We had some pretty rainy days a few weekends back. The Hubs and I were anxious to do something productive and decided to dive into a new project we have been trying to do for a while now- a kitchen back splash! There are a ton of possibilities out there, but we decided to keep it clean, crisp and simple with a fresh white kitchen backsplash. We have super dark, almost black cabinets and a granite counter top that is multicolored with browns and grays- so we really needed something to brighten up the space but not look super out of place.
I toggled between a white washed brick veneer and a simple subway tile. The bricks seemed to be a more risky decision (meaning I may not like how it turned out) and more costly than the subway tile. On the other hand subway tile is probably the most generic you can get as far as backsplashes go and can be deemed “boring” + “basic.” In the end we decided to go with the subway tile. We headed to Lowe’s and I decided a beveled tile was the way to go but the color of white did not seem crisp enough. I bought a sample and headed to Home Depot. Low and behold the beveled subway tiles at Home Depot were a lot whiter/exactly what I was looking for.
It took a while to decide on a grout color. I was worried the white grouts would look beige or yellow next to my crisp white tiles; but was concerned a dark grout would look too modern and cause way too much contrast. We decided to go with the lightest gray we could find called Platinum and I think it turned out perfectly.
After buying supplies and tools from both stores we headed home to start our project! It took longer to complete than we thought but in the end we could not be happier and prouder we did it all by ourselves! My builder (Rylea Homes) was right- a backsplash can really change the look of your kitchen! I have already been looking around for new outlet/switch covers and even new cabinet handles. Thinking about making everything copper- even a copper farmhouse sink! More on that to come. 🙂
Check out how to do your own kitchen backsplash below. Now we feel (fairly) confident in laying the bathroom floor and shower tile for our basement project. Have fun!
What you will need
Tile (make sure you build in a 15% buffer. Tiles will break and you will mess up around outlets, etc. Also buy the matching bullnose tiles if you can to make clean edges)
Mastic or thin-set mortar
Grout (we used un-sanded)
Tile Saw (needed for intricate cuts)
1 Gallon bucket for mortar and then grout
Rubber Grout Float
Roll of drop paper
Regular sponge + dish detergent
-Remove outlet and switch covers.
-Pull stove away from wall (or any other appliances you are tiling near/behind)
-Lay and tape drop paper to your counter tops. (do this part! you will be happy when it is time to clean up!)
-Lightly clean walls with warm water and dish detergent with sponge to clean any debris.
-Make sure walls are clean and completely dry before starting
-Plan out your game plan and tile pattern. We went with the standard offset pattern. Start from one edge and work your way into a corner. Here are some different subway tile patters you can do
-Check with a level to make sure your counters and cabinets are level. If they aren’t your job will be harder.
-For the edges draw a light pencil line with your level as a guide for the bullnose pieces. We also did this along the wall where the stove usually is placed.
-Mix the mastic in bucket.
-Spread the Mastic/Mortar with the notched trowel on a small workable area (about 2′ X 2′ feet).
-Begin setting tile with desired spacers (including between counter). Always tile up- never tile down.
-Start tiling the bottom layers first, checking to make sure everything is level and the lines match up with the layers below.
-Seriously check your lines often!
-To cut tile around outlets. Place tile over top of outlet and draw with a pencil/measure outline of the outlets and cut outline with tile saw.
-For corners and edges using the tile cutter may be easier and quicker.
-After setting all tile is complete, let dry for 24-48 hours.
-Mix grout (we used a light gray color called ‘Platinum’) in clean bucket.
-Spread grout with grout float at 45 degree angle
-When seams are filled wipe off with grout float
-Use grout sponge to clean off excess
-Use your fingers or grout tool for smooth lines and corners
-After grout is dry (at least 24 hours later) use cheese cloth to clean off the “grout haze”.
-Caulk seams at counter and underneath top cabinets
-Enjoy your new backsplash!
Interested in some of our other home improvement projects so far? Check out how to make your own beautiful stone fire pit- here, your own wooden floating shelves- here, and how to lay some pretty awesome durable flooring-here.