How to Put Up a Glass Tile Backsplash

Installing a glass tile backsplash can be a stylish way to update your kitchen. With their shimmery, reflective properties, glass tiles create a luxurious look while also being easy to clean. Putting up a backsplash yourself is a satisfying DIY project that can make a big visual impact without requiring major renovations. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to put up a glass tile backsplash in your kitchen.

Selecting Your Glass Tile

The first step is choosing the right type of glass tile for your project. Here are some of the most popular options to consider:

Mixed Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic sheets contain a mix of different colored glass tiles, allowing you to create a multi-hued backsplash. The variety of colors and shapes give mosaics an artistic, handcrafted look. The mesh backing makes installation straightforward.

Subway Tiles

Subway glass tiles are rectangular with a longer height than width. Their elongated shape mimics classic ceramic subway tiles. Subway tiles create a sleek, contemporary feel and install quickly in a bricklike pattern.

Penny Round Tiles

Penny rounds are small, circular glass tiles. When installed in a penny pattern with offset rows, they produce a playful polka-dot look. Penny tiles work well for whimsical, eclectic designs.

Large Format Tiles

For a clean, minimalist aesthetic, large format glass tiles are a great choice. Fewer grout lines create a seamless appearance. Large tiles make smaller spaces appear bigger. Use 8×8 inch or 12×12 inch sizes.

Stone/Marble Looks

Textured glass tiles realistically mimic natural stone and marble looks. These add elegance and dimension. Neutral shades work well for traditional kitchens.

Metallic Tiles

Metallic glass tiles contain flecks of metal or metallic coatings for dazzling shimmer. Gold, silver, copper and other metal looks create an opulent, jewelry-inspired statement.

Consider the overall style you want when selecting glass tiles. Order a few samples to view colors and finishes in person before purchasing.

Choosing Your Layout Pattern

Once you’ve decided on tile sizes and styles, map out the layout pattern. Here are some top options:

Bricklike Layout

The classic brick pattern has a timeless appeal. Lay out subway tiles in offset rows, staggering the vertical joints. Keep grout lines minimal for a clean look.

Basketweave or Pinwheel

Arrange rectangular tiles on the diagonal in a pinwheel fashion. Rotate tiles in the same row 90 or 180 degrees. This creates a fun zigzag effect.

Penny Tile Layout

Penny tiles should be installed in an offset penny pattern. Center full round tiles over the grout lines below for a polka dot look.

Stacked Layout

With stacked layouts, tiles are aligned vertically in parallel columns. This works well with longer subway, plank or rectangular tiles.

Mosaic Layouts

Keep the mosaic mesh backing intact and simply cut sheets to fit your space. You can do a bricklike layout with mesh sheets.

Hold up tile samples to visualize the patterns. Mixing sizes like subway and mosaic tiles together can add interest. Include accents like trim pieces, listellos and decorative inlays to complete your design.

Preparing Your Walls

The next essential step is proper wall preparation. Removing any old backsplash material is crucial. The wall surface must be smooth, clean and dry for the tile to adhere correctly.


Wash the entire backsplash area with an all-purpose cleaner and rinse well. Scrub away all grease and cooking splatters.

Sanding and Scraping

If the walls are heavily textured or uneven, you may need to sand them smooth. Scrape off any loose paint.

Filling Holes and Cracks

Fill any holes, cracks or uneven spots with drywall joint compound. Allow compound to dry completely.


Prime walls with a quality tile primer to aid adhesion. Use a brush or roller to apply an even coat. Allow primer to dry fully.

Proper prep establishes a blank canvas for your new backsplash. Your tiles will mount flush and smooth against a level, uniform surface.

