How to Replace Backsplash Tile

Replacing your outdated or damaged backsplash tile can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With some planning, right materials, and good techniques, you can install a fresh new backsplash tile that upgrades your space. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to replace backsplash tile.

Assessing Your Current Backsplash

Before replacing your backsplash tile, assess its current state. Determine if it needs repairs or partial replacements, or a complete redo. Look for:

  • Cracked, chipped, or broken tiles
  • Areas of missing grout
  • Stains that cannot be cleaned
  • Outdated or worn style you want to update

Make note of problem spots and the overall condition. This will help you decide the scope of work needed.

Selecting Your New Backsplash Tile

Once you’ve decided to replace the backsplash, choose your new tile. Consider factors like:


Select a style that fits your overall kitchen or bath decor. Options include:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile
  • Glass tile
  • Natural stone tile
  • Metal tile
  • Mosaic tile

Match or complement your counters, cabinets, and flooring.


Consider how the space is used. For example, in a busy kitchen, avoid very light tiles that stain easily. Prioritize durability.


Decide on basic installation layout. Options include:

  • Simple straight design
  • Diagonal tile pattern
  • Decorative border
  • Accent tile design
  • Mix of tiles

Plan tile placement to avoid small cuts or uneven spacing.

Tile Size

Standard sizes are:

  • 2 x 2 inch
  • 4 x 4 inch
  • Subway tile (3 x 6 inch)
  • Mosaics (1 x 1 inch)

Larger tiles mean fewer grout lines. Smaller sizes allow more creativity.


Choose a color that pops or blends. Finish options:

  • Glossy
  • Matte
  • Textured

Consider wipeability especially behind cooking areas.

Gathering Your Materials

Before starting, gather all the necessary materials:

  • Tile and amount needed
  • Tile adhesive mortar
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowels
  • Spacers
  • Grout float
  • Mixing bucket
  • Tile cutter
  • Safety gear

Match quantities to the project size. Having everything upfront prevents delays.

Preparing the Surface

Proper prep work ensures your new tile adheres well and lasts.


Thoroughly clean the existing backsplash surface. Remove any oil, grease, or soap residues.


Fix any damaged areas of drywall or plywood behind existing tile. Smooth and flatten the surface.

Remove Appliances

Detach any sinks, stoves, or appliances from the walls to access the full backsplash area.

Take Out Old Tile

Carefully pry off existing tile with a putty knife or chisel. Be sure to remove all old tile pieces and adhesive.

Prep the Bare Surface

Sand and fill any imperfections in the bare wall surface so it is smooth. Prime very porous drywall or plywood.

Pro tip: If the bare wall is in good shape, you can tile over it, saving time and mess.

Installing the New Tile

Once prepped, it’s time to install your fresh new backsplash tile.

Plan Tile Layout

Dry lay your pattern to map out tile placement and cuts. Balance the layout. Cut border tiles as needed.

Mix Adhesive Mortar

Mix the mortar per package directions. Let it slake for 10 minutes before using to “wet set” method.

Apply Mortar

Use the flat side of the trowel to apply a thin, even layer of mortar to the wall surface. Apply only as much as you can tile in 30 minutes.

Place Tiles

Press tiles firmly into the mortar, using spacers for even grout lines. Work in small sections.

Finish Gaps

Go back and cut any custom tiles to fit around edges and gaps using a wet saw or tile cutter.

Allow the mortar to cure completely per manufacturer’s directions before grouting.

Grouting the New Backsplash

Once your tile adhesive has cured, it’s time to grout the joints.

Mix and Apply Grout

Mix grout per package instructions. Use a grout float to spread it across the tile joints, pressing firmly into gaps.

Clean Excess Grout

Let the grout firm up slightly and then wipe diagonally across the tiles with a damp sponge to clean off excess.

Seal Grout

Once grout has cured fully, apply a penetrating grout sealer. This will protect the grout from stains.

Polish and Clean

Use a soft cloth to gently polish the tile surface once grouted. Wash the new backsplash well before using.

Enjoy Your Fresh New Backsplash!

With good prep, patience, and care, you can install an attractive, durable backsplash tile that upgrades your space. Use high-quality materials and take your time for best results. Be proud of your DIY achievement every time you admire your beautiful new backsplash!