How To Install A Tile Backsplash In Your Kitchen

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A beautiful tile backsplash installed by Fabling Built

Are you ready to add a touch of beauty and sophistication to your kitchen with a new tile backsplash? Are you wondering how to install a tile backsplash? Installing a tile backsplash is one of the easiest yet most impactful upgrades you can make to your space. It’s a great way to update the look of your home and add value.

In this blog post, we will show you step-by-step how to install tile backsplash in your kitchen using a few simple tools and materials. If you’re up for a DIY challenge and willing to put in the time, you can learn how to install a tile backsplash in your kitchen like a pro!Β And if you’re looking for the latest design ideas for your kitchen, be sure to check out our guide to the ultimate kitchen design ideas for 2023.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time: 1+ days

Cost: A few hundred to a few thousand dollars


  • Hammer & chisel
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wet saw or manual tile cutter (depends on the type of tile)
  • Putty knife/utility knife
  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Mixing paddle


  • Tiles
  • Schluter strips (optional)
  • Adhesive (or mortar)
  • Grout (color matched to tile)
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Tile spacers
  • Drop cloth
  • Sponges and bucket
  • Spackling compound
  • Silicone caulk (color matched to tile)
  • Fiberglass mesh tape (optional)

1. Prepare Your Work Area

Use painter’s tape and drop cloths or other protective coverings to protect your countertops, floors, and kitchen appliances before starting your tiling project.

2. Measure The Area

Before you begin any tile installation project, it is important to measure the area accurately. To accurately determine the area of your backsplash, measure both its length and width before multiplying these figures to obtain the total square footage.

Take into consideration any outlets, switches, or items on the walls. They will need to be cut around, so you may have to make minor adjustments. Once done calculating the total square footage of your project, add an extra 10% for miscellaneous expenses or errors in calculations. This is the minimum amount of tiles necessary for your project.

3. Remove Old Tile

worker remove demolish old tiles

If there was already tile present in your kitchen before starting this project, start by removing it first using a hammer and chisel. You can use a wire brush to remove any stubborn pieces of adhesive.

Be sure to wear safety glasses while doing this step since pieces of tile might fly off during removal. 

4. Clean Wall

After removing any old tiles and debris from the wall surface, clean it thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner or a vinegar and water solution. This will help get rid of any dirt or dust that may have accumulated over time which could interfere with the adhesion of new tiles onto the wall surface later on down the line if not removed beforehand. 

5. Prepare The Wall: Repair, Patch, And Smooth The Surface

Worker repairs a crack in the wall

After cleaning your drywall surface, inspect it for any cracks or holes that need repair. Use a spackling compound to fill gaps and create a smooth surface ready for tiling. Be sure to let the spackling compound dry completely before moving on to the next step.

6. Backer Board Installation (Optional)

If your drywall is in really bad shape, or if you just want superior moisture protection behind your tiling installation, you can install a backer board. A backer board is composed of cement and sand and is sandwiched between a fiberglass mesh. It is designed to resist moisture and bonds well with tile adhesive.

Here’s how to install a backer board:

  • To install your backer board, start by removing the existing drywall.
  • Insert the backer board in the space where you removed the drywall.
  • Make sure to match the thickness of the existing kitchen drywall for a seamless transition.
  • Secure each backer board panel onto the wall studs with drywall screws and leave a small gap of about 1/8 inch between them.
  • Fill in those gaps with silicone tile caulk and place fiberglass mesh tape across all seams.

7. Draw A Center Point And Measuring Lines

Marking wall with level and pencil

The center point for your tile backsplash will depend on where you want the focal point to be.

To begin, draw two perpendicular lines on the wall using painter’s tape as a guide. From there, you’ll want to measure out equal sections along each line and mark where their intersection would be; this serves as your center point for your project. 

Use the center point as a reference point for where to line up your tiles. Setting up this grid will help keep even spacing and make it easier to maintain an organized layout.

8. Attach A Ledger To The Wall (Optional)

If you’re using heavier tiles such as ceramic or stone, you may want to attach a ledger board directly onto the wall with screws. A ledger board will help support the weight of the tiles and keep them level as they are installed.

To install a ledger board, simply screw an appropriate-sized board into the drywall right below where you want your first row of tiling to go. Use a level to ensure the board is level before attaching it so that your finished product looks professional.  

Note: Ledger boards are typically used when you are installing tile in areas where there are no lower cabinets already installed.

9. Pre-Lay Tile To Ensure Fit

Before you start adhering tiles to the wall, pre-lay them in place just to make sure they fit correctly. To prepare for the tile installation, arrange all of them side-by-side on the wall where they will be applied.

