How to Put Up Tin Backsplash

Adding a tin backsplash to your kitchen can be a fun and easy way to update the look of the space. Tin backsplashes provide a unique, vintage-inspired aesthetic that works well in many kitchen designs. Installing a tin backsplash is also a DIY-friendly project that can be completed in a weekend. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to put up a tin backsplash in your kitchen.

Choose the Right Tin for Your Backsplash

The first step is selecting the right type of tin for your backsplash project. Here are some of the most popular options:

Vintage Tin Ceiling Tiles

These tiles are designed to mimic old stamped tin ceiling tiles. They come in different patterns like diamonds, hexagons, and squares. Vintage tin ceiling tiles have an antiqued finish that creates a timeworn look. The tiles are made from steel and coated in tin.

Rusted Tin

Rusted tin backsplash tiles have a weathered, aged appearance. Natural tin develops a patina and rust when exposed to the elements for a long time. Rusted tin tiles aim to recreate this look with an oxidized finish. The rustic vibe pairs well with many kitchen styles.

Copper Tin

Copper tin tiles offer a warmer, more golden tone than other tin options. The copper finish gives the tiles a soft glow. Copper tin has an understated elegance that suits both traditional and modern kitchens.

Nickel Tin

Nickel tin tiles have a silvery shine that results in a cooler, sleeker look. The lighter color of nickel tin helps brighten up small, dark kitchen spaces. The metallic finish gives any kitchen a polished, upscale feel.

Choose the Finish

Tin tiles for backsplashes come in smooth, brushed, or hammered finishes. Smooth tin has a seamless look. Brushed tin has light scoring for more texture. Hammered tin has an irregular, pitted surface for a handcrafted appeal.

Plan the Layout

Once you’ve selected the right tin for your backsplash, it’s time to map out the layout:

  • Measure the backsplash area – Note the height and length of the backsplash space. Most range from 4 to 6 feet.
  • Decide on orientation – Determine whether you want vertical or horizontal tile orientation. Vertical tiles can create a taller, more expansive look. Horizontal tiles tend to be more traditional.
  • Choose your design – Look at patterns like running bond, herringbone, bricklay, or a geometric mosaic. A combination of big and small tiles can add interest.
  • Account for outlets – Make sure to note any electrical outlets or switches on your plan. These will need to be worked around.
  • Consider finishes – Mixing up tin finishes like smooth, brushed, and hammered can make the design more dynamic.
  • Envision grout lines – The width of grout lines will impact the overall look. Skinny grout lines emphasize the tiles while wide grout lines make the grout more noticeable.

Prepare the Backsplash Area

To get the backsplash area ready for tin tile installation:

  • Remove old backsplash – Take down any existing backsplash. Scrape off all old caulk and adhesive thoroughly.
  • Clean the surface – Wash the backsplash area with soap and water to remove dust and oils. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Repair and patch – Fix any holes, chips, peeling paint, or uneven spots on the backsplash surface. Let patching compounds dry completely.
  • Prime the wall – After repairs, apply a coat of primer to the entire backsplash area. Use a high-quality primer suited for kitchens.

Priming helps tin tiles adhere properly. Let the primer dry fully before moving to the next step.

Install the Tin Tile Backsplash

Once prepped, you can start installing the tin tile backsplash:

Step 1: Plan Your Pattern

  • Dry lay your pattern starting from the center and working outwards.
  • Mix up tin finishes and tiles for visual interest.
  • Ensure tiles fit tightly without any gaps.
  • Adjust to evenly cover the area and achieve the desired layout.

Step 2: Measure and Cut Border Tiles

  • Measure and mark borders and corners where tiles must be cut to fit.
  • Use a straight edge and utility knife to score and snap tile.
  • For detailed cuts, use tin snips. For clean, smooth cuts, use a rotary tool with a metal cutting blade.
  • Test cut tiles to ensure proper fit.

Step 3: Apply Adhesive

  • Apply a thin layer of construction adhesive to the back of each tile using a notched trowel.
  • Use an adhesive designed for metal like PL Premium.
  • Only apply adhesive to areas that will immediately be covered with tile.

Step 4: Install Tin Tiles

  • Firmly press tiles into place starting at the center according to your layout.
  • Push tiles upwards into the adhesive to remove any air pockets.
  • Use spacers between tiles to ensure even grout line width.
  • Periodically inspect the backsplash to ensure tiles are flush and adhered.

Step 5: Let Adhesive Cure

  • Allow adhesive to fully cure for 24-48 hours before continuing.
  • Keep foot traffic away to prevent dislodging tiles while adhesive sets.
  • Refer to adhesive instructions for exact cure times.

