Asked on Jan 17, 2018

How do I put backsplash on a wall that isn’t flat?

by Morgan
I live in a house built in the 40’s and my husband and I remodeled our kitchen ourselves but didn’t think to check if the walls were flat. When we put our new cabinets and countertops in we noticed that one of the walls bowed a little so at one end of the countertop we are left with a 1/4” gap between the counter and the wall. i want to add a backsplash but don’t know the best way to go about it due to how the counter is flush against the wall in one spot and a 1/4” away from the wall in another.
how do i put backsplash on a wall that isnt flat
  14 answers
  • Sherry Turner Sherry Turner on Jan 17, 2018

    You can notch out the trim so that the countertop would fit snug against the wall. Or it might be possible to notch out the countertop.

    After notching, if there is still a gap, you can use a thick tile for backsplash. The larger the surface of the tile, the thicker. Most 12 inch tile is 3/8 " thick, while tumbled marble is even thicker.

    One thing that determines what kind of adhesive you use is the size of the tile, another is the kind of material that you are sticking it to. For example, thinset for cement board, mastic for drywall, etc.

    If using thinset you can float the wall out flat and let it dry before installing the tile. The mastic is a bit tricky.

  • Beth Roger Steinhoff Beth Roger Steinhoff on Jan 17, 2018

    use caulking and do a good job of smoothing it out. She did notch out the woodwork that i see.

  • Dream Dream on Jan 18, 2018

    We have the same problem in our house, it is over 100 years old, nothing is straight. After we put counter and backsplash in we found some trim that we painted to match counter and placed along the back of the counter to cover the gap.

  • Sharon Sharon on Jan 18, 2018

    We had this issue and had to use a belt sander to shave down the back of the countertop. Just a little at a time until it is flush with the wall.

    • Steve Woodward Steve Woodward on Jan 18, 2018

      this is how I would do it myself,.. and I have done several over the years. here are a few more tips..

      Scribe, the edge to show an approximate dept of the need to sand off with the belt sander. and check the fit often "before" you get to the pencil line.

      Tilt the sander slightly out at the top.. Leaving a bit more there and taking more "meat" off the backing, and less off the exposed laminate,... this will allow a closer fit and less gap at the top where it is exposed.

      Finally find a colored caulk that accents the counter top. .. tape both edges with painters tape, fill the remaining gap,.. wet finger and smooth it out,.. remove tape.. and enjoy professional looking install..

  • DW DW on Jan 18, 2018

    Not sure what you plan to use for backsplash, but most are thich enough that once applied you won’t see a gap; and unless you look close you will never notice it. a jury rigged repair is more likely to either show or cause future problems. using something with lots of vertical and horizontal lines will totally detract from the unevennes. get a trial piece or two,and put it up. I’m betting it isn’t as noticeable.

  • Stephanie Stephanie on Jan 18, 2018

    As I understand it, the wall is bowed IN, not the counter sticking out. Yes, my 120 yr old house does the same thing. We filled gap with caulk and a tiny piece of trim (like ends of a shim) underneath it. To be really perfect, you could then float a couple coats of sheetrock mud from backsplash edge upward, but like Sherry, I think the grout and tile will even it out so there is no noticeable difference. Good luck!

  • S.h. S.h. on Jan 18, 2018

    A professional installer would use a pair of scribes to transfer the contour of the wall onto the top edge of the counter top, then use a circular saw or a belt sander to take off the area of the backsplash where your wall is bowed out. 1/4 inch is not too much to take off provided your cabinets do not measure anymore than 24" from wall to front of face frame. (if your cabinets are farther than 24" away from wall, then you won't have excess on backsplash to trim off.) If your sink and or range tops are already installed, then you could use molding to hide the gap and paint it the color of the wall or tile the wall. You should always cut the counter top to fit the wall or door/window trim and not the trim to fit the counter tops for future replacement of a top where you don't want to see the previously cut molding and then have to replace IT as well. Most walls are uneven and that is where the value of a really good professional installer comes in; they can make it fit perfectly.

  • Sally-Charles Evans Sally-Charles Evans on Jan 18, 2018

    Mine looked just like yours, so I dropped my tile backsplash right down to the edge. When it is grouted you cannot tell it is not even.

  • Nat32311507 Nat32311507 on Jan 18, 2018

    Just went through this! After I attached the base cabinsets, I placed the counter top on top and pushed it against the wall. I then scribed a line on the top edge of the backsplash onto the wall, pulled back the counter top, cut the drywall from the scribed line down far enough to where I could push the counter top into the cut out area far enough to where the backsplash was touching the wall from one end to the other. I then ran a smooth bead of caulk along the full length of the top of the backsplas!

  • Mary Fanelli Mary Fanelli on Jan 18, 2018

    All great suggestions. You don't have to do a backsplash as they are trendy. I had the same problem exactly but I put my microwave in front of it. No one knows but me. Why not and I don't see it as a problem.

  • you already have a backsplash,,,that 4" piece of countertop up the wall. if you wanted to do a tile splash, you should have forgone the 4" rolled back piece. putting tile on top of that doesn't look good, especially w/a busy pattern countertop that you've chosen. if you can, remove it, cut off the back piece and scribe it along the wall. that way your counter will now sit flush against the entire length. Now do you tile and come right down to the counter. Caulk between the bottom tile row and the countertop.

    here's a photo w/tile on top of the rolled back piece. looks horrible.

    second pic is one without. so much better looking

    the 3rd pic shows what your laminate (or granite) counter should look like installed if you plan on doing a tile backsplash

    • Carolyn Murphy Carolyn Murphy on Jan 29, 2020

      It doesn't look good because the choice for the backsplash is "blah"! The reason everything looks so nice in the second photo ISN'T because the countertop does not extend up the wall, its because the product choice/colors are so much more eye pleasing. I have seen many, many, beautiful kitchen backsplashes, placed above the 4" extension.

    • See 1 previous
    • Patti Cardinal Patti Cardinal on Jan 20, 2018

      That’s a pretty subjective opinion. I personally like the look of the 4” laminate up against the tile Better than the bare tile coming down to the countertop!

  • Robin Mann Robin Mann on Jan 19, 2018

    Float the wall with shims an drywall mud using the trim notched again to set a fir strip. Fill with mortar and tile.

  • Donna Carner Donna Carner on Jan 19, 2018

    I had that same problem. What I did is one by one and a rope trim on the

    wall , after I put varnish on both . Turnd out great