Evaluate their entire size and ensure each tile aligns perfectly with its neighbor. As you pull away each one, mark down its location with a pencil so that when it is time to put them in place again, you know exactly where they should go.

This is also a good time to try different orientations of the tiles to see what looks best. Certain tiles can look better when laid in different directions. For example, any tile that has a variant thickness usually has a large pattern that needs to be followed to match the edges.

10. Install Schluter Strip (Optional)

Schluter strips, which are available in either aluminum or plastic, are not required for all types of tiles, but they do offer several benefits. Schluter strips create an even transition between the wall and the tile, safeguarding them from any potential chips.

If you are using a Schluter strip for your tile installation, simply cut it to size, then attach it to the wall with adhesive where you plan to end your tile backsplash. Once you install the Schluter strip, you can proceed with the tile installation.

11. Cut Tile

worker cutting a tile

You might need to cut tile to fit irregular spaces, such as around power outlets. When cutting tiles, use either a wet saw or manual tile cutter, depending on what type of material you have chosen for your backsplash. Generally speaking, porcelain or ceramic tile can be cut with a manual tile cutter, while stone tile will require a wet saw.

Use plenty of water when cutting with a wet saw so that dust doesn’t become airborne and potentially get into your eyes or lungs. If needed, you can smooth down the edges of any tile you cut with some sandpaper.

12. Prepare Adhesive

Most tile adhesives or mortars come as either powdered or pre-mixed, so make sure you read the instructions thoroughly before you begin. Once you have determined which type of adhesive you are using, mix it according to the instructions on the package and set it aside until ready for use. 

Use a light-colored adhesive or mortar when installing lighter-colored tiles and the opposite for darker tiles. This will ensure a seamless appearance to your installation.

13. Apply Adhesive

Once prepared, apply the adhesive or mortar to the wall using a trowel. Make sure that you spread the adhesive in vertical strips that are about 1/4-inch thick. Smooth the adhesive out with the notched edge of the trowel.

You can also use a putty knife to smooth it further to ensure that there are no air bubbles. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long to let the adhesive set before you start laying the tile.

14. Set Tile

Worker putting tiles on the wall in the kitchen

Now it’s time to set the tile! Starting from the bottom and work your way up, placing each individual piece of tile onto the wall with its edge against the spacers. Press down firmly on each piece when setting it into place so that it adheres well to the adhesive underneath and is secure when cured.

Once all pieces are installed, use the grout float to gently push against the tiles to ensure they are evenly set. You can also verify the tiles are lying flat by checking with a level.

Let the tiles sit until the adhesive is dry. While the dry time will vary by manufacturer, it often takes 24 hours before you can start grouting or caulking.

15. Apply Grout And Seal Grout

Mix up some tile grout according to package instructions, then starting at the top of your backsplash, work your way down, applying the grout by moving the grout float diagonally across the tilework. Use a back-and-forth motion to work the grout into all of the spaces between each tile. Allow the grout to set for at least 15 minutes before wiping off the excess grout with a damp sponge.

Pro tip: Carefully scrape away the extra grout from the inside of each corner and joint using a dull utility knife. This will give your tiles some room to settle as the grout dries, thus avoiding any cracking that can occur if it’s too tight. Not only does this ensure better results, but it also saves you time on costly repairs down the road!

16. Seal The Tile

Now it’s time for sealing! After the grout is dry, mix up a batch of grout sealer according to the package instructions and apply it to the grout with a brush or sponge.

Allow the sealer to dry for the recommended amount of time, then use a damp sponge to remove any excess sealer from the tile surface. You may need to use a putty knife to remove any stubborn residue. 

17. Caulk Expansion Gaps

applying silicone caulk to the countertop and ceramic tile

To ensure your tile backsplash is fully protected from water damage, it’s important to caulk the expansion gaps around its edges. Begin by wiping away any dirt or grime with a damp sponge so that the caulk will adhere properly.

Next, apply a thin line of caulk along all the edges where your tile connects to the countertop or wall. Use a wet finger to create an even and smooth surface that is level with the tile.

Lastly, allow the caulk to set (this may take 24 hours) before using the area. Once it’s set, your tile backsplash will be protected from moisture damage.

18. Clean Off Tile

For our final step, we’ll simply clean off any excess dirt and dust from our newly installed tile backsplash using a damp cloth and mild detergent solution. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, as these can damage your tile or the grout.

Fabling Built Are The Kitchen Remodeling Experts

A kitchen remodel done by Fabling Built

Now that you know how to install a tile backsplash, you may be thinking about making more substantial upgrades to your kitchen. Here at Fabling Built, we have the experience and the expertise to bring your dream kitchen to life.

We also have a team of experts who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about kitchen remodeling. So what are you waiting for? Fill out our contact form today to get started on your dream kitchen remodeling project.