How to Install a Tile Backsplash

Skill Level: Advanced | STANLEY Pro Project Guides

How to Install a Backsplash

Nothing quite combines beauty and utility in a kitchen like a tile backsplash. Tile adds color and texture and can take whatever a cook throws at it. Best of all, applying tile straight-forward and, as long as you have a clean, solid wall surface, does not require cement backer board.

What You’ll Need: Painter’s tape, drop cloth or paper, sanding block, bucket, sponge, straight edge, thinset, 4-in. drywall blade, notched trowel, mosaic ceramic tiles, utility knifetape measure, tile spacers, tile pliers, beater board (2x scrap covered with an old towel), hammer or rubber mallet, stone sealer, grout, grout float, cheesecloth, grout sealer, caulk gun, caulk

 

Step 1:  Prepare the Site


Turn off power to any switches or receptacles and then remove the covers. Tape over the devices. Tape paper or a drop cloth to the counter. Remove any wallpaper or loose paint. Sand the wall for good adhesion and clean the surface thoroughly. Let it dry.



Step 2: Dry Fit the Tiles


Dry fit the tiles using rubber tile spacers to determine the layout. Here, we’re installing a diamond pattern and precut several tiles to have full-half-tiles along the bottom with evenly split tiles in the corner. 


Step 3: Use a Wet Tile Saw to Cut Tiles


Cutting tiles is often necessary to tile around obstructions and in corners. Wet tile saws are available for rent at most home centers.

 


Step 4: Mix Thinset


Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions when preparing.


Step 5: Apply Thinset


Check the thinset manufacturer’s specs for the recommended trowel notch size (a 1⁄8-in. V-groove is common). Apply the thinset, first ladling it on with a drywall blade, then carefully working it with the notched trowel. Apply thinset to a small working area to start.

Step 6: Place Tiles and Spacers


Begin installing tiles by pressing them firmly into the thinset. To ensure that the tiles line up and to maintain consistent grout lines, add a spacers between tiles as you work across the wall.



Step 7: Let Thinset Dry for 24 Hours

 

 

Step 8: Remove Spacers

Remove spacers and scrape away any excess thinset on or between tiles.

 

 

Step 9: Apply Grout

 

Apply grout following manufacturers instructions. Apply around all tiles except along the bottom edge where sanded caulk is used to complete the installation.