How To – Installing Bathroom Vanity Tile – Side Splash

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    When you install a sink or vanity against your wall there is a possibility of water damage and also damage from using cleaning products. To help reduce wear and drywall problems you can install a back / side splash material made of tile, stone, or even matching countertop material.

    In this how-to we will install some matching tile along the left side wall.

    First measure the area that needs to be filled.

    Our project will take 5 tiles but since the final tile near the back of the vanity needs to be cut to match the curve of the counter top we will purchase 6 tiles incase one brakes during cutting.


    You will need the following tools and materials:   • Caulk gun with a tube of construction adhesive.
    • Tiles as needed. (Cuts can be made at the store)
    • Small putty knife
    • Tube of bathroom (anti fungal) Tub and Tile Caulk.


    First test the fit of the tiles against the wall before you apply adhesive.  Most tiles under 6″ square will have a small nub on the edge to provide proper grout spacing between the tiles so spacer blocks are not needed. Just press the tiles together as close as they will go and grout lines are automatic.

    Once you are happy with the spacing and fit of the tile you can apply a small amount of mastic or construction adhesive to the back side of the tile using an S shaped pattern and leaving open areas so the adhesive will have room to expand when it is pressed against the wall.


    In larger jobs you will use a tile mastic material which is very similar to the construction adhesive but because you will have so much left over in a small job like this it is a waste to purchase tile mastic that may not be used again for some time.

    Press the tile firmly against the wall making it flush and level with the previous tile.

    Once all the tiles are in place you should fill all the joints between the tile with either grout or Tub and Tile Caulk. In our install we will use tub and tile caulk because it matches the color of the tile and also because it will provide a water tight solution without the need to seal the grout. Tub and Tile Caulk also contains a bacteria fighter that will reduce mold build-up.

    If you plan to use more decorative tile you may wish to use a colored grout to match the tile.

    If you are installing unglazed tile or a piece of marble or stone make sure that the adhesive used, either the Tile Mastic or Construction Adhesive as used here, is compatible with the stone or some discoloration may form months later as the adhesive oils leach through the porous stone. Glazed Tile will not have this problem since it is not porous.

    Since you will need to cut one of the tiles to match the curve of the vanity top. Bring a cardboard or paper template showing the exact shape of the cut with you when you buy the tile or you will have to make a return trip.

    Most home centers and all Tile companies will make a few simple cuts on your tile for free or may charge 25c per cut.

    Your other option to tile is a matching vanity side splash plate. They are made to fit the curve of the vanity and need no cutting. Side Splash Plates usualy run $20 and up and in our project where the tile only cost $2 cost was a factor.

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