How to Install a Backsplash with SimpleMat

Tile backsplashes, countertops and shower walls are popular home improvements, but installations aren’t easy for do-it-yourselfers.

For many DIYers, the simpler the project is, the better. And that’s a problem with thinset mortar, a tile adhesive.

Tile backsplash installed over kitchen range
With help from Custom Building Products, I easily covered a bare wall with this beautiful backsplash — and you can, too!

First, you have to spread mortar with the trowel’s flat side and then flip to its notched side to create ridges. Then you have to wait for the tile to set — cure time varies a lot and could be 16 hours or more! Slowly, but surely, the process comes together, but who has that kind of time?

That’s why I love time-saving tools like SimpleMat from Custom Building Products. It’s a double-sided adhesive mat designed to bond tile to drywall and many other surfaces without the hassle.

Want to install a backsplash and upgrade the look of your kitchen? Then read on!


Kitchen with black range, range hood and blue wall and white countertop
A tile backsplash requires less maintenance than drywall and enhances the kitchen’s design — that sounds like a win-win to me!

Backsplash Installation Materials:


Chelsea Lipford Wolf measures kitchen wall
Remember: measure twice, cut once.

1.  Measure the Area

SimpleMat comes in rolls or sheets. Rolls cover 30 square feet, and one box of SimpleMat covers 10 square feet. We’ll use sheets for this project because it’s a small space.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf lays out SimpleMat backsplash in a blue kitchen
Installing a backsplash is easy once you remove thinset mortar from the equation!

First, lay out the area, using full sheets when possible. Use regular household scissors to cut remaining sheets to size. Then mark any cuts for obstacles such as electrical outlets, light switches and molding. Cut those out the same way or with a utility knife.


Kitchen with blue wall, oven, white cabinets and faux marble countertops
Walls that are clean and free of grease are ones that are ready for a backsplash!

2. Prep the Surface

Concrete, drywall, plywood and laminates are just some of the surfaces that you can tile over with SimpleMat. But first, they need prepping.

For backsplash installations, use a degreaser or diluted dish soap and wipe the walls clean. Let them dry completely before moving on.

For countertops, set a level on the surface to make sure they’re even. If they are, go ahead and remove dust and debris, de-grease the area and wipe it down with a damp sponge.


Chelsea Lipford Wolf presses SimpleMat into a blue wall
Before removing the clear plastic film from the front, press SimpleMat onto the wall.

3. Apply Sheets to the Wall

Remove SimpleMat’s paper backing and apply each sheet to the wall. (We’re sticking the back of the mat to the wall right now — we’ll work with the front of the mat later.) Then use a grout float to flatten air bubbles and creases.

If the phone rings while you’re doing all this, feel free to answer it! SimpleMat is different from mortar in the best way because there’s no rush. You can work at your own pace and set tile on your timeline. 

Be sure to wait until your tiles are prepped before removing the clear plastic film, though! Once you expose the adhesive beads, you’ll need to work as quickly as possible.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Love you Chelsea. You and your dad make everything so fun to watch. Great tips also. Miss the shows on WKRG on Sat.

    • Hi, Judy!
      Our show is still airing in Mobile. We’re checking with WKRG on current times, but you can also view locally on WFNA. 🙂

  2. The Simplemat web site says the tiles should be no bigger than 8”x8”. It looks like yours are about a square ft. Does the simplemat work with tiles that size?

  3. I checked out the website you linked but did not see a floor tile option. Do you know if there is a version of the mat for floors? Thanks for the informative article!

    • Hi, Jacquie,
      SimpleMat is designed for backsplashes, countertops and shower walls.
      It should not be used outside, on floors, ceilings or shower floors.

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