How to Put Up a Backsplash


Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does a backsplash provide an extra layer of protection for your walls against splashes and spills, it also serves as a decorative focal point. With so many materials and designs to choose from, installing a kitchen backsplash may seem daunting. But with proper planning and preparation, how to put up a backsplash is actually a very doable DIY project for most homeowners.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to put up a backsplash in your kitchen. We will cover how to select the right backsplash materials, tools required, steps for installation, grouting and sealing, and finally how to maintain your new backsplash. Whether you are looking to install a simple subway tile backsplash or want something more intricate like glass mosaic or travertine, this guide has got you covered. So let’s get started!

How to Choose a Backsplash

The first step to how to put up a backsplash is deciding on the right backsplash for your kitchen. With endless options to choose from, it can get overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Follow these tips to select the perfect backsplash material and design for your space:


Some popular backsplash materials include:

  • Ceramic or Porcelain Tile – A classic option available in glossy or matte finish. Easy to clean and durable. Subway tiles are a popular rectangular style.
  • Glass Tile – Elegant and reflective. Requires careful grout sealing. Mosaics create artistic designs.
  • Natural Stone – Marble, travertine, slate etc. Provide a sophisticated look. Need re-sealing annually.
  • Metal – Copper, stainless steel or tin tiles give an industrial vibe. Good heat resistance. quick cleanup.
  • Peel-and-Stick – Budget-friendly vinyl tiles that are easy to install. Limited styles but reusable.

Factors to Consider

Keep the following factors in mind when selecting a backsplash:

  • Durability – Pick a material that can withstand stains, moisture, heat and frequent cleaning. Glass and stone are more prone to damage than ceramic or metal.
  • Ease of cleaning – Materials like ceramic and metal tiles are easier to clean than textured stone.
  • Style – Match the backsplash design to your overall kitchen decor – traditional, modern, rustic etc.
  • DIY skill level – Peel-and-stick backsplashes are beginner-friendly. Stone or mosaic sheets require more expertise.
  • Budget – Prices range from as low as $5 per sq. ft. for vinyl to $50 per sq. ft. for premium stone.
  • Maintenance – Some backsplashes like natural stone require yearly sealing. Others like ceramic are virtually maintenance-free.

Once you select the material, decide on the color, pattern, accents and backsplash area to cover. It typically runs 4 inches tall above the counter, but you can customize it to your liking. Use your existing kitchen elements like cabinetry, countertops and appliances to inspire your backsplash design.

Tools and Materials Needed

Installing a kitchen backsplash requires careful prep work and the right tools. Ensure you have these supplies before starting:

Essential Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Tile cutter (wetsaw for stone)
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout float
  • Mixing bucket
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout sealer


  • Backsplash tiles
  • Thinset mortar
  • Grout
  • Caulk/silicone sealant
  • Primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloths
  • Rags
  • Sponge
  • Utility knife
  • Safety gear – gloves, googles, mask

Make sure to use white thinset mortar for glass or stone backsplashes. Get premixed grout that matches your tile color. Have extra tiles on hand in case of breakage.

Preparing the Work Area

Now comes the exciting part – prepping your kitchen for how to put up a backsplash! Proper prep work ensures a smooth installation. Here are the key steps:

  • Remove existing backsplash if any. Scrape off old tile adhesive.
  • Clean the wall surface thoroughly and fill any uneven spots or holes with spackle.
  • Apply primer to freshly patched walls and allow it to dry.
  • Use painter’s tape and rosin paper to mask off the area below your backsplash. Cover countertops.
  • Mark a level line on the wall at the desired height. This will guide your first row of tiles.
  • Plan the tile layout – determine center point, establish level lines for tile orientation.
  • Dry fit tiles to determine optimal placement and cuts. Transfer the plan to the wall.

The prep stage can be tedious but it establishes a clean, level surface for a professional-looking finished backsplash.

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Once the prep work is complete, it’s time for the main event – installing the backsplash tiles! Follow these key steps closely for flawless execution:

Step 1: Apply Thinset Mortar

  • Use a notched trowel held at 45-degree angle to spread thinset evenly.
  • Cover only enough area you can tile in 20 minutes before the thinset dries.
  • Rake thinset lines in same direction for optimal adherence.

