How to Install Tile Backsplash in Kitchen Video

Installing a tile backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does it add visual interest, color, and texture, but it also protects your walls from splashes and stains. Installing a tile backsplash is a great DIY project that can be accomplished over a weekend. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a tile backsplash in your kitchen.

Planning Your Tile Layout

Before starting any installation, you need to plan out your tile layout. Here are some tips:

  • Measure the area you want to tile and draw out a layout – this will help you visualize the pattern and ensure you purchase enough tiles. Leave room for cut tiles around the edges.
  • Decide on the tile pattern – classic patterns like running bond or subway tile are easy to install. Get creative with mosaic tiles or irregular patterns.
  • Choose the tile size – smaller tiles mean more grout lines and are trickier to install. Larger tiles are simpler but show imperfections more. Standard sizes are 4”x4” or 6”x6”.
  • Pick the tile orientation – laying tile horizontally gives a clean, smooth look. Vertical or diagonal tile adds visual interest.
  • Determine the grout line width – thinner grout lines (1/16”) create a seamless look. Wider grout lines (1/8” or 1⁄4”) are more forgiving but look more grid-like.
  • Buy 10-15% extra tile – this accounts for broken tiles and allows you to save leftovers for future repairs.

Gather Your Materials

Installing a tile backsplash requires some specialized tools and materials. Here is what you will need:

  • Tile and grout – purchase an extra 10-15% for cuts and breakage
  • Mortar or mastic adhesive
  • Notched trowel for spreading adhesive
  • Grout float for applying grout
  • Silicone caulk and caulk gun
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter for cutting custom tiles
  • Mixing bucket for mortar or mastic
  • Grout sealer
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, knee pads
  • Sponges, buckets, rags

Make sure to get the right materials for your tile type. Check if your tile requires mortar, thinset, or mastic adhesive. Get sanded grout for wider grout lines and non-sanded for thinner grout lines.

Prep the Surface

Proper prep work ensures your tiles adhere properly and last. Here are a few tips:

  • Clean the surface thoroughly and remove any oil, grease, or soap scum. Acidic cleaners can help remove mineral deposits.
  • Scrape off any loose paint or wall materials. The surface should be as smooth as possible.
  • Fill any holes or cracks with spackle and sand smooth.
  • Prime the surface if necessary – certain surfaces like new drywall require priming first.
  • Make sure the surface is fully dry before moving forward.

Apply the Adhesive

Applying the mortar or mastic adhesive is one of the most important steps. Follow these best practices:

  • Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive evenly at a 45° angle.
  • Apply 1-2 square feet at a time so the adhesive doesn’t dry out.
  • For mastic adhesive, spread horizontally on one section, set tiles, then move across using painters tape as a guide.
  • Maintain straight lines and even coverage – this ensures proper bonding and straight grout lines.
  • Use the trowel’s flat side to knock down high spots and even the adhesive.
  • Read the adhesive package for exact instructions and drying time before applying tiles.

Set the Tiles

Setting the tiles straight is key for an aligned finished project. Follow these tips:

  • Start at the center and work outwards. Dry fit border tiles and cut to fit.
  • Use plastic spacers between tiles to account for the grout lines and keep tiles aligned.
  • Press tiles firmly into the adhesive and use a rubber grout float or hammer to fully adhere them.
  • Check tiles regularly to ensure they are flat and aligned. Adjust as needed.
  • Allow tiles to set in the adhesive as recommended before grouting or walking on them. Check instructions.
  • Clean away excess adhesive immediately with a damp sponge and avoid walking on the tiles.

Apply the Grout

Grout fills the joints between tiles with color and seals them. Use these techniques:

  • Allow the tile adhesive to dry fully before grouting, usually 24-48 hours. Check instructions.
  • Use a grout float or rubber grout trowel to spread grout at a 45° angle to completely pack joints.
  • Hold the float at 90° angle to remove excess grout and smooth the joints.
  • Clean excess grout off tile faces with a damp sponge and water as you work to prevent drying and haze.
  • After initial cleaning, wait 10-15 minutes and sponge again to clear remaining grout haze. Work diagonally to the joints.
  • Avoid wiping or rinsing grout too soon or you can pull it out of the joints – follow exact drying times.
  • Allow grout to dry fully before using the area, usually 24-72 hours. Apply grout sealer if desired.

Final Touches

Add these finishing touches once grout has dried fully:

  • Go around perimeter and interior corners with silicone caulk for a watertight seal.
  • Apply grout sealer per package instructions to protect grout from stains.
  • Inspect final results carefully and touch up grout if needed – match new grout to old as closely as possible.
  • Clean the entire area with warm, mild soap and water to remove residue.
  • Reinstall fixtures like faucets, soap dispensers, etc. Consider sealants around edges.
  • Enjoy your new backsplash! With proper sealing and cleaning, it will provide beauty and protection for years.

Installing tile backsplash can give your kitchen a high-end customized look. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a stunning backsplash you will love. Let the tile layout and colors reflect your own unique style. Take your time, do proper prep work, use quality thinset mortar, and allow all materials to dry fully. Your beautiful new backsplash will upgrade your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Tile Backsplash

What tools do I need to install a tile backsplash?

The essential tools you’ll need are a notched trowel, grout float, spacers, tile cutter, mixing bucket, caulk gun, sponges, tile adhesive, grout, gloves, safety goggles, and knee pads. A wet saw is also useful for intricate tile cutting.

How do I prepare the wall for a tile backsplash?

Properly clean the surface, fill any holes and cracks, sand smooth, prime if needed, and ensure the area is fully dry. Cleaning with an acidic cleaner helps remove soap scum and mineral deposits.

Can I install tile backsplash directly over existing drywall or plaster?

Yes, in most cases you can install tile directly over drywall or plaster. The key is proper prep – fill any holes, scrape off debris, prime, and ensure surface is clean and smooth.

What type of tile adhesive should I use?

For walls, use a polymer-modified thinset mortar or mastic adhesive. Thinset provides a stronger bond for heavy tile while mastic offers better flexibility. Consult manufacturer instructions to determine the best option for your tile.

How long does tile adhesive take to dry before grouting?

Adhesive drying time can range from 8-24 hours before grouting can begin. Exact times depend on the product used. Always follow instructions on the product packaging. The tile should be firmly set and not move when lightly pressed.

How soon can I use my newly tiled backsplash?

It’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours before regular use of the backsplash area. Allow grout to cure fully before exposing it to moisture or heavy use. Be extra careful for the first 7 days while grout achieves maximum hardness.

What’s the difference between sanded and non-sanded grout?

Sanded grout contains fine sand and is used for grout lines 1/8” and wider. Non-sanded grout is smoother and used for thin grout lines less than 1/8”. Either can be used for floor or wall tile.

How can I cut ceramic wall tiles?

The easiest option is to use a manual tile cutter to score and snap tiles. For intricate cuts, you can use a wet saw with a diamond blade. Another option is an angle grinder with a diamond tile blade for straight cuts. Use proper safety gear with power tools.

How do I grout around electrical boxes or fixtures in the backsplash?

Carefully cut tiles around outlets, switches, and fixtures leaving a 1/8” gap. After grouting, fill those gaps with a matching silicone caulk to seal the spaces and prevent moisture intrusion.


Installing a kitchen backsplash tile yourself can give you the custom look you want, while saving on labor costs. With the right tools, materials, and preparation, it can be an easy weekend DIY project. Planning your design, prepping correctly, applying thinset and grout properly are the keys to success. Remember to allow adequate drying time for adhesive and grout. Follow the steps and techniques outlined here, and you will have a stunning, high-quality backsplash you can enjoy for years.