How to Put Up Backsplash Tile in Your Kitchen

Installing a backsplash tile in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Not only does tile add an extra design element, it also protects your walls from water damage and splatters while cooking. Putting up tile backsplash is a manageable project for any DIYer with the right planning and preparation. Follow this step-by-step guide to successfully put up backsplash tile in your kitchen.

Gather Your Materials

Before starting any tile project, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials. Here is what you’ll need to put up backsplash tile in your kitchen:

  • Tile – Ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone tile are popular options. Purchase enough tile to cover your backsplash area with an extra 10% to account for cuts and errors.
  • Tile adhesive – Choose an adhesive suitable for your tile and wall material. Thinset mortar is a common option.
  • Grout – Grout fills in the spaces between tiles. Choose a grout color that complements your tile.
  • Trowels – A notched trowel is used to spread adhesive on the wall. A rubber grout float is used for grouting.
  • Tile cutter – Cuts tile to fit around outlets and corners. A snap tile cutter is a good affordable option.
  • Spacers – Small plastic crosses keep tiles evenly spaced.
  • Grout sealer – Seals grout lines and prevents staining.
  • Other supplies – safety glasses, dust mask, grout sponge, bucket, drop cloth, tile cleaner, etc.

Prepare Your Backsplash Area

Proper prep is crucial for a long-lasting backsplash installation.

  • Remove existing backsplash tile if present. Fix any damage to wall before applying new tile.
  • Clean the backsplash area thoroughly and fill any holes or cracks with spackle. The surface must be smooth.
  • Plan your tile layout. Mark the center point and work outward. Use spacers to test fit tiles.
  • Tile below the upper cabinets first if not doing the entire wall. Install a temporary support for a clean bottom edge.

Install the Tile

Once your prep work is complete, it’s time to put up the tile:

Step 1 – Apply the Adhesive

  • Spread a thin layer of tile adhesive on a small section of the wall using a notched trowel.
  • Only apply as much as you can tile in 20-30 minutes before the adhesive dries.

Step 2 – Set the Tiles

  • Place the first tile against your center point and press firmly.
  • Use spacers between tiles for consistent spacing.
  • Cut border tiles to size with tile cutters.
  • Periodically check tiles for levelness.

Step 3 – Grout the Tiles

  • Let the adhesive cure fully per manufacturer instructions before grouting, usually 24-48 hours.
  • Spread grout over the tiles using a rubber grout float. Push grout into spaces between tiles.
  • Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Apply grout sealer once grout has cured at least 72 hours.

Final Touches

Once your tile is up, finish the job with these final steps:

  • Seal around edges with caulk or silicone sealant.
  • Clean tile surface with ceramic tile cleaner and soft cloth.
  • Consider adding an accent strip or decorative border tiles.
  • Caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop.

With proper planning and preparation, installing a tile backsplash is totally achievable for a DIYer. Carefully follow each step and take your time to create a stunning focal point in your kitchen. Your new backsplash tile will provide a stylish, easy-to-clean surface that upgrades the look of any kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of tile is best for backsplash?

Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone are common backsplash tile options. Glass and metal tile can also make a statement. Choose a material that fits your budget and design aesthetic.

How do I cut the tile to fit around outlets and corners?

Use a snap tile cutter to score and break tile to the size and shape needed around outlets, corners, and borders. Angle grinders, nippers, and wet saws can also be used.

Can backsplash tile be installed directly over drywall or plaster?

No. Drywall and plaster are too smooth for tile adhesive to properly bond. A cement backerboard or water-resistant underlayment must be installed first.

What type of tile adhesive should I use?

For walls, a polymer-modified thinset adhesive is recommended. Urethane adhesives also work well. Always check that the adhesive is suitable for the tile material and wall surface.

When is it safe to grout the tiles?

Grouting should be done once the tile adhesive has fully cured, usually within 24-48 hours. Check the adhesive manufacturer instructions for exact cure times.

How do I clean and maintain the tile backsplash?

Use a pH neutral ceramic tile cleaner and soft cloth for routine cleaning. Reapply grout sealer periodically per manufacturer recommendations. Check grout lines for cracks and re-grout if needed.


Installing a tile backsplash enhances the look of any kitchen while also protecting the walls from splatter, moisture, and damage. With the right materials and proper preparation, you can achieve stunning results and increase your kitchen’s functionality. A tiled backsplash will upgrade your cooking space with style that lasts for years to come. Follow these step-by-step instructions and you’ll be on your way to a picture-perfect kitchen backsplash.