How to Install Tile Backsplash on Drywall

Installing a tile backsplash on drywall can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right materials and some basic DIY skills, you can add a stylish, easy-to-clean backsplash in a weekend. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install tile backsplash on drywall.

What You Need

  • Tile (ceramic, porcelain, glass, etc.)
  • Tile adhesive (thinset mortar)
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Wet saw (for cutting tile)
  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, mask)
  • Cleaning supplies

Prep the Wall

Before installing the tile, you need to make sure the drywall is in good condition.

  • Clean the wall thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease or soap residue.
  • Fill any cracks or holes with drywall joint compound and let dry completely.
  • Paint the wall with primer to improve adhesion.
  • Let the primer coat dry fully before applying tile.

Plan Your Layout

Plan the tile layout ahead of time so you know how many tiles you need and how they will fit on the wall.

  • Measure the backsplash area and sketch out the tile arrangement.
  • Mix tiles if using more than one type or color.
  • Cut border and edge tiles as needed.

Apply the Tile Adhesive

Apply a layer of thinset mortar to the wall area where you will set the tiles.

  • Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive evenly.
  • Apply only 1-2 square feet at a time so the thinset doesn’t dry out.
  • Use the flat side of the trowel to flatten the ridges and achieve maximum contact.

Set the Tiles

Place the tiles gently but firmly into the thinset adhesive.

  • Use plastic spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines.
  • Push tiles into the adhesive with a slight twisting motion.
  • Check tiles are level and aligned as you go.
  • Cut edge and border tiles as needed with a wet saw.

Let Adhesive Cure

Let the thinset adhesive cure fully before continuing with grouting.

  • Allow 24-48 hours for the adhesive to cure depending on product used.
  • Don’t walk on newly tiled area during curing time.
  • Check tiles are secure by gently twisting.

Apply Grout

Apply grout between the tiles to fill in the joints and spaces.

  • Work in small sections applying grout with a rubber grout float.
  • Hold float at a 45° angle to the surface.
  • Wipe off excess grout so joints are smooth and uniform.
  • Use a damp sponge to clean tile faces and remove grout residue.

Seal the Grout

Once grout has cured, apply a grout sealer to protect it from moisture and staining.

  • Follow product instructions for sealer application and drying time.
  • Apply sealer carefully to only grout lines and joints.
  • Buff off any excess sealer from tile faces with a soft cloth.


What kind of thinset should I use?

Use a polymer-modified thinset for any tile going on drywall. Standard thinsets can dry too quickly and crack.

How long does it take for thinset to cure?

Thinset adhesive will be dry within 24 hours but allow 48-72 hours of curing time before grouting or using the tiled area. Check manufacturer’s instructions.

What is the proper grout line size?

For most tile installations, a grout line between 1/8 and 1/4 inch is recommended. Use spacers when setting tiles to maintain even grout lines.

Should I seal my grout?

Yes, using a grout sealer will protect porous grout from stains and moisture damage. Reapply sealer periodically for continued protection.

Can I use glass tile on drywall?

Yes, glass tile can be installed on drywall if appropriate adhesive and grout is used. Check with the tile manufacturer for specific installation recommendations.

How do I cut tiles for outlets or edges?

Use a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade to carefully cut ceramic, porcelain or glass tiles. Always use water to keep the blade lubricated.


Installing a tile backsplash on drywall is a relatively straightforward DIY project that can make a big impact in your kitchen or bath. Carefully prepare the surface, use proper materials, and take your time laying the tile. Be sure to let thinset and grout cure fully before finishing the job. With some patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a professional-looking, stylish backsplash on your drywall.