Step 6: Apply Grout

  • Mix a batch of grout according to package directions. Use an epoxy-based grout for metal tiles.
  • Apply grout along the grout line gaps using a grout float or rubber grout float.
  • Push grout deeply into gaps to avoid air pockets.
  • Wipe away excess grout as you go for a neat application.
  • Allow grout to cure per product instructions, usually 24-72 hours.

Step 7: Seal and Finish

  • Once grout has cured, apply grout sealer following label directions. This prevents staining or discoloration.
  • Wipe down the entire backsplash with a soft, damp cloth to remove residue and dust.
  • Use a non-ammonia based cleaner and soft cloth for ongoing backsplash care.
  • Avoid abrasive cleansers or scrubbing to prevent scratching tin tiles.

And that completes the installation process of a beautiful and durable tin tile backsplash! Take time to properly plan the layout and prep the backsplash area. Measure twice and cut carefully for a seamless look. With the right adhesive and grout, the tin backsplash can handle wear and tear for many years of cooking.

Tin Backsplash Maintenance Tips

To keep your tin backsplash looking like new over time:

  • Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner – Avoid harsh chemicals or scrubbing pads/sponges that can damage the tin finish.
  • Re-seal grout every 1-2 years – Reapplying grout sealer prevents staining, discoloration, and damage to grout lines.
  • Fix cracks immediately – Repair any grout cracks right away before moisture gets behind tiles and causes adhesion issues.
  • Dry wet surfaces ASAP – Quickly dry any water on backsplash from cleaning or cooking to prevent water stains on tin.
  • Use a backsplash guard – Installing a clear, removable backsplash guard can protect the tin from grease splatter and food prep mess.
  • Handle with care – Take care not to drop kitchen tools or appliances on tin tiles to prevent denting.

With proper care and maintenance, a tin backsplash can stay beautiful for a lifetime. The unique, vintage-style appeal tin brings to a kitchen makes the extra diligence worth it!

Tin Backsplash Pros and Cons

Like any design choice, tin backsplashes have both advantages and disadvantages:

Pros of a Tin Backsplash

  • Vintage aesthetic – Tin backsplashes have an undeniably retro, industrial chic look. This sets them apart from typical backsplash materials.
  • Design versatility – From patinas to polished finishes, smooth to hammered, tin backsplashes fit with any style from modern to farmhouse.
  • Durability – Tin is surprisingly resilient against kitchen messes, heat exposure, and wear-and-tear. Properly sealed tin backsplashes can last for many years.
  • Easy to install – Tin backsplash tiles are relatively lightweight and easy to cut and install compared to natural stone or ceramic tile.
  • Environmentally friendly – Tin is highly recyclable and tin backsplash tiles contain recycled content. This makes tin an eco-conscious choice.
  • Affordability – Tin tiles are comparable in price to other metal backsplash options like stainless steel. Tin provides big visual impact without a big price tag.

Cons of a Tin Backsplash

  • Requires sealing – Porous grout lines must be properly sealed and maintained to prevent staining or discoloration issues over time.
  • Prone to scratches – A tin backsplash can be dented or scratched by falling kitchen tools and abrasive cleaners if not careful.
  • Needs gentle cleaning – Tin cannot be cleaned with harsh chemicals or scrubbing. Special care must be taken to clean gently and avoid damage.
  • Patinas change over time – The antique look of patina tin will naturally evolve and change color as the tin ages. Some may desire a consistent appearance.
  • Noise potential – Sound from pots, pans, and appliances can reverberate off a tin backsplash. Thin foam adhesive pads can help dampen noise if needed.

Overall, tin backsplash tiles require a bit more maintenance and care than some materials. But weighed against their unique, vintage vibe that transforms the look of a kitchen, most find the benefits outweigh any drawbacks.

Cost to Install a Tin Backsplash

The cost of installing a tin backsplash in your kitchen will depend on a few key factors:

  • Tile selection – Vintage tin ceiling tiles tend to be the most budget-friendly option, starting around $5 per square foot. More intricate or rare patterns can range from $15-30 per square foot.
  • Backsplash size – The overall square footage of your backsplash will determine how many tile sheets need to be purchased. Standard backsplashes range from 15-30 square feet.
  • Specialty tools/cuts – Intricate tile cuts or shaped edges may require special tools like a rotary tool that add to the DIY cost. Or pro installation fees if outsourcing the work.
  • Adhesives/grout – Quality epoxy-based grout and construction adhesive designed for metal backsplashes will provide the most durable finish.
  • Contractor vs DIY – Hiring a professional contractor typically costs $50 per hour for simple installations, scaling up based on backsplash intricacy.

With DIY installation of affordable tin ceiling tiles and basic tools, you can expect a total project budget between $300-500 for a standard 20 square foot backsplash. Hiring out installation can start around $1000-1500 depending on contractor rates and backsplash specifics.

