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How to tile a bathroom sink and vanity backsplash?

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Modern homes have multiple bathrooms. More and more homeowners are looking for bathroom design ideas that are crisp and luxurious and this can be achieved with the use of tiles in the bathroom. Bathrooms are high-moisture areas and tiles are the ideal choice to withstand water splashes and the moisture levels that exist in a bathroom. Whether making a new bathroom or remodeling an existing one, tiles are the material of choice for builders and homeowners alike.

Designing or giving your bathroom a facelift becomes much easier with the right kind of planning. There are a number of factors that need to be considered in the planning stages. These factors may include anything from where certain units should be positioned to what will be involved in the finishing touches.

Initially, the floor has to be tiled before installing any other units in the bathroom. Installing tiles before installing any other units or hardware is imperative to make sure that there is no water seepage. Attention has to be paid to the tiles being installed in the bathroom, as they have to be completely water resistant. After this, the tiles on the wall may be matched or contrasted with the tiles on the floor. The tiles around the bathroom sink and on the vanity unit may be done up as well to lend character to the bathroom.


A variety of sinks are available for the bathroom. Designer ones are quite expensive while the plain ones do not add any flair to the bathroom. Any kind of sinks, may it be porcelain, ceramic or stainless steel, maybe tiled by using mosaic tiles. Smaller mosaic tiles give a very unique finish to the sink and around it as well. To install mosaic sinks and ensure the longevity of the same, the key is to use the right kind of adhesive and grout. Epoxy adhesive binds tiles to most surfaces, and epoxy grout resists water and stains. By using epoxy as the base for both the adhesive and the grout, a beautiful mosaic sink will last for years.

The downside to this is that epoxy materials must be mixed precisely and cleaned up as soon as possible afterward. For this reason, it is recommended that this is done with the help of a professional. Sinks with no installed accompanying hardware are the easiest. If the sink has already been installed, the sink has to be removed and any hardware must be removed in order for the install to be clean. Installing the tiles and then installing the hardware on the tiled sink will result in a clean, professional-looking installation.

Vanity unit

If there is a plan to add a vanity unit to the bathroom, whether the wall behind the vanity unit is to be tiled or not is an important factor to consider before buying and installing the unit. If the decision is not to tile the wall behind the vanity unit, that can be done as the vanity unit itself will cover this up. The next time there is a change or upgrade in the bathroom, this space will not have tiles, and more often than not, the tiles all over the bathroom will have to be replaced so that it is uniform. Some homeowners prefer to tile around the vanity unit, and this could save some time, money, and effort.


A bathroom may also not have tiles and only a plain wall behind the vanity unit. In this case, it is a good idea to add a backsplash to the area behind the sink, unless the option is a pedestal sink that does not rest against the wall. Water splashes from the tap when washing hands, face, and brushing teeth will go onto the wall. A bathroom backsplash protects the wall behind the sink from rot, mold, and mildew. Beyond that, a backsplash can provide a lot of design appeal.

A bathroom vanity backsplash usually extends a minimum of 4 inches from the countertop along the width of the vanity. This will protect the most vulnerable areas of the wall behind your bathroom sink. However, the height of your faucets can make a higher backsplash necessary. The 4-inch backsplash comes with many options. This is where customization comes in. For example, the plan may be to use another backsplash material than one that matches the countertop, or the faucet may be higher than 4 inches. In cases like this, it is possible to purchase the vanity without the included backsplash.

When the spout is higher than 4 inches, a backsplash that matches the faucet height is required. Faucets that are of types such as Roman or waterfall may require significantly taller backsplashes and will add a luxury look to the bathroom. For these kinds of faucets, an 8-inch-high vanity backsplash at a minimum would be needed.

Backsplash extensions

Some designers and homeowners like to extend the backsplash from the countertop all the way to the ceiling. Although this might not be needed, the extension can not only add elegance to the space but also can create a rich layered feeling to the bathroom. Many bathroom designers consider a floor-to-ceiling backsplash or wrap-around tiling. This look creates a sleek, spa-like bathroom vibe. As with floor tiles, there are a wide variety of materials available for a bathroom vanity backsplash. It is important to use a material that is waterproof and easy to clean. Some of the most popular types of tiles that can be used around a vanity are listed in the following paragraphs.

- Ceramic Tiles – Ceramic tile is not only beautiful; it’s also relatively inexpensive. With varied designs from stone and wood lookalikes and sizes that can run from large tiles to penny tiles, ceramic tiles offer some of the best options to be installed in a bathroom. They are relatively easy to clean and offer great longevity.

- Porcelain Tiles – Similar to ceramic tiles, and often mistaken for ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles offer the same benefits as ceramic tiles, while being more impervious to water. This makes them an ideal choice in bathrooms, although they may be slightly more expensive than their ceramic cousins.

- Glass Mosaic Tiles – Small glass mosaic tiles lend a vibrant touch to a backsplash. The shimmery effect of the glass naturally lends itself to creating a dazzling accent on the top of the bathroom vanity. Even a 4-inch glass backsplash creates a lasting impression.

- Marble – The choice of kings back in the day, marble lends a healthy dose of grandeur to any space. Marble is a natural stone and will need to be sealed. It is also prone to cracking and thus can require more maintenance than other options. Marble tends to be the most expensive of the listed options.

- Granite – This is the most common bathroom vanity material. Most granite vanities come with a 4-inch matching granite backsplash. Granite is easy to clean. To go for a customized look, a granite countertop may be matched with another textured tile-like glass mosaic.

- Vinyl Tiles – Vinyl tiles are some of the most popular materials due to their high degree of practicality. They can be easily installed and beats other popular choices for safety, comfort, and durability.

- Metallic Tile – Metallic tiles are trending in luxury bathrooms. These tiles include copper, titanium, iron, and stainless steel tiles. Though metallic tile can look absolutely gorgeous upon installation, they are high maintenance and may require sealing as well as ongoing maintenance to preserve the original finish.

- Mirror Backsplash – A large mirror may be used as a backsplash for double sink vanity. If the mirror can be wiped down all the time, a mirror that rests flush to the vanity can serve as a perfectly beautiful backsplash. This can either be a 4-inch high strip of a mirror or all the way to the ceiling.

There is no rule against creating a layered backsplash effect, by using two or more materials for the vanity countertop and backsplash. The contrast can provide an eye-catching, rich experience that is far from the cookie-cutter vanity backsplash that comes with the average vanity.

While it can be notoriously difficult to match the countertops that come on the vanity with natural stone, an alternative is to contrast them with other materials or tiles that will add to the look of the bathroom.


Another important factor that is often overlooked is the kind of grout to be used for the backsplash.

Grout can change the entire appearance of the tile. To make everything look even, use the same color or the color matching one of the colors on the tile. If the plan is to work toward an art-deco vibe, contrasting colors should be used to achieve the effect. Similarly, the width of the grout that is placed between tiles can have a huge effect on the appearance of the tile.

Grout sealant should be used to prevent moisture from penetrating the grout and between the tiles. Over time, if cracks are noticed in the grout or on any caulking around the vanity, the problem has to be addressed immediately.

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