How to Install Tin Backsplash for Your Kitchen

Installing a tin backsplash is an easy and affordable way to upgrade your kitchen’s decor. A metal tin backsplash can add visual interest, reflect light, and give your kitchen an industrial chic vibe. With some planning and basic DIY skills, you can install a stunning tin backsplash in your kitchen in just a weekend.

Things to Consider Before Installing a Tin Backsplash

When preparing for a tin backsplash installation, keep the following in mind:

Choose the Right Metal

Tin is the most popular metal for backsplashes, but you can also use stainless steel, copper, brushed nickel or aluminum. Each material has a distinct look.

  • Tin – Affordable option with a weathered, vintage appearance. Comes in various colors like silver, copper, black or white.
  • Stainless Steel – Gives a modern, sleek look. Easy to clean and maintain. Can show fingerprints.
  • Copper – Warm, rustic appearance that patinas over time. More expensive than tin.
  • Brushed Nickel – Subtle shine and luster. Works well with cool-toned kitchens.
  • Aluminum – Lightweight and modern. Prone to scratches.

Pick a Style

Metal backsplashes come in sheets, shingles, tiles, and penny rounds. Tiles or sheets offer full coverage while pennies provide a dotted mosaic look.

Measure Carefully

Take detailed measurements of the entire backsplash area including outlet placements. This will determine how much material you need to order.

Account for Texture

Surface texture impacts visual appeal. Options include smooth, ribbed, diamond-patterned, hammered, distressed, or embossed.

Consider Finish

Matte or brushed finishes nicely hide fingerprints while polished finishes have more shine. Weathered patinas add rustic charm.

Check for Waterproofing

Some metal backsplash products have a protective clear coat to prevent water damage and rust. Verify waterproofing properties before purchasing.

Prepare the Surface

The backsplash area must be smooth, clean, and dry for proper metal installation. Proper prep prevents future peeling or cracking.

How to Install a Tin Backsplash

Follow these steps to install a beautiful and functional tin backsplash in your kitchen:

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

It’s important to start with a perfectly smooth, clean surface so the backsplash adhesive adheres properly.

  • Remove existing backsplash completely by scraping off old adhesive and scrubbing the area.
  • Fill any cracks or holes in the wall with spackle and let dry completely.
  • Sand any bumps smooth. Wipe away dust.
  • Clean thoroughly with denatured alcohol to remove grease and soap residue.

Step 2: Plan the Layout

Decide on your sheet metal layout before installing anything.

  • Measure the total dimensions of your backsplash area including outlets.
  • Sketch a layout for the sheets allowing for overlaps and outlets.
  • Cut a few pieces of scrap metal as samples to test the look.
  • Adjust layout as needed to achieve the visual appeal you want.

Step 3: Cut the Metal

  • Use sharp tin snips to cut your sheets to the measurements in your plan.
  • Cut curves by snipping closely spaced triangular notches.
  • File any rough edges smooth with a metal file.
  • Use a drill or jigsaw with a metal blade to cut holes for outlets.

Step 4: Apply Adhesive

  • Apply a thin layer of construction adhesive made for metal on the wall area to be covered. Follow product instructions.
  • Apply dots of silicone adhesive to the back of each metal sheet, spaced a few inches apart.

Step 5: Mount the Metal

  • Press the first sheet onto the wall and hold firmly for 30 seconds to allow the adhesive to adhere.
  • Use a rubber mallet to lightly tap the metal snug against the wall, working out any air bubbles in the adhesive.
  • Continue mounting the other sheets according to your layout, overlapping seams by 1-2 inches.

Step 6: Address Edges and Seams

  • For raw sheet metal edges, use edge banding trim attached with adhesive.
  • Where sheets meet, apply paint-on seam sealant to prevent moisture getting in.
  • For visible seams, cover with metal trim strips attached with silicone.

Step 7: Seal and Finish

  • Caulk along the edges where the metal meets the countertop and walls using a flexible sealant designed for metal.
  • Apply a protective clear coat to shield from moisture if your metal doesn’t have a factory finish.
  • Buff surface gently with a microfiber cloth and metal polish.

