How to Install Stick On Tile Backsplash: The Complete Guide

Installing a stick on tile backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With a variety of colors, textures, and designs available, tile backsplashes are an easy and affordable way to add personality and visual interest to any room. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of installing stick on tile backsplash, from planning and preparation to final grouting and sealing. Follow these steps and tips for a beautiful, professional-looking tile backsplash installation.

Planning Your Stick On Tile Backsplash

Before starting your installation, take the time to properly plan your backsplash design. Here are some important factors to consider:

Selecting Your Tile

  • Material – Ceramic, porcelain, glass, and metal are popular options. Consider durability, moisture-resistance, cleaning requirements.
  • Color/pattern – Match or complement your cabinetry, countertops, appliances. Consider accent colors to make it pop.
  • Texture/finish – Glossy, matte, textured surfaces impact overall look.
  • Shape and size – Small mosaics, large rectangles, or a mix. Consider scale and layout patterns.
  • Purchase 10-15% extra to account for breakage, cuts, and pattern matching.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Tiles and tile adhesive designed for backsplash use
  • Notched trowel, grout float, spacers, tape measure, level, mixing trays
  • Tile cutting tools – wet saw rental or tile cutter, nippers, grinder
  • Grout and sealer
  • Caulk, primer, painters tape
  • Cleaning supplies – sponges, buckets, towels
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, knee pads

Pre-Installation Preparation

  • Clean surface thoroughly and repair any damage, holes, uneven sections.
  • Plan your layout – staggered patterns prevent alignment issues.
  • Mark a level line at the bottom edge as your guide.
  • Mix thinset per manufacturer instructions. Let sit 5-10 minutes before use.

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Follow these key steps for proper tile backsplash installation:

1. Prepare the Surface

  • For drywall, apply thinset mortar directly.
  • For existing backsplash, remove old tile and scrape off leftover adhesive.
  • For other surfaces, apply cement backerboard securely per manufacturer instructions.

2. Mark Your Starting Point and Apply Thinset

  • Use a level and measure up from counter/cabinets to mark straight reference line.
  • Apply thinset mortar to the area using the notched end of trowel to comb it evenly.

3. Begin Installing Tiles

  • Start in the corner at the bottom and work upward in sections.
  • Use spacers between tiles for consistent alignment and grout lines.
  • Cut edge pieces as needed for clean perimeter fit.
  • Press tiles firmly into thinset and check level alignment often.

4. Let Tile Cure

  • Allow thinset to cure for 24 hours before grouting unless directions state otherwise.
  • Avoid walking on tiles and clean any squeeze-out immediately with damp cloth.

5. Mix and Apply Grout

  • Mix grout per package directions. Apply evenly over the tile surface, pushing into gaps.
  • Let sit for a few minutes before wiping clean with a damp sponge.
  • Remove haze and buff surface with clean, dry cloth once dry.

6. Finish and Seal Tile

  • Allow grout to fully cure per manufacturer instructions, about 72 hours.
  • Apply grout sealer evenly according to product directions.
  • Caulk edges if needed for clean finish.

Tips for Achieving Best Results

Follow these useful tips and tricks throughout the installation process:

  • Maintain even spacing and alignment by using plastic tile spacers between pieces.
  • Ensure proper thinset thickness by applying additional coats if tiles shift.
  • Cut edge and around outlet pieces carefully with wet saw or grinder for precision fit.
  • Work in manageable sections to prevent thinset from drying before tiles are placed.
  • Clean up spills, smears, or seepage promptly with a damp sponge.
  • Allow recommended drying times between steps for proper curing and adhesion.
  • Seal grout and re-seal periodically to prevent staining and protect finish.
  • Consider hiring a tile installation professional if unsure about achieving proper results.

Answers to Common Questions about Installing Stick On Tile Backsplashes

Many beginners want to know:

What is the best way to cut stick on tiles?

The most precise cuts are achieved using a wet saw with a tile blade. A manual tile cutter or tile nippers can also work for basic straight cuts and rounded edges. Use a grinder for notches and specialty shapes.

How long does thinset mortar take to dry?

Cure times vary by product, but most standard thinsets dry within 24 hours. Consult manufacturer instructions. Pre-mixed thinsets may dry faster within just a few hours.

Should grout lines be the same width?

Consistent grout line width of 1/8” to 1/4″ between tiles creates a clean, uniform look. Use plastic spacers when setting tile to maintain even lines.

How soon can I grout after installing backsplash tile?

It’s best to wait at least 24 hours after applying thinset mortar so it cures properly. If using a fast-drying premixed thinset, follow label directions for grouting timeline.

What is the minimum backsplash height recommended?

Standard minimum height is 4 inches from counter to bottom edge. Building code requires backsplash height up to any horizontal surfaces within 1 inch above counter.

Can I apply new tile over existing backsplash?

It is not recommended. Old tile should be removed to allow proper thinset mortar adhesion to surface underneath.


Installing a stick on tile backsplash can take your kitchen or bath design to the next level. With the right tools, materials, and adherence to each step, you can achieve stunning results and improve functionality. Patience and attention to detail are key. For a flawless professional finish, don’t hesitate to hire an experienced tile installer. Follow the tips and techniques outlined above to transform any room with beautiful and easy-to-install stick on tile backsplash.