How to Stick on Backsplash

Installing a beautiful backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can really upgrade the look and feel of the space. But properly applying the backsplash tiles is key to getting that seamless, polished result. Here are some tips on how to stick on backsplash tiles like a pro.

Choose the Right Adhesive

The type of adhesive you use will depend on the material of the backsplash tiles.

  • For ceramic, porcelain or glass mosaic tiles, use a white premixed mastic adhesive. Mastic provides a strong, waterproof bond and allows for minor adjustments during installation.
  • For natural stone tiles like marble or travertine, use a premium white mastic that’s designed specifically for natural stone. This provides extra adhesion to prevent slipping or detachment.
  • For metal, foil glass or plastic mosaic tiles, use a clear, solvent-based adhesive. The liquid consistency allows the adhesive to spread smoothly.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the adhesive and let it set to the proper tackiness before installing tiles.

Prep the Surface

Proper prep is crucial for getting the backsplash tiles to stick properly.

  • Clean the installation surface thoroughly to remove any dirt, oil or debris left behind. Wipe it down with denatured alcohol for good measure.
  • Make sure the surface is smooth. Grind down any bumps or uneven spots. Fill any holes or cracks with spackle.
  • Prime painted surfaces with a specialized primer to improve adhesion.
  • For high-moisture areas, apply a waterproof membrane as an extra barrier.

This prevents moisture from interfering with the bond between the tiles and adhesive.

Spread the Adhesive

Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive evenly across the installation area. Apply only as much as you can cover with tiles within 30 minutes.

  • For small mosaic tiles, use a 1/8” notched trowel at a 45 degree angle.
  • For larger tiles over 8”, use a 1/4” or 3/8” trowel.

Spread it in a straight, horizontal direction across the surface to get uniform coverage.

Set the Tiles

Once the adhesive is tacky to the touch, it’s ready for setting the tiles.

  • Place the tiles from the center of the installation area outward. Press each tile firmly into the adhesive with a slight twisting motion.
  • Use temporary spacers between tiles to maintain even grout lines.
  • Make sure tiles are fully embedded so there are no gaps between the tile and adhesive.
  • Don’t spread adhesive too far ahead or it may dry and lose adhesion power before tiles are set.
  • Check periodically to ensure tiles remain flat along the surface as you go.

Finish the Job

Once all the tiles are set, here are some final steps for completing the project:

  • Remove temporary spacers and wipe away excess adhesive after 8-12 hours of setting time.
  • Apply high-quality grout between the tile joints. Use a grout float to spread it smoothly.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles with a damp sponge to clean off excess grout.
  • Apply a silicone caulk where the backsplash meets the countertop or other surfaces.
  • Allow 72 hours for the adhesive and grout to fully cure before using the backsplash.

With the right prep work and installation techniques, you can achieve a stunning, long-lasting backsplash design. Just take your time and stick to the tile-setting basics for flawless results. Let that backsplash become the focal point it deserves to be!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does backsplash tile adhesive take to dry?

Adhesive drying times can vary based on the product used, but most standard backsplash adhesives take 8-12 hours to become firmly set and 24 hours to become fully cured. Check your specific adhesive label for recommended set and cure times.

Can you grout backsplash tile after 24 hours?

It’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours after installing backsplash tiles to apply the grout. This allows the adhesive to fully set and prevents the tiles from shifting when applying the grout. If grouted too early, the tiles may detach from the surface.

What’s the easiest way to stick tiles to the wall?

Using a high quality thinset mortar or tile mastic adhesive is the easiest and most effective way to adhere tiles to walls. Apply an even layer of adhesive with a notched trowel, let it become tacky, then press tiles into place for a strong bond and hassle-free installation.

Should you caulk backsplash tile?

Yes, caulking where the backsplash meets countertops, sinks, or other surfaces helps prevent moisture from seeping behind the tiles and compromising adhesion. Use a flexible, waterproof silicone caulk that matches your grout color.

Can you use super glue to install backsplash tile?

No, super glue is not an adequate adhesive for installing backsplash tiles. It won’t provide a strong enough bond. Use a backsplash-specific thinset or mastic adhesive to properly adhere the tiles to the wall surface.


Installing a fresh backsplash can give your kitchen or bathroom an instant facelift. With the proper prep work, tile-setting techniques, and high quality adhesive, you can achieve a stylish backsplash design that withstands the test of time. Focus on spreading adhesive evenly, firmly pressing tiles into place, and allowing proper drying time before grouting. Your new backsplash will look professionally installed.