Zazzy Home

How to install wood backsplashes in any kitchen, Zazzy Home

How to install wood backsplashes in any kitchen

Although wood backsplashes look great in most kitchens, the installation is a process that requires some time and patience, but the end result is worth it! Wood backsplashes can be installed with or without thinset mortar.

If you want to use thinset mortar, make sure your wood backsplash tiles are level on the wall and in line with each other. Additionally, wood backsplash installers recommend using spacers between each tile to ensure a clean look.

How to install wood backsplashes in any kitchen, Zazzy Home

The wood backsplash installation process

Wood backsplash installation is rather easy. All you need to do is measure the wood and cut it to the desired size, line up wood backsplash tile on a smooth surface using spacers between each tile, and coat the wood with wood glue, then wood-safe adhesive, allowing for wood to adhere together.

Once this is done, you can attach your wood backsplash tiles onto your walls using wood clips. First, you should put down a layer of thinset mortar on the wall and then place brackets or wire mesh onto your wood clips and screw them on the wood backsplash tileset.

The wood backsplash will come in various sizes and wood types. You can choose from different wood materials that are best to suit your kitchen’s style and theme, as well as budget, since wood is more expensive than other options.

When it comes to wood backsplashes, you may also find wood countertop material or wood panels. These boards are usually made out of pine or cedar wood which has a smooth finish. Bristle boards may also be an option as they look like wood but are much cheaper and not the same consistency between each board.

They are best for a piece with minimal exposure to humidity or contact with water. These components inhibit the lumber from drying properly, leaving it susceptible to mold and wood rot.

An easy wood backsplash installation

Installing wood backsplash tiles is simple and can be accomplished in about a day to two, depending on the size of your kitchen. However, before you do anything else, it’s best that you prep the wood first by sanding down any rough surfaces or splinters.

Next, get yourself some wood filler if there are holes or breaks in your wood tile pieces, so they’re undetectable once installed; this will help with a seamless design for your wood backsplash. You’ll also need some caulk to fill spaces around each board on your wood backsplash since wood isn’t as flexible as other materials such as silicone, giving it an uneven surface when you apply thinset mortar.

After wood has been smoothed out, you’ll need to apply wood glue to each wood backsplash piece. For this process, it’s recommended that you first wood a wood clamp to keep the wood pieces together while they dry for about an hour or so

You will then mix up and put your thinset onto the wood backsplashes, spreading it evenly as possible with a trowel; make sure that your thinset is thin enough so that your wood backsplash won’t show through the mortar once applied onto walls.

Once all of this is done, allow time for your thinset to dry, and then place brackets on one side of the wood backing using wood glue to add more consistency in surface texture. Place wood clips on the wood backing side and put wood glue on each wood clip then wood pieces together, allowing for the wood to adhere with the thinset

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t want natural wood grain showing through the mortar, you will have to apply trim using a router or sander once your wood backsplash is up so that it’s level with your walls.

Once this has been done, make sure there are no gaps between the wood backsplash and wall so the grout cannot get in; fill any holes with caulk or wood filler.

Installing wood backsplash with thinset mortar

Wood grains influence where thinset mortar should follow while laying wood panels on the wall. When possible, align panel edges with the direction of wood grains on subfloor/ceiling level. Wood from that side will go better with the joints between panels. For example, if you’re using plywood for your wood paneling, you can place it so that one side has a straight edge and wood is cut across the grain.

The same rule applies when you have wood of different types and wood grains on the same panel (e.g., maple and oak). As a matter of fact, wood panels are usually made with wood from one type and to get a nice wood grain pattern.

This is vital when working with bamboo or cherry wood panels which provide an even more pronounced wood grains pattern that can be very noticeable if it’s not properly aligned with thinset mortar joints or another wood paneling edge.

When installing a bamboo or cherry wood backsplash, make sure that its edges are pushed against the wall, so they are hidden completely by your tile job. You won’t be able to appreciate them as wood paneling, but you’ll definitely see wood patterns if they’re not properly covered.

The bamboo wood grain pattern is especially prominent, so make sure to align wood panels and thinset mortar joints accordingly.

Thinset mortar joints should always follow wood grains on the wall side because wood needs expansion room for wood grains to shift and create beautiful knots over time (picture below). On the other hand, you can run parallel to wood grains when thinset mortar goes along the ceiling or subfloor (although it’s not a rule).

A great example of laying tiles with proper alignment between wood panels and thinset mortar job is ceramic pieces from Wood-Mode Inc . Their backsplashes feature red oak wood panels that are carefully aligned with thinset mortar.

When wood paneling doesn’t match wood grains on your wall, wood will expand and shift, thus damaging wood panels and creating ugly gaps between wood panels. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to wood grain patterns when you choose wood for your backsplash installation or any other wood project.

Wood graining injection can also be applied to plywood sheets in order to get a unique wood effect (for example, Allure Engineered flooring has this feature). Naturally, you have to make sure that wood grain is properly aligned if you plan on following this route.

Plywood boards can be treated multiple times, so they become thicker after each application of a special solution which adds natural texture and grain patterns of wood. Plywood wood grain patterns are then naturally aligned with thinset mortar joints. Thus wood panels matching wood grains fill the room beautifully!

