Step 1: Prep the walls

Leave a 1/4-in. gap between the wall and the tape for the tile. Cover the countertops with newspaper or a drop cloth. Then Mark the center point of the wall and, with a level, draw a horizontal line across the wall from end to end. Also measure up from the finished countertop to the bottom lip of the upper cabinets to determine the number of tile rows needed.

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Step 2: Mix and Spread adhesive

  • Mix the thin-set mortar according to manufacturer’s directions. Add mortar to water a little at a time while stirring; when ready it should be the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
  • Wait about 10 minutes after the mortar is mixed to let it set.
  • Apply thin-set to the wall with a 3/16-inch notched trowel to ensure proper depth. Apply thin-set in smooth, even strokes.
  • Cover about a 2-square-foot area at a time. Keep a sponge and water handy for cleaning as you go. Thin-set will stay workable for about 45 minutes but don’t apply too much at a time.

Step 3 :Apply the tile

  • Starting with your bottom row of tiles, apply tiles to the thin-set. Press and wiggle each tile to set into the mortar, keeping each flat, plumb and level.
  • Use 1/8-inch spacers to keep a consistent space between tiles as you go. You can pull out the spacers when the mortar starts to dry.
  • Add accent tiles or liner bars where you designed them.

Step 4: Grout and clean the tile

Wait 24 hours after installing the tile to add the grout. We used a premium grout that has a consistent color and resists stains better than standard grout. Mix the grout with water until it reaches mashed potato consistency, then put some on the wall with a grout float. Work the grout into the joints by moving the float diagonally over the tiles. Hold the grout float at a 45-degree angle to the tile. Scrape off excess grout with the float after the joints are filled.