How to Install a Simple Tile Backsplash

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on October 23, 2017

Watch the full episode: Ask This Old House General Contractor Tom Silva teaches a homeowner a simple technique for tiling backsplash. Click here to SUBSCRIBE to the official This Old House YouTube channel:
Time: 2-3 hours Cost: $100 Skill Level:
Beginner Tools List for Installing a Simple Tile Backspash:
Measuring tape
Rubber float
Utility knife
Bucket Shopping List:
Square tile
Tile adhesive mat
Pre-mixed grout
Degreasing cleaner
Drop cloth
Painters tape
Sponge Steps:
1. Clean the wall thoroughly with the cleaner to remove any grease or other debris.
2. Secure the drop cloth on the counter using the painters tape, covering the entire work area.
3. Mark the two sides of the wall using the painters tape where the backsplash should start and stop.
4. Measure the space you plan on tiling. Transfer the measurements to the tile adhesive mat and cut to size using scissors.
5. Peel one half of the back off of the adhesive mat, align the unexposed section to a straight surface like the existing countertop. Ensure the side with the thicker gap between glue dots is aligned to overlap the next sheet.
6. Once the sheet is in the correct position, stick it to the wall. Then peel the bottom half and stick that to the wall.
7. Repeat this process until the desired area is covered. Use the rubber float to push the adhesive mat to the wall for a permanent bond.
8. Hold the tile up to the wall to determine where it will need to be cut to size.
9. Use the utility knife to cut the mesh behind the tile.
10. Peel the plastic coating off of the adhesive mat, and carefully place each tile section onto the adhesive.
11. Once the tile is in the correct position, push it in place with a rubber float.
12. Repeat this process until the wall is covered with the tile.
13. Fill the gaps between the tile with the premixed grout and the rubber float. Apply it diagonally until all of the spaces between the tile have been filled with grout.
14. Fill the bucket with water and using a clean sponge, wipe the excess grout off the tile, again diagonally. Be careful to only wipe the grout off the face of the tile, not the grout in between the tiles.
15. After 24 hours, a haze may appear on the tile. To remove it, wipe the tile with a rag. Resources:
To attach the tile to the wall, Tom used the SimpleMat tile setting mat, manufactured by Custom Building Proucts ( Tom installed Desert Sunset mosaic tile, manufactured by MS International ( The homeowner selected “Earth” colored premixed grout, which is also manufactured by Custom Building Products ( All of these, plus the other supplies and materials for this project, including razor knives, painter’s tape, and sponges, are sold at home centers. Follow This Old House and Ask This Old House: Facebook:

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