Tools and Materials Needed

Gather all the necessary supplies before starting your project. Here is a checklist of items you will need:

Tiling Tools

  • Tile cutter for scoring and snapping tile
  • Tile nippers for edge trimming
  • Grout float for spreading grout
  • Mixing paddles and buckets for grout and thinset
  • Tile spacers for even joints
  • Rubber grout floats for grouting

Safety Gear

  • Safety goggles and gloves
  • Knee pads
  • Dust mask

Additional Supplies

  • Your selected glass tile
  • Thinset mortar
  • Grout (sanded for joints wider than 1/8″)
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowels for applying thinset
  • Mixing bucket
  • Sponges and rags
  • Painter’s tape
  • Tile sealer
  • Clean buckets for water

Gather all equipment and supplies in advance so they are on hand when needed. Ensure you have enough tile and grout purchased as running out mid-project can lead to problems with perfect color matching.

Step-by-Step Installation

Once you have prepped the surface and have all your materials ready, follow these step-by-step instructions for proper installation:

Step 1: Apply Thinset Mortar

Mix the thinset mortar according to package directions, to a smooth, lump-free consistency. Apply a layer evenly to the lower portion of the wall where you will start tiling, using the trowel. Hold at a 45 degree angle and scrape to create ridges.

Step 2: Mount Your Tiles

Press tiles firmly into the mortar, maintaining even spacing with tile spacers. Push the tiles toward the bottom edge of your starter row. Work in small sections so the thinset doesn’t dry. Check tiles for proper adhesion.

Step 3: Continue Laying Rows

Work row by row, wiping away excess thinset as you go. Allow for grout line spacing specified by your tile (often 1/16 or 1/8 inch). Use tile spacers if needed to maintain even spacing. Cut edge and filler tiles as needed with your tile cutter.

Step 4: Let Tile Set

Allow tile to set for 24 hours without disturbance. Then apply grout, using a rubber float. Push into joints with a scraping motion. Go slowly and keep grout even. Allow to slightly harden and then sponge away excess.

Step 5: Seal and Finish

Once grout has cured fully (48 hours), seal the grout and wipe tiles clean with a soft cloth. Apply a final coat of tile sealer for added protection. Caulk edges if needed. Admire your finished backsplash!

Follow these steps carefully to ensure proper installation. Don’t rush through the process. Taking your time will lead to professional looking results.

Grouting Tips and Tricks

Grouting finishes your backsplash nicely while waterproofing tile joints. Here are some useful grouting techniques:

Clean As You Go

Wipe away excess grout immediately so it doesn’t dry and stick on the tile face. Use minimal water.

Grout in Sections

Grout in 3-4 foot sections to prevent it from drying too quickly. Mist the tile lightly with water first.

Pack Grout In

Pack grout into joints by holding the float at a 90 degree angle and pressing firmly. Scrape off excess.

Let Harden Slightly

Wait about 10 minutes until grout feels firm, then sponge off residue. Don’t allow it to fully dry or removal will be harder.

Avoid Smearing

Use a minimum of water when sponging. Too much water makes joints appear darker as it smears grout.

Apply Grout Sealer

After grout has cured for 72 hours, seal it with a penetrating sealer. This prevents staining or discoloration. Apply a thin, even coat with a small paintbrush or sponge.

Following these useful tips will help you achieve clean joints and prevent issues like cracking or staining.

FAQs About Installing a Glass Tile Backsplash

If you’re new to tiling, you probably have plenty of questions about the process. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Should I Hire a Professional?

Installing a backsplash is totally DIY friendly if you have basic tiling experience. Beginners can watch tutorials to learn proper techniques. For complex designs, pros may be needed.

What Type of Thinset Do I Need?

Use white thinset adhesive without latex additives, as latex can discolor glass. Make sure the thinset has adequate bonding strength for walls.

How Do I Cut Glass Tiles?

Never cut tiles dry, as glass shards can scatter. Lubricate the wheel and blade of your tile cutter with water before scoring and snapping each tile. Handle cut tiles carefully to avoid nicks.

Can I Install Glass Tile Over Existing Tile?

It’s not recommended. Removing old tile allows you to prep the wall properly so the new tile bonds tightly. Installing over old tile without adequate adhesion will eventually fail.

