• In this video, This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows how to install a glass mosaic backsplash.

    1. Turn off the power to receptacles and remove their face plates. Move the range and install a temporary ledger. Rough up old paint with sandpaper or prime dark paint with a sealer-primer.

    2. Mark the centerline of your focal point. Dry-fit the tiles to determine how many sheets you need and where the sheets will be cut. Leave an 1/8-inch expansion gap at the perimeter. Trim sheets to size and label each one with its position on the wall.

    3. Mix the thinset. Apply the thinset with a ¼-inch V-notch trowel, level it with the notched side, then smooth the notches so they don’t show through the glass.

    4. Press the first sheet of tiles to the wall along the centerline. Work from the bottom up as you add more sheets. Place a block over the sheets and tap them with a hammer to even them out on the wall.

    5. Wait twenty to thirty minutes, then remove the paper facing with a damp sponge.

    6. Fill in tiles around receptacles and other obstacles. Use two-wheeled glass nippers to cut the tiles to size, then back-butter them and press them into place.

    7. Let the tiles set for 48 hours. Then clean the tiles with a wet sponge, and remove loose thinset from the joints with a nylon brush.

    8. Grout the tiles with pre-mixed grout. First wet the tile with a sponge, then, using an epoxy grout float, push the grout into the joints. Pull the float across the tile diagonally to remove the excess. Use a wet sponge to shape the joints and clean the tile.

    9. Caulk the perimeter. Let the wall cure for several hours, then remove the ledger and replace the range and receptacles.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      setting the tile is easy, but adjustments and cuts require precision.
Ask TOH users about Tile

Contribute to This Story Below

    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • drill
        drill/driver
      • notched trowel
        trowel with 3/16-by-¼-inch V-notch
      • utility knife
        utility knife
      • hammer
        hammer
      • Glass Nippers
        two-wheeled glass nippers
      • rubber float
        epoxy grout float
      • drywall bucket
        5-gallon flat-bottomed mud bucket
      • bucket with sponge
        small bucket
      • grout sponge
        grout sponge
      • scrub brush
        nylon scrub brush
      • caulk gun
        caulk gun

      Shopping List

      Paper-faced translucent glass

      Mosaic sheet tile The facing is peeled off once the tiles are set on the wall. kraft paper to protect your counters

      Painter's tape

      Scrap 1x Lumber for a temporary ledger1½-inch Drywall Screws

      80-grit Sanding Sponge for roughing painted drywall

      Sealer-primer Paint

      Thinset mortar Choose a quality white latex-fortified portland cement thinset. We used Bostik Hydroment ReFlex. scrap cardboard to use as a spacer

      Grout Make sure it's a flexible grout approved by the tile maker. We chose a colorized, premixed urethane water-based grout that "gives" when the glass expands and requires no sealant. acrylic caulk that matches the grout