Step 2: Set the Backsplash Tiles

  • Starting at center point, press tiles firmly into thinset starting with the first row.
  • Use tile spacers between each tile for consistent grout line spacing.
  • Check tiles for level frequently using a carpenter’s square. Adjust as needed.
  • Cut border and specialty tiles using a wet tile saw if needed. Use blade suitable for material.

Step 3: Let Tiles Set

  • Allow tiles to set for 24-48 hours without disturbance before grouting.
  • Use painter’s tape to hold tiles in place and fill any gaps in tile joints.
  • Don’t walk on freshly installed tiles until they are completely set.

Step 4: Mix and Apply Grout

  • Allow thinset to dry completely before grouting between tiles.
  • Mix grout per package directions. Apply evenly using a rubber grout float.
  • Push grout diagonally into joints ensuring complete fill with no gaps or holes.
  • Clean excess grout using a damp sponge in circular motion. Rinse sponge frequently.

Step 5: Seal and Finish

  • Allow grout to cure fully before sealing. Check packaging for time needed.
  • Apply grout sealer following product instructions. Seal tile surface too if required.
  • Use caulk to seal joints between counter and backsplash or any tile-to-wall gaps.
  • Remove painter’s tape gently once caulk dries. Clean any residue/haze.
  • Enjoy your stunning new backsplash!

Follow each step patiently for best results. Seek experienced assistance if tiling around electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures etc.

Grouting Do’s and Don’ts

Grouting completes your backsplash installation and influences its final look. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:


  • Wait at least 24 hours after setting tiles before grouting
  • Use sanded grout for joints wider than 1/8 inch
  • Push grout into joints forcefully to avoid holes or pits
  • Clean tiles diagonally across joints to prevent smearing
  • Allow 48-72 hours for grout to cure properly before sealing


  • Rush through grouting or let it dry on tile face
  • Mix more grout than can be used in 30 minutes
  • Grout if tiles are loose, cracked or missing
  • Apply sealer before grout has cured fully
  • Use too much water when sponging as it weakens grout

Following these grouting tips will ensure your tiles stay securely adhered for years.

Caring for Your Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash inevitably gets grimy with grease, food splatters and fingerprints. Follow these maintenance tips:

  • For ceramic, porcelain or metal, use a multi-surface cleaner or dish soap and water. Avoid abrasive scrubbers.
  • Clean stone backsplashes with a pH-neutral stone cleaner and microfiber cloth. Re-seal annually.
  • For glass mosaic, use a gentle glass cleaner and soft cloth. Don’t use squeegees or scrapers.
  • Immediately wipe up any food, grease or soap scum – don’t let it linger.
  • Avoid getting wall area behind backsplash too wet to prevent moisture damage.
  • Re-caulk anywhere you see cracked or loose grout joints, especially near the sink.

With proper care, your kitchen backsplash will maintain its beauty and function for over a decade!


Here are some frequently asked questions about how to put up a backsplash:

How long does it take to install a kitchen backsplash?

The total time will vary depending on the size of your project, but expect the installation process to take 2-3 days from start to finish. Allow adequate drying time between steps.

What tools do I need for a backsplash installation?

Basic tools like a tape measure, tile cutter, trowel and grout float are essential. You may also need a wet saw for cutting stone. Have grout, caulk, thinset and other materials ready.

What is the best height for a backsplash?

The most common height is 4 inches above the counter. But you can customize it based on your preference and ceiling height. Standard backsplash heights range from 4 to 6 inches.

Should backsplash tiles match my countertop?

Not necessarily. Contrasting tiles can provide visual interest. But make sure the colors and styles coordinate. Matching your existing countertop also works well.

How do I cut tiles for fitting edges and outlets?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade (or score and snap tiles) to cut border tiles to size. Use a rotary tool for intricate cuts around outlets and fixtures.


We hope this guide has equipped you with everything needed for a stress-free DIY backsplash project, including tips for how to put up a backsplash. Just take it step-by-step, prep your workspace properly, and use quality materials. Don’t forget the finishing touches like grout sealing and caulking. Maintain your backsplash regularly so it stays in top condition for years of daily use.

With the right know-how and some careful planning, you can install a backsplash like a pro! So roll up those sleeves, get your tools ready, and prepare to completely transform your kitchen.