And that’s it – stand back and admire your stylish new tin backsplash! Proper prep and care will keep it looking beautiful for years to come.

FAQs About Installing Tin Backsplashes

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing metal backsplashes:

Can I install a tin backsplash over existing tile?

It’s not recommended to install metal backsplashes over existing tile. The grout lines will likely show through the thin metal. It’s best to remove old tile completely down to the wall surface before installing a new metal backsplash.

What tools do I need?

Essential tools include a tape measure, pencil, tin snips, sandpaper, tack cloth, caulk gun, rubber mallet, metal file, drill, screws, and adhesive designed for metal. You’ll also need a step stool or ladder.

What type of adhesive should I use?

Always use adhesives made specifically for bonding metal. Liquid nails or silicone designed for metal are good options. Avoid multi-purpose adhesives which can react with metal over time.

Should I solder the seams?

For moisture prevention, it’s better to use paint-on seam sealant rather than soldering seams. Solder can crack over time with natural expansion/contraction of the metal. Seam sealant remains flexible.

How difficult is it to cut the metal?

Cutting tin is easy with good quality tin snips. The metal is thin enough that the snips slice right through. Go slowly and take sharp turns in small increments. Use a metal file to smooth cut edges.

Should I remove outlets when installing?

It’s recommended to disconnect and fully remove electrical outlets in the backsplash area. This allows full coverage of the wall behind the outlet with adhesive and no gaps around the edges once outlets are re-installed over the metal.

Is a tin backsplash durable?

Metal backsplashes are very durable. Tin holds up well to daily wear and tear and occasional cleaning. Avoid abrasive scouring pads which can scratch the finish over time. Use mild dish soap and soft cloths instead.

Can I mount decor directly to the tin?

Light decor pieces like a utensil rail or shelf brackets can be mounted directly to the tin using proper screws for metal. For heavier items, it’s best to hit a wall stud. Be careful not to crack the tin sheets.

Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a Tin Backsplash

While tin backsplashes are relatively easy for DIYers, you’ll want to sidestep these common mistakes:

  • Not thoroughly cleaning the wall surface before applying adhesive
  • Failing to account for outlets and appliances in measurements
  • Not using backsplash-specific metal adhesive
  • Applying adhesive too sparsely on the back of sheets
  • Forgetting seam sealant and caulk for water protection
  • Using solder instead of sealant on seams
  • Not filing down sharp snipped edges
  • Mounting heavy decor directly to tin instead of studs
  • Using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads on the metal

Avoiding these missteps will ensure your tin backsplash lasts for many years without peeling, cracking, or moisture damage. Slow down and take the time to measure, cut, mount, seal, and finish the backsplash properly.

Maintaining and Cleaning a Tin Backsplash

Like any surface in the kitchen, a metal backsplash needs occasional cleaning to keep it looking fresh. Here are some tips:

  • For everyday cleaning, simply wipe down with a soft microfiber cloth, warm water, and mild dish soap. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Rinse soap residue thoroughly then dry metal completely to prevent water spots.
  • For stubborn grease splatters, spray a small amount of degreaser directly onto the spot then wipe clean.
  • Use a gentle, non-abrasive polish formulated specifically for metal to add shine and protection. Rub gently with a soft cloth.
  • Re-apply protective clear coat sealers annually if needed to shield from moisture damage.
  • Avoid using abrasive sponges or scrub pads which can scratch and dull the finish over time.

With proper care, your tin backsplash will maintain its vintage charm and weathered patina for many years of cooking and entertaining!

Ideas for Decorating With a Tin Backsplash

Beyond protecting your walls from splatters and spills, a tin backsplash serves as an integral part of your kitchen’s decor. Here are some creative ways to accessorize and complete the look:

Add pops of color

Paint or stencil patterns onto your tin backsplash using high-heat spray paint. Geometric shapes, bold stripes, or abstract designs make your backsplash uniquely you.

Contrast with dark cabinetry

A light pewter or silver tin backsplash pairs nicely with espresso cabinets and black countertops for an eye-catching combo.

Complement subway tile

Matching the metal finish of your subway tile edging and light fixtures with a tin backsplash creates a cohesive look.

