Where to Start Kitchen Backsplash


A kitchen backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes, protecting the walls from moisture damage while also adding visual interest to your kitchen. When planning a new backsplash, there are several factors to consider before getting started. Proper planning and preparation can ensure your backsplash project goes smoothly and yields beautiful results. In this article, we’ll discuss the key steps for approaching a kitchen backsplash installation.

Determine Your Budget

The type of backsplash material you choose will be the biggest influence on cost. Ceramic or porcelain tile is generally the most budget-friendly option, while materials like natural stone, metal, and glass tile tend to be more expensive. In addition to material costs, factor in expenses for backsplash accessories like trim pieces, grout, and sealant. If hiring a pro to install, labor costs will need to be part of your budget as well. Decide how much you can reasonably spend before moving forward.

Select Your Material

With your budget in mind, choose a backsplash tile or material you love. Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer the widest variety of colors, patterns, textures, and finishes. Glass, metal, and stone tiles provide beautiful options too. Consider the size of tiles and decorative accents like listellos and mosaics to create your desired look. Other backsplash materials like stainless steel, tin, or tempered glass panels are modern choices.

Measure Precisely

Carefully measure the exact square footage of the backsplash area using a measuring tape. Be sure to calculate any divider strips or focal accents as well. Measure a few times to verify accuracy, as you’ll need this information to purchase the right amount of tile and supplies. Having extras is helpful, but too manyunused tiles are wasteful.

Purchase Tiles and Supplies

Armed with measurements, it’s time to purchase your backsplash tiles and any associated supplies. These may include:

  • Tile adhesive or mastic
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Tile spacers
  • Tile cutting tool
  • Trowels
  • Caulk or silicone sealant

Buy a little extra of everything to be safe. Having leftover supplies for future repairs is useful.

Prepare the Surface

Before installing backsplash tile, ensure the target surface is properly prepared. Remove any old backsplash material or wallpaper. The wall surface should be wiped clean and made smooth. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth. Lastly, prime the walls with a latex primer to aid adhesion. Taking time to prep ensures your backsplash installation gets off to the right start.

Plan Your Tile Layout

Map out the tile layout ahead of time to avoid surprises. Mark the center point and draw vertical and horizontal guidelines in pencil. Dry fit a few rows of tile to see how they align and look. Adjust until you achieve the desired layout. Having a plan makes installation much easier. Consider hiring a pro if the layout is complex.

Set Your Tile

It’s finally time to set your tiles! Work in small sections, applying adhesive to the wall and firmly pressing tiles into place. Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines. Be sure tiles are fully embedded in adhesive and aligned. Allow the adhesive to cure fully before grouting according to manufacturer instructions. Carefully grout the tile joints, wiping away excess grout with a damp sponge. Remove spacers once grout has dried.

Seal and Finish

The final step is sealing the grout and caulking where the backsplash meets the counter or other surfaces. This protects grout from moisture and prevents gaps. Stand back and admire your successfully installed kitchen backsplash! Enjoy this new focal point that adds style, easy cleaning, and a decorative touch.


What tools do I need for a backsplash installation?

Basic tools include a tape measure, pencil, level, tile cutter, mixing bucket, notched trowel, grout float, sponges, caulk gun, and various supplies like grout, caulk, tile spacers, gloves, safety glasses, etc. Many find a tile wet saw very helpful for making precise cuts.

How do I cut backsplash tiles?

Ceramic and porcelain tiles can be cut with a simple score and snap tile cutter. Hold at an angle and score the glazed surface, then snap downward. A wet saw with a diamond blade makes the cleanest cuts in tile. Specialized nippers are used for glass tiles.

What about electrical outlets in my backsplash area?

Electrical boxes will need to be accessed from behind to remove and extend them outward so they remain flush with the new tile. This may require opening walls to correctly modify electrical. Hire an electrician if unsure.

Should I hire a professional to install a backsplash?

For a simple layout using basic tiles and materials, an experienced DIYer can self-install. But for large, complex designs using natural stone or glass tile, hiring a professional tile installer is generally worth the investment.

How long does a backsplash installation take?

The total time depends on the size of the area and complexity of design. Simple self-installed backsplashes can usually be completed over a weekend. But larger professional installs may take 3-5 days including prep work, installing tile, and grouting/finishing.


With good planning and preparation, a weekend DIYer can tackle many kitchen backsplash projects successfully. Focus on an accurate tile layout, careful surface preparation, proper installation materials, and taking your time. The finished backsplash provides a personal touch of style to your kitchen. With a step-by-step approach, you can install a backsplash you’ll love.