How to Install Kitchen Backsplash Tile Sheets

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. With the right tiles and proper installation, you can create a stylish, easy-to-clean focal point in your kitchen. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install kitchen backsplash tile sheets.

Getting Started

Before you begin tiling, there are a few key steps to take to ensure a successful project:

Planning and Layout

  • Measure the backsplash area and make a plan for the tile layout. Consider the pattern and orientation of the tiles.
  • Buy enough tiles to cover the backsplash area with extras in case of breakage or the need to cut tiles. Include tile edging pieces like bullnose tiles.
  • Gather all materials and tile installation tools needed – tiles, thinset mortar, grout, grout sealer, tile cutter, spacers, etc.

Surface Preparation

  • Clean the backsplash area thoroughly and remove any old backsplash if present. Fill any holes or imperfections in the wall.
  • Ensure the backsplash area is smooth. Sand or scrape off bumps. Plaster if needed.
  • Prime and paint the backsplash area if needed. Use primer and paint suited for kitchens and bathrooms.

Step-by-Step Installation

Follow these key steps to properly install the backsplash tile sheets:

Step 1 – Cut the Tile Sheets

  • Measure the backsplash area and mark where tiles and tile sheets need to be cut to fit.
  • Use a wet tile saw to accurately cut the tiles and tile sheets to size. Cut edged pieces like bullnose tiles as needed.
  • Dry fit the tile sheets on the backsplash and make adjustments to ensure a proper fit.

Step 2 – Prepare and Apply the Thinset Mortar

  • Mix the thinset mortar according to package directions. Use a mortar suitable for walls and the tile type.
  • Apply a thin layer of thinset to the backsplash area using a notched trowel held at a 45 degree angle.
  • Smooth and flatten the mortar with the trowel’s flat side. Apply only enough mortar for one or two tile sheets.

Step 3 – Set and Adhere the Tile Sheets

  • Place the first tile sheet against the wall in the mortar. Press firmly to adhere in place. Use spacers between sheets.
  • Check for level and vertical alignment. Adjust as needed. Use a level and spacers to keep sheets even.
  • Continue setting tile sheets, working row by row from the bottom up and from one end to the other.
  • Push each sheet firmly into the mortar and use a rubber grout float to embed the tiles.

Step 4 – Grout and Seal the Tile

  • Let the thinset mortar cure fully – usually 24-48 hours.
  • Mix grout and apply it over the tiles using a rubber grout float. Push into joints and gaps.
  • Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge and wipe again. Allow grout to dry.
  • Apply grout sealer according to package directions to protect grout from stains.
  • Use caulk between tile and countertops/walls if needed.

Tips for Installing Backsplash Tile Sheets

  • Stagger tile sheets so the grout lines don’t all align. This creates a more uniform look.
  • Cut holes for outlets and switches before setting tiles. Test fittings as you go.
  • Only apply mortar to areas you can tile in 30 minutes. It will dry and not adhere if left longer.
  • Let thinset mortar cure fully before grouting or the tiles may shift. Check instructions.
  • When cutting tiles, go slowly and steadily. Rushing can lead to cracked tiles.
  • Wipe down newly installed tiles often to remove excess mortar and grout residue before drying.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cut holes in tile sheets for outlets and switches?

Use a rotary tool or ceramic wet saw to cut tile holes 1/8 inch larger than the outlet or switch box. Test fittings with the cover plate as you cut. Go slowly to avoid cracking tile.

What kind of thinset mortar should I use?

Use white polymer-modified mortar suited for wall installation. Avoid multi-purpose mortars. Consult manufacturer guidelines based on tile type.

How long does it take for thinset mortar to cure before grouting?

Cure times vary but usually 24-48 hours. Always check thinset package directions. Mortar must be fully cured before grouting or tiles may shift.

What’s the best way to apply grout for backsplash tiles?

Use a rubber grout float to force grout deeply into joints. Hold the float at a 45 degree angle and wipe diagonally across tiles. Clean excess grout with a damp sponge.

Should I seal the grout between backsplash tiles?

Yes, use a grout sealer to protect from stains. Apply 2-3 coats according to product directions after grout has fully cured. Reapply yearly.


Installing kitchen backsplash tile sheets takes careful planning, surface preparation, precise tile cutting, proper mortar use, and attentive grouting. Focus on each step and tile row by row for best results. The finished backsplash will provide a stylish focal point and make cleanup a breeze. With the right know-how, you can DIY a beautiful, on-trend kitchen backsplash.