How to Install Mesh Tile Backsplash

Installing a mesh tile backsplash can add an eye-catching focal point to your kitchen or bathroom. With their dimensional, woven look, mesh tiles create visual depth and interest. They’re available in a wide range of colors, styles, and materials to complement any design aesthetic. Installing them is a relatively easy DIY project that can transform the look of your space. Here’s a step-by-step guide to installing a mesh tile backsplash.

Choose the Right Mesh Tiles

The first step is choosing the right mesh tile for your project. Here are the main factors to consider:


Mesh tiles come in different materials like metal, glass, and natural stone. Metal options include copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. Glass tile is available in clear, frosted, and colored varieties. Natural stone mesh tiles offer textures like marble, travertine, and onyx. Consider factors like cost, durability, and whether the material will fit your overall design.


In addition to material, think about what color and style of mesh tile you want. Neutral metal or glass tiles can provide a modern, sleek look. Earth tones like beige or brown stone tiles give a more rustic, natural feel. Bold colored tiles in reds, blues, and greens make a vibrant style statement. Consider samples to see how the tile colors complement your cabinetry, countertops, and backsplash surround.

Tile Size

Mesh tiles come in a range of sizes like 1-inch mosaics, 2-inch hexagons, 4-inch squares, and longer planks. Larger tiles can make quicker work of covering a large area, while smaller mosaic tiles allow for more creativity in patterns. Determine the look you want before settling on a tile size.

Complementary Accents

Look for complementary accents like listellos, borders, and decorative tiles that coordinate with your main mesh tile. Contrasting glass, stone, or metal liners can beautifully offset and outline the main tile design. Make sure all elements work cohesively.


Mesh tile prices span the spectrum from value glass mosaics to high-end metal and rare stone. Set your budget and find the best material and style affordable for your project. Factor in costs for setting materials and tools as well which can add up.

Gather Materials and Tools

Once you’ve selected your mesh tile, gather the necessary materials and tools for installation:

Tile and Accents

  • Mesh tiles in the shape, size, colors, and amount needed for your project
  • Complementary listellos, borders, and decorative trim and accent tiles
  • Spare tiles at least 10% more for cuts, waste, and future repairs

Adhesives and Grout

  • Thinset mortar modified for wall use
  • Grout in a color that complements the tile
  • Caulk in a matching or clear color
  • Spacers for consistent grout lines


  • Mixing bucket/paddle for thinset and grout
  • Notched trowel for spreading adhesive
  • Grout float for applying grout
  • Grout sponge and buckets for cleaning
  • Utility knife and nippers for cutting tile
  • Laser level and measuring tape

Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles, gloves, knee pads, and dust mask

Other Supplies

  • Drop cloths for protecting surfaces
  • Rags, sponges, and buckets for cleaning
  • Painter’s tape for securing drop cloths
  • Carpenter’s square and level

Prepare the Surface

Before beginning tile installation, properly prepare the backsplash area:

Clean Thoroughly

Clean the entire backsplash area with soap and water first. Remove any old caulk, grease, dirt, or debris. The tile will only adhere to a clean surface.

Evaluate and Repair Surface

Look over the surface and make any necessary repairs. Fill any holes, gaps, or imperfections with spackle. The surface should be as smooth as possible for good adhesion.

Remove Outlets and Obstacles

Take out any electrical outlets, switch plates, or other fixtures in the backsplash area. You’ll reinstall them later. Remove towel bars, soap dispensers and other obstacles as well.

Apply Primer/Sizing

For the strongest bond, apply a primer or sizing product to the surface per manufacturer instructions. This helps the thinset mortar adhere. Allow primer to dry completely.

Mark Tile Layout

Map out your tile layout using a laser level and tape measure. Mark the center and end points of the installation area. Draw reference lines to follow when applying the tiles.

Apply the Tile Adhesive

With your surface prepped, it’s time to apply the thinset mortar that will hold the mesh tiles:

Mix Thinset

Combine thinset powder with the amount of water specified on the package directions in a bucket. Mix with a paddle drill attachment until a smooth, lump-free consistency is achieved. Let it slake or rest 5-10 minutes.

Apply to Surface

Use a notched trowel held at a 45° angle to spread a thin layer of adhesive on the surface. Apply only 1-2 square feet at a time to prevent drying before tiles are set.

Back-Butter Tiles

Run a thin layer of adhesive over the back of each tile as well. This “back-buttering” ensures 100% mortar coverage and a strong bond.

Set Tiles in Place

Firmly press the mesh tiles into the adhesive, using spacers between them for consistent grout lines. Push until the tile is flush in the mortar. Align with reference lines for straightness.

Check for Full Coverage

After setting some tiles, remove one and look at the adhesive transfer. There should be full contact and no voids. Add more adhesive if needed.

