How to Redo a Kitchen Backsplash

Redoing your kitchen backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. With the right materials and proper preparation, you can upgrade your backsplash into a stunning focal point. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to redo a kitchen backsplash.

Choosing New Backsplash Materials

There are endless options when selecting materials for your new backsplash. Consider factors like your budget, kitchen aesthetic, and how easy the material is to maintain. Some top choices include:


Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile remains one of the most popular backsplash materials. Tiles come in an array of sizes, textures, colors, and patterns. They are affordable, easy to clean, and durable. Subway tiles, mosaic tiles, and large format tiles are great modern options.


Natural stone like marble, granite, and slate make for a sophisticated, high-end backsplash. Stone is heat resistant and sturdy but can be more difficult to cut and install. Honed or tumbled finishes give stone a less glossy look.


Metallic backsplashes are contemporary and stylish. Stainless steel, copper, and aluminum can make a bold statement. Metal is very low maintenance but scratches easily. Consider brushed or hammered finishes for added dimension.


Using glass tile or sheet glass for a backsplash creates a shiny, sleek look. materials like mirrored glass, patterned glass, or colored glass add great visual interest. Glass is heat and water-resistant but also fragile.


Wood backsplashes bring natural warmth and texture to a kitchen. Use real wood planks or veneer sheets on the wall. Unfinished wood can be sealed for protection. Distressed or whitewashed wood gives a cottage vibe.

Preparing the Workspace

Proper preparation is crucial for a smooth installation. Follow these steps to get your workspace ready:

  • Remove existing backsplash material completely by prying off tiles or scraping off adhesive. Fix any damaged areas of drywall.
  • Clean the backsplash area thoroughly and fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Let dry completely.
  • Before applying new tiles or panels, paint the backsplash area with primer to improve adhesion. Allow primer to dry fully.
  • Gather all materials and tools needed for installation like adhesive, grout, tiles, trowel, spacers, grout float, and mixing buckets. Have a wet saw ready for cutting tile.
  • Cover other surfaces like countertops and floors with rosin paper or drop cloths to protect from debris and adhesive drips. Tape plastic sheeting over cabinets and appliances.
  • Turn off power at the main breaker. Remove any outlets, switches, or light fixtures from the backsplash area.

Installation Tips by Material

Follow material-specific tips to properly install your new backsplash:

Tile Backsplashes

  • Spread thinset adhesive evenly across the backsplash area using a notched trowel. Only cover sections where tiles will immediately be placed.
  • Press tiles firmly into the adhesive, using plastic spacers for even grout lines. Work in small sections. Allow thinset to cure 24 hours before grouting.
  • Mix and apply grout using a grout float. Let sit 15 minutes then scrub off excess grout. Apply grout sealer once dry for stain protection.
  • For a mosaic sheet, apply adhesive to the wall and carefully press the sheet in place. Use a grout bag to fill grout lines.

Stone Backsplashes

  • Stone may require more precise cutting to fit around outlets and corners. Use a wet saw with a diamond blade.
  • Stone is heavier than tile so use a modified thinset adhesive to firmly adhere stone pieces to the wall.
  • Use sanded grout for wider grout lines between stone pieces. Grout lines should be at least 1/8” wide.
  • Seal natural stone with a penetrating sealer before and after grouting to resist stains and etching.

Metal Backsplashes

  • Prime the back of metal panels before installation for better adhesion. Use construction adhesive to affix metal sheets to the wall.
  • Some metal backsplash sheets have a peel-and-stick backing for simpler application directly onto the wall.
  • Use seam tape or sealant designed for metals if creating seams between metal panels. Screws can also be used.
  • Metal backsplashes usually don’t require grout. Use caulk around edges and seams for watertight finish.

Glass Backsplashes

  • Use a high-quality modified thinset adhesive suitable for glass tile or panels. This prevents sliding or sagging.
  • Carefully follow adhesive instructions for setup time before placing glass pieces to avoid slippage.
  • Use premixed sanded grout for glass tiles. Avoid abrasive scrubbing when cleaning off excess grout.
  • Plan out the layout if using colored glass tile to create a pattern or mosaic design. Mix glass pieces from multiple boxes.

Wood Backsplashes

  • Always seal the back of wood thoroughly before installation. Use an adhesive specifically made for wood.
  • For a distressed wood look, lightly sand boards once affixed to the wall. Stain or whitewash boards to desired finish.
  • Carefully wipe away any adhesive that squeezes out from behind boards as you work to prevent drying.
  • Make sure to properly seal and maintain real wood backsplashes to prevent moisture damage over time.

Finishing Touches

Once your new backsplash is installed, finish the project with these final steps:

  • Allow adhesive and grout to fully cure 72 hours before use and wet cleaning.
  • Seal grout lines with a waterproof grout sealer. Apply sealant carefully to avoid coating tile or stone surfaces.
  • Use caulk in corners, around edges, where backsplash meets countertops, or around fixtures to prevent moisture getting behind new materials.
  • Replace any electrical outlets, light switches, or fixtures previously removed. Make sure connections are secure.
  • Examine overall look for any missing or damaged pieces. Fill as needed with spare tiles, grout touch-up, or sealant.
  • Thoroughly clean the entire backsplash to remove dust, dirt, adhesive residue, and haze from grout sealing. Use manufacturer recommended cleaners.
  • Apply protection like painters tape over backsplash if doing other renovation work. Do not let trash, debris, or chemicals contact surfaces.

With proper planning and installation, your kitchen will now have a stunning, long-lasting backsplash you can enjoy for many years. The new backsplash will upgrade your kitchen’s style while also being easy to maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which backsplash materials to choose?

Consider your kitchen’s existing cabinetry, countertops, appliances and decor. Match the style you already have or choose materials that will purposefully contrast and stand out. Also factor in your budget, availability of materials, and ease of maintenance.

What tools do I need to install a new backsplash?

Basic tools include a tape measure, level, primer, notched trowel, mixing buckets, caulk and guns, grout float, sponges, tile cutter or wet saw, drill, and various trowels or knives. Have drop cloths, plastic sheeting, gloves, safety glasses, and a mask as well.

How do I cut glass or stone backsplash materials?

Use a wet saw with a diamond blade designed to cut glass or stone without chipping or cracking it. Always wear eye protection as well as an N95 mask to avoid breathing in silica dust particles. Cut slowly and run water over the blade.

Can I install a backsplash directly over the old one?

It is not recommended. The old backsplash needs to be removed so the new one can properly adhere. Use a putty knife, heat gun, or chemical adhesive remover to fully take down the old backsplash and prep the surface.

Should I use different grout colors in my mosaic tile pattern?

You have a few options. Using contrasting grout colors can make the pattern stand out more. Or choose a neutral grout color close to your tiles to create a more seamless look. White and gray grouts are common choices with colorful mosaic designs.

How long does a backsplash installation take?

It depends on the size of the backsplash area and complexity of the design. Simple tile layouts can be installed in a full day. Large format tiles or natural stone may take several days for cutting, meticulous installation, and proper drying time between steps.


Redoing your backsplash provides the perfect opportunity to upgrade one of the most visible parts of the kitchen. With proper planning and by following material-specific installation techniques, you can achieve a backsplash makeover tailored to your unique style. Taking your time to prep the workspace, measure precisely, apply adhesive and grout carefully, and do final sealing will help your new backsplash look amazing for years to come.