When Do You Install Kitchen Backsplash?

Installing a kitchen backsplash is one of the final steps when remodeling or building a new kitchen. Choosing the right time to install the backsplash is important to achieve the best results and avoid potential problems. Here is a detailed guide on when to install a kitchen backsplash.

Plan Ahead When Remodeling

When remodeling an existing kitchen, it’s best to install the backsplash after completing all structural changes but before installing cabinets and countertops. Here are the key steps:

Complete Any Structural Changes First

If you’re removing walls, adding a window or skylight, or doing electrical and plumbing work, complete these structural changes first. Trying to install cabinets or a backsplash with major construction underway will likely result in damage or needless extra work.

Install Cabinets and Countertops

Once all structural work is complete, install your new cabinets and countertops. This will give you the exact measurements for the backsplash area so you can cut tiles or panels to fit perfectly. It also avoids potentially damaging finished cabinets or countertops during backsplash installation.

Leave Installing the Backsplash for Last

The backsplash is the final step before installing appliances and lighting fixtures. By waiting until everything else is in place, you avoid splashing grout or adhesive on other finished surfaces while installing the backsplash.

For New Construction, Work from the Ground Up

For new kitchen construction in a home addition, remodel or new build, follow the same sequence but on a larger scale:

Complete All Structural Framing and Mechanicals

Ensure all flooring, walls, ceiling, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work is done before installing kitchen elements like cabinets and backsplash.

Install Cabinets and Countertops

Once the rough construction is finished, have the cabinets and countertops installed so you can measure and cut the backsplash.

Install the Backsplash Last

The backsplash is once again the final step before adding lighting, appliances, fixtures and finishes throughout the rest of the kitchen.

Prep the Area Properly

To ensure the backsplash adheres and lasts perfectly with no cracks or gaps, prep the installation area properly:

  • Clean the wall surface thoroughly and sand or scrape away any bumps, old adhesive or rough areas.
  • Seal porous drywall or tile surfaces so adhesive and grout don’t soak in unevenly.
  • Make sure the countertops and cabinets are securely installed with no gaps or movement against the wall.

Hire a Pro for Best Results

Installing a kitchen backsplash involves careful tile cutting, proper adhesive application, and expert grouting for clean finished look. Unless you have experience with tile installation, it’s usually worth hiring a professional backsplash installer to ensure it’s done right the first time.

FAQs About Installing Kitchen Backsplash

When should I install the backsplash in a kitchen remodel?

For a kitchen remodel, install the backsplash after all structural changes are made but before putting in new cabinets and countertops. This allows you to measure precisely and install the backsplash last.

What surface should I install a backsplash on?

Backsplashes are installed on drywall, plywood, existing tile, concrete, plaster or other smooth surfaces after proper prep and sealing. Never install backsplash tile directly over wood paneling or wallpaper.

What’s the proper order for kitchen remodel steps?

  1. Structural changes
  2. Cabinets
  3. Countertops
  4. Backsplash
  5. Appliances/fixtures

Can I install a backsplash just using construction adhesive?

Adhesive alone is not recommended. Use a combination of adhesive and grout for a permanent, crack-free backsplash installation.

How long does a backsplash installation take?

A typical kitchen backsplash of 20-30 square feet can be installed by an experienced pro in one day. Larger or more complex tile layouts take additional time.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?

Yes, as long as the existing tile is in good condition, properly prepared and provides a smooth surface for the new backsplash to adhere to.


Planning the right time to install a kitchen backsplash ensures the best results. For kitchen remodels, install the backsplash after major structural work is complete but before cabinets and countertops go in. For new construction, complete all rough work first before installing kitchen elements. Prepping the surface properly also leads to long-lasting backsplash installation success. Consider hiring a pro installer for expert results you will enjoy for years.