How Long Does the Project Take?

The timeline varies based on your tile layout and overall size of the backsplash. Allow a full weekend to complete all steps without rushing. Mosaic sheets install quicker than individual tiles.

Can I Grout Glass Tile with Regular Grout?

Typically, no—unsanded grout is too porous for glass tile. Use a polymer modified sanded grout or epoxy grout. These resist staining and offer better adhesion.

Carefully following each step will ensure your glass tile backsplash installation goes smoothly and yields picture-perfect results!

Mistakes to Avoid With Glass Tile

While glass tile offers distinctive advantages, it also has some unique considerations. Avoid these common mistakes:

Using Latex Additive Thinset

Latex thins glue and allows slip, causing adhesion problems. Use unmodified thinset for glass.

Forgetting the Primer

Un-primed walls cause poor bonding. Primer creates a bonding layer for thinset. Don’t skip this step.

Not Using Enough Thinset

Skimping on thinset leads to hollow pockets behind tile. Spread generously using proper trowel angles.

Grout Smearing

Excess water and over-washing make grout stick to the tile face. Wipe carefully with minimal moisture.

Using Regular Grout

Glass needs epoxy or polymer grout. Traditional grout crumbles and stains. Don’t substitute regular grout.

Forgetting the Grout Sealer

Sealing grout makes it stain-proof. Apply a penetrating sealer once grout has cured completely.

No Edge Trim Pieces

Metal or tile edge trim gives the job a professional finish. Don’t forget these important accents.

With care and patience, you can avoid common pitfalls. Take your time and follow all installation steps carefully.

Maintaining Your Glass Tile Backsplash

Once your new glass backsplash is installed, proper care and maintenance will keep it looking its best. Here are some tips:

Use Soft Cleaning Cloths

For routine cleaning, wipe with a microfiber cloth and mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive pads or scrubbing.

Watch Harsh Chemicals

Don’t use vinegar, bleach and other harsh cleaners on glass tile. Stick to gentle cleaner formulated for glass and tile.

Re-Seal Grout Over Time

Re-apply grout sealer every 1-2 years to keep joints stain-free. Use a penetrating silicone sealer.

Handle With Care

Use care around glass tile to prevent chips and cracks. don’t let pots or pans bang heavily against the backsplash.

Check for Missing Grout

Inspect periodically for any gaps in the grout, and re-grout areas as needed to prevent moisture issues.

Dust Gently

Use a soft cloth to gently dust glass tile. Avoid any grinding dirt or grit that could scratch the smooth finish.

Treat your glass backsplash as the artwork it is! With proper maintenance it will maintain its beautiful, light-reflecting sparkle for years.

Elegant Glass Backsplash Ideas

Glass backsplashes aren’t limited to kitchens—they can transform any room. Here are some gorgeous ways to utilize glass tile:

Metallic Accent Wall

A focal wall of metallic glass tile becomes art. For contrast, pair with white cabinetry and marble counters.

Fireplace Facade

Cover dated brick with rectangular glass tiles. Use large formats and minimal grout lines for a sleek look.

Master Bath Backsplash

Anchor your vanity or tub with a mosaic tile backsplash in soothing hues like aqua or sea glass green.

Dining Room Riser

Run glass subway tile vertically up a short riser behind the dining table for dramatic effect. Uplight for added glamour.

Bar Backsplash

Square penny tiles in bold colors like ruby red or sapphire blue make the perfect lively bar backsplash.

With their endless versatility, glass tiles bring luxury to any space. Consider adding this glamorous detail to create an elegant focal point.


A glass tile backsplash offers many rewards if installed properly. With careful planning, precision, and patience, you can achieve stunning results and elevate your space. Now that you know all the steps and techniques involved, you’re ready to begin your project. Approach the process slowly and thoughtfully. Invest in quality materials and tools. Pay attention to prep, thoughtful design, proper thinset application and gorgeous grout work. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a radiant, light-reflecting work of art handcrafted by you!