Maybe you’re not interested in saving time and effort with peel and stick tile. Who knows, maybe you want to become a professional installer, or maybe you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. If that’s you, you can still install a backsplash the traditional way. Here’s how!
Batten Board, Tile cutter, Straight edge, Level, Pencil, Notched trowel, Rubber grout float, Tape measure, Sponge
Five gallon mixing bucket, Grout haze remover, Tile, Mortar, Grout, Sealer, Masking tape
- Shut off power to the kitchen, and remove the cover plates for any outlets or switches in the installation area.
- Remove obstructions from the countertop and move large appliances like stoves.
- To protect your countertops and cabinets, cover the surrounding areas with masking tape or cardboard.
- Your walls should be clean, dry, and smooth. Patch any holes or dips with spackling. If the wall is painted, it should be gently sanded so the tile can properly stick to it.
- If needed, use a level to attach a batten board. This board acts as a support for the tiles as they bond to the wall. You can use it in areas where there is no countertop for support, such as behind the oven.
- Measure the installation area and mark where the center of the first tile will be placed.
- Prelay the tile on the counter, making sure there is no damage. Adjust the layout as needed to ensure there are no fragments of tiles or tile sheets left at the ends of the backsplash.
- Mix the mortar according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply the mortar in a small area using the flat side of a notched trowel, and then comb it using the notched side. Apply it in small sections at a time so it doesn’t dry out before you apply the tile.
Pro tip: If you have light-colored or glass tile, it’s typically a good idea to select a white mortar for the best visuals. However, you should always make sure it’s compatible by reading the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Place the tiles or mosaic sheets along the wall, pressing firmly into the mortar. If you are using single tiles, insert spacers to keep everything evenly aligned.
- Once all tiles are installed, ensure that the surface is clean and level, and no mortar is drying on the face of the tiles.
- Allow the mortar to dry as recommended on the packaging. This could take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
- Remove any tile spacers. Mix the tile grout following the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply it to the tile joints using a rubber grout float. Press the grout into the tile joints at a 45 degree angle and work diagonally so you don’t drag out the grout as you work.
- Once finished, scrape away any excess grout. Use a damp sponge to clean the tiles and to smooth out the grout joints. Then wait a few more hours to wipe down the tile for a final time, removing the grout haze that might have formed on the surface.
- Seal the grout, and the tile if recommended. This will protect the backsplash from water and prevent mold or mildew.
- Apply latex caulk between the backsplash and the counter to completely seal the area.
- Measure the tile and mark where it should be cut. If you need to mark the surface instead of the back, make sure it’s erasable.
- Use a tile saw or a wet saw to make all cuts.
- Once the cut is complete, sand down the rough edges for a finished appearance.
- Remove any protective coverings from cabinets and countertops.
- Reinstall appliances and switch covers, and replace appliances and cookware. Last but not least, restore power to the outlets.
Then pat yourself on the back, because you did it! You installed a backsplash, and now your kitchen looks brand new!