Subway Tile Backsplash

So I have been making some huge improvements to my kitchen this month.  Yesterday I showed you my new Formica countertop with a Karran undermount sink.  I thought I would try my hand at doing a subway tile backsplash (literally – see picture below).  I have never tiled before so I hit the internet to find You tube videos and blog posts to show me the way.  I will say it is rather easy if you have the right tools.  However, those tricky cuts around outlets and switches are KILLER!  This is definitely a full weekend project.


I have been wanting to paint my cabinets white for a while.  The crisp white cabinets are gorgeous but from everything I hear they are harder to keep clean.  After I painted my kitchen island lighter I am convinced that for now, white cabinets are not for me.  I guess my kids are too messy and I am just not a good enough house cleaner…ha! This white subway tile backsplash really does help lighten the space up and now I am really happy with the black cabinets.


I think the new faux slate countertops paired with the subway tile look amazing together.  And the pops of red are perfect.

I found this old picture last night of the way our kitchen looked when we first moved in.  Quite a change huh?



Keracolor Sanded Grout: Warm Gray

Porcelain 2” x 4’” subway tile (these comes in 1 foot sheets)

2” x 6” edge pieces (5)

Grout Float

Grout Boost (this seals the grout so you don’t have to do it afterwards)



Tile Adhesive

Sanded Caulk

1/8” spacers

Scotch Blue Tape with Film

This video was the most helpful I have found for installing tile.  I pretty much followed it to a “T”.



1.  I recommend borrowing or renting a wet tile saw or a tile cutter.  For the porcelain tiles that I got the best bet is a tile cutter.  You will also need some sort of hand tool like a Dremel with a tile saw blade in order to make curved cuts.

2.  I also recommend buying the grout boost.  It is a little extra but then you don’t have to seal the grout afterwards.

3. The particular tiles I used were very inexpensive, while this is nice they also weren’t perfectly spaced.  So I recommend buying spacers just in case.

4.  Make sure you see if your store carries both the grout and the matching caulk before you buy. That is kind of important! #lessonlearned

5.  If you use a tile saw get ear and eye protection.  Plus you will get wet so don’t wear something nice.

6.  Make sure you put plastic over your counters when grouting, if not they will get trashed with grout.

7.  I use Myra’s trick for grouting.  This is especially important because it is harder to smooth out the sanded caulk than other kinds.


My husband thought he was hilarious that he took a picture of me in my rollers hand grouting the backsplash.  What can I say I didn’t feel like I had enough control with the float.  If you do “hand grout” it I also recommend a pair of gloves. Doh!





I think my next upgrade will be to get two pendant lights over the island and obviously I still have some patchwork to do to the right there from where I removed the old laminate splashguard.

So what do you think?

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post from Lowes. I received gift cards to pay for this project.

Did you know you can get the Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine on your Ipad or Iphone?


Home Stories A2Z

  • Amy @ Positively Splendid

    Doing something about our lack of kitchen backsplash is a must here. I had planned to hire out the work, but maybe I’ll be brave and try to DIY it. LOVE the roller picture! :)

  • Cherryl Dillon

    I love it! I now wish I would have went black when I painted my cabinets. I would suggest using Giani granite counter top paint for your island counter. I did my kitchen 3 years ago and my bath counters since and love it! (It is reasonable and beautiful!: )

    • Beckie

      Cherryl I just put that butcherblock countertop in…haha! I like the contrast.

      • Cherryl Dillon

        Oops! Sorry! I guess because my old counter was butcher block laminate I could not tell it was the real thing. That is a very nice addition. You don’t have to worry about scratches or anything it will add character!

  • Kim @ Sand & Sisal

    You crack me up girl!! Love the rollers ;) The backsplash looks great and wow-o-wow what an amazing before & after pic of your kitchen! FABULOUS!

    • Beckie

      thank you Kim!

  • Sharon

    Wow, your “new” kitchen is beautiful! Awesome job. I need to tile my kitchen backsplash, too, and just maybe this will inspire me . . .maybe!

  • Emily @ On the V Side

    Definitely a big change from the before! I think your black cabinets look great, and the contrast with the subway tile is really nice.
    Great job!


  • Mindy

    Very nice! What a difference with the before and after. I want to do a backsplash too but just never make time to go check out tiles! Pinning your tips!

  • Becca Willard

    Looks fantastic! I have yet to convince my hubby that we should paint the kitchen cabinets, but maybe he’d go for an awesome backsplash like this. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nessa the Procrastinator

    I love it! It looks really good.

