What Supplies Do I Need to Tile a Backsplash?

Tiling your own backsplash can be an enjoyable DIY project that allows you to customize your kitchen design. With some planning and the right supplies, you’ll be ready to achieve a beautiful backsplash that suits your style. Here’s an overview of the key supplies needed to tile a backsplash successfully.

Planning Your Backsplash

Before purchasing supplies, take some time to plan out your backsplash design.

  • Measure the area you want to tile and sketch out the pattern. This allows you to calculate the tile and grout amounts needed.
  • Choose your tiles – ceramic, glass, and stone are popular options. Decide on tile size and variation.
  • Select your grout color. A matching or contrasting grout line can impact the overall look.
  • Consider special trim or accent tiles if desired. An accent strip or geometric border can add interest.

Essential Tiling Supplies


  • Purchase extra tiles. Depending on the tile size, you may need 10-15% more to account for broken or cut tiles.
  • Variation in tile size, color, and texture is normal. Inspect tiles beforehand and mix tiles from different boxes during installation.

Adhesive and Grout

  • Choose an adhesive suitable for the tile and application. Latex or polymer modified thinset mortar is a good all-purpose option.
  • Select an appropriate grout. Unsanded grout works for narrow grout lines under 1/8 inch. Wider joints need sanded grout.
  • A grout sealer is recommended to protect the grout from stains.


  • Tile cutter – Essential for straight cuts and trimming tile edges. A snap cutter is suitable for most ceramic and porcelain.
  • Wet saw – Makes precise curved or angled cuts. Great for stone tiles.
  • Grout float – For spreading and working grout into joints. A rubber grout float is useful.
  • Spacers – Keep uniform grout lines. Use 1/16” or 1/8” spacers based on tile size.
  • Mixing bucket, paddle, and sponge
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, knee pads

Helpful Accessories

  • Tile leveling system – Helps keep tiles even during install.
  • Tile nippers – Nip off small pieces for fitting around outlets.
  • Grout pen – Handy for touching up grout lines later on.
  • Grout haze remover – Cleans off film residue from grout.
  • Silicone caulk – For corner joints and transitions to other surfaces.

Preparation Checks

To ensure your tiling project goes smoothly, remember these preparation tips:

  • Clean the surface thoroughly and make any wall repairs.
  • Remove outlets and switch plates.
  • Plan your tile layout and do a dry run if possible.
  • Gather all tools so they’re on hand when needed.
  • Allow adequate time for the project. Tiling takes patience and precision.

With the proper planning and quality materials, you can achieve beautiful DIY backsplash tile results. Approach the process step-by-step and don’t be afraid to ask experts for advice. Before you know it, you’ll have a stunning new backsplash to enjoy for years to come. Let the tiling begin!

Frequently Asked Questions About Tiling a Backsplash

What kind of tile is best for a backsplash?

Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tile are all popular backsplash options. Ceramic tile offers classic styles in gloss or matte. Porcelain is durable and water-resistant. Glass tile provides shiny modern appeal. The choice comes down to your design taste, needs, and budget.

How do I cut tiles for outlets and switches?

Use a rotary tool or tile nippers to notch small v-shaped pieces until the tile fits neatly around outlets. Take your time to avoid breaking the tile. Or, trace and cut the opening before installing the tile.

What size tile is best?

Smaller tiles like 4-inch squares provide more grout lines and take longer to install. Larger tiles are faster but require exacting cuts. As a general rule, use tile sizes proportional to your backsplash space. Standard sizes between 1×1 inch to 4×4 inches mosaic tiles tend to work well.

How do I get clean grout lines?

Spacers between tiles ensure consistent grout line thickness. Remove spacers before grouting. Tool the grout lines with a float to press grout into joints. Wipe diagonally across the tiles to prevent smearing. Clean excess grout with a damp sponge and water.

Should I seal my grout?

Sealing is highly recommended to prevent staining from moisture and grime, especially for light grout colors. Apply a penetrating grout sealer on clean grout once the grout has cured fully, usually within 72 hours. Reapply yearly.


Installing a tile backsplash enhances your kitchen with style, visual interest, and easier-to-clean surfaces. With careful planning, high-quality materials, and the right tools, you can achieve beautiful results and improve your cooking space. Approach tiling methodically, enlist help as needed, and enjoy the process of customizing your backsplash design.