How to Replace Tile Backsplash in Kitchen

Replacing your kitchen backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. While it may seem daunting, with the right planning and preparation, you can replace your kitchen backsplash tile successfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to replace tile backsplash in the kitchen.

Selecting the New Tile

The first step is choosing the new tile for your backsplash. There are endless options when it comes to backsplash tiles like ceramic, porcelain, glass, marble, and more. Consider the following when selecting new tile:


Pick a tile that aligns with the overall design and color scheme of your kitchen. Get tile samples and lay them out to visualize how they will look.


Consider the maintenance and durability required for the area around your sink and stove. Porcelain or ceramic tiles hold up better to heat and water than natural stone.


Measure the space to calculate the square footage and estimate how much tile is needed. Costs vary greatly, so set a budget and shop accordingly.

DIY Skill Level

Large format tiles with simple patterns or uniform sizes are beginner-friendly. Intricate tiles require more skill to cut and lay evenly.

Preparing the Workspace

Proper preparation is crucial for a successful tile replacement project.

Clear the Area

Remove everything from the backsplash area including dishes, food items, appliances, etc. Evaluate the space to plan your layout.

Protect Surfaces

Cover counters, floors, and appliances with rosin paper or plastic sheeting to protect from mess.

Materials Needed

Gather all necessary materials before starting – new tile, mortar, grout, tools for cutting, tape measure, etc.

Safety Gear

Wear safety goggles, gloves, knee pads, and other protective gear when working.

Removing the Old Backsplash Tile

Taking down the old tile is the next step. Be sure to:

  • Use a putty knife or oscillating tool to scrape off all the old grout between tiles.
  • Remove tiles gently with a putty knife or pry bar without damaging the drywall behind.
  • Take out all tile nails or screws.
  • Clean the bare wall thoroughly after old tile removal.

Prepping the Area for New Tile

With the old tile gone, prep the backsplash area:

Mark Your Starting Point

Measure and mark a level line at the lowest point to start your bottom row of new tile.

Make Any Repairs

Fill holes, smooth bumps, and fix any issues with the wall itself so it is ready for tile.

Apply the Cement Board

Cut and secure cement board to provide a sturdy surface for the new tile.

Installing the New Backsplash Tile

Now comes the fun part – installing the tile! Follow these tips:

Mix the Mortar

Mix thinset mortar according to package directions. Apply it to the wall space where you’ll place the first tile.

Lay the Bottom Row

Carefully lay the first row of tile against your straight starting line. Use spacers between tiles.

Work in Sections

Continue applying mortar and laying tile section by section up to the top. Let mortar dry before grouting.

Cut Tiles Where Needed

Measure and mark tiles to cut for top and sides. Use a wet saw for clean cuts.

Grout the Tile

Push grout evenly into all joints between tiles. Wipe excess. Let dry completely before sealing.

Seal and Finish

Apply a penetrating sealant to protect grout and leave a sheen on the tile. Caulk edges if needed.

FAQs about Replacing Tile Backsplash

Here are some commonly asked questions about replacing kitchen backsplash tile:

How long does it take to replace a tile backsplash?

For an average sized kitchen, plan on the tile replacement taking 2-3 days – one day for prep work and removing old tile, 1-2 days for installing the new tile.

What tools do I need to replace backsplash tile?

Essential tools include a tape measure, utility knife, pry bar, putty knives, spacers, wet saw, grout float, sponges, buckets, and a mixing drill.

Should I hire a contractor?

An experienced tile setter can ensure it’s done correctly, but a motivated DIYer can replace their own backsplash tile with proper planning.

Can I install new tile over old backsplash?

It’s best to remove old tile completely before installing new to ensure proper adhesion and prevent moisture issues behind the tile.

How do I cut backsplash tiles?

Use a wet saw with a diamond tile blade to cut ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles cleanly without chipping the edges.

Key Takeaways for Replacing Tile Backsplash

Replacing the backsplash tile provides a relatively easy and affordable way to update your kitchen’s style. Follow this process for success:

  • Select the new backsplash tile based on looks, functionality, cost and skill level.
  • Thoroughly prep the workspace by clearing, protecting surfaces, and gathering materials.
  • Remove old tile completely with care not to damage the wall.
  • Ready the area by marking starting point, making repairs, and installing cement board.
  • Carefully lay the new tile row by row using proper mortar and spacers.
  • Cut any specialty shaped tiles as needed using a wet saw.
  • Apply grout between all tiles and let dry fully before sealing.

With proper planning and preparation, you can achieve a gorgeous, on-trend kitchen backsplash makeover. Take all necessary safety precautions and don’t be afraid to get help from a skilled tile contractor if needed. In time you will have a beautiful new backsplash to enjoy for years to come.