How to Install a Glass Tile Backsplash (DIY Project)

Harlow Picket Stone/Glass/Metal Mosaic Tile

 Glass tile makes an excellent choice for backsplashes. It has a clean, elegant, modern look and is easy to clean, so it’s perfect for the kitchen. Today, we’ll explain how to install a glass tile backsplash step by step.

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Floor plan

Getting ready for glass tile installation often involves several steps.

  • Ensure the wall where the tile will be installed is flat and smooth. You may need to sand the wall, apply a skim coat of drywall, or install a backer board to even out any gaps or ripples. The goal is to make sure you have an even, solid surface for the tile to adhere to.
  • Shut off the power to the outlets in the installation area.
  • Gather your equipment and tools.
  • Tape down plastic sheeting over the countertop to protect it.
  • Tape a layer of cardboard to the counter to function as a spacer. You’ll need a ⅛” space between your countertop and the bottom of the tile.
  • Screw a scrap one-by-two to the wall at the height of the cardboard spacer in any areas outside of the countertop.

Step 2: Determine the Center

Tape measure 

Next, use a tape measure to determine the center of the installation area. If you have a laser level, set it to shoot a vertical line at this center spot on the wall.

Step 3: Dry-Fit the Tile

 Dry-fitted tile

Be sure to take plenty of time to dry-fit your tile and work out any issues before actually installing it. You can do this by laying out the tile on the countertop and considering the horizontal and vertical space that will be covered. You may need to cut the tile with a wet saw for it to fit correctly. If so, be sure to give it time to dry completely.

Step 4: Spread Thinset or Apply Tile Adhesive

Thinset mortar on wall 

You can use a roll of tile adhesive, which will be quicker and easier, or thinset mortar, which requires a bit more time and expertise. If you choose to use mortar, note that it may show through some types of glass tile. 

For those using the adhesive, you’ll want to first cut it to size and then stick one side to the wall, ensuring there aren’t any bubbles and that it lies perfectly flat.

If you’re using thinset mortar, be sure to work in small sections so that the mortar doesn’t dry before you have a chance to install the tile on top of it. Use a notched trowel’s flat edge to fan the mortar across the wall. It should be about ¼” thick.

Next, pull across the thinset horizontally with the trowel’s notched edge to create grooves. Then, flatten down the grooves with the flat side of the trowel.

Step 5: Place the Tile

Man installing tile backsplash 

Starting at the center line you established in Step 2, begin pressing the first row of tile into the thinset or adhesive. If using thinset, set each tile into place with a hammer and scrap piece of one-by-four.

Continue applying thinset as needed and installing the tile row by row, from the bottom to the top. Ensure that the areas where the sheets of tile meet are even by tapping them with the one-by-four and hammer.

Step 6: Apply Grout

Tile with grout 

Allow the tile sufficient time to cure if you used thinset mortar (refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how long you’ll need to wait). If you used a roll of adhesive, you can go ahead and start with the grout.

Use a rubber grout float to apply the grout, moving diagonally. Once the grout has dried completely, use a damp sponge or grout haze cleaner to remove the grout haze from the face of the tiles. You may have to repeat this multiple times to completely eliminate the grout haze.

Step 7: Complete the Project

Caulk gun and other home renovation supplies 

Apply caulk to the top, bottom, corners, and edges of your backsplash to create a watertight seal and prevent moisture from building up behind your new glass tile. Give the caulk plenty of time to dry.

Depending on the thickness of the tile, you may wish to install electrical outlet extenders so that your outlets sit flush on the surface of the backsplash.

Restore power to the outlets, clean up the area, and your project is complete!

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