How to Install Glass Subway Tile Backsplash

Installing a glass subway tile backsplash can be a great way to add style and visual interest to your kitchen or bathroom. With their classic rectangular shape and sleek glass finish, subway tiles offer a timeless and elegant look. Glass subway tiles are also relatively easy for DIYers to install. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a glass subway tile backsplash.

What You Need

Before starting your project, make sure you have all the necessary materials and tools:

  • Glass subway tiles
  • Tile adhesive (thinset mortar)
  • Grout
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, mask)

Prepare the Surface

Proper surface prep is crucial for a long-lasting installation. The backsplash area should be clean, dry, and free of any old adhesive or grout. Use a cleaner or mild acid to etch glossy surfaces for better adhesion. Any uneven areas on the wall should be filled and leveled out with joint compound. Paint the surface with primer before tiling.

Plan Your Layout

Mapping out your tile layout is an important first step. Measure the area and use chalk lines to mark the center. Dry fit a few tiles to determine the optimal layout pattern. Keep the grout lines aligned and uniform for the best visual effect. Account for potential cuts at the perimeter.

Spread the Adhesive

Using a notched trowel, apply a layer of thinset mortar adhesive on the installation surface. Spread the adhesive evenly and keep some extra near the edges. Only cover a small workable area at one time to prevent drying.

Apply the Tiles

Set the first tile in the corner of your starting point and press it into the adhesive. Place spacers around each tile edge. Lay the adjoining tiles next to the first one, keeping the grout lines aligned. Continue setting tiles row by row or in a bricklay pattern.

Cut Any Perimeter Tiles

Measure and mark tiles that need cutting to fit around outlets, corners, or edges. Score the marks with the tile cutter wheel. Snap pieces off using tile nippers. Grind the edges for a smooth finish. Set custom cut tiles into place.

Let the Tiles Set

Allow the tiles to set in the adhesive for at least 24 hours without any traffic. Verify all tiles are firmly attached and evenly spaced. Mix grout according to package directions. Apply grout over the tiles using a rubber grout float.

Clean the Grout Haze

Once the grout has cured, use a damp sponge to wipe any grout haze off the tile surface. Buff with a clean, dry cloth for a polished finish. Use caulk to seal any perimeter gaps. Enjoy your new, easy-to-maintain glass subway tile backsplash!

FAQs About Installing Glass Subway Tile Backsplash

What type of tile backer board should I use?

Cement board is the best backer material for a tile backsplash. It provides a water-resistant surface and prevents cracks. Other options include fiber-cement board, densshield, or greenboard.

What thinset mortar is best for glass subway tile?

A polymer-modified thinset provides superior adhesion for glass tile. It has additives to make it flexible and water resistant once cured. White thinset also highlights the glass finish nicely.

How do I cut glass subway tiles?

Mark the tiles where needed, score the glass with a cutter wheel, and snap them on the score line. A tile wet saw with a diamond blade also cuts glass tile cleanly. Finish the edges with a rubbing stone for a smooth cut.

Should spacers be used with subway tiles?

Yes, plastic spacers are highly recommended to keep consistent grout lines between the subway tiles. Even small tiles can shift during installation without them. 1/16 or 1/8 inch spacers are ideal.

How long does grout need to cure before sealing?

Grout requires a minimum of 72 hours to fully cure and dry before applying a grout sealer. This allows moisture to escape and prevents issues with sealing. More drying time is better.

What’s the best way to maintain a glass tile backsplash?

Use a pH neutral cleaner and soft cloth for routine washing. Do not use harsh cleaners or abrasives. Re-apply a penetrating grout sealer periodically to protect from stains or moisture damage. Handle glass tiles gently.


Installing glass subway tile as a kitchen or bathroom backsplash can upgrade your space with eye-catching visual style. With the right tools and materials, it can be an achievable DIY project. Planning your design, preparing the surface, applying adhesive and tiles carefully, and proper grouting technique will lead to a successful installation that lasts for many years. Maintain the finished backsplash by using gentle cleaners and sealers.