How to Redo Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function – protecting the walls from splashes and spills while also adding style. As trends and tastes change over time, you may find yourself wanting to redo your backsplash to create a fresh new look. Approaching a backsplash redo strategically can ensure a successful project. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to redo kitchen backsplash.

Selecting a New Backsplash Material

Choosing a new backsplash material is the first step in redoing your kitchen backsplash. Consider the following options:


Tile allows for endless customization in terms of colors, textures, sizes, and patterns. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are durable, easy to clean, and stain resistant. Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, and granite add elegance. Mosaics create a mosaic look.


  • Huge variety of styles
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Heat resistant


  • Grout requires maintenance
  • Heavy and may require professional installation


Glass tile backsplashes have a luminous, shiny appearance. Materials like subway glass tile and recycled glass tile come in different colors and textures.


  • Light reflective surface
  • Sleek, modern look
  • Durable and water-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Heat resistant


  • Grout requires maintenance
  • Not as much variety as ceramic tile
  • Prone to chipping if hit


Metallic backsplashes like tin, copper, brass, and stainless steel make a bold statement. Stainless steel provides an industrial modern look.


  • Highly heat resistant
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easy to clean
  • Rust/tarnish resistant metals available


  • Limit color/finish options
  • Shows scratches
  • Higher cost


Natural stone like marble, travertine, limestone, and granite can create an elegant backsplash.


  • Elegant, high-end look
  • Heat and stain resistant
  • Durable


  • Expensive
  • Requires sealing
  • Scratches and etching show

Engineered Quartz

Engineered stone like quartz is non-porous making it very hygienic. It comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors.


  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Resists stains
  • Non-porous
  • Wide range of colors/patterns


  • Expensive
  • Can chip or crack
  • Requires professional installation

Choosing the Right Backsplash Color

Choosing a backsplash color that complements your kitchen design is key for a cohesive look.

Match Countertop Color

Selecting a backsplash color that matches or coordinates with the countertop creates flow. For example, pair white marble countertops with a white marble subway tile backsplash. Or complement a gray quartz countertop with a backsplash in various shades of gray.

Matching the countertop and backsplash color minimizes the visual clutter of too many colors in a kitchen. It also makes a small kitchen appear larger.

Complement Cabinets

Coordinate backsplash tile colors with cabinet finishes to tie the whole kitchen together. For light wood cabinets, use a backsplash in warm tones like cream, beige, or tan. With darker wood cabinets, create contrast with a backsplash in lighter tones like white, light gray, or soft blue.

Matching the undertones of the cabinets and backsplash prevents clashing. For example, pair an espresso cabinet with a backsplash containing warm brown undertones rather than cool grays.

Consider Paint Colors

Take wall color into account when selecting a backsplash. Contrasting colors can make the backsplash pop. But colors too similar in tone may get washed out.

Lighter paint colors like white, ivory, or light gray allow for any backsplash color. Darker wall colors pair best with bright or light backsplash colors to prevent a cave-like feeling.

Be Wary of Overpowering Colors

While color in the backsplash adds vibrancy, take care not to choose a color that overwhelms the space. Overpowering colors make the kitchen feel smaller and dated quicker.

Stick to classic neutral colors like white, gray, beige if concerned. Add pops of color with accent tiles sparingly. Vibrant backsplash colors can quickly feel loud.

Preparing for a Backsplash Redo

Proper planning and preparation ensures an efficient backsplash installation.

Measure Carefully

Take detailed measurements of the backsplash area including walls, windows, outlets, and any obstacles. This allows you to map out the tile layout and purchase the right amount of tile.

Measure multiple times as walls are rarely perfectly straight. For backsplashes with a focal point, like behind a stove, measure this area separately.

Purchase Extra Tile

Order 10-15% extra tile than calculated. This accounts for broken tiles and provides leftovers for future repairs. Store leftovers together to avoid mismatches if more tiles are needed.

For specialty or customized tiles, order an extra 25% as reordering those can be impossible or lead to noticeable color differences.

Gather Tools and Materials

Assemble all necessary tools and materials before starting. Essentials include:

  • Tile saw with diamond blade
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout float
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowel
  • Mixing bucket
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout

Use sanded grout for joints wider than 1/8 inch and unsanded for smaller joints. Have extra tile adhesive and grout on hand.

Prepare the Surface

Remove the existing backsplash completely. Scrape off any remaining adhesive. Ensure the surface is clean and smooth.

Seal porous surfaces like drywall. Prime painted areas for better adhesion. Make any repairs to walls before tiling. Address outlets and lighting needs.

Lay Out the Design

Map out the tile layout using a chalk line for straight lines. This includes determining the tile orientation, pattern, accents, and border.

Dry laying a few tiles on the floor allows you to visualize the design. Adjust to get the desired look before installing.

Step-by-Step Backsplash Installation

Follow these steps for proper tile installation:

Step 1: Apply Adhesive

Spread a thin layer of tile adhesive on the backsplash area using a notched trowel. Apply only enough that remains sticky before the tiles are set, usually a few square feet at a time.

