How to Install Talavera Tile Backsplash

Installing a Talavera tile backsplash can add a dramatic pop of color and interest to your kitchen or bathroom. Talavera tiles are handmade Mexican ceramic tiles that feature intricate patterns and designs. With their bright colors and artisanal origins, Talavera tile backsplashes make a bold statement. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a Talavera tile backsplash.

Materials Needed

Before starting your Talavera tile backsplash installation, make sure you have all the necessary materials:

  • Talavera tiles
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Bucket for mixing adhesive
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Safety gear like gloves, goggles, knee pads

Preparing the Surface

Proper surface preparation is key to a long-lasting tile installation. Follow these steps to prepare the surface:

Clean the Surface

Use a general household cleaner to wash the wall surface. This removes any dirt, grease or soap scum. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely.

Remove Outlets and Switch Plates

Use a screwdriver to remove any outlets, switch plates or fixtures from the wall. Set them aside carefully until tile work is complete.

Fill Any Holes or Cracks

Examine the surface and fill any holes, cracks or uneven spots with spackling paste. Allow the paste to dry completely and then sand smooth.

Apply Primer

For best adhesion, apply a coat of tile primer to the surface using a paint roller or brush. Allow the primer to dry completely.

How to Lay Out the Tiles

Careful layout is crucial for even spacing and keeping the tile aligned. Follow these tips:

  • Measure from the main focal point like the stove or sink plumbing to determine the center point of the backsplash area.
  • Mark a horizontal line at this midpoint to align the first row of tiles.
  • Dry lay the first row of full tiles along this line to determine placement. Adjust until you achieve the desired look.
  • Use spacers to have even grout lines and prevent tiles from shifting during installation.
  • Balance the tiles so cut pieces at the top and bottom edges are similar in size.

Installing the Talavera Tiles

Once layout is complete, it’s time to start installing the tiles:

Mix the Adhesive

Combine tile adhesive, also known as thinset, with water in a bucket. Mix to a smooth, spreadable consistency according to package directions.

Spread the Adhesive

Use the notched edge of the trowel to spread adhesive evenly across a small section of the wall, no more than a few tiles’ worth at one time.

Press Tiles into Place

Carefully set the first row of tiles into the adhesive firmly. Push them into the thinset with a gentle twisting motion.

Apply Spacers

Place spacers between tiles to maintain even grout line spacing. Be sure tiles are aligned with your reference lines.

Continue Setting Rows

Work in small sections across the installation area. Allow adhesive to set according to package directions before moving on.

Cut Edge Pieces as Needed

Use the tile cutter to cut edge pieces to fit around outlets, corners or edges for a custom fit.

Grouting the Tile

Once the tile adhesive has cured fully, usually 24 hours, you can complete the installation by grouting:

Mix the Grout

In a bucket, combine grout powder with water and mix to a thick peanut butter-like consistency. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Apply Grout with Float

Use the grout float to spread grout over the tile surface, pushing it into the joints between tiles.

Wipe Away Excess Grout

Let the grout firm up slightly, then hold the grout sponge flat against the tile surface to smooth and clean off excess grout.

Polish the Surface

Wipe the tiles carefully with a soft cloth once the grout has dried fully to polish off any remaining haze.

Seal the Grout

Once grouting is complete, apply a sealant to the grout lines using a small paintbrush. This prevents stains and damage. Allow to dry fully.

Enjoy Your Talavera Tile Backsplash

With proper prep, careful tile layout, patient installation, and neat grouting, you can install a stunning and durable Talavera tile backsplash. Refer to these tips whenever questions arise during your project. Take your time and relish bringing this handcrafted tile work into your home. Your beautiful Talavera backsplash will provide an artistic focal point and conversation piece for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Talavera Tile Backsplashes

What type of adhesive should I use for Talavera tiles?

Use a high-quality thinset adhesive specifically formulated for glazed ceramic tiles. Make sure it offers strong adhesion and some flexibility. Consult an expert at your local tile store.

How long does it take for the tile adhesive to set before grouting?

Read the package directions, but tile adhesive generally takes 24-48 hours to cure fully. Test a tile to ensure it is firmly attached before grouting.

What’s the best grout color for Talavera tiles?

Talavera tiles come in vibrant colors, so a neutral bright white or off-white grout helps accentuate them best. You can also choose a grout close to your tile color for a monochromatic look.

Should I seal my Talavera tile backsplash?

Sealing is not mandatory, but it can provide added protection from moisture and stains. Use a penetrating sealant made for glazed ceramic tile. Reapply yearly.

How do I cut Talavera tiles?

Mark the tile where you need it cut, then score the line firmly with a utility knife. Place the tile face up in the tile cutter, aligning the cut mark with the cutting wheel. Press down firmly on the handle to snap the tile cleanly.

Can I install Talavera tile over existing tile?

Yes, as long as the existing tile is well-adhered. Rough up the old tile surface with sandpaper so the new thinset can bond, then attach the new tiles.

How do I remove Talavera tile?

Carefully break the old grout lines with a utility knife. Use a heat gun or hair dryer to warm the adhesive. Insert a pry bar carefully under tiles to pop them off without damaging the wall.


Installing a handcrafted Talavera tile backsplash requires careful planning, precision, and patience, but the results are well worth the effort. The vivid colors, intricate designs, and artistic origins of Talavera tiles lend a dramatic, eye-catching flair. Follow these how-to steps for proper materials, surface prep, tile layout, adhesive application, grouting, and sealing. Take the necessary time for the adhesive and grout to cure fully, and work carefully when cutting irregular edge pieces. With its artisanal roots and colorful charm, your new Talavera tile backsplash will infuse your space with the lively culture of Mexico for years of delight.