Wall Preparation for a tile Backsplash (No Sanding)

Preparing to install new kitchen backsplash

Kitchen walls as they looked after installing the countertops

Tired of looking at it, and thinking about how ugly it looked (after removing the old tile and installing the White Quartz countertops) it was time to work on the kitchen’s wall preparation for a tile backsplash.

If you’ve ever looked into it, you’ve most likely come across different techniques to prepare a wall for a tile backsplash. Most, if not all of them recommend some, perhaps unnecessary and messy, sanding.

I’m not saying that sanding is never required. In some cases, especially if you’ve patched any holes or other imperfections, it definitely helps level the wall’s surface, however, I would dare to say, that in the vast majority of cases, it is not necessary.

What you need, though, is to roughen the wall’s surface so the tile adhesive has something to grab onto.


Before getting into the actual prep work, there were a couple of things that I had to take care of.

First of all, removing all the power outlet and light switch wall plates.

Then, pulling out the stove and screwing a piece of wood to the wall in the cabinet opening behind it. This is so that it supports the tile as it is being installed where there is no countertop.

Wood support to install tile backsplash behind stove

Wood support for tile backsplash installation


I used a level and the edge of the cabinets to make sure that the piece of wood was at exactly the same height of the cabinets.


Although this method I’m about to present may not have been extensively tested, it made perfect sense to me when I came up with the idea. As I just mentioned, tile adhesive needs something to grab onto, the smoother the surface, the less grip it has, the rougher the surface (up to an extent), the stronger the bond.

I’m completely confident with this technique, as it is the one I used when installing the tile backsplash in the kitchen of my first house. On top of it, it is an easier and less messy alternative, as there’s no need to sand or vacuum clean all the dust from it.

Do not panic, though, you do not need any fancy equipment or skills, all you need is a good utility knife!

And all you have to do is scratch the wall with it. I do it diagonally because it is easier, but as long as you scratch it pretty well, it does not matter in which direction you do it.

Scratching kitchen wall to install tile backsplash

(Scratching) preparing walls for a tile backsplash installation


Scratching wall to help with backsplash tile adhesion

Prepping walls for backsplash installation so the tile adhesive has something to grab onto


Scratching wall for tile backsplash installation

Scratching walls using a utility knife before tile backsplash installation.

Please keep in mind, though, that these walls (and the ones at the other house) were in perfect shape. Do your own research based on your walls’ conditions, as they may require additional work, such as patching, leveling, and even sanding.

Once I was happy with the amount of scratching, I went ahead and used a putty knife to scrape any loose paint, etc.

At the end, the walls looked like this:

Scratched wall to install tile backsplash

Wall is ready for tile backsplash installation


Scratched wall to help with backsplash tile adhesion

Wall is ready to start with the tile backsplash installation


Scratched wall for backsplash tile adhesion

Scratching helps because it allows a better bond between the tile and the walls


After completing the wall preparation, the next step was, as you may expect, installing the actual tile backsplash, which will be featured in a future post.

Need to work on the wall preparation for a tile backsplash? This is what you need:

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