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Install a Tin Tile Backsplash: DIY Kitchen Makeover

A Quick and Easy Way to Give Your Kitchen a Retro Look

© 2016 by Kelly R. Smith

Photo of Kelly R. Smith

A kitchen tin tile backsplash

A kitchen tin tile backsplash

This article was updated on 09/02/21.

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This tutorial explains how to install a tin tile backsplash. Although this material is usually associated with vintage tin ceilings, there’s no reason that it wouldn’t work in the kitchen and bathroom as well. It can be applied to a bare wall or by covering up Formica®.

Tool and Material List

  • Measuring tape
  • Tin snips
  • Corded or cordless drill with drill bits
  • A marker that can be erased (so not a Sharpie)
  • Level
  • Safety gloves
  • Construction adhesive appropriate for the surface, or use an adhesive mat.
  • Tin tiles
  • Matching tin accessories (latex caulk, etc.)

Choosing Your Backsplash Material

Virtually all tin tiles used for backsplashes are square; 6 inch tiles are usually recommended because of the size of backsplashes vs ceilings. First, choose your preferred pattern; there are many available. Most homeowners choose to create a repeating pattern, possibly with an accent row or a central feature.

Next, select the preffered color for your application. One idea is to either match or complement your appliance colors. Although you can buy them uncoated and paint them yourself, it is easier and more professional looking to buy ones that have powder coated finishes.

Finally, don’t forget to pick up accessories, namely edge trim molding and switch plate covers.

Installation Steps

  1. Remove anything such as switch plate covers. Place drop cloths or sheet plastic on top of your countertop and appliances. Since your switch plates are off, turn off power at the breaker box just to be safe.
  2. Now it’s time for the layout. A good place to start in most cases is the stove. Using your level, measure behind your stove across the counter to establish a reference point of where to begin placing your tile.
  3. Next, measure and cut your tile to the proper size. Be sure to wear your gloves when cutting the tiles because the cut edges are very sharp and will cut deep. Try to use un-cut factory edges on all exposed points when possible. They will have a straighter line and are much less likely to cut you.
  4. Whenever you need to cut an opening in the tile sheet for a switch plate cover or an outlet, carefully measure, draw the opening with your marker, and use your drill to make a hole in the center. The hole should be large enough so that you can insert the blades of your tin snips into it. Carefully cut out the opening.
  5. Generously apply construction adhesive to the back of the tiles and then carefully place the tiles on the wall. Slide the next tile in behind the first aligning properly to achieve a seamless look.
  6. Finish off by installing the edge trim molding and the cover plates.

Installing a tin tile backspash is an easy DIY weekend project. Like any other project, measure twice, cut once.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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