Cut and Shape Special Pieces

Follow these tips for neatly cutting and fitting perimeter and accent tiles:

Mark Cuts Accurately

Use a square to accurately measure and mark tiles that need cut for the edges and around obstacles. This prevents errors.

Cut Tile with Nippers

Score the surface glaze with a utility knife, then use nippers to cleanly cut the tile along the score mark. Take care to cut accurately.

Shape Around Outlets

Use the nipper techniques to notch mesh tiles around electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, and other openings. Test fit shapes for accuracy.

Dry Fit Border/Trim Pieces

Dry fit border strips, chair rail tiles, listellos, and other accent pieces to ensure they align properly before setting them permanently.

Use Wet Saw If Needed

For specialty cuts like L-shapes on border tiles, use a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade. Mark carefully and cut slowly for clean results.

Apply Grout and Sealers

Once all tile is fully adhered, follow these steps to complete the installation:

Let Adhesive Cure

Allow thinset mortar to fully cure per manufacturer instructions before grouting, usually 24-48 hours. Curing prevents tiles from shifting.

Mix and Apply Grout

Prepare grout per package directions and apply to the joints and gaps between tiles using a float. Hold at a 45° angle pressing firmly to fill.

Clean Excess Grout

Using a damp sponge, clean any haze or film off the tile surface before grout dries. Buff down to smooth finish. Clean buckets often.

Seal Grout and Tiles

Once grout has cured at least 72 hours, apply a penetrating sealer to grout lines and tiles per product specifications to protect from stains.

Remove Spacers and Obstacles

Carefully remove all tile spacers from joints. Reinstall any fixtures, outlets, plates, hardware, etc. removed before tiling.

Caulk Perimeters

Use matching caulk or clear silicone to seal any gaps along countertops, edges, and transition areas to finish.

Maintaining Your Mesh Tile Backsplash

Follow these tips to keep your mesh tile backsplash looking like new:

  • Use pH neutral cleaners to regularly clean grease and cooking residue. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Reapply grout sealer periodically per manufacturer directions to prevent staining.
  • Inspect for cracked or damaged tiles. Remove old grout and replace tiles as needed.
  • Take care not to drop heavy objects or scrape hard materials against the delicate mesh.
  • Use a gentle touch when cleaning to prevent snagging or loosening the woven metal.

With proper care, a mesh tile backsplash brings durable, visual flair to your kitchen or bath for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Mesh Tile Backsplashes

What type of thinset mortar should I use?

Use a polymer or latex-modified thinset specifically formulated for glass, metal, or stone wall tiles. Avoid multi-purpose products. The thinset package should state it is suitable for the mesh tile material.

How do I cut curves and holes for outlets?

Make curved cuts by nipping small V shapes with tile nippers. Use a carbide grit hole saw bit on a power drill to cut clean circular outlet openings. Take care not to chip tile edges.

Should I use sanded or unsanded grout?

For narrow grout joints under 1/8 inch, use unsanded grout. For wider joints, sanded grout provides more texture and strength. Match grout color to the tile for a seamless look.

What type of sealer works best?

For metal mesh tiles, a penetrating silicone sealer provides the best stain protection. For glass or stone, look for an impregnating sealer formulated for those materials. Avoid surface sealers which can yellow over time.

How do I remove old or damaged mesh tile?

Use a putty knife to carefully scrape off old thinset behind the tile. For stubborn areas, score the adhesive using a small multi-tool or angle grinder. Take care not to damage the wall surface.

How difficult is it to install mesh tile?

Mesh tiles do not require any specialized skills, only accurate cutting and proper adhesion. The woven texture hides small imperfections well. Overall, mesh tiles are straightforward for DIYers with basic tiling experience.

Do I need special tools for mesh tile?

Standard ceramic and stone tiling tools like a notched trowel, mixing paddle,Tile spacers, grout float, and sponges work fine. Use a quality wet saw with diamond blade for intricate cuts. Specialty mesh tile tools are not necessary.

Should I hire a professional installer?

You can certainly DIY a mesh tile backsplash with proper planning and care. Professionals may be best for large projects, complicated layouts, or if you feel unsure tackling the work. Evaluate your skill level.

What’s the best grout color with mesh tiles?

A light gray or white grout works well with most styles. Matching the grout to the tile color provides a seamless look. Contrasting grout can accent the tile shape and design. Personal preference rules.

How do I cut mesh tiles around electrical boxes?

Use a tile nipper to notch small V-shaped cuts around outlet corners. Make straight box cutouts using a carbide grit hole saw on a power drill. Take care to not pinch or damage wiring.


Installing a mesh backsplash offers a stylish way to refresh your space. With smart planning and care, it can be a successful DIY project. Preparing your surface fully, paying close attention when cutting, and properly adhering the tiles are the keys to a long-lasting, quality result. Don’t be intimidated to tackle this project yourself and elevate your kitchen or bath with beautiful, dimensional woven tile.