How to Install a Kitchen Tile Backsplash
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Last updated: Monday, October 13, 2008

If you’d like to give your kitchen a modern upgrade, then installing a tile backsplash is just what you want to do. The key in this is to make sure you choose the right tiles to compliment your kitchen surroundings correctly. While the job may be a bit messier at the starting point, it will become easier as you move into the project. You don’t need an already existing painted or tile backsplash either.


If you have an existing drywall painted backsplash, you can install the tiles right over it. First, sand the area. Then, get prepared to do some installation. On the other hand, if you have an already available tile backsplash, you’re best off removing it completely. You will need to cut the existing backer (probably drywall) and get rid of it and any tiles that may come along with that. Your new backerboard may now be installed into the studs created. Many people recommend putting new cement behind this backerboard. If you’d like to, the best choice of material to use is green (probably waterproof) because of its lightweight characteristics.

Make sure you calculate the length of the backsplash and any other measurements you will need in order to determine the area of the space you need to fill with a special tile pattern. Next, figure out what you want your tile pattern to look like by using a piece of graph paper.

Installing the Backsplash

  • 1.    Unplug any appliances such as a stove that may get in the way of your work.
  • 2.    Using galvanized drywall screws, install the backerboard. Make sure to leave a 1/8th of an inch gap between each tile. Then fill with compound.
  • 3.    In order to line your tiles up vertically, be sure to mark the visual focal point of the layout. Preview the pattern by laying it out on the counter or floor.
  • 4.    Start at the center and create the bottom row by applying tile mastic (a tile adhesive). Place the edge of the very first tile on the line. Press and wiggle the first piece into place and then stick a temporary 1/8th of an inch spacer in between that one and the next.
  • 5.    Repeat until you’ve fulfilled your desired pattern.

Cutting a Tile

Utilizing a scoring cutter is the easiest way to cut a tile. You can rent these devices for around $20/day or just purchase one of your own for around $50. There are two processes to follow when using them: First, place a mark on the tile where you’d like to cut it. Then, use a sharp motion of the cutter and it should slice the tile right where you sketched the mark.

If you need to cut an opening for an electrical outlet, you may have more steps to take into consideration. You may need to cut two tiles using the tile scoring cutter and then use a tile nipper to cut out the opening.


Now it’s time to get the dirty work done. Use sandless grout and combine it according to the directions. Using a rubber float, apply the grout. Push it well down in between the tiles.
Finishing Touches

Let the grout solidify for an hour or so and then clean off any excess that may have found its way onto tiles.

Place a light bead of tub and tile caulk along the bottom seam where the tile meets your countertop


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