View All > 3

Prepare the surface beneath the backsplash

Once you achieve the backsplash of your dreams, you’ll hardly remember the surface beneath it. However, to make that backsplash last, spend some time undergoing the tile surface preparation process and preparing the substrate before installation begins.

Quick Tip

Walls must be flat and should not flex. Make sure your substrate is securely attached to the wall studs before you begin laying out tile.

1. Be safe
A kitchen area prepared for a backsplash tile installation.Before you begin, make sure you have a clear, safe installation area. Remove anything that will be in your way, shut off the power to any outlets or switches, and remove the switch plates and outlet covers. Cover all nearby surfaces – including countertops and sinks – to protect them from installation debris.





2. Know your substrate
A backsplash can be installed over many substrates, including wallboard, drywall, cement board or plywood. You can even install your backsplash over existing tile, painted surfaces or laminates – as long as you roughen them to produce a good bonding surface. Any wallpaper should be removed. Check with your tile manufacturer to confirm that your substrate is compatible with your tile.


3. Repair water damaged areas
Newly installed backboard.Any section of drywall or other surface that has been damaged by moisture must be replaced. If you need to replace the existing substrate, purchase a new panel of drywall or back board and cut it to match the size of your backsplash. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.








4. Smooth rough wall patches
A hand holding a towel uses fast setting patch to smooth rough wall patches.The substrate must be flat and even, without holes or voids, to produce a professional-looking backsplash. If a concrete or approved wood substrate is not quite level, fill any holes, cracks, voids and depressions with TEC® Skill Set Fast Setting Patch. Keep your installation timeline on track with this fast-setting product – it sets within 40 to 45 minutes. If you are installing over existing tile, be sure that all tiles are secured.




5. Clean the area
A hand holding a dark rag to clean the area where the tile backsplash will be placed.Before beginning to lay tile, thoroughly clean the wall surface to remove any grease, dust, dirt, debris or sealers. You want your tile to stick – and those contaminants can interfere with the adhesion process. Allow the wall surfaces to thoroughly dry before beginning to tile.



After participating in the tile surface preparation process, the next step is to lay the tile for your backsplash.

Our diy Expert

Ron Sheldon

Ron Sheldon is a tile and floor installation guru. He has far too much knowledge on obscure topics like grout and floor leveling. A passionate tile contractor by trade, Ron’s spent the past decade dedicated to educating people about tiling, and has great advice on how to perfect your project.

Email Your Question

Leave a Comment

    *  Name
    *  Email (will not be published)
Next Step:
How to lay out tile for backsplash