How to Tile a Kitchen Splashback
As the name suggests, a tile kitchen splashback protects your walls from splashes of food, water and any other grime you might throw its way. Both aesthetic and functional, tile splashbacks make your kitchen walls easy to clean while adding visual interest to your space.
Splashback tiling is typically used in the workspace portion of your kitchen. This includes the area behind your stove, sink and food preparation area, but there is no hard and fast rule as to how big or small your tile kitchen splashback should be.
What do you need to tile a splashback?
The first step to DIY splashback tiling is to gather your tools and materials. We recommend the following:
- Tape measure
- Tiles in the material of your choice
- Drop sheet to cover your benchtops
- Tile Adhesive
- Notched trowel
- Rubber grout trowel
- Tile cutter
- Tile grout
- Caulking gun
- Paddle pop stick
- Tile spacers
- Spirit level or laser
Prepare your kitchen for a DIY tile splashback project
Put down drop sheets to protect your bench tops or floors before you start working.
Clean the surface you plan to install your tile splashback with water and a sponge to get rid of any dust residue or plaster.
Check if there are any powerpoints in the space you need to tile around. If so, get a licenced electrician to isolate the power to the powerpoint and remove the cover plate. (once you finish tiling around it, get them to reinstate the cover plate and turn the power back on)
Adhering the tile adhesive to your kitchen wall
You can choose to use a premixed tile adhesive glue (handyman style) or mix it up from a powder (tradesperson style) which will need to be mixed in a bucket with water before applying.
Use your notch trowel to apply your adhesive to the wall starting from the bottom of the area you want to tile. You should apply enough adhesive to secure your first horizontal row of tiles. Use the notched edge of your trowel to create horizontal lines. These 3 dimensional lines will allow you to adjust each tile in and out to ensure they all sit flush and smooth.
Laying the tiles
Before you start laying your tile, you’ll want to put down tile spacers to ensure there’s a small gap between the benchtop and your first line of tile. Benchtops move over time, so leaving a bit of space will make sure your tiles do not crack.
Place your first row of tiles on the wall above the spacers, using even, moderate pressure to push the tiles into the glue. Place spacers in between the corners of the tiles and adjust the tile position as needed.
Use your spirit level or laser to check that your first row of tiles has been laid straight and aligned with the benchtop.
Cutting your tiles to fit your splashback
When you get to the end of the row or hit a powerpoint, you might find that you need to cut the tile so that it fits properly. Mark the measurement you need on the tile with a pencil and use your tile cutter to score the tile. Use light pressure along the score line to break the tile into the correct size.
Lay the tile with the cut edge closest to the corner as this will be hidden later.
Continue laying the tiles
Continue to apply adhesive to the wall and repeat the process of laying the tiles until you’ve filled the entire area of your splashback. Make sure to wipe up any excess adhesive as you go.
Wait about 12 hours for your tiles to dry. Once they are dry, remove the spacers from the wall.
Place your tile grout mix in a bucket with some water and mix until it becomes a similar consistency to toothpaste. Note it is very easy to add too much water and make it too runny (which will ultimately be weak) so start slow.
Apply the grout mix by pressing your rubber grout trowel along the tiles at a 45-degree angle, filling the gaps between the tiles. Remove excess grout as you go and when you are finished run your sponge in a circular motion over the tiles.
It will take about 30 minutes for your grout to dry.
Give a final clean
Once your grout has dried, it’s time to give your tile splashback a final clean. Wring out your sponge and run it along the tiles at a 45-degree angle. Continue to rinse your sponge and go over all the tiles until your splashback is sparkling clean.
The final step in DIY splashback tiling is to apply a line of silicone along the edges of your tiles. Apply the silicon using a caulking gun, running it along the bottom and top edges of your splashback at a 45-degree angle.
Spray a smoothing agent (like soapy water) onto the line of silicone and use a paddle pop stick to scrape away any excess silicon for a smooth finish.
A tile for every splashback
Apart from looking great, the main function of a splashback is to protect your precious walls from water damage and staining. This means you will want to use tiles that are hard-wearing, waterproof and non-porous. When it comes to splashback tile design, the world is your oyster.
Mosaic tiles are great for creating patterns or can be used to add depth, texture and variation to your splashback, making it a real focal point of the kitchen. Round, kit kat and geometric-shaped mosaic tiles are all popular choices for kitchen splashbacks.
Classic subway tiles originated from the walls of the New York city subway around 1904 and have managed to stay in vogue for many years. With subway tiles, there’s no need to worry about your kitchen looking dated or going out of style.
Known for being stain resistant and easy to clean, they are a no-brainer for kitchen splashbacks.
Herringbone tiles are rectangular cut tiles laid to create a visually pleasing triangle or arrow pattern that resembles the skeleton of a herring fish. Herringbone splashbacks laid horizontally along your wall create the illusion of width, making your kitchen appear bigger.
Fish scale tiles
Fish scale tiles are a type of mosaic tile with a wide round top and a small pointed bottom, resembling a fan. These types of tiles first became popular in the 1920s during the art-deco era of design. The whimsical pattern is sure to add a touch of character to your kitchen.
At TileCloud, we have a huge range of tiles and tapware to support your kitchen renovation. Browse our collection of ceramic, porcelain or stone-look tiles—all great options for your kitchen splashback.