Thursday, January 5, 2012

You want to take subway tile and run it how? | A Herringbone Backsplash Story

I know my husband loves me when he didn't even hesitate when I popped up with a weekend warrior DIY project that involved taking perfectly simple rectangular subway tile and making it zig & zag. The project took a little longer than I expected, but was well worth it in the end! After a trip or 2 to Lowes & our favorite local hardware stores, here's the supply list I compiled for the Herringbone Subway Tile Back Splash:

  • 3x6 subway tile + applicable rounded edge bullnose
  • Brown craft paper + masking tape
  • A Sharpie, pencil, + "grease monkey" aka grease pencil
  • Mastic or thinset to stick the tile to the wall
  • Saw with a diamond blade
  • Straight Edge + metal square
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout + Caulk | I liked the pre-mixed stuff that was already sealed and came in a bucket from Lowes. No mixing required. Think Betty Crocker's frosting in a can.
  • Float, Pallet, Spreader | To spread the grout. My inner baker kept calling it a spatula.
  • A bundle of patience + a bottle of good wine, for when you are done and super exhausted
  • Big sponge, lots of "junk" towels

Step 1: Procure above list.
Pete enjoys visiting our local hardware store. I enjoyed browsing the fabulous color selection of duct tape researching the best diamond edge saw blade for our job. Speaking of saws, my interwebs research found a place that said you could make easy cuts with a dremel tool attachment that cuts tile. Don't trust them. The dremel is GREAT for making small cuts around outlets + switches, but nosomuch for making straight cuts everywhere else.



Step 2: MAKE A TEMPLATE.
I cannot stress how important this is. We did really well on the whole template thing on wall one. Then I mistakenly thought we were old pros and by wall 2 things got a little wanky.



Step 3: Make your cuts
After consulting with the lad at the hardware store we decided since we were using the very thin cheapy subway tile that we didn't need to rent a wet saw. Please know that most tile installation projects do require this for clean cuts & keeping the blade happy.

Supervisor Pete reminds you to always wear safety goggles when working with a saw.

Thomas made cuts from the lines on the tile. We placed the cut tile back on the template (photo above) just to make sure it fit before "frosting" the wall and adhering the tile. Be sure to use your tile spacers to ensure you have even grout lines, particularly if you are using a grout with high contrast to your tile like we did. Repeat the layout-cut-adhere process as many times as necessary. Thomas cut and I pasted, pretty much all day Saturday until we decided that the saw might be annoying the neighbors and we needed a break. Most mastics require an overnight cure time, so be sure to read the back of your container.

I'm sorry I didn't snap any photos of the grouting process ... it was incredibly messy! Once the tile is on the wall and properly cured the grouting begins. You can remove the little plastic spacers at this time. It is important to push and pull the grout over every surface to fill in all the spaces. Wipe excess off with the sponge that is not too wet, this takes a while. Caulk edges if necessary. The instructions on the back of the bucket were quite helpful as were some youtube videos.


The final step is pouring yourself a good glass of wine and reveling in your DIY accomplishment.




White subway tile is a great inexpensive option to add a big style punch to your kitchen. It's a classic yet fresh option, and a great first tile project to get your feet wet with.

14 comments:

Celeste said...

I love it! That looks great!

Sweet Simplicity said...

I love tile in that pattern. Great job!

McV said...

Seriously! Amazing job! You have me thinking we could do this! We almost broke up over hanging a mirror once, so I think we're going to leave tiling to the pros. But well done you!

Belle on Heels said...

Ummm....hello, gorgeous!

Kim said...

I LOVE it - it looks awesome! Such a great project to really make your kitchen pop!!

Wendy said...

That is amazing! We have a white tile back splash that lacks imagination (installed by previous owner), but this rocks! Great style!

cathy monaghan said...

It looks great in the pictures, but even BETTER in person! An AMAZINGLY good job for DIY beginners!

At least I'm skinny said...

Looks great!

annechovie said...

I absolutely love it!! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy New Year!

Always Organizing said...

The tile looks great! So does the wine :)

Nat said...

This looks great- love the herringbone pattern it just gives it a little extra! So jealous you husband can DIY mine does not have those skills!

maruf hosen said...

Great job .Thanks for sharing such an amazing blog.Keep up writing.subway tile

Dan said...

My wife and I are remodeling our kitchen and want to do the same backsplash design. What color grout did you use?

Hill said...

We’ve been stumbling around the internet and found your blog along the way.

We love your work! What a great corner of the internet :)


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