the brick sits flush. Sand smooth.

Prime and Seal

Priming and sealing the surface helps the mortar bond tightly. Use a primer coat like Mapei Eco Prim Grip. Then apply a skim coat of mortar to seal the surface. Let dry completely.

Installing the Brick Backsplash

Now you’re ready to start installing the brick backsplash. Follow these steps closely for proper installation:

Install the Bottom Row

Start by installing the bottom row of bricks. Mix a batch of thinset mortar following the product directions. Apply a layer of mortar to the wall area, staying within your guide lines.

Place the first brick in the bottom corner. Use spacers around the edges to account for the grout joints later. Make sure the bricks are level. Continue placing bricks along the bottom row, keeping a consistent spacing.

Tap bricks gently with a rubber mallet to embed them evenly in the mortar. Clean away any excess mortar along the edges. Let the bottom row sit for 24 hours before moving on.

Install the Middle Rows

Once the bottom row has set, you can install the middle brick rows. Mix a fresh batch of mortar and spread it on the next section. Start the second row by cutting a brick in half and using it to offset the vertical joints from the row below.

Place bricks one by one, using tile spacers to maintain even joint spacing. Check rows for level frequently using a straightedge. Cut bricks as needed to fit around outlets and corners. Tap bricks into the mortar evenly.

Complete each row in 1-2 foot sections, letting it set for 10-15 minutes before moving on. This prevents slipping. Repeat this process row by row until you reach the top. Remove spacers from dried mortar.

Install the Top Row

The top row often needs to be cut to fit properly, allowing for the right amount of grout space. Measure the remaining space and mark bricks for any custom cuts needed. Make sure cut bricks are at least half a brick wide.

Spread mortar and install the top row as you did the middle rows. Let the completed brickwork cure for 48 hours before grouting. Mist the bricks with water occasionally to prevent drying too fast.

Grout the Joints

Grouting fills and seals the joints between the bricks. First dampen the brick surface with water using a sponge. Mix the grout following package directions. Hold the rubber grout float at a 45° angle and apply grout forcefully into the joints.

Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a damp sponge to clean excess grout off the brick faces. Rinse the sponge frequently to keep it clean. Use as little water as possible. Allow the grout to cure fully for 72 hours.

Seal and Polish

Once fully cured, apply a grout sealer using a foam brush. This protects the grout from stains. Follow directions for drying time, then use a grout haze remover if there is any hazy residue left on bricks. Finish by polishing with a dry microfiber cloth for a beautiful finish!

Tips for Installing Brick Backsplash

Follow these tips and tricks for a successful brick backsplash project:

  • Start in a small, hidden spot to get your workflow right before moving to the main area.
  • Let mortar dry to a sticky consistency before applying bricks – “tacky” but not fully dried.
  • Twist bricks into the mortar for optimal adhesion rather than sliding them in place.
  • Mix small batches of mortar and throw out leftovers after 2 hours max. Mortar dries quickly!
  • Use shims to raise outlet and switch boxes flush with finished brickwork.
  • For cuts, score bricks with tile cutter then snap for clean edges. Use wet saw when necessary.
  • Wipe away excess mortar along edges right away. Don’t let it dry on the brick face.
  • Alternate brick colors and sizes in creative patterns for added interest.
  • Inspect work at each step to ensure bricks are level and spacing is consistent.

With preparation and care, you can achieve beautiful DIY brick backsplash results. The intricate texture and warmth of brick creates an eye-catching and unique focal point in your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Brick Backsplash

Here are answers to some common questions about installing a brick backsplash:

How long does it take to install a brick backsplash?

Installing a brick backsplash is a multi-day process. Once materials are purchased, you can expect the installation to take 3-5 days total depending on the size of the area. Work should be completed in stages allowing drying time in between.

What maintenance is required for a brick backsplash?

Brick backsplashes require very little maintenance. Wipe spills quickly to prevent staining of the grout. Re-seal the grout every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer. Avoid using harsh, acidic cleaners which can damage the bricks or grout.

Can I install a brick backsplash on drywall?

Yes, brick backsplashes can be installed directly onto drywall. The key is proper surface preparation – clean thoroughly, prime, and seal the surface to create a strong bond with the mortar. Screw in any loose drywall to add stability before tiling.

What kind of mortar should I use?

Use a polymer-modified thinset mortar for installing brick backsplashes. Avoid standard thick mortars which can dry too quickly. The polymer modification makes the mortar more flexible and adhesive for the thin brick material.

How thick should the mortar joints be?

For brick backsplashes, we recommend mortar joints around 1/4 inch thick. Thinner joints are prone to cracking while thicker joints can be too heavy. Use plastic tile spacers when laying bricks to maintain even 1/4 inch spacing.

Can I use faux brick panels instead of real brick?

Faux brick panels made from materials like foam or plastic are easier to install than real brick. However, the look is less realistic. Real clay or concrete bricks offer unbeatable texture and durability, which is ideal for backsplashes.

How do I cut bricks?

Use a manual tile cutter for straight cuts along a brick’s length. For L-cuts, U-cuts, and intricate shapes, you’ll need a wet saw. For minor shimming, you can nip bricks using nippers. Cut edges can be smoothed with an abrasive stone.

How long should I wait before grouting the bricks?

Let the mortar cure for at least 48 hours before grouting brick joints. This prevents the bricks from shifting and allows the mortar to fully harden. Lightly mist the bricks with water before grouting to prevent excess absorption.


Installing a brick backsplash adds striking texture and charm to your kitchen. With good planning, high-quality materials, and careful technique, you can achieve beautiful DIY results. The project takes time and patience but is very rewarding. Keep the process organized in stages and don’t rush drying times. With this guide, you now have all the information needed to install your gorgeous new brick backsplash!