How to Install a Removable Tile Backsplash


Removable tile blacksplashes give you freedom to update your kitchen without the commitment of a permanent installation. Most commercially made removable backsplashes are small groupings of tiles that resemble artwork and hang on the wall above the counter or stove. You can design and install a removable backsplash any size you like. Make several and hang them side-by-side to imitate a full tile surround, and take them down when you tire of the look.

Things You'll Need

  • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Tiles, porcelain or ceramic
  • Pennies, optional
  • Pencil
  • Bar tiles
  • Circular saw
  • Construction adhesive
  • Pliers
  • Siliconized latex caulk
  • Sponge
  • Power drill
  • 4 molly bolts
  • Screwdriver
  • Set the medium-density fiberboard, also called MDF, on a flat work surface. Arrange the tiles for the main design at the center of the board in a pattern that you like. If the tiles have built-in nubs or spacers, push the tiles together. If they do not, insert pennies on-edge between the tiles to make a grout joint.

  • Leave an untiled border around the perimeter of the MDF several inches wide. Mark the outline of the tiled design on the MDF with a pencil.

  • Set the bar tiles on the MDF around the traced outline, forming a border. Bar tiles are narrow tiles intended for use as borders and accents. Simple bar tiles are approximately 1/2 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches long, but sizes can vary greatly with specialty bar tiles. Trace the perimeter of the border with a pencil, making a secondary outline on the MDF.

  • Cut the MDF along the secondary outline with a circular saw.

  • Apply beads of construction adhesive to the backs of the primary tiles, but not on the bar tiles. Set the tiles and pennies, if you used them, into position inside the original outline on the MDF. Three or four thin strips of adhesive is an adequate amount. Let the adhesive dry for at least 2 hours.

  • Pull out the pennies; use pliers if they are stuck.

  • Apply one bead of adhesive along the backs of all but four of the bar tiles. Press the tiles into place around the main design, leaving the corner bar tiles off. Leave the tiled MDF to dry overnight.

  • Fill the joints between the tiles with siliconized latex caulk. Dampen your finger with water and smooth it over every seam to neaten the tile joints.

  • Wipe the tiles using a sponge dampened with plain water. Do not disturb the caulk in the joints.

  • Drill one hole through each corner of the MDF, approximately 1/2 inch in from the edge.

  • Hold the MDF against the wall. Set a level on the top edge of the MDF and center the bubble. Drill through the four corner holes and into the wall, and remove the MDF.

  • Push a molly bolt through each of the holes in the wall. Molly bolts consist of a metal sleeve covering a screw. The sleeve expands on the back side of the wall to help support heavy weights. Twist the screw head of the bolt clockwise with a screwdriver until it is snug. Twist the screw head counterclockwise to remove it, leaving the expandable sleeves in the wall.

  • Set the MDF back in place with the predrilled holes over the molly bolt sleeves. Insert screws through the MDF holes and into the sleeves; tighten them clockwise.

  • Apply a thin bead of adhesive across the backs of the four remaining bar tiles. Set them into place at the corners, covering the screw heads.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pull off the four corner tiles to access the bolts for removal.
  • If the bar tiles are too long to fit around the design without modification, trim one bar tile on each side of the design using a tile snip. Tile snips are hand tools with two handles and hard metal cutting blades that break off excess material when the handles are squeezed together.
  • You can fill the tile joints with regular tile grout, but any movement may cause it to crumble.
  • Commercial tile spacers create large joints, which are difficult to fill attractively with caulk.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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