Tiling a kitchen splashback – how to DIY in 10 easy steps

Tiling a kitchen splashback isn't as tricky as you might think, just check out our 10-step guide.

White tiled kitchen splashback on blue walls with white pendant lamp
(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

Tiling a kitchen splashback isn't always within of our DIY repertoire however, if you've got some extra time on your hands and have been inspired by gorgeous tile ideas then it's an easy(ish) job that is totally worth trying out.

Saving you money and imagine the satisfaction of a beautifully installed tile splashback once you're done? Use our video and step-by-step guide with help of industry experts to nail this home improvement job.

Phillip Ash, the founder of Pro Paint Corner (opens in new tab) – a small business that specialises in paint resources and home design – reminds us when tiling a splashback to, 'Have fun with tile choice! Tile splashbacks are so great as they make for easier clean up from messes and protect the wall... They also help to reinforce the style of a room. There are tons of great design choices but if you want to be on trend, stay away from rectangular subway tiles and opt for something in a slightly more fun shape, like hexagon, or fish scale. You can also opt for peel and stick tile which is a much cheaper option, and requires a lot less installation.'

What do I need to tile a kitchen splashback?

'Measurements are key. Tiling your own splashback is definitely a job you can DIY but you don't want to cut any corners or you'll end up with a less than stellar job. The first thing you want to do is to make sure you have the materials you need to properly measure the space. These include: a tape measure, pencil, and a 48 inch spirit level. Ensure you have these before beginning your DIY job.' Says Ash.

Ray Brosnan of Brosnan Property Solutions (opens in new tab) adds, 'It’s very important that before you start tiling you’ve properly planned. Calculate the number of tiles you’ll need for the area you want to cover and also factor in the amount of adhesive needed.'

Complete materials list for tiling a splashback:

1. Prepare the wall for tiling

As with all tiling projects, taking the time to prepare is vital, so make sure to clean your wall area with soap and water and cover your kitchen worktops with plastic sheeting.

Wait for the surface to dry before going any further. You may need to prime your wall and, in wet areas, you may need a waterproof adhesive (opens in new tab), but check with the tile manufacturer for what’s recommended.

'Next, prepare your wall. Begin to remove any nails, screws or hooks from the area and fill the holes with filler, sand the surface and ensure that the wall is level. Then clean the surface and hoover up any debris/dust that is left.' Adds Brosnan.

2. Measure up for tiling

Using a tape measure, measure a central line where your splashback will be and work out and mark a pencil line where each tile will fall to give you a guide of where to lay each one.

If the area you’re tiling has a plug socket or switch on it, you’ll need to measure where this sits on the tiles before you start laying and make the cuts as necessary using a tile cutter.

3. Mix the tile adhesive

Make sure to select an adhesive to suit your tile choice, such as BAL Max-flex Fibre in white (opens in new tab), which works with mosaic tiles. You can use either ready-mixed or a cement-based adhesive, which you’ll make up yourself according to the packaging instructions.

Remember to use a waterproof adhesive for wet areas by sinks or in shower recesses.

white neutral split mosaic tile backsplash in a white kitchen with wood countertops and natural wood cooking utensils

(Image credit: Tile Mountain)

4. Carefully apply the tile adhesive

Start at the bottom and apply the adhesive using a notched trowel. Apply a generous layer and creates grooves, or notches, in the same direction, which will help the tiles to stick.

Make sure to do a small area at a time – no more than one metre squared – as the adhesive will set quite quickly.

'When beginning to tile, place your adhesive on the wall with a trowel and start working from the bottom corner. Place your next tile above this one and another to the side of the original tile and continue from there to ensure that you’ve kept everything level. Generally speaking, we wouldn’t advise tiling directly onto a painted wall as the paint will affect the ability of the adhesive leading to a very poor bond.' Says Brosnan.

5. Lay the first tiles

Carefully push the tile into the adhesive and place a tile spacer along each edge. If you’re using mosaic sheets that are designed to fit together, you won’t need any spacers.

Repeat the steps until you’ve covered the splashback area and wipe the surface to remove any glue residue, using a clean cloth or sponge, as you go.

6. Make the necessary cuts to the tiles

Once you reach the edge, you may need to cut the tiles using a specialist cutter. A tile scribe can be used on thin tiles, but you may need an electric or manual cutter for thicker or more complex cuts, such as right angles or curves.

How to cut tiles

The type of cut and style of tiles you're using will influence the style of cutter you require. In general, the following rules apply:

  • A manual cutter is used to achieve straight lines.
  • When dealing with thinner tiles, it's often best to use a tile scribe.
  • To achieve right angles, curved edges and to cut through thicker tiles – for example, porcelain or natural stone – you'll want to use an electric cutter.

7. Wait for the tile adhesive to dry

Leave the tiles for a few hours – or even overnight – to set and then you’ll be ready to apply the grout.

8. Prepare the grout

Mix the correct type of grout for your tile type in a bucket. It’s best to do a little at a time, as the grout sets quickly. Leave the mixed grout for two to three minutes and then mix again before applying.

9. Apply the tile grout

Once mixed to a good, thick consistency, scoop the grout onto a grout float and press it into the gaps by holding the float at a 45 degree angle and slowly, but firmly spreading it onto the surface.

Wipe the tiles with a clean, damp sponge regularly to remove excess. Don’t over wet at this point as this will weaken the finished grout.

10. Clean the tiles and admire the results

After you’ve covered the whole area, leave it for about an hour and wipe it down again to ensure a clean finish. You can then apply sealant along the edges to make sure your new surface is watertight before admiring your beautiful new tiled feature.

Splash away!

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to join the police force but continues to love a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.