Inspiration and DIY Installing Wall Tiles to Modernize Your Space: A Guide

Features Urban Metal in Bronze 1x2 brick-joint mosaic, trimmed in 3/4x12 Ellipse wall liner, and Tumbled Travertine in Baja Cream 6 x 6 field tile and Bronze 4-1/4x4-1/4 field tile complete the backsplash.
 
 

INSTALLING WALL TILES TO MODERNIZE YOUR SPACE: A GUIDE

Are you longing to renew the look of your kitchen or bathroom? You can add a modern, updated look to your decor by incorporating new wall tiles. Whether you have just moved into a new home that is in need of a little modernizing, or your old kitchen or bathroom is passed its prime, new tile will do the trick. Plus you can do the job yourself; there's no need to call a contractor. You can have fun tackling the job, and you'll soon have a beautiful new tile backsplash in your kitchen or an updated shower area in your bathroom.

Choose Your Wall Tiles

Have fun exploring the wide variety of tile that's available to you, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. For example, a wood-look floor tile can be a beautiful option for the wall of a shower or kitchen backsplash. Also look at tile that can be used as an accent or border, such as small mosaics. Keep in mind that tiles on the wall shouldn't be larger than those on the floor. This is an important design lesson that will keep your room looking balanced.

Make a Plan of Action

Once you have narrowed down your choice of tiles, it's time to draw a scaled plan. A plan will allow you to be prepared to install your tile pattern correctly, especially if you're planning a more intricate design. Using an architects' scaled ruler, draw your plan on paper with pencil. This doesn't need to be perfect so use your imagination to create unique scenarios. Eventually you'll be able to draw out the perfect tile pattern.

Have Your Tools Ready

To do the job right, you should have the necessary tools and supplies ready. Here's a list of what you should have before you embark on your tile project:

  • Utility knife and metal straight edge to cut the adhesive mat to fit the wall precisely
  • Tape measure to measure and fit the adhesive mat and tiles
  • Tile spacers to confirm that tiles are spaced evenly for a finished product that looks professional
  • Premixed grout to be ready for instant grouting
  • A grout float and large sponge to smooth out grout and clean tiles

Get Ready to Cut

Hopefully you won't have to cut much of your tile, but you should buy, borrow or rent a tile saw to be prepared to cut end pieces smoothly. Make sure to have enough of the appropriate blades as well. Try to keep the saw outside or in the garage to keep dust down to a minimum when sawing. You should definitely practice cutting tiles first until you feel comfortable. Always protect yourself using goggles and a face mask when using a tile saw.

Remove Old Tile

Adding a new tiled backsplash will give your kitchen an instant face-lift. In some scenarios, you'll have a plain painted wall that's ready to be tiled over, and in others, you'll have to remove old tile first. Chipped and cracked tiles are not appealing to the eye, and tile that's an outdated color should be modernized. Start by placing a towel or tarp over the section of tile that needs to be removed. This will help to prevent shards of tile from flying around the room. Then use a small sledge-hammer to hit the tile through the towel. This will break up the tile into small pieces and it will fall off the wall. When you're finished, be sure to dispose of your old tile in a way that's environmentally friendly.

Prepare Your Surface

It's important to make sure your surfaces are smooth, so if you have to sand your surface or patch any holes, now is the time to do it. It can be helpful to place a towel or a sheet over any surrounding areas for protection. Then wipe down any dust to prepare your surface for new tile.

Lay Out Tile

Before you actually install the tile, lay out your pattern on a large surface, such as the floor. This will allow you to see and perfect your pattern, and assure that it looks exactly how you want it to appear on the wall. Don't forget to use tile spacers to leave equally sized gaps around each tile to account for grout. This is a good time to make the final decision on your grout color as well.

Use an Adhesive Tile Mat

Mortar is great for the professionals, but can create quite a mess. Now tiling a wall yourself can be relatively easy by using adhesive tile mats. When choosing the tile mat, make sure you purchase one that is specifically for use in areas that get soaked with water. Then simply follow the product instructions, and you'll soon have new wall tiles.

Add an Accent

When you're done laying your tile, you might be inspired to start another tile project. There are quite a few other ways you can add tile to your kitchen or bathroom. If you're longing for another hands-on project, here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Place a raised border immediately above the existing wall tile around your home. This will give the tile a minor face-lift without having to do a complete overhaul. You can add the new border and stop, or you can add the border and the new wall tile above it that complements the existing tile.
  • Add tile to any alcoves or shelving that are found in your shower or around your home.
  • Frame an existing plain vanity mirror with tile to give it an unexpected twist.


Adding wall tiles to your home is a great way to freshen things up. Tile comes in many different colors and options, and is extremely versatile. You can tile a whole wall, small areas, or even use it to create an accent. With these tips and tricks, you should be able to complete your tile renovation without the help of a contractor.