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How to Install Backsplash Tiles

Installing a DIY backsplash can create a focal point and transform your kitchen. This guide will instruct you on how to tile a backsplash effectively and beautify your kitchen décor. With all the right materials and by following the steps below, even DIY-ers with little experience can learn how to install backsplash tiles in no time.

Skill Level: Intermediate
  1. Step 1 Prep your Kitchen

    Man placing painter’s tape behind a countertop

    Before you begin, prepare your workspace by removing all appliances and items from your countertops. Protect your countertops and floors by placing tarp or cardboard on top of them. Using painter’s tape, tape off the countertop and backsplash. Finally, shut off power to nearby electrical outlets and light switches and remove any cover plates.

  2. Step 2 Sand the Walls

    Man sanding a wall

    Sand your walls to ensure you have a smooth surface to begin your DIY backsplash project. This will ready your work area for the following steps.

  3. Step 3 Measure the Wall and Plan the Layout

    Man using a measuring tape

    Take time to carefully measure the wall where your backsplash will be installed. Make sure to mark the centreline, as this is where your first tile will go. Plan your design by laying out your tiles on your protected countertop. Before installation, draw a line in pencil right above the first row of tiles so that your rows above are parallel.

  4. Step 4 Spread the Tile Adhesive

    Notched trowel being used to spread tile adhesive on wall

    Before purchasing your mortar, consider the type of tile you are using and what type of mortar it requires. For example, glass tiles require thin-set mortar. Using a notched trowel, spread the mortar starting from the bottom row of tiles. Holding the trowel at an angle, brush the mortar in one direction.

    If your wall space is too tight and the trowel will not fit, spread the mortar on the back of each tile. Additionally, ensure you check to see that the mortar is still tacky on the wall before placing tile – if not, scrape it off and apply a fresh coat.

  5. Step 5 Lay Backsplash Tiles

    Placing tiles along the wall

    Place the edge of your first tile on the centreline you marked previously. When laying the first row of tile, ensure that it is parallel to the line marked on the wall. Don’t forget to use spacers between each row of tiles – these spaces will be filled with grout. Work upwards and across the wall, creating a staggered layout if you’re learning how to install subway tile backsplash or something similar.

  6. Step 6 Cut Tiles to Fit Certain Spaces

    Using a tile cutter to cut tile

    To allow tiles to fit certain spaces, use a wet saw to cut the tiles. When working around electrical outlets, be sure to put box extension rings over them first to see that they are flush with the tile.

    You can rent a wet saw from the Home Depot Tool Rental Centre and buy box extension rings at the electrical department.

  7. Step 7 Apply Grout

    Man applying grout using a notched trowel

    After the mortar has dried overnight, you can now apply the grout. Mix grout with a grout mixer and apply with a rubber float, skimming off the excess. Move diagonally across the backsplash to avoid digging into the tiles. Finally, wipe the tiles off diagonally using a damp cloth or sponge and leave to set for a few hours. To check if the grout has set, press on it. If it doesn’t leave a mark, it’s ready.

  8. Step 8 Apply Caulk

    Applying caulk to the base of the backsplash

    As a final step, apply a sealer to your backsplash to keep it clean and avoid mildew growth. Make sure to get in between the tiles and between the countertop and the backsplash. Now, you’ve learned how to install kitchen backsplash!

What You Need for This Project

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