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now

    Love the rollers pic…that made me smile. Your subway tile looks great, Beckie!

  • Jeanette @ This Dusty House

    It looks amazing! I love your black cabinets. When we were first picking out our kitchen cabinets, for a long while it was a toss-up between black (or a very very dark brown/stained wood) and white. We went with white and, since, I’ve been wondering if I would ever choose to go with the black. Your kitchen has confirmed that, yes, I still love a dark kitchen cabinet! The white subway tile is the perfect contrast.

  • Emily@Decorchick

    Love it so much!! And at least having rollers in your hair means you fix your hair! Mine would likely be a greaseball in a bun. :)

    • Beckie

      HA…that was the first time that week believe me.

  • Tiffany

    Love it! This is a project that has been on my list for a while, but one I am a little too afraid to tackle.

  • Heather

    Love it! I might try to do my own backsplash instead of hiring it out.

    • Beckie

      It would have cost me $500 to hire it out…I would rather buy the tools than spend that $500 so I can have them in the future. ;-) DIY or go home! ;-)

  • Danielle @ 2 Little Superheroes

    Thanks so much I have been dreaming of a subway tile backsplash forever. I think I may just have to give it a go!

  • Sarah @ 2paws Designs

    Gorgeous! And thanks for sharing. We’re in the process of buying a new home. Changes to the kitchen are on my “to do” list including a tile backsplash. Will definitely be referencing this post. :)

  • jessica@fourgenerationsoneroof

    Looks great! I love the dark grout with the white. I am actually taking a break from putting up subway tile as we speak! Funny, your post is the first one I saw over on twitter from Rhoda :)

  • jen @ tatertots and jello

    Wow Beckie!!! It looks amazing. And I love the grey grout. Wow!!!!


  • Brittany

    I love it! It looks great and makes quite a difference! I’ve been thinking about diy-ing a backsplash in our kitchen too. You make it look easy. Thanks for posting the tips and tutorial!

  • Megan

    It turned out really beautiful! We are going to attempt this project in the near future…so I’ll be pinning this for reference. :) Megan

  • Arlene @Nanaland

    Keep your black cabinets…I have white and it is just my hubby and me but I spend way too much time washing them!

  • Mallie

    I gotta say– rollers= the new messy pony… I’m sure they held your hair back wonderfully :)
    And that tile added soooo much. Complete transformation!

    • Beckie

      Exactly…see you get me!

  • Amy England

    Oh Beckie, this is FABULOUS!!!!! I love the way it turned out!!! And you’re right..I really does lighten up the cabinets. GREAT JOB!!!

  • Jennifer Fledderman

    The before and after is amazing!!! I have updated hardware and added a tile back splash already but still have standard oak cabinets. Looking at your pictures I think that I HAVE to paint mine black. Great job on all of the projects!!

  • Christy

    When I click to the link to see Myra’s grouting tips, I see caulk tips. Is this the wrong link?

    • Beckie

      No I was talking about the grout caulk. So I used her tip to caulk between the countertop and the tile with the sanded grout caulk

  • Candice

    Have you considered painting only the upper cabinets white and leaving the base cabinets black? I find the uppers stay pretty clean while the lowers take most of the beating. Your kitchen looks terrific, and you are a brave soul to take on the tile job!

    • Beckie

      I thought about it but I kinda like all the cabinets the same. I don’t mind a different color island though. I do need to paint it a starker white since it looks like an eyesore with the stark white tiles.

  • Shannon

    It looks..AH–MA–ZING! Oh how Todd wishes I were more like you! Love the curlers btw.

    • Beckie

      {giggle} no if you were more like me Todd would hate you for sure

  • Heather

    Hi Beckie! Love the kitchen! Do you have a tutorial post that shows how you did the cabinets? My cabinets look just like your “before” photos…I went to Anthropologie and got some cool drawer pulls for them, but they need HELP! Trying to convince my husband to paint those babies, and I think he’d like how you did yours!

  • Heather

    By the way, I LOVE Candace’s idea about only painting the uppers white, leaving the lowers black!

  • Karen@feathermynest

    just starting my blog and dont yet have a website–On etsy so far–Just have to day I loved the webcast tonite and I too, do all my projects in curlers!

    The subway tile is awesome and I love your kitchen redo–beautiful–tiling is fun, grout is my least favorite part of the process!

