How to Replace Backsplash in Kitchen

Replacing a kitchen backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your cooking space. With some planning and elbow grease, it’s a project that can be tackled by motivated DIYers. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to replace your kitchen backsplash.

Gather Materials and Tools

Before starting demolition, make sure you have all the necessary materials and tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • New backsplash tiles or panels
  • Mortar or adhesive to match your new material
  • Grout that coordinates with your new backsplash
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutter and snips
  • Trowel for spreading mortar/adhesive
  • Grout float and grout sponge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Safety glasses and work gloves

Having these tools and supplies ready ahead of time will make the installation process much smoother.

Remove the Old Backsplash

Start by protecting nearby surfaces from damage. Cover counters, appliances, and floors with drop cloths. Remove items from counters and walls to provide a clear workspace.

Use a pry bar and hammer to remove the existing backsplash from the wall. Start at the bottom and work upwards. Be careful not to damage the underlying drywall as you pry off tiles.

Scrape off any remaining mortar or adhesive from the wall using a putty knife. Get the wall as smooth as possible for the new backsplash.

Sweep and vacuum to remove any remaining debris. The workspace should be clean and ready for new tile.

Prep the Area

Check for any damage to surrounding drywall or existing wall surfaces. Fill small holes with drywall compound and let dry completely.

For glossy or semi-gloss painted walls, take extra time to prep so the new tiles adhere well. Lightly sand the surface and then wipe clean to remove grease and dirt.

Use painter’s tape to mask off any adjacent areas you don’t want to get messy with thinset or grout. Cover nearby outlets with plastic guards.

Install the New Backsplash

Apply a thin layer of mortar or adhesive to the backwall using a notched trowel. Spread evenly over an area the size of 2-3 tiles.

Press tiles into place with even spacing. Use plastic spacers between tiles to get consistent grout lines. If cutting border or accent tiles, measure and cut using tile snips or a tile cutter.

Let the mortar cure fully (usually 24 hours) before proceeding with grouting. This will prevent tiles from shifting.

Mix up grout using manufacturer instructions. Apply over tiles using a rubber grout float. Push into joints and lines thoroughly.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then scrub off excess grout with a wet sponge. Rinse sponge frequently.

Allow grout to cure fully (24-48 hours) before using kitchen fixtures. Avoid direct water contact for 1 week to allow grout to harden.

Seal grout lines with a penetrating sealer to prevent staining and damage. Re-seal every 1-2 years.

Tips for Success

  • Stick to solid backsplash panels like glass or ceramic tile for do-it-yourself projects. Materials like metal often require professional installation.
  • Arrange accent tiles before setting anything to ensure the desired layout. Mix up pieces for the best overall look.
  • For a clean finished edge, install trim pieces along countertops, walls, and cabinets. Use caulk to seal any gaps.
  • When removing an old backsplash, go slowly to avoid damaging the wall behind. Use painters tape for a clean tear-away line.
  • Thoroughly clean all surfaces before installing new tiles. Adhesive will not stick well to dirty or greasy areas.

Replacing your outdated or damaged kitchen backsplash can revive the whole look of your cooking space. With the right tools and techniques, it’s a project any motivated DIYer can take on to add style and flair. Just take it slow and steady. Before long, you’ll have a brand new backdrop for cooking up delicious meals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Replacing a Kitchen Backsplash

What is the easiest backsplash to install?

The easiest DIY backsplash is peel-and-stick tiles or panels. They go up with adhesive pads, requiring no mortar or grout. Vinyl sheets and stainless steel panels are also simpler than traditional tile.

How do I remove stubborn old backsplash adhesive?

For adhesive that putty knives and scrapers can’t remove, use a heat gun to soften it up. Another option is an adhesive remover chemical designed for backsplashes. Apply a solvent-based remover with a coarse rag and let it sit before scraping.

Can I install a new backsplash over the old one?

It’s best to remove the old backsplash completely before installing new tile or panels. Covering over old materials often leads to poor adherence and an uneven finish. Removing also allows you to fix any underlying issues.

What’s the best grout for kitchen backsplash?

Epoxy grout is the top choice for kitchens. It’s waterproof, stain-proof, and stands up to heat and daily wear-and-tear. Unsanded grout is also a good option since it can get into tight joints smoothly. Match the grout color to your tile.

How do I cut glass backsplash tile?

Use a glass cutter, running the wheel firmly along a measurement line. Tap the underside to break cleanly. For irregular cuts, use a rotary tool with a diamond blade. Always wear safety goggles when cutting glass materials. Go slowly and carefully.

Can I do a backsplash with no grout lines?

It is possible to get a seamless look. Choose polished stone slabs or marble that can be installed tightly. Use a high-quality thinset mortar suitable for groutless application. Take extra care to get tiles perfectly level and lined up.


Updating your kitchen backsplash brings a fresh, new look with just a little bit of work. Doing it yourself saves on labor costs and allows you to customize with unique tile patterns. Patience and proper technique will ensure your new backsplash lasts for years of beauty and protection behind the stove. With a stylish new backsplash as your focal point, get ready to enjoy cooking in your refreshed kitchen every day.