How to Install New Backsplash


Installing a new backsplash is a great way to update the look of your kitchen. A stylish backsplash can really make your kitchen feel fresh and modern. While it may seem intimidating, installing a backsplash is actually a pretty straightforward DIY project for most homeowners. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps involved in installing a new backsplash in your kitchen.

Planning Your New Backsplash

Before you start demolishing your old backsplash, you’ll want to do some planning first. Here are some key steps:

Choose Your Materials

Backsplashes today come in a wide range of materials like ceramic tile, metal tiles, glass tile, and natural stone. Consider the pros and cons of each in terms of pricing, durability, and ease of installation. Make sure to pick a material that fits with your kitchen’s overall aesthetic.

Popular choices like subway tile and marble mosaic tile work well in both modern and traditional kitchens. Go for metal or glass backsplashes for a more contemporary, sleek look.

Measure Your Space

You’ll need to measure the area you’ll be tiling to determine how much material to purchase. Make sure to account for pattern repeats and tricky angles. Leave a 10-15% overage for cuts and breakages.

Layout Your Pattern

Plot out where tiles, accents, and grout lines will go before you start setting tile. This prep work helps avoid surprises or having to redo work later on. Mark your plans right on the wall with a pencil.

Gather Your Supplies

There are a few essential tools and materials you’ll need for your how to install new backsplash project: trowel, grout float, spacers, grout sealer, tile cutter, adhesive, grout. Make sure you have all the required supplies before starting.

Remove the Old Backsplash

If there is an existing backsplash in place, you’ll need to tear it out first. Here’s how:

  • Use a putty knife or oscillating tool to scrape off any old adhesive or mortar.
  • Carefully pry off tiles, doing your best to remove them in whole pieces.
  • Use a hammer and chisel to knock off remaining chunks of mortar or drywall.
  • Clean the wall surface so it is smooth and debris-free. Sand bumps, fill holes with spackle.

Wear safety goggles and gloves during demolition to protect yourself. Take your time with this step to avoid damaging the underlying wall.

Prep the Surface

With the old backsplash gone, you can now prep the surface for new tile:

  • Make sure the wall surface is clean, dry, and smoothed out. Fill any cracks or holes with spackle.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter of the backsplash area. This helps keep adhesive and grout off surrounding surfaces.
  • Mark your tile layout on the wall with pencil, following your plan.
  • Apply tile adhesive to the area using a notched trowel. Work in small sections so adhesive doesn’t dry out.

Proper prep and priming ensures your backsplash tiles will adhere properly for years to come. Don’t skip surface prep steps.

Install the New Tiles

Now comes the fun part – setting your beautiful new tiles! Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Place your first tile in the corner as a guide. Use spacers around tiles for even grout lines.
  • Press tiles into the adhesive firmly. Use a rubber grout float to apply even pressure and flatten.
  • Cut border and specialty tiles using a wet saw or tile cutter. Follow your layout.
  • Let adhesive fully cure per manufacturer instructions, usually 24 hours. Don’t grout or disturb until adhesive has dried.
  • Mix grout per package directions. Apply grout with float, pressing into joints. Let sit 10 minutes then wipe clean.
  • Seal grout once fully cured, typically 72 hours. This prevents staining and damage.

Work methodically and carefully. If using natural stone, take extra care when cutting to avoid cracking or chipping.

Finish With Sealing and Caulking

You’re in the home stretch! Just a few more steps:

  • Wipe down the entire surface with a damp sponge once grout has cured. This removes haze and residue.
  • Apply grout sealer according to manufacturer instructions. This adds protection.
  • Caulk along edges with a matching silicone caulk. This gives a polished look.
  • Buff surface with a soft cloth. Your new backsplash is complete!

Be sure to let all materials fully cure before daily use and cleaning. Your patience will pay off with a stunning, durable backsplash!


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing a new backsplash:

What’s the best tile adhesive to use?

Use a polymer-modified thinset mortar which is longer-lasting and better for moist kitchen areas. Avoid mastic adhesive.

How do I cut holes for outlets or fixtures?

Use a Roto-zip spiral saw or carbide-tipped hole saw drill bit to neatly cut circular openings. Do this before setting tile.

What if my walls aren’t perfectly square?

Use a level and mark out gridlines to create a baseline. Adjust tiles and grout lines to account for unevenness.

Can I install a backsplash directly over drywall?

Yes, but make sure to use a fiberglass mesh drywall tape along seams for reinforcement.

What’s the minimum height a backsplash should be?

Backsplashes typically extend 4 inches above countertops as a minimum. But taller backsplashes are popular, covering entire walls.


While it takes some careful planning and patience, installing a backsplash is very manageable as a DIY project. Following the steps outlined above will ensure your new backsplash transforms your kitchen and lasts for years to come. With some handy tools and materials, you’ll gain valuable skills taking on this project yourself. Just go slowly and don’t be afraid to ask for help from an experienced tiler if you need it. Before you know it, you’ll have the stylish, fresh backsplash you’ve been dreaming about!