How to Put Up Backsplash in the Kitchen

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does a backsplash provide an attractive, easy-to-clean surface behind your stove or sink, it also serves as a decorative focal point. With some planning and the right materials, putting up a kitchen backsplash is a surprisingly straightforward DIY project. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to put up backsplash in the kitchen.

Choose Your Backsplash Material

The material you choose for your backsplash will set the tone for your whole kitchen’s aesthetic. Consider factors like budget, ease of installation, and how the material fits with your existing decor. Some top options include:


Tile is a classic and versatile choice. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles come in a huge range of sizes, shapes, textures, and patterns. Mix and match tiles to create your own custom design. Grout fills the spaces between tiles.


Glass tile and glass sheets make for a shiny, sleek backsplash. Opt for different colored, patterned, or even recycled glass. No grout needed.


From stainless steel to copper, metal backsplashes bring contemporary, industrial flair. Some popular looks include tin ceiling tiles or rustic tin penny rounds.


Slate, marble, and granite backsplashes lend an elegant, upscale look. But cheaper stone-look porcelain or ceramic tiles also get the job done.


Real or faux wood planks offer warmth and natural texture. Use weatherproof boards suitable for kitchens.

Gather Your Materials

Along with your backsplash tiles/sheets, you will need:

  • Adhesive – Choose appropriately for your material, like mastic for tile.
  • Grout – Get unsanded grout for joints 1/8″ or smaller. Match grout color to your tile.
  • Trowel – Use a notched trowel to spread tile adhesive.
  • Spacers – Ensure consistent grout lines with plastic tile spacers.
  • Grout float – To smooth and shape grout.
  • Grout sealer – Seal grout lines after they cure to protect from stains.
  • Wet saw – For safely cutting ceramic, stone, or glass tiles to size.
  • Drill – With carbide tip bit for drilling holes in tile for faucet or fixture mounts.

Prepare the Surface

To ensure your backsplash tiles adhere properly, start with a clean, smooth surface:

  • Remove existing backsplash if present. Scrape off all old adhesive.
  • Sand painted walls to roughen them up and provide texture for the adhesive.
  • Clean the installation area thoroughly and fill any holes or cracks with spackle. Let dry completely.
  • Apply painter’s tape along the edges of the backsplash area to protect the surrounding walls.
  • Mark a level line on the wall at the desired height for your backsplash. Use a level tool to ensure it’s straight.

Spread the Adhesive

With your surface prepped, it’s time to prep the tiles:

  • Using the notched end of the trowel, apply a generous layer of mastic adhesive on the backsplash area, holding the trowel at a 45° angle.
  • Spread the adhesive evenly and work in small sections that you can tile before the adhesive dries.
  • If using large format tiles or stone, apply adhesive to the back of each tile as well (known as “back-buttering”).
  • For mosaic sheets, apply adhesive directly to the wall and press sheets in place.

Set the Tiles

Now comes the fun part – laying and spacing the tiles:

  • Starting at the center point, press tiles into the adhesive and slide them into position.
  • Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout line spacing based on your tile size.
  • Check tiles are level and aligned. Adjust as needed before adhesive sets.
  • Continue setting tiles, working outwards from the center and maintaining even spacing.
  • Cut edge tiles to fit using a wet saw. Grind cut edges smooth.
  • Let tiles set for at least 24 hours before grouting. Remove spacers.

Apply the Grout

Grout fills the joints between tiles, adding subtle color and finishing the look:

  • Apply grout by working it into the tile joints using a grout float or squeegee at a 30° angle.
  • Fully pack joints so grout is flush with tile edges. Wipe away excess.
  • Once grout becomes firm, use a damp sponge to smooth joints and shape grout edges.
  • Wipe any remaining grout haze away with a soft cloth once dried.
  • Cure grout for 72 hours and apply sealer to protect from stains.

Finish and Maintain Your Backsplash

Your new backsplash is complete! Finish by:

  • Reinstalling any fixtures like your faucet or soap dispenser.
  • Caulking along countertops, edges, and any bump-outs.
  • Cleaning your backsplash regularly with warm water and mild soap.
  • Re-sealing grout every 1-2 years to keep it looking new.

With the right prep and materials, you can install a stunning, high quality backsplash that makes your kitchen pop. Just take it slow and steady. The end result will bring you pride and enjoyment for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Putting Up a Backsplash

What’s the best way to cut ceramic tiles?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade designed for cutting ceramic tiles and stone. For intricate cuts, use a manual tile cutter first then finish with the wet saw.

How long does tile adhesive take to dry?

Tile mastic adhesive typically sets in 24 hours before grouting. But it’s best to wait 48-72 hours if possible for a stronger bond, especially on walls or with natural stone.

Should backsplash go all the way to ceiling?

It’s common to end a backsplash 4-6 inches from the ceiling, lining it up with your wall cabinets. But extending it to the ceiling can look seamless and add visual height. Your choice!

What about outlets or switches on my backsplash wall?

You can trim tiles around them, but it’s easier to remove the cover plates first, tile over them, then reinstall the plates over the tile. Just make sure not to tile over the box itself.

Can I use different tiles together in one backsplash?

Absolutely! Mixing complementary tiles is a great way to get creative. Just plan tile placement carefully for the best blend of textures and colors.

How do I clean and maintain my backsplash?

Ceramic and porcelain tile are very durable and simple to clean. Just use a soft sponge or cloth with warm water and mild dish soap as needed. Re-seal grout periodically. Avoid harsh cleaners that can degrade grout.


Installing a kitchen backsplash is a weekend project any DIYer can feel proud of. With a well-prepped surface, quality materials, and careful tile-setting, you can completely transform the look of your kitchen. Take time to choose a backsplash design and materials that suit your personal taste and kitchen decor. And don’t be afraid to get creative mixing colors, textures, and tile shapes. Once it’s up, enjoy your new focal point that adds style, personality, and function.