How to Tile a Backsplash Behind a Sink

Updated February 21, 2017

A backsplash behind a sink is not only beautiful but practical. Ceramic tile is impervious to water and grease washes off easily. A tile backsplash is also a great do-it-yourself project because it is such a small area. It is also a good location to splurge on expensive tile as the square footage required is small. Because you have a nice straight line at the countertop to begin the installation, there is little that can go wrong.

Take off all of the electrical plates from the backsplash area to receive tile. Spread glue with the notched trowel starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Lay whole tiles starting at the bottom next to the countertop and continue laying one row at a time until all whole tiles are in place. Measure the space at the top next to the cabinets and cut tiles to fit with the tile cutter. Put them in place with the cut edge facing the cabinets. Mark and snip the cuts around the electrical sockets using the snips. Test with the electrical plates to make sure the cut edge gets covered. As long as the plate covers the edge, the cut doesn’t need to be perfect. Allow the glue to set 24 hours.

Mix the grout following manufacturer’s instructions and spread with the grout pad. Start at the bottom and work your way up pushing the grout into the joints. Pull back across the tile with the grout pad perpendicular to the tile to squeegee off excess grout. Use a damp sponge to wash grout off the tiles and smooth the joints at the same time. Allow the grout to dry to a haze and then buff off with a dry towel.

Caulk over the joints between the tile and the countertop and the tile and the cabinets with silicone caulk. Smooth the joint with a wet fingertip.


Have someone at the place where you got the tile show you how to use the tile cutter and snips. Because this tile is going in an area that will get a lot of water and grease splashed on it, you may want to think about sealing the grout. Grout sealer can be purchased where you got your tile and is a simple wipe on/wipe off operation. If the grout is white, use white silicone caulk, otherwise use clear.


As in any wet area, make sure you get Type II tile adhesive. It is stronger and more water resistant than Type I.

Things You'll Need

  • Notched trowel
  • Type II tile adhesive
  • Tile
  • Measuring tape
  • Tile cutting machine
  • Tile snips
  • Grout pad
  • Grout
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • Silicone caulk
  • Caulk gun
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About the Author

Darryl Brooks is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. His experiences include 16 years installing tile, 30 years working in information technology, eight years as a writer, six years as a photographer, 15 years as a competitive runner and 15 years in a travel agency.