Knowing how to install backsplash can transform your kitchen. A well-designed backsplash can give your kitchen a snazzy decorative flair as well as make messes easy to clean. Our step-by-step guide will show you how to install and grout mosaic tile, and other backsplash styles whether it’s ceramic, stone, or other materials, to give your kitchen a fresh new look.
Backsplash is a term used for a panel or a vertical extension of a counter that protects the wall against splashes. As well as making clean-ups easy, a well-designed backsplash can also give your kitchen a unique decorative flair.
There are many types of tile backsplash, including mosaics on mesh backing or peel-and-stick tile.
Because a backsplash is a prominent feature, it is important that it be installed correctly and precisely. For easy repairs and a lasting hold, look for tiles that can be installed over drywall with the appropriate wall tile adhesive/thinset.
Follow these basic instructions on how to install tile backsplash in your kitchen.
- Clear the area. Remove any objects, outlets, or appliances that may obstruct the area where you want to install backsplash. Clean the walls of any dirt or particles. Sand or scrape away residue, if necessary, to create a flat surface.
- Align the tiles. Use a level to lay out the tile arrangement, marking lines and aligning horizontally with the countertop.
- Apply adhesive. Choose your adhesive depending on the type of tile you’re working with. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions concerning compatibility. For example, ceramic tiles require mastic, while stone tiles need a white thinset mortar. Apply the adhesive to the back of the tiles and place them on the wall, working from the center out and taking care to keep the tile level. Use grout spacers to space the tiles apart.
- Cleaning and drying. Wipe away any excess adhesive with a damp cloth. Adhesive should be dry in 12 hours with full cure in 14 days, depending on the temperature and humidity.
Grouting is the process of filling in spaces between tiles. Most types of grout come in powder form, but premixed containers are also available. Whatever option you choose, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install grout.
- Get ready. Along with the grout mixture, you’ll need a putty knife, a grout sealer, a grout float, and caulk, as well as a plastic sheet, masking/painter’s tape, a sponge, and soft cloths with warm water. Use the plastic sheet to protect counters. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Spread the grout. Using the grout float, apply the grout evenly into the spaces between tiles. Let it set for about ten minutes, then wipe away excess grout with the sponge and water. After a few hours, buff away any remaining film.
- Seal and caulk. After about 24 hours, seal the grout and caulk the outside edges, taking care to create neat lines where it meets the counter. For all your indoor caulking work, we recommend Loctite Polyseamseal All Purpose Adhesive Caulk for a long-lasting, flexible seal.
Mosaic tile has become a popular kitchen backsplash style. Mosaic tiles typically come in sheets and can be applied using a method similar to the one used to install ceramic tiles. Here’s how to install mosaic tile sheets for a mosaic tile backsplash.
- Prepare for tiling. Determine the position of the tiles on the wall using a pencil and level. Cover countertops and adjacent surfaces with a plastic sheet and/or masking tape.
- Apply the adhesive. Apply a layer of adhesive using a notched trowel, making sure your tiles and adhesive are compatible. Check the manufacturer’s instructions if in doubt.
- Position the tiles. Place the mosaic tile sheets in the proper position and press firmly. Use a utility knife to cut away the mesh on the sheets. To fit the sheets to your wall, you may have to cut them using a special tile saw. They are available for rent at tool centers.
- Drying and grouting. Allow the adhesive to dry overnight. Buff away any hazy residue with a damp cloth. Once the tiles are set, apply tile grout according to the instructions above.
Sometimes your backsplash gets damaged – a tile might crack or fall off. This isn’t the end of the world: you can repair it in a couple of simple steps. We recommend using Loctite Power Grab Express All-Purpose Interior Construction Adhesive for repairing a backsplash. It’s a high-strength, gap-filling adhesive that dries quickly and cleanly for easy, professional installation.
- Remove the damaged tile and residue. You will need to make room for a new tile and some adhesive underneath. Create a level surface and scrape away residue, so this time the tile will stick and stay.
- Apply adhesive. Apply the adhesive to the back of the tile and place it on the wall. Watch this video to learn more about Loctite Power Grab Express All-Purpose Interior Construction Adhesive.
- Re-seal the gaps. After the adhesive has dried and cured, you can grout the gaps between the new tile and the old ones according to the instructions above. If you’re replacing a tile at the edge of your backsplash, use caulk where it meets the counter or kitchen furniture. We recommend Loctite Polyseamseal All Purpose Adhesive Caulk for this job, as it provides a long-lasting and flexible seal.