How to Tile a Backsplash in 9 Simple Steps

One of the best ways to brighten up your kitchen is by redoing the tile of your backsplash. We have the steps to spruce up your kitchen.

Man tiling a backsplash in kitchen

You’ve put a lot of effort into remodeling your kitchen. You’ve installed new appliances and modern cabinets; maybe you’ve put in a new butcher-block island or some new granite countertops. Of course, you’ve spruced up the walls with a fresh coat of paint. But there’s still something missing. At first, you can’t quite put your finger on it, but then you realize – the backsplash area still looks kind of dingy and drab, doesn’t it? 

Never fear. Converting this boring wall space into an eye-catching work of art is easier than you think. Here’s how to tile a backsplash quickly and easily.

Step 1 – Choose Your New Backsplash Tiles

First things first, tiles create a grid-like pattern, so it is important to choose ones that fit the space. Wall installations look better when they are vertically even and symmetrical from end to end. To avoid the hassle of having to cut tiles or fill gaps, choose tile sizes that will allow for an even install.

Step 2 – Prep Your Kitchen Wall for the New Backsplash Tiles

Next, you will want to clear your wall. Think of it as preparing your canvas. Take down any wall art, and remove switch plates and outlet covers from the backsplash area. Once your wall is clear, lay out your tile pattern on the floor to make sure it will fit on the wall.

Step 3 — Measure Your Backsplash 

Carefully measure the size of your kitchen backsplash. To ensure that your new backsplash tiles are laid out carefully from end to end once they are installed, measure and mark the center point of each area being tiled.

Step 4 – Choose Your Adhesive

There are two kinds of adhesive used to install a tile backsplash. Mastic is an organic, plant-based adhesive used to stick tile to wall or floor surfaces before grouting. Super sticky and quick-setting, mastic is a great choice for dry areas. It is usually used for porcelain, glass or ceramic tiles.

Thinset is generally more expensive and slower to set, but it’s appropriate for both indoor and outdoor applications. It’s strong and resistant to moisture and mold growth.

Step 5  – Apply Your Adhesive

Scoop your tile mastic or thinset out of the bucket with the edge of a V-notched trowel. Use a sweeping motion to apply the adhesive across the wall. Be sure to cover the entire application area with adhesive.

Step 6 — Install the Backsplash Tiles

Start setting the tile at the bottom of your center line. Leave just enough room for a bead of caulk. You’ll want to firmly press each tile onto the wall. Continue working your way outward in both directions.

Step 7 — Cut Tiles to Fit as Needed

You’ll need a wet saw to cut tiles so they fit around outlets, light switches, and in odd gaps. Luckily, you can rent a motorized wet saw from your local hardware store. 

To use the saw, lay the tile on the sliding table and push it forward to make your initial cut. You’ll want to pull back and adjust your tile for the second cut. After your pieces are cut and applied, let your adhesive dry overnight.

Step 8 — Fill the Tile Joints With Grout

Once your tiles have had time to dry,  mix a batch of unsanded tile grout, following the directions on the carton. Scoop a portion of the grout out of the bucket and smear it across the surface of the tile diagonally to the grout lines.

Step 9: Finish

After grouting, you are going to want to clean the surface with water and a soft sponge. Wipe across the grout line and be sure not to pull any grout from the joints. Give your grout 45 minutes to set, then you’re ready to apply caulk. Apply a thin bead of tub-and-tile caulk into the joint at the bottom of your backsplash, in corners and between the tile and any cabinets.

Ready for more DIY projects? We have plenty of ideas for sprucing up your kitchen. We can walk you through projects like deep cleaning your kitchen and unclogging that kitchen sink drain. That’s not all – you can be sure components of your appliances and systems are covered with a home warranty plan from American Home Shield®. We have plans for every budget, so call or go online today and find the one that’s right for you.


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