The easiest way to add a tile backsplash to your wall!
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Have you been wanting to add tile to your wall but just don't know where to start? I was there right with you and I’m here to help you get your tile done! If you want to learn all the tips and tricks to do it yourself then look no further!
If you've been following me on Instagram/Tiktok you would've seen me working on my basement dry bar. After installing the floating shelves I envisioned a textured tile backsplash to complete the space. I decided that this was a DIY project that I was capable of doing and so I started doing my research.
Before I dive into the steps of doing this yourself, I want to talk about a few different options available to install the tile. The traditional way of installing tile includes thinset which is a type of mortar. Alternatively you could use tile adhesive to stick the tiles to the wall or if you want to skip the mess you could use an adhesive pad.
Now this is important. If f you're using thinset/ mortar, you'd have to mix it and apply it to the wall within approx. 90-120min. Since I have a 5 month old at home and nap times are unpredictable, I decided not to go that route.
Tile adhesive or an adhesive pads were my options and I decided to try the adhesive pad so I can start and stop as required around mom life.
The adhesive pad (mussel bound or simplemat)
Ceramic tile of your choice
14″ ceramic tile cutter
tile nippers for any unique cuts
Step 1: Clean the wall of any dust/debris
This is a very important step when using an adhesive pad. The cleaner the surface the more the sheets will stick!
Step 2: Apply this life changing adhesive pad to your wall!
This is magical guys. Using this eliminates the mess you make with mortar/mastic and you don't have to stress about applying it evenly all over the wall. It’s tiling made easy! Just roll and stick. This product works like double sided sticky tape. One side sticks to the wall and the other to your tile. Once you use this stuff, you’ll see tiling in a whole new light and wonder why you never tried it before!
Step 3: Choose your pattern and start making the cuts
Ok so the first thing you want to do is figure out how you want to lay your tiles. Horizontally or vertically? staggered or stacked? Next, use a laser level to mark the centre of your wall. Start dry fitting you tiles from the center point outward. If you need to make more than one cut on the ends then adjust you centre line . Make sure you also take the measurement of your spacers into consideration.
Step 4: Start making your cuts and laying tile
To make cuts to your tile, you can use two different tools. a score and snap tile cutter and a wet saw. The tile cutter can cut straight lines on tile for you but nothing smaller than 1/2 inch wide. Also it performs better with a smooth surface tile. For that reason I made my cuts on a wet saw.
I was initially intimidated to try the wet saw but I did a lot of research on how to use it safely before I started. I used the Ryobi 7 1/2 inch saw and found it to be very east to assemble and user friendly. This is a very affordable option and it comes with a good fence that will come in handy if you are a beginner.
When you are making your cuts you want to make a mark on your tile with a pencil so you know where to cut. Use the fence to ensure you are cutting a straight line on the saw. Set the fence on one end of the tile and line up your pencil mark with the saw. Make sure to take the kerf size of the blade into consideration when doing this. Note that using a wet saw can get messy so if you're not cutting outdoors prep your space with a large size drop cloth.
One very important thing to remember is to wear goggles, a mask, long sleeves, and have your neck covered to prevent any injury from small chards of tile. There is also a guard above the blade to help keep debris from flying all over. You can see this guard in the picture below.
Step 5: Grout
Once all the tiles are up on the wall, your next step will be grout. Now if you're using an adhesive mat then you don't need to wait a certain amount of time to grout. If you're using mastic/thinset you will need to wait 24-48hrs for it to dry before you grout.
With grout, friends in the industry have taught me that sanded grout is for floor tile and non sanded is for wall tile. Most premixed grout is sanded so just make sure you read the label before purchasing.
The best way to tackle grouting is to do it in small sections. For my dry bar, I split it up into three sections and then split each of those sections in half. The goal is to fill in all the spaces with grout. I fount that moving the float diagonally helped to really get in the spaces.
After you get the grout done in a small section, use the float to get off as much of the excess grout as possible. Next use a sponge to clean all the excess grout off the tile. Keep cleaning your sponge with water and wiping again. Repeat until all the grout is off. TIP: wearing knee pads is a life saver!
Step 6: Apply Silicone
The final step of tiling is to seal where the counter meets the tile. This is done to prevent any moisture from entering the area. Moisture trapped in there can cause mold or mildew overtime which we definitely done want! Depending on your finishes, a translucent or clear silicone would be a nice touch. I personally like to tape off the tile and counter before applying silicone because it is super sticky and near impossible to remove after it had dried. Once you apply it, allow 24 hrs for it to cure before resuming regular use to that area.
Step 7: Enjoy!