How to Install Mosaic Backsplash on Drywall

Installing a mosaic backsplash is a great way to add visual interest and personality to your kitchen or bathroom. Mosaics made of tile, glass, or stone provide beautiful and durable surfacing that’s easy to clean. When installing on drywall, proper preparation and technique are key for a long-lasting installation. Follow these steps for how to install a mosaic backsplash on drywall.

What You’ll Need

  • Mosaic tiles
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Mixing bucket
  • Mixing paddle
  • Tile cutter
  • Wet saw (for cutting intricate pieces)
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth

Preparing the Drywall Surface

Proper preparation of the drywall is crucial for ensuring the mosaic tiles adhere properly.

  • Make sure the drywall is clean and free of dust, oil, or soap residue which could prevent adhesion. Wipe down with a damp sponge.
  • Fill any cracks, holes, or imperfections with drywall joint compound and let dry completely. Sand smooth.
  • Prime the drywall with a latex primer to improve adhesion. Allow to dry fully.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off any edges, outlets, or trim you don’t want to get tile adhesive on.
  • For extra protection, spread a drop cloth on the floor.

Applying the Tile Adhesive

When applying the adhesive, work in small sections so it doesn’t dry out before you set the tile.

  • Apply the adhesive to the wall using a notched trowel held at a 45-degree angle.
  • Use the trowel notches to comb horizontal lines through the adhesive to achieve an even thickness.
  • Apply only as much adhesive as you can comfortably tile over in 20-30 minutes.

Setting the Mosaic Sheets

Mosaics often come mounted on mesh or paper sheets for easier installation.

  • Press the sheets firmly into the adhesive, using a slight twisting motion to collapse the trowel ridges.
  • Use tile spacers between sheets to achieve even grout lines. Remove spacers once tile is set.
  • To cut mosaic sheets, score with a utility knife and snap. For intricate cuts, use a wet saw.
  • Clean excess adhesive as you go with a damp sponge. Don’t allow dried adhesive to remain between tiles.
  • Allow the adhesive to cure fully (usually 24-48 hours) before grouting.

Grouting Between the Tiles

Grouting fills the spaces between the tiles. Work in small sections.

  • Apply an even layer of grout over the surface, pressing into joints with a grout float.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away excess grout with a damp sponge.
  • Buff surface with a soft cloth once grout has dried to a haze.
  • Seal grout with a penetrating sealer to protect from stains.

Finishing Touches

Once grouted and cleaned, your mosaic backsplash is ready to enjoy!

  • Seal mosaic tile surface with a gentle stone/tile sealant for added protection.
  • Allow sealant to fully cure before regular use.
  • Caulk perimeter edges where tile meets countertop, walls, etc.
  • Remove painter’s tape and drop cloth.
  • Clean tools thoroughly after use.

With the proper prep and materials, installing a mosaic tile backsplash on drywall is very achievable even for novice DIYers. Take your time, work in sections, and clean as you go for stunning results. The mosaic pattern will add artful personality to your space!

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Mosaic Tile Backsplash on Drywall

What type of tile adhesive should I use?

Use a high-quality polymer-modified thinset adhesive suitable for mosaics and for installation on drywall. Avoid basic premixed mastic adhesives.

Should I use mesh-backed or paper-faced mosaic sheets?

Mesh-backed mosaics are more secure and easier to work with than paper-faced. Paper-faced are fine for flat wall applications though.

How do I cut mosaic tiles?

Use a utility knife and ruler to score and snap mosaic sheets. For intricate cuts around outlets, etc. use a wet saw with a diamond mosaic tile blade.

Can I use grout caulk instead of sanded grout?

No, sanded grout is much stronger and more suitable for filling mosaic tile joints. Grout caulk is only for change-of-plane joints.

How soon can I seal the grout after installing?

Wait a minimum of 72 hours after grouting to allow it to fully cure before applying a penetrating sealer.

Should I use my leftover mosaics for the floor too?

Mosaics are suitable for backsplashes and shower walls, but are not durable enough for floor installations which demand thicker tile.

What’s the best way to clean mosaic tile?

Use a pH-neutral tile cleaner and soft sponge or microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing which can damage the tile face or grout.


Installing a mosaic tile backsplash is an easy way to make a big impact with minimal effort compared to tiling an entire wall or floor. By following the proper installation techniques for prepping the drywall, applying adhesive, accurately setting the mosaic sheets, grouting, and sealing, you can achieve a stunning backsplash that adds artistry, visual texture, and value to your home. Mosaic tiles provide tons of creative possibilities with an endless array of colors, materials, and patterns available. With the right prep and patience, your DIY mosaic backsplash can look like it was installed by a professional.