How to Install a Tile Backsplash on Kitchen Drywall

Kitchen backsplashes are one of the easiest ways to add additional appeal to a kitchen, enhancing the visual aspects of the entire kitchen and adding to the value of the home. There are a wide variety of ceramic and porcelain tiles to choose from and advances in technology now permits the installation of kitchen backsplashes in an afternoon rather than spread out over several days. With little difficulty involved in the process, everyone should be able to enjoy a tile backsplash in her own kitchen.

A kitchen tile backsplash.

Use the tile spacers as a guide between each individual piece of tile, and spread several of them in a row on the countertop. Measure the distance between the tiles and check that measurement against the length and height of the backsplash. The most common choice is to start with a full tile on the outside edges of kitchen backsplash, as well as against the bottom where it meets the countertop, and put cuts in the corners and underneath the cabinets. Depending on the size of the tiles you are working with and how your measurements compare against the tiles you have laid out, you may want to adjust the layout in one direction or another. Some prefer larger cuts in the corners and others smaller. Personal preference dictates whether to start with full tiles or cuts.

Use your notched trowel to spread mastic adhesive on the drywall of the kitchen backsplash beginning at your starting point. Only spread enough mastic to install a few pieces at a time until you are comfortable with your installation speed, to avoid giving the mastic time to set up and become "tacky." The easiest way is to start at the bottom and outside edge and spread towards the corner, installing the entire bottom row before working your way upwards.

Place a piece of tile against the mastic adhesive and apply pressure while moving the title slightly in all directions to ensure a complete bond between it, the adhesive and the drywall. Once you have completely bonded the tile with the adhesive, move it to its final position and repeat the process with each individual tile that you stick on the wall. Tile spacers may be used between each piece, both vertically and horizontally, to control the size of the grout joints.

Mark any cuts around electrical outlets or corners of the cabinets with the tape measure and pencil and cut them with the tile wet saw. Dry off the backs of any cuts made on the tile wet saw completely using an old towel, as moisture will impede the bond between the tile and adhesive. Any straight cuts against the bottom edge of the countertops can be made with a tile-cutting board. Allowing the tiles to dry at least 24 hours before grouting the kitchen backsplash.

Things You Will Need

  • Notched trowel
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Tile wet saw
  • Tile-cutting board
  • Tile spacers
  • Mastic adhesive
  • Old towel


  • A typical 12-by-12 tile requires a 3/8-inch notched trowel. Larger tiles will require a larger notch, and smaller tiles vice-versa.
  • Tile spacers come in a variety of widths depending upon the owner's personal preference about the size of grout joints.
  • All materials and tools can be purchased or rented from your local home-improvement store.


  • Always wear protective gear when working with a tile wet saw, such as earplugs and safety glasses.

About the Author

Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.

Photo Credits