How to Install Glass and Stone Mosaic Tile Backsplash

Installing a glass and stone mosaic tile backsplash can add a beautiful, unique touch to any kitchen. With some planning and the right materials, you can achieve a professional-looking backsplash on your own. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install glass and stone mosaic tiles for your kitchen backsplash.

Gather Your Materials

  • Glass and/or stone mosaic tiles
  • Tile adhesive (thinset mortar)
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter and nippers
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, mask
  • Mixing bucket
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Clean rags
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil

Tips for Purchasing Tile

  • Calculate the square footage of your backsplash and purchase 10-15% extra to account for broken or damaged tiles and allow for cuts.
  • Mix glass and stone tiles for visual interest.
  • Use small mosaic tiles (1 inch or smaller) as they are easier to install.
  • Choose a lightweight mesh-backed mosaic tile sheet for easiest installation.
  • Opt for a tile that has a paper face mount rather than a film face mount as it’s more water-resistant.

Prepare Your Work Surface

  • Remove existing backsplash if there is one.
  • Inspect the wall surface and ensure it is clean, dry, and in good condition.
  • Repair any holes, cracks, uneven surfaces or grout lines.
  • Prime very porous drywall before applying thinset mortar.

Plan Your Tile Layout

  • Measure the backsplash area and draw out a diagram of the tile layout.
  • Plan for the most efficient use of whole tiles and minimize small sliver cuts.
  • Determine the best starting point, often the center, a focal point, or near the stove.
  • Dry lay a few rows of tile to visualize the pattern and spacing.

Install the Tile Backsplash

Step 1 – Apply the Thinset Mortar

  • Mix the thinset mortar according to package directions.
  • Use a notched trowel to spread a thin, even layer of thinset on the backsplash area. Spread just enough that can be tiled in 30 minutes before the thinset dries.

Step 2 – Install the Backerboard (if using)

  • Cut cement backerboard to fit your backsplash area.
  • Place the backerboard against the thinset and press firmly.
  • Use screws to secure the backerboard about every 8 inches along the studs.

Step 3 – Apply Tile Spacers

  • Place tile spacers at set intervals on the thinset to maintain even grout lines.

Step 4 – Place the Tiles

  • Following your layout, place the tiles firmly into the thinset.
  • Use a level and be sure the tiles are even and aligned.
  • Continue working in sections until the backsplash is completely tiled.

Step 5 – Cut Any Custom Tiles

  • Measure and mark tiles that need cut edges.
  • Use a wet tile saw or nippers to cut the tiles.
  • Grind the cut edges smooth with a stone.

Step 6 – Clean Up Excess Thinset

  • Carefully remove the tile spacers with needle nose pliers.
  • Use a damp sponge to wipe away any thinset on tile faces before it dries.

Step 7 – Allow Thinset to Cure

  • Allow the thinset adhesive to fully cure overnight before grouting.
  • Check the thinset manufacturer’s instructions for exact cure times.

Grout and Finish the Backsplash

Step 1 – Grout the Tile Joints

  • Mix the grout according to package instructions.
  • Use a grout float or rubber grout float to spread grout over the entire area, pressing into joints.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles with a damp sponge to clean grout haze.
  • Allow grout to partially cure before cleaning again.

Step 2 – Seal the Grout

  • After grout has cured 24 hours, apply grout sealer.
  • Follow product directions and carefully wipe a thin coat of sealer completely over grouted areas.

Step 3 – Caulk Edges

  • Once grouted and cleaned up, caulk any gaps along the edges with silicone caulk.

Step 4 – Clean the Tiles

  • Use a pH neutral cleaner and soft cloth to wash any remaining grout film or residue from tiles.
  • Rinse thoroughly and towel dry.

Tips for Maintaining Your Tile Backsplash

  • Use a gentle, pH-balanced soap and water to clean. Avoid harsh cleaners.
  • Re-apply grout sealer every 1-2 years.
  • Immediately clean up spills to prevent stains on grout or tile.
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge for daily cleaning.

With careful planning, patience, and proper materials, you can achieve a stunning glass and stone mosaic tile backsplash in your kitchen. Take your time and don’t be afraid to adjust the layout as you go until it’s just right. The finished result will add artistry, value, and easy-care durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of thinset mortar is best for glass mosaic tiles?

Use a white polymer-modified thinset mortar for glass mosaics. This will provide a strong bond and prevent staining of the glass from gray mortars.

Should I use spacers for mosaic sheets?

Yes, tile spacers are recommended to keep mosaic sheets evenly spaced as you install them on the wall. This ensures straight grout line spacing.

How long does thinset mortar take to cure before grouting?

Check manufacturer’s directions, but typically 24 hours is needed for thinset mortar to fully cure before grouting mosaic tiles. This allows a strong bond to develop.

What is the best way to cut mosaic tiles?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for glass to cut mosaic tile sheets. You can also use tile nippers to snap off smaller pieces by hand. Smooth any sharp edges with a carbide rubbing stone.

How do I clean my tile backsplash?

Use a gentle pH neutral cleaner and soft sponge or cloth to clean the tiles. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive pads or scrub brushes which can scratch, damage, or dull the tile.

Can I install a mosaic tile backsplash over existing tile?

Yes, new mosaic tile can be installed over existing well-bonded tile. The old tile must be cleaned, de-glossed and prepared to ensure a good bond.


Installing a glass and stone mosaic tile backsplash offers countless design possibilities for your kitchen. By following the proper installation steps and using quality materials, you can achieve a backdrop that looks high-end for a fraction of the cost. And with proper care and maintenance, your mosaic tile backsplash will provide beauty and function for years to come. Pay close attention to thoroughly preparing the surface, carefully mixing and applying mortars and grouts, allowing proper cure times, and maintaining with gentle cleaning. With some patience and creativity, you’ll have a backsplash you can’t wait to show off!