Installing wood backsplash without thinset mortar

Installing wood backsplash without thinset mortar can actually be as easy as installing wood backsplash with thinset mortar, but it is not as popular because of the appearance that wood backsplashes without thinset mortar provide. There are many ways to install wood backsplashes without using thinset mortar, and most require nothing more than a few small tools for installation. Installing wood backsplash without thinset mortar is an option if you are looking for a way to avoid the mess involved in installing wood backsplash with thinset mortar and avoid the need for any additional professional assistance.

► Step 1: In order to install a wood backsplash without thinset mortar, you will need a wood backsplash to install. There are several ways wood backsplash can be installed. For example, wood backsplashes may be attached directly to the drywall, or wood backsplash may be installed on top of wood paneling that is already attached to the wall. If you have wood paneling already installed, skip to step 3.

► Step 2: First, prepare the areas where you will attach wood backsplash by removing any existing caulk located in the corners where wood backsplash will meet countertops and cabinets as well as within ¼ inch of the edge of wood panels with a scraper. This is necessary because you do not want your wood backsplash to be attached with caulk after installation.

► Step 3: Next, measure wood backsplash panels and cut wood backsplashes with the wood backsplash saw. Cut wood paneling approximately ¼ inch longer than wood backsplash as well as along a 45° angle in each corner so that wood backsplash will meet smoothly against countertops and cabinets.

► Step 4: After measuring and cutting wood paneling, choose the method for installing wood backsplash without thinset mortar below, depending on the type of wall surfaces you have. If you are unsure which method is best for your specific situation, contact a contractor or building supply store for assistance.

► Step 5: Apply wood backsplash double-sided tape to wood backsplash along with a strip of wood paneling using a putty knife. Make sure wood paneling is straight and properly aligned before applying wood backsplash double-sided tape so that wood paneling will not shift once installed. Important note; do NOT use this method if wood panels are attached to the wall with metal drywall rings, as you may end up damaging your walls during installation.

► Step 6: To install wood backsplash without thinset mortar, apply wood backsplash mesh to wood paneling using wood backsplash mesh tape. In order for wood backsplash mesh tape to work effectively in this method of wood backsplash installation, wood paneling must be firmly attached to the wall with wood paneling nails or other provided hardware so that wood backsplash mesh can adhere properly.

After installing wood backsplash mesh on wooden panels and smoothing out any wrinkles, leave a gap of approximately ¼” between each side of the wood backsplashes (this space will accommodate expansion as well as allow you to caulk around backing later). Optional; skip this step if you prefer installing wood inserts instead of wood backsplash mesh.

► Step 7: Apply wood backsplash adhesive to wood paneling and wood backsplashes using a putty knife or foam roller for even coverage, followed by smoothing out any bumps with the palm of your hand as wood backsplashes are applied. Wood backsplays can be added one at a time, starting from either end and working toward the center. This step is very similar to applying wallpapering paste to walls before hanging wallpaper. Important note; do NOT use this method if wood panels are attached to the wall with metal drywall rings, as you may end up damaging your walls during installation.

► Step 8: Start installing wood backsplash without thinset mortar by placing wood backsplash against wood paneling while holding wood backsplashes in place with one hand. Next, use wood backsplash mesh tape to attach the wood backsplash directly to wood panels. If wood backsplashes are not attached well, they will not lay flat when caulked or be flush to the countertops and cabinets after installation.

► Step 9: Apply wood backsplash caulk around the entire edge of each wood back splays where wood backsplashes meet counters, cabinet doors, appliances, etc., with a putty knife. Important note; do NOT use this method if wood panels are attached to the wall with metal drywall rings, as you may end up damaging your walls during installation.

► Step 10: Lastly, apply a bead of wood backsplash caulk along with wood backsplashes and wood paneling. Caulk should be applied above wood backsplashes as well as below wood backsplashes, even though this is not always necessary or recommended by professionals.

► Step 11: In order to create a seamless look, caulk can be color matched to the rest of the wood backsplashes if desired using wood backsplash caulk tinted the same color as wood backsplashes for an added touch of class.

► Step 12: Once wood backsplays are installed, you will want to ensure they have been properly caulked from behind where wood panels meet countertops, cabinets, appliances, etc., as well as from in front once everything has dried before turning on faucets and leaving wood backsplashes to dry.


The wood backsplash installation process can be different depending on the type of wood backsplash you are installing. The most common methods for wood backsplashes without thinset mortar include using wood back splays with double-sided tape or mesh and applying adhesive directly to wood paneling before attaching wood back splays.

These methods may not work well if your panels have metal drywall rings in them, as they will likely end up damaging your walls during installation. Another method is to install wood insert instead of wood backsplashes which also involves a similar process but uses pre-made inserts that lay flush against counters, cabinets, appliances, etc…or alternatively use this same technique by laying down ¼” gaps between each side of wood back splays which can then be caulked around wood panels later.

Author: Shannon When it comes to kitchen design and maintenance, nobody knows more than Shannon Frost. She's been blogging about her kitchen exploits for years, and has learned how to get the most out of even the smallest of spaces. Her tips and tricks are invaluable for anyone who wants to make the most of their cooking area. Shannon's posts are a treasure trove of information on everything from choosing the right appliances to maximizing storage space. She also has a wealth of advice on creating a functional and beautiful kitchen on a budget. No matter what your needs are, Shannon can help you make your dream kitchen a reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.