A Step-by-Step Guide to Tiling a Kitchen Backsplash

Here's how to design and install a decorative tile accent for the kitchen.

Materials and Tools:

6" x 6" field tiles
4" x 8" liners with color detail
tape measure
wet saw
tile cutter
multipurpose, water-soluble adhesive
rubber float
large sponge
notched trowel


1. Some of the most common mistakes can be avoided if you take a few minutes to plan before starting on the project. Measure the area to be tiled with a tape measurer, and lay out your design on paper with pencil to work out the details for tile arrangement. If there is a focal point in the design, start with the focal point and work your way out toward the edges.

2. Mark the coordinating measurements on the tile. Cut the tiles to size with a wet saw taking extra precaution to follow all safety procedures.

3. Turn off the main breaker panel to disengage the kitchen outlets, and leave the power off while you are working on the project. Remove all the faceplates and make sure your cut tiles line up flush with the outlet.

4. Clean the surface of the wall. If there is wallpaper, either tile over it, or remove any loose or peeling sections before tiling.

5. Apply the adhesive to the wall with a notched trowel, making sure to smooth the adhesive out in a good, uniform application without any lumps.

6. Position the tiles together closely. The tile ridges on all four sides will create a natural separation. Avoid pushing and pulling the tiles into place to prevent any glue build-up between tiles. Tip: If you position a tile incorrectly or upside-down, remove the tile and clean off the glue with water. Re-set the tile with adhesive and place it correctly on the wall.

7. Use a tile cutter to make any straight edge cuts.

8. Wait at least 24 to 48 hours before applying the grout. Follow the directions on the bag to mix the grout. Ideally, you want the grout to have the consistency of toothpaste, and make sure to remove any lumps.

9. Apply the grout across the tiles in a diagonal application with a rubber float.

Wipe away any excess grout from the tiles with a sponge.

10. Replace the receptacle covers to match the new tile.

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