DIY Network

Installing a Tile Backsplash

Create a colorful focal point with a ceramic-tile backsplash.

More in Kitchen

  • Time


  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Make the Measurements

Draw out your design on paper, keeping the proportions accurate. Measure and mark the center of the cooktop or sink that is below the backsplash area.

Step 2: Set Rows of Tile

Use the trowel to apply ceramic-tile adhesive to the first patterned tile. Set the tile on one side of the center mark. Repeat the installation, placing one row over another, until you have the first two rows of tile in place. Use spacers and/or shims to keep the tiles and rows even.

Cut tiles as necessary to fit the ends of the rows. Apply adhesive to the trim tiles with your finger, and place them along the edges of the backsplash.

Step 3: Grout the Backsplash

To grout the backsplash, mix the grout according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove all spacers and nails from the backsplash. Wearing vinyl gloves, use your hands to spread the grout. Use the float to push it into the joints. Wash off excess grout with a sponge, and then wipe the tiles dry with a cloth. You may have to repeat the washing process several times until the tiles are completely free of any haziness.

Step 4: Install Tiles Around the Inset Frame

Measure and mark the sides of the center inset. Install a column of tiles to the top of each mark. Then use a level and mark the top of the inset frame.

Install tile across the top of the frame.

Tip: Drive a nail into the wall to hold the tile in place while the adhesive sets.

Install trim tile around the inside of the inset frame. Start by centering the first trim tile on the bottom of the inset area, then add more until you complete the frame.

Measure the height of the inset frame on the right side. Measure and mark the same distance along the bottom of the frame. Snap a chalk line between the upper right corner of the frame and the corresponding mark along the bottom (Image 1). This will create the starting line for the diagonal field tile.

Install the field tile along the chalk line and building out from there (Image 2).
Cut tiles as necessary to fill the frame. Use spacers to ensure even joints. Once you've applied all the tiles, allow the adhesive to set according to the manufacturer's instructions.