How to Install Tile Backsplash with Schluter Trim

Installing a tile backsplash can add visual interest and style to your kitchen. Using Schluter trim pieces gives the backsplash a clean, finished look. With some planning and the right materials, installing tile backsplash with Schluter trim is a DIY-friendly weekend project.

What You’ll Need

  • Tile – ceramic, porcelain, glass, etc.
  • Thinset mortar
  • Grout
  • Trowel
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Schluter trim pieces – inside corners, outside corners, edging
    -Utility knife
  • Caulk
  • Mixing bucket
  • Grout float
  • Grout sealer
  • Safety gear – gloves, eye protection, knee pads

Preparing the Wall

Before tiling, make sure the wall is clean and free of any old backsplash, wallpaper, paint, etc. Fill any holes or uneven spots with spackle so the wall is smooth. Prime and paint the wall with a tile bonding primer to help the thinset mortar adhere.

If there are any outlets in the backsplash area, remove the cover plates and turn off power before starting. Protect switches/outlets by covering with painter’s tape.

Planning Your Layout

Map out the tile layout on the wall, starting in the center and working outward. Use a level to draw straight horizontal guidelines in pencil. These will keep tiles level and help you plan full or partial cuts.

Measure the total length and height to determine how many full tiles will fit. Avoid thin sliver cuts by adjusting starting points. Plan trim locations – inside/outside corners, edges, above countertops, etc.

Cut border or edge tiles as needed with a wet saw. Mix up thinset mortar following package directions. Let mortar sit 5-10 minutes before using.

Applying the Tile

Use a notched trowel to spread a thin layer of thinset on the wall, about 1/4″ deep. Press tiles firmly into the thinset, using spacers for even alignment. Work in small sections so mortar doesn’t dry before tiles are applied.

For inside corners, cut and fit the Schluter trim first, then tile up to the edge. At outside corners, apply trim over tiles for a finished look. Use tile nippers to notch tiles around outlets.

Check tiles periodically with a level and use a rubber mallet to correct any dips or high spots. Let thinset cure 24 hours before grouting.

Grouting and Finishing

Mix grout following package instructions, using a float to press into tile joints. Hold float at a 45° angle to prevent dragging grout out of the joints. Let grout cure, then use a damp sponge to clean off excess.

For a clean finish along countertops or edges, apply caulk where tile meets the counter or wall. Wipe away excess. Use Schluter trim along the top edges, caulking between trim and wall.

Finally, seal grout lines with grout sealer to protect from moisture and stains. Buff off excess sealer with a soft cloth. Caulk around fixtures, outlets, corners, etc for a polished look. Enjoy your new backsplash!

FAQs About Installing Tile Backsplash with Schluter Trim

What type of tile is best for backsplash?

Glazed ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile work well. Look for tiles with uniform thickness and straight edges to make installation easier. Mosaic sheets are a convenient option too.

What tools do I need to cut tile?

You’ll need a wet saw with a diamond blade to accurately cut ceramic, porcelain, or glass tiles. A manual tile cutter can cut some straight lines. Use a tile nipper for small nips around outlets or fixtures.

How are Schluter trims installed?

Trim pieces attach to the wall with thinset mortar. Some have a self-adhesive backing strip. Apply trim before or after tiling depending on style. Seal seams with caulk or sealant.

What thinset mortar should I use?

Use mortar suitable for the tile material and application. Latex or polymer modified thinset works best in wet areas like backsplashes. White thinset is recommended for glass tile.

How long does thinset mortar take to cure?

Thinset needs 24 hours to fully cure before grouting. Mortar that has skinned over but is still damp can lead to cracked or loose tiles later.

What’s the best way to get clean grout lines?

Carefully apply grout by holding the float at a 45° angle to avoid dragging it out of joints. Let it cure slightly and use a damp sponge to clean the haze.

How do I cut holes for outlets in tile?

Mark the opening and use a carbide tipped holesaw to cut the hole. Use nippers to nip away tile edges. Cover outlets with painter’s tape during tiling.

Should I seal the grout?

Sealing grout is highly recommended, especially in kitchens. Grout sealer protects the grout from stains and moisture. Apply it after grout has fully cured.


Installing a tile backsplash with Schluter trim upgrades your kitchen style while also being a manageable DIY project. With proper planning and preparation, the right tools, and care during application and grouting, you can achieve beautiful results. The finished backsplash provides an easy-to-clean focal point that pulls the whole room together.