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How to Set a Kitchen Backsplash Tile

A kitchen backsplash tile adds utility and flair to your home. Host Paul Wilson shows how to set a kitchen backsplash tile.

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installing kitchen backsplash tile Watch Video

Step 1: Make the Cuts for the Tiles

To apply the backsplash tile, dry run the tile layout on a separate piece of backer board for a diagonal layout like this , and make the cuts for the tiles immediately below the cabinets.

dry run layout on separate piece of backer board

Step 2: Cut the Tile on a Diagonal

To cut the backsplash tile on a diagonal, use a speed square and cut from corner point to corner point. Cut only as much diagonal tile as needed. The backsplash tile for this particular project was 6"x6" — so after being cut on a diagonal, each piece measured 8-1/2" diagonal point to diagonal point. This means that Paul only needs about 1-1/2 diagonal pieces per foot of backsplash.

cut tile on diagonal

Step 3: Apply the Thin Set

Once the majority of the backsplash tile has been cut to fit, apply the thin set.

Step 4: Temporarily Hold the Tiles in Place

When you come to the edge of the layout and need extra support to hold the edge tiles in place, use nails lightly tapped into the wall to temporarily hold the tiles in place while curing. Also, 1/8" spacers were used for the backsplash.

extra support needed to hold edge tiles in place

Step 5: Back Butter the Tiles

To install the window frame tile for a small area, back butter the tile with thin set since the trowel can't fit.

Step 6: Support the Tiles With a Ledger

For tiles above the window, support them with a ledger (2" x 4' or other straight lumber) nailed or screwed to the wall.

support tiles above window with ledger

Step 7: Cut the Glass Tile

Cut the glass tile from the 12" x 12" sheet in the width needed for the window.

cut glass tile in width needed for window

Step 8: Adhere the Tiles to the Wall

To install the glass tile inserts, build the glass tile inserts out by attaching the glass tile to a pre-cut piece of backer board because the field tile is thicker than the glass tile. Attach that piece to the wall with thin set.

adhere glass tiles to wall