How to Put a Backsplash in a Kitchen

Installing a stylish backsplash is one of the most popular and affordable ways to update the look of your kitchen. With some planning and the right materials, putting in a new backsplash is a doable DIY project. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to put a backsplash in your kitchen.

Choosing Your Backsplash

There are tons of options when it comes to backsplash materials like ceramic tile, metal, glass, and stone. The material you choose can complement your cabinetry and countertops. Popular options include:

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

  • Affordable, easy to install
  • Range of colors, textures, and styles
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Easy to clean

Natural Stone

  • Granite, marble, travertine, slate
  • Elegant, upscale look
  • Each piece unique
  • Can be pricey
  • Needs sealing

Glass Tile

  • Shimmering, sleek appearance
  • Variety of colors and finishes
  • Translucent for backlighting
  • Can be prone to cracking


  • Stainless steel, tin, copper, bronze
  • Sleek, modern look
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Can dent or scratch

The size of the tile and your kitchen’s layout will help determine the best material. Make sure to pick a style that fits your needs and aesthetics.

Preparing Your Workspace

Proper preparation is crucial for a successful backsplash installation. Here are some steps to prepare:

  • Clear countertops and remove anything on walls where the backsplash will be installed.
  • Protect floors, countertops and appliances with rosin paper, plastic sheets, or cardboard.
  • Turn off electricity to outlets that will be behind the backsplash.
  • Have all your supplies ready – tiles, adhesive, grout, tools, etc.
  • Make sure the surface of the installation area is clean and dry.

Preparing the space properly ahead of time will make the installation process go smoothly.

Install Backer Board

Before applying tile, it’s important to have a solid backing surface on the wall. Cement backer board provides this stable layer and prevents moisture from seeping through. Here is how to install it:

  • Measure area and cut cement board to size using utility knife or circular saw.
  • Apply thinset mortar to back of boards with a notched trowel.
  • Firmly press and adhere boards to wall. Fasten with backer board screws.
  • Make sure boards are level and spaced properly for tiles.
  • Seal seams between boards with mesh tape and thinset.

Backer board creates an ideal sub-surface for strongly bonding the backsplash tiles.

Lay Out Your Tile

Before adhering any tiles, do a dry layout to map out the pattern and visualize how it will look. This will prevent any surprises or mistakes later on.

  • Play around with tile arrangement to see desired pattern.
  • Mix tiles from different boxes to disperse color/shading.
  • Cut border and accent tiles to proper size as needed.
  • Use spacers to account for grout lines and even spacing.
  • Make adjustments until you have the optimal layout.

Taking time to lay out tiles beforehand ensures your backsplash design is aligned and aesthetically pleasing.

Apply Thinset and Set Tiles

Now comes the fun part of actually setting your tiles into place. Be sure to work methodically and carefully.

  • Apply thinset adhesive to the backerboard using a notched trowel. Apply only a small area at a time.
  • Firmly press tiles into the thinset one by one using a slight twisting motion. Use spacers.
  • Check lines and spacing as you go to ensure everything is even.
  • Use tile nippers for any edge cuts needed.
  • Let thinset cure overnight before grouting.

Applying the thinset properly and setting tiles accurately takes patience, but prevents issues down the road.

Grout the Backsplash

Grouting fills the joints between tiles, unifying the whole backsplash surface. Here are tips for grouting:

  • Allow thinset to fully cure before grouting, usually 24 hours.
  • Apply grout along the joints using a rubber grout float or squeegee.
  • Let grout sit for a few minutes before wiping away excess.
  • Clean grout haze with a damp sponge in circular motions.
  • Apply grout sealer once dry for protection and waterproofing.

Take care to fully clean grout lines and remove haze. Proper grouting makes your backsplash look polished.

Finish and Seal the Installation

Once all tiles are set and grout has cured, apply any final finishing touches:

  • Caulk perimeter edges between backsplash and countertops/walls.
  • Reinstall outlets or switch covers removed earlier.
  • Seal grout and tiles with sealant for durability and stain resistance.
  • Use a tile cleaning product to remove any last residue or haze.
  • Examine the whole backsplash and fix any visibly uneven tiles.

Taking these final steps ensures your backsplash stays beautiful for many years.

Backsplash Installation Tips

  • Stick to uniform grout line widths for consistency.
  • Work in small sections for easier thinset and grout application.
  • Keep spare tiles handy in case replacements are needed.
  • Use leveling clips for installing larger format tiles.
  • Plan grout color to complement tile color and style.
  • Protect newly installed backsplash from heavy impact for 2-3 days.

With good planning and preparation, you can install an amazing backsplash and totally transform your kitchen. Just take it step-by-step. Let your new backsplash be an inspiration each time you walk into your kitchen!

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to install a backsplash?

Basic tools needed include tile cutters, mixers, buckets, notched trowels, grout floats, sponges, tape measure, level, utility knife, caulk gun, etc. A wetsaw is also useful for intricate tile cutting. Having the right tools makes the installation much easier.

What’s the best way to cut ceramic tiles?

You can cut ceramic tiles using manual snippers or a wetsaw for more precise long cuts and notches. A standard circular saw with a diamond blade can also work. Score the tile and break the pieces along the cut lines.

How do I remove an existing backsplash?

Carefully pry off tiles with a putty knife or pry bar, working in sections. Scrape off remaining mortar or adhesive. Remove drywall anchors. Sand and prep the wall surface for the new backsplash.

Should I seal my natural stone backsplash?

It’s highly recommended. Sealing makes natural stone less porous and prevents stains. Re-apply sealer every 1-2 years. For marble, use an acid-free sealer specifically for calcite-based stone.

What about a backsplash for a rented apartment?

Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles are great temporary options. Some click together and are removable. There are also backsplash panels or faux tiles that adhere without damaging walls.


Installing a backsplash can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s appearance and function. With the right planning, materials, and technique, you can create a backsplash you will love. Just focus on proper surface prep, careful tile laying, and meticulous grouting. The end result will be a stunning, quality backsplash that upgrades your whole kitchen. With this comprehensive guide, you can feel confident to tackle this rewarding DIY project. So go ahead and add that extra flavor to your kitchen with a stylish new backsplash!