Step 2: Set the Tiles

Press tiles firmly into the adhesive, using spacers between them for consistent alignment. Work in small sections.

Use a level and chalk line to keep the row straight. For intricate patterns, follow the layout map. Pay attention to accent and border tiles placement.

Step 3: Cut Custom Pieces

Use a wet saw or tile cutter to cut border and filler tiles to fit edges and openings. Measure and mark tiles carefully before cutting.

Cut tiles gradually, testing the fit often for precision. Finish exposed edges of cut tiles for a clean look.

Step 4: Let Adhesive Cure

Allow tile adhesive to cure completely per manufacturer instructions before grouting, usually 24-48 hours. Test several tiles to ensure they are firmly set.

Lift any loose tiles and re-apply adhesive for proper adhesion before grouting.

Step 5: Mix and Apply Grout

Prepare grout per package directions. Apply grout over the tiles using a rubber grout float. Push grout firmly into joints until completely filled.

Take care to avoid smearing grout on the tile faces. Keep grout lines uniform for a clean finish. Allow grout to set slightly before wiping.

Step 6: Wipe and Seal Grout

Use a damp sponge to wipe excess grout off the tile surface in a circular motion. Rinse sponge and re-wipe until no residue remains.

Once grout has cured fully, apply grout sealer following manufacturer directions to protect from moisture and stains.

Step 7: Finish and Clean

Remove all spacers. Clean any remaining haze or film off tiles with a cleaner recommended by the tile manufacturer.

Use caulk in joints between the counter and backsplash or where backsplash meets another surface to prevent water intrusion.

Backsplash Redo: Dos and Don’ts

Follow these dos and don’ts for a professional looking backsplash installation.


Do leave even grout lines. Uneven grout lines look sloppy.

Do wipe down excess grout before it dries. Dried grout can stain the tiles.

Do double check for lippage. Raised edges between tiles can catch grime.

Do allow tile adhesive to cure fully before grouting. Grout will not bond properly otherwise.

Do clean tiles with the manufacturer recommended products only. Harsh cleaners can damage tiles.


Don’t install backsplash tiles directly over drywall. Seal and reinforce it first.

Don’t walk on newly tiled backsplash. The tiles can shift and adhesive can be compressed.

Don’t mix different tile lots. Variations in color/texture between batches will show.

Don’t grout before adhesive has cured completely. It increases the risk of tiles loosening.

Don’t forget the grout sealer. Unsealed grout will stain easily.

Tips for Maintaining Backsplash

Follow these tips to keep the backsplash looking like new for years:

  • Use a gentle cleaner designed for the specific tile material. Harsh cleaners can etch, fade, or damage tile glazes.
  • Wipe spills immediately to prevent staining, especially with grout and natural stone. Letting stains set makes them harder to remove.
  • Re-apply grout sealer annually or as recommended to protect from moisture damage. Check for cracks or gaps in grout over time.
  • Inspect for loose or damaged tiles. Re-adhere loose tiles promptly to prevent moisture issues behind them.
  • Limit use of abrasives on backsplash. Scouring pads, abrasive cleaners, etc can scratch or dull the tile surface over time.


How do I remove the existing backsplash?

Carefully score around tiles with a utility knife then knock them out using a hammer and chisel. Scrape off old adhesive until smooth, taking care not to gouge drywall. Use adhesive remover if needed.

What tools do I need for tiling?

Essential tiling tools include a tile cutter, tile spacers, mixing buckets, notched trowel, grout float, sponges, tile saw, and assorted trowels. Have safety gear like gloves and eye protection.

What tile adhesive should I use?

Choose polymer-modified thinset mortar adhesive for walls and areas with temperature fluctuations. Avoid mastic or organic adhesives. Ensure adhesive is suitable for the tile material.

How soon can I grout after installing tile?

Wait 24-48 hours minimum after applying adhesive before grouting. Ensure tiles are firmly set first. Grout cures faster than adhesive, so wait until adhesive has hardened properly.

How do I cut tile around outlets and openings?

Use a ruler to measure and mark tile. Align cuts with outlet center point. Cut tile to fit around openings in gradual increments for precision. Use edge trim if needed.

How do I prevent cracking between backsplash and counter?

Run a thin, continuous bead of neutral cure silicone caulk between the backsplash, countertop, and any abutting surfaces. Tool into crevice for clean finish. Caulk prevents water damage.

What is the average cost to redo a backsplash?

The average cost to redo a backsplash is $25-$50 per square foot including materials and labor, depending on the tile type. Simple tear out of the old backsplash with a basic replacement typically starts around $800-$1200.


Redoing a kitchen backsplash can revive the entire look of your kitchen. With proper planning, high-quality materials, and careful installation, you can achieve a backsplash with the style, function, and durability you desire. Use these tips and tricks for a successful backsplash redo from start to finish.