Sometimes you just got to grab the tile cutter by the handle…and hope that your tile piece doesn’t break. This DIY kitchen backsplash was quite the project for the Hubster and I. Is it doable? Yes. Would we do it again? We have to…! (We still have one section that is incomplete due to a shortage of Bondera mat…)
So why did we decide to DIY this project?
Honestly, when our builder told us that it would be over $1,300 to do a basic white subway tile with dark grout for our backsplash we knew right then and there we would be doing this project once we moved in because at our last house, I really regretted not doing a tile backsplash. You live and learn right?!
I think that we both felt like this was a project within our wheel house and we knew that we could save a ton of money by doing it ourselves. Had we ever tiled before? No. We had done other labor intensive projects so we felt like this would be something we could tackle.
After buying a few sample pieces from Home Depot a few months back, we decided that we fell in love with this Marazzi Ceramic Herringbone Wall Tile. Trust me, I was extremely adamant at first that we were going to have white subway tile with dark grout.
BUT…I absolutely loved how the veining detail of this tile pulled together the other interior design choices from my kitchen. Plus, the Hubster really liked the idea of the tiled sheets. He felt that it would be easier to work with that we wouldn’t have to worry about our tile spacers slipping throughout the project…..
So thanks to quarantine,
we decided to curbside order our supplies (that I will list below) from The Home Depot and finish this project that had been a dream of mine to have in my kitchen since the first house.
The supplies you’ll need for your DIY Kitchen Backsplash:
- Tile of your choice
- Tile Cutter
- Bondera Tile Mat Set
- Tile Spacers appropriate to the tile of your choice
- Outlet Spacers
- Tile Nipper
- Tile SurfaceGard Penetrating Sealer
- Tile Grout Float
- Grout (color of your choice)
- Heavy Stir Stick
- Painters Tape
- Plastic Drop Cloth
- Tile and Grout Sealer
DIY Kitchen Backsplash Step 1…but learn from us!
Just go straight to the second step…
We knew that with the Bondera tiling adhesive mat that we were going to use that we would have to have the tiles cut and grouted within eight hours of adhering the mat to the wall. So we began preparing the tiles so that we could cut each tile and see if our cuts would work by roughly sticking them to the wall with painters tape.
DIY Kitchen Backsplash Step 2
However, we learned real fast that what we really needed to do was to apply the Bondera tile adhesive mat to the wall and then lay the tile going forward.
Because the tile adhesive mat allows you to adhere the tile sheet to the wall without having to worry about tile spacers slipping and will allow you to cut individual tiles correctly. Did we learn the hard way? Yeah…
Just know that the mat is EXTREMELY sticky (duh…! but more than I thought it would be) and you should work to apply the mat in SMALL SECTIONS.
DIY Kitchen Backsplash Step 3
We extended the outlets with outlet spacers so that the outlet and outlet cover would lay flat against the tile. Please turn off the corresponding breaker to the outlets you are working around so that you do not run the risk of electrical shock!
DIY Kitchen Backsplash Step 4
We laid all of the whole tile sheets to the wall and spaced them out with spacers. Then the perfectionists in us came out and we realized that even the tile sheets weren’t evenly spaced!! By this time it was too late because they were adhered and by removing one sheet it would make it so that we would have to move many more, so we just went with the random wide gaps and try to match it around the edges.
Then the painstaking task of cutting the edges and around the outlets…
The herringbone pattern makes cutting your edges, around your outlets, and small corners very difficult. First, around the edges and underneath the cabinets due to the angle of the pattern it was hard to get an exact cut with the tile cutter that we needed. Why? Because sometimes the tile wouldn’t even fit and so we were literally guessing as to how it should fit and the angle we should cut the tile.
So with that you may ask, “Is it entirely straight underneath you cabinet…?” NO! Does it bug us? Sometimes. But we did the best we can and there are even professionals that can’t get the cut of the angle with this tile pattern right. So am I going to fixate over it? Depends on the day 😉
We had to use the Tile Nipper to cut out the funky angled cuts around the outlet and a word from the wise, go slow and cut very tiny pieces. The tile is so fragile and the Tile Nipper is so hard to get used to that we went through so many tile pieces trying to get the right cuts around our outlets.
DIY Kitchen Backsplash Step 5
Once those tricky cuts were set into the mat, it was time to prepare the tile by spraying with the penetrating tile sealer to make sure the grout wouldn’t seep into our tile.
We taped off the kitchen counter tops and cabinets with painters tape and put plastic down to avoid wet grout from getting in unnecessary places. We then prepared the grout.
I would recommend mixing the grout outside though because when pouring into the container, grout dust will get everywhere. Not speaking from experience here at all 😉
Once the grout was mixed, the Hubster used the tile float to push and smooth the grout into the tiled areas. After waiting about ten minutes, I would wipe the tile he had grouted with a dampened sponge to remove the excess grout and to allow the tile to have a light haze of grout remaining.
Once that was finished, we waited two hours for the grout to harden a bit so that we could wipe the haze off of the tile without removing any of the grout between the tile. We then noticed our every. little. mistake. because of the dark color of grout that I chose. We went to bed that night a little worried because we didn’t know how noticeable our mistakes would actually be to other people.
Thankfully, the next morning our grout had lighten tremendously and only certain areas still annoyed us.
Our Final Step… seal the tile and grout!
So what did we take away from this?
Go with the easier pattern! Would the subway tile have been easier to cut? Absolutely! Would we have had to dealt with so many annoying cuts? Probably not.
Do I regret my choice?
No! I absolutely LOVE my backsplash.
Knowing what I know now, the Hubster and I agree that we should’ve been even more precise with our cuts (…and just broken more tiles to achieve the “almost perfect” cut) even though we felt like we were. Our other option, we could’ve gone with an even lighter grout; the darker the grout, the more mistakes are shown. Even though I read that everywhere, I felt that the Pewter grey would be fine and even though I could lighten it, I don’t want to.
Make sure to post your finished DIY kitchen backsplash on Instagram and tag me @1776FauxFarmhouse so that I can see and comment. If you aren’t already, make sure to follow me on Instagram and Tangi to really see the latest updates!
This post is not affiliated or sponsored by ANY brands displayed throughout this post. Please note that these are the supplies and brands that I chose to use myself for this project.
The power tools listed above are dangerous and if not used properly can result in fatal injures or death. If you are not comfortable using these power tools please consult someone who does