How to Put Up a Backsplash in Your Kitchen

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. A stylish backsplash serves both form and function – protecting your walls from splashes and spills while adding visual interest. With some planning and preparation, putting up a kitchen backsplash is a DIY project many homeowners can tackle. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to put up a backsplash in your kitchen.

Choose Your Backsplash Material

The first step is deciding on the material for your backsplash. Popular options include:

  • Ceramic tile – A classic choice, ceramic tile comes in endless colors, shapes, and patterns. It is durable, easy to clean, and relatively affordable.
  • Glass tile – Glass tiles make a gorgeous backsplash that reflects light beautifully. They are available in an array of colors and styles. Glass tile can be more expensive than ceramic.
  • Metal tile – Metallic backsplashes like tin, copper, or aluminum tile add a contemporary, industrial vibe. Metal tile is very durable but can dent if struck hard.
  • Stone tile – Natural stone like marble, travertine, or granite make an elegant statement. Stone is expensive but luxurious. It needs to be sealed regularly.
  • Mosaic tile – Tiny mosaic tiles form intricate patterns when pieced together. Popular options are glass, ceramic, or stone. Mosaics make a bold style statement.

Consider the overall look you want for the kitchen, and choose a material that aligns with your budget. Order extra tiles to account for cuts and breakage during installation.

Prepare the Surface

Before installing the backsplash, you need to make sure the surface of the wall is properly prepared:

  • Remove any existing backsplash completely, along with all old adhesive and grout. The surface should be stripped down the bare wall.
  • Thoroughly clean the wall area with a degreasing cleaner to remove dirt, grease, and soap scum. Rinse well and let dry fully.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections in the wall with spackle compound. Let dry and sand smooth.
  • Prime the surface with a layer of primer to improve adhesion. Allow the primer to dry fully before tiling.

Proper prep ensures your backsplash tiles adhere tightly to the wall and last.

Plan Your Layout

Now it’s time to map out the backsplash design. Here are some tips:

  • Draw a diagram of the backsplash area including measurements. Map out placements of tiles, accents, and trim.
  • Purchase a tile spacing tool to evenly space tiles and get professional results.
  • For mosaics, sketch a pattern to follow when installing the small tiles.
  • Account for outlets, switches, and obstacles like windows when designing the layout.

Take time planning so you can visualize the finished look and order the correct amount of materials.

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need the following supplies for tiling the backsplash:

  • Tile adhesive mortar
  • Grout
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter
  • Mixing bucket
  • Tile trowel
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Caulk
  • Razor knife

Make sure to use products designed for your specific tile material. Have all tools and accessories on hand before starting.

Install the Backsplash Tiles

Now comes the fun part – installing the backsplash! Follow these steps:

  1. Mix a batch of tile adhesive mortar as directed on the package. Spread it on a small section of the wall using a notched trowel.
  2. Press tiles into the mortar one by one using spacers for even spacing. Use a level often to ensure tiles are straight.
  3. Let the mortar fully cure per package instructions before grouting. This often takes 24 hours.
  4. Mix grout and apply it over the tiles using a grout float. Let it sit briefly before wiping away excess.
  5. After grout dries, apply caulk between the counter and backsplash for a finished look.

Work in small sections, wiping away excess adhesive and grout as you go. Allow adequate drying time between steps.

Seal and Finish the Backsplash

The final touches will complete your newly tiled backsplash:

  • If using natural stone, apply a penetrating sealer to protect from stains and etching.
  • Buff off any remaining grout residue with a soft cloth once fully cured.
  • If desired, apply a haze remover solution to deep clean and polish the finish.
  • Caulk along the edges and between the backsplash and countertop with a flexible, waterproof caulk.
  • Finally, enjoy your stunning new backsplash! It will be a focal point of your kitchen for years to come.

With proper planning and patience, installing a kitchen backsplash is a very doable DIY project for any homeowner. Always use high-quality materials and safety gear, and don’t be afraid to call in a tile pro if you need assistance. Your beautiful new backsplash will provide endless style and functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cut tiles for outlets and switches?

Use a wet saw or manual tile cutter to precisely cut notches in tiles to fit around outlets and switches. Turn off power while working around electrical.

What’s the best way to get clean edges when tiling?

Use painter’s tape along the edges and remove it after applying mortar. This prevents getting adhesive on cabinets, countertops, etc.

Should my backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?

Most standard backsplashes are 4-6 inches above countertops. Going to the ceiling can make a bold visual statement.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile or drywall?

Yes, just make sure to prep the surface properly so the new tiles adhere well. Some additional preparation may be needed.

How do I clean and care for my backsplash?

Use mild soap and water combined with a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasive pads that could scratch or damage the finish.


Installing a kitchen backsplash allows you to put your personal stamp on your cooking space. With the right preparation and materials, it can be a fun, achievable DIY project. Always plan thoroughly, follow all product instructions carefully, and work slowly and methodically. Be sure to properly seal and grout the tiles for long-lasting durability and cleanliness. Your new backsplash will provide an attractive, easy-to-clean focal point in your kitchen for many years of beauty and function.