Hiring a Contractor vs. DIY Tin Backsplash

Installing a tin backsplash in your kitchen can be accomplished by either hiring a professional contractor or opting for a DIY project. Here’s an overview of the two approaches:

Benefits of Hiring a Contractor

  • Specialized tools and skills – Contractors have all the necessary tools (snips, brake, etc.) and skills for tricky tile cuts.
  • Perfect finished product – Experienced contractors are detail-oriented to ensure a flawless end result.
  • Efficiency – Contractors can complete the project much faster than a DIY pace.
  • Licensing – Reputable contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured.
  • Warranty – Many contractors provide a warranty on their tin tile installation workmanship.

Benefits of DIY Installation

  • Cost savings – Purchasing materials and installing it yourself is less expensive than contractor fees.
  • Customization – You can take your time and customize every design detail.
  • Learning experience – You’ll learn a new skill and gain confidence taking on the project yourself.
  • Satisfaction – Many homeowners find immense satisfaction in transforming their kitchen themselves.
  • Flexible schedule – You can work at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Assess your skill level, budget, and how much time you can dedicate to the project. In many cases, DIY tin backsplash installation is very doable, especially for quick learners with attention to detail. Don’t be afraid to call in backup if the project starts getting over your head!

Tin Backsplash Ideas and Inspirations

When designing your dream tin backsplash, there are endless possibilities! Here are some eye-catching tin backsplash inspirations to spark your creativity:

  • Two-tone tin – Mixing complementary tin finishes like aged copper and brushed stainless makes a statement.
  • Geometric patterns – Playful geometric shapes like triangles, diamonds, octagons give the backsplash depth.
  • Creative mixes – Weaving metal, tile, stone, or wood with tin tiles amps up the visual interest.
  • Textural combinations – Pairing smooth, brushed, and hammered tin finishes together adds appealing texture.
  • Tin inserts – Use tin as an accent, like a strip of hammered tin subway tiles or tin inserts in a stone mosaic.
  • Tin ceiling motif – Use tin ceiling tiles or mimic stamped metal ceiling designs for vintage flair.
  • Shaped tin – Incorporate interesting shapes like concave, convex, octagonal or fishscale tin tiles.
  • Tin counter – Extend your backsplash tin tile to cover a section of countertop behind the stove for a seamless look.

The ideal backsplash design highlights your personal taste and the kitchen’s existing features. Whether you go for an elegant, retro, rustic or ultra-modern vibe, the creative possibilities with tin tiles are endless!

FAQs About Tin Backsplashes

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about installing and caring for tin backsplashes:

How is tin backsplash installed?

Tin backsplashes are installed similarly to ceramic tile. The process involves priming the surface, applying adhesive, precisely cutting and placing the tin tiles, then filling in grout lines. Epoxy-based adhesive and grout work best for durability.

How durable is tin for backsplashes?

Tin is actually very durable! Properly installed and sealed tin can withstand heat, grease, moisture, and normal wear-and-tear for many years. Avoid abrasive cleaners and harsh scrubbing to prevent scratching.

Can tin backsplash go behind a stove?

Yes, tin backsplash can safely extend behind a stove or cooktop area. The durable tin finish can withstand the heat from stoves. Just take care to thoroughly wipe and clean any grease splatters after cooking.

What are some tin backsplash ideas?

Some top tin backsplash ideas include using vintage tin ceiling tiles, mixing metallic finishes, creating geometric designs, and incorporating tin into stone mosaics or as an accent strip. Get creative with different tin shapes and orientations.

How much does it cost to install tin backsplash?

The cost ranges from $300-500 for DIY using affordable tin ceiling tiles. Hiring a contractor typically starts around $1000-1500, scaling up based on backsplash size and intricacy of the design.

How do you clean and care for a tin backsplash?

Use a non-abrasive, non-ammonia based cleaner and soft cloth to gently clean tin tiles as needed. Re-seal grout lines annually. Immediately dry any water to prevent water stains. Handle tiles gently to avoid scratches or dents.

With their vintage charm and style, tin backsplashes make a gorgeous and functional addition to any kitchen. Follow these tips for a stunning installation that will bring you joy for years to come!


A tin backsplash can instantly infuse your kitchen with eye-catching vintage-inspired style. Prepping the area properly and using quality adhesives and grout during installation are key to creating a durable, long-lasting tin tile backsplash. With some planning and effort, you can DIY your way to a stunning new backsplash. Or hire a contractor if seeking to minimize headaches and maximize perfection. Whether you love the look of weathered patinas, hammered texture, or cool metallic sheen, a tin backsplash offers limitless design possibilities to suit your taste. Implement the inspiration and tips from this guide to give your kitchen a fresh new focal point. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to put up some tin!