Hang framed artwork

Secure inspirational framed prints, photos, or mementos directly onto your tin backsplash with magnets for quick changes.

Install open shelving

Floating shelves are perfect for displaying cookbooks, plants, and ceramics against a shiny tin statement wall.

Accent with warm wood

Add floating wooden shelves, butcher block islands, live edge counters or wood stools to contrast the industrial tin.

Incorporate bottle displays

Secure wine bottle holders or railings on the backsplash to exhibit your favorite vintages.

Layer on colorful wall art

Overlapping woven wall hangings, metal cut-outs, or canvas art on top of the metal backsplash adds visual interest.

Add warm lighting

Use pendant lights, under-cabinet lighting or strategically placed track lighting to create a cozy glow on the metallic surface.

With a stunning tin backsplash as your blank canvas, the possibilities for kitchen customization are truly endless!

Alternatives to Tin Backsplashes

While tin is the most popular metal backsplash choice, there are other material options to consider:

Stainless Steel

  • Provides sleek, modern look
  • Comes in various finishes – brushed, satin, mirror polished
  • Easy to clean and sanitize
  • Can show fingerprints or water spots if improperly sealed

Solid Copper

  • Warm, elegant appearance
  • Naturally sanitary surface
  • Will patina or darken gradually over time
  • Significantly more expensive than tin

Metal Tile

  • Mosaic pennies, 3×6 subway, or larger formats
  • Allows you to mix and match metal finishes
  • Smaller scale provides more grout line pattern
  • Grout requires sealing to prevent staining

Galvanized Metal

  • Rustic, industrial aesthetic
  • Low maintenance and budget-friendly
  • Requires careful handling to avoid denting
  • Can corrode if exposed to excessive moisture

Beaded Sheet Metal

  • Retro feel mimicking checkerboard tile
  • Lightweight aluminum material
  • Gives the look of tile without the maintenance
  • Limited color and finish options

While tin panels remain the most prevalent option, explore all your choices before deciding on the perfect metal to complete your dream kitchen!

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Installation

Installing a full backsplash yourself can be satisfying, and also challenging. Consider if your skill level and schedule allow for a DIY metal backsplash project or if hiring a professional tinsmith is a better fit:

Benefits of DIY Tin Backsplash Installation:

  • Cost savings on labor
  • Learn a new hands-on skill
  • Customize to your exact style and specs
  • Work at your own pace around your schedule

Benefits of Hiring a Professional:

  • Perfect full coverage installation and precise cuts
  • Proper handling of electrical outlets and plumbing
  • Access to specialty tinworking tools and materials
  • Save time and avoid installation frustrations
  • Warranties provide peace of mind

If your project scope is large or includes intricacies like built-in shelving, hiring an expert tinsmith is likely worth the investment. For a small space, DIY provides satisfaction. Evaluate your time and skills to decide which approach fits your kitchen project.

Regardless of whether you DIY or hire out, take your time to properly prep the surface, measure carefully, cleanly cut all metal pieces, secure properly to studs, seal seams, and apply a protective finish. These crucial steps ensure your gorgeous new tin backsplash withstands the true test of time – years of family meals and happy memories together in your dream kitchen!


Installing a tin backsplash can take your kitchen from drab to fab in a single weekend. With measured planning, careful prep, and some basic metal cutting and mounting skills, you can transform any dated kitchen into an inviting space with vintage industrial charm.

Remember to thoroughly clean the surface, map out your sheet metal layout, carefully cut and file the tin panels, apply proper metal adhesive, firmly press to mount, seal all seams, caulk edges, and finish with a protective sealant. Work slowly and methodically. Rushing through steps can lead to peeling, gaps, and moisture damage over time.

Once your elegant tin backsplash is properly in place, decorate and highlight it with shelves, wall art, warm lighting and your treasured kitchen collections. Keep its lustrous finish by gently wiping clean with dish soap and water. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.

With proper installation and care, you’ll enjoy your stunning, budget-friendly tin backsplash for many years as it beautifully withstands the hustle and bustle of daily life. Let your tin backsplash serve as the shining metal centerpiece of your warm, welcoming dream kitchen.