How to Redo Tile Backsplash


Redoing a tile backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Whether you want to update outdated tile or need to repair damaged areas, redoing a backsplash is a manageable project for most DIYers. With some planning, patience, and the right materials, you can achieve a beautiful new backsplash in your kitchen.

Assess the Existing Backsplash

The first step is to look carefully at your current backsplash and determine why you want to redo it. Here are some key things to consider:

  • Condition of the tile – Is the tile cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged? This may dictate whether you need repairs or a full replacement.
  • Appearance – Is the tile dated or no longer match your kitchen’s aesthetic? A new backsplash can modernize the whole look.
  • Functionality – Does the tile have enough grout lines or sealant to prevent water penetration? Fix any functionality issues.
  • Layout – Do you want to change the tile pattern or placement? Evaluate any layout changes to make.

Thoroughly inspecting the backsplash will inform the scope of work needed. Address repairs first before applying new tile over damaged areas.

Gather Your Materials

Once you decide on the needed scope, gather the necessary materials for the project:

  • Tile – Select new tile that fits your budget, style, and functionality needs. Get extras for cuts/waste.
  • Backerboard – Cement or wood-based backerboard provides a stable base for the tile.
  • Thinset mortar – Use polymer-modified thinset for a strong bond between tile and backerboard.
  • Grout – Grout fills in joints between tiles. Get a color that complements the tile.
  • Grout sealant – Sealant protects grout from stains. Get the right sealant for your grout type.
  • Tools – Gather tools like a tile cutter, trowel, sponges, buckets, safety gear, etc.

Having all materials readily available will make the installation go smoothly.

Prep the Area

Prepping the backsplash area is crucial for proper tile adhesion:

  • Remove existing tile if necessary using a putty knife or chisel. Scrape off old thinset.
  • Clean the surface thoroughly to remove any grease, dirt, or debris.
  • Make any needed repairs to the drywall or backerboard substrate.
  • Apply new cement backerboard if needed. Cut it to fit the backsplash area.
  • Make sure the surface is as smooth and flat as possible for proper thinset application.

Proper prep prevents your new tile from eventually sinking, cracking, or coming loose.

Apply New Tile

Once prepped, you’re ready to apply the new tile:

  • Plan your tile layout and make any specialty cuts ahead of time using a wet saw.
  • Mix thinset mortar according to package directions. Apply it to the backsplash surface using a notched trowel.
  • Press tiles into the thinset one by one in your planned pattern. Use spacers between tiles.
  • Let the thinset cure fully before applying grout, usually 24-48 hours.
  • Mix grout and apply it over the tiles to fill joints. Wipe away excess.
  • Seal grout once fully cured, usually 72 hours. Apply sealant as directed.

Take your time laying the tile to get your layout perfect and prevent uneven tiles or excess grout.

Maintaining and Enjoying Your New Backsplash

With your gleaming new backsplash installed, just follow these tips to keep it looking beautiful:

  • Use a gentle cleaner and soft sponge to keep tile and grout clean. Avoid abrasive cleansers.
  • Re-seal grout yearly to protect from stains and mildew growth.
  • Repair any chips, cracks, or loose tiles promptly to prevent further damage.
  • Consider adding a backsplash niche or decorative accents to enhance the design.

With proper care, your new backsplash will provide many years of service and give your kitchen a fresh, updated look you’ll love. Enjoy cooking against a beautiful backdrop!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove old tile backsplash?

Use a putty knife, chisel, or oscillating tool to carefully pry off each tile. Scrape off old adhesive and mortar completely so the new tile has a flat surface to adhere to. Wear safety glasses to protect from flying debris.

What tools do I need to install a new backsplash?

Essential tools include a notched trowel for applying thinset, a tile cutter, tile spacers, grout float, sponges, buckets, and safety gear like gloves and eye protection. Specialty tools like a wet saw help make curved cuts.

What is the best tile for kitchen backsplash?

Porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone tiles are best. Look for tiles with a water absorption rate below 7% so they resist moisture damage. Glossy tiles are easier to clean. Mosaics add artistic flair.

How do I get an even grid pattern when installing backsplash tile?

Use tile spacers between each tile to get even grout line spacing. Laser levels help get your starter row perfectly straight. Carefully align tiles and check layout lines often for proper alignment.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile or drywall?

Yes, in most cases. Ensure the surface is in good condition, thoroughly cleaned, and flattened for proper thinset adhesion. You may need to scuff glossy surfaces or use a primer so the thinset sticks.


Installing a new backsplash in your kitchen provides big visual impact with less time and cost than a full renovation. With careful planning, high-quality materials, and proper technique, you can achieve a backsplash makeover tailored to your unique taste and kitchen needs. Take all necessary safety precautions, enlist help to move heavy materials, and don’t be afraid to watch online tutorials for tips. With patience and care, you can gain invaluable DIY skills and have a stunning new backsplash you’ll love showing off for years to come.