    • Beckie

      Thank you Karen for joining us and good luck on the blog. It is so much fun!

  • Beckie

    Oh my gosh do it…it makes your kitchen I swear.

  • Angela

    Thank you! When we bought our home it had honey colored cabinets and almond colored appliances. I refinished the cabinets with an espresso colored stain and loved them until we recently replaced the appliances with stainless. The stainless appliances with the dark cabinets and brick red paint made the room so dark. I was contemplating painting the cabinets white or doing away with the red paint in favor of a light back splash, but now that you’ve shared your back splash tutorial I now know a light colored tile backslash would be perfect. And as you’ve shown, I can still keep my red accents. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Beckie

      You are welcome, it really does lighten up the space and I like the way it looks again the dark cabinets.

  • Tricia

    Yay for multitasking! Beautifying your kitchen and yourself at the same time! If you ask my husband how my last tiling project went, he’ll just roll his eyes. Touchy subject. I can’t wait to see how your kitchen turns out!

  • Debbie refreshrestyle

    I love it. The whole kitchen looks so great. Gray grout, I must remember that!

  • Holly

    What a beautiful transformation and all the more satisfying that you did the work yourself. I’ve been thinking of trying a backsplash tile area in my laundry room– I’d like to learn the process of tiling and if I mess up, it’s only the laundry room!! Your post will help me get there, thanks!

  • Myra @

    I love, love, love it! What an amazing transformation!!! :)

  • Karen

    Your kitchen looks gorgeous. Mine is the opposite, I have a black Island, white cupboards. I have had subway tile for about 9 years now. I LOVE it. Always have, always will. I was nowhere near being a DIYer when we built this home. Oh the money I could have saved, putting that tile in myself! Great work!

  • Jalet

    I have been thinking about doing this back splash in a vintage mid 60’s travel trailer kitchen rehab. I think this may be the confidence boost I needed. I appreciate the saw and grouting tips and your honesty about the white cabinets and family life. I can’t tell if I am more impressed that you came away with a brilliant upscale project, or that you use brush rollers with ‘pokeys’ and will post photos. Hats off to you girl! OLD SCHOOL WINS! My husband recently posted a photo he took of me weeding in a pair of denim shorts from the 80’s with my redhead white legs poking out, all the while listening to a vinyl Elton John record. I put the record player propped up on a camp stool next to where I worked. Helped me reach my goal as I weeded faster trying to get to a specific spot before I had to get up and turn the record over. :) Not sure I would have braved mass publication. I admire you all the more. Thanks for keepin’ it real.

    • Beckie

      {giggle} I love it and the visual in my head of you doing that is priceless because I can relate to the red head pale legs.

  • Laura @ Elegant Nest

    Great post!…especially the curlers shot! :) I think this is the perfect example of how one look – such as white cabinets – just might not work for every kitchen or family. Your kitchen is beautiful proof that there are options to having a stylish and functional space…that YOU love!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Beckie

      thank you Laura. I do love my black cabinets and the white backsplash really made me love it more. I think it was the extra push it needed to really look like a classic kitchen.

  • Courtney

    Awesome awesome awesome! Love your backsplash- so perfect in your kitchen and I love the color of your cabinets!! We put in a vintage inspired kitchen in our little cottage for this months Lowes challenge- but so happy there was no grouting – phew!! I especially love that you tiled in your curlers! Fantastic! :)

    • Beckie

      Oooh off to check it out.

      • Lillian

        Beacky, I abosolutely love your kitchen. Thanks for putting this tutorial, video included!, for the rest of us non-DIYers out here. I was wondering how and if you have a blog on how you did your cabinets? thanks!

  • Lillian

    Beckie, my sincerest apologies on the typo/mispelling of your name…ugh! I am completely new to this and don’t even know how to go back to edit :(

  • Raelene

    Great job, girl! The only thing that I would change would be the seat covers on your bar stools. Maybe a print with red, black and white?

    I just bought a tile cutter and am planning to use tile leftover from my bathroom floor for my backsplash project. yeah, I’m cheap. Thanks for all the great tips! And wish me luck!

  • Amy

    I love your tile job! Way to go! My husband and I just picked the same tile for our back
    splash and we’re also going to DIY the job – with the help of a friend who has done it before and who has the tools. Can you share the color name of the grout you used? We’re definitely going to use a contrasting color, just don’t know how much contrast yet. Thanks!

    • Beckie

      Warm Gray it is by Keracolors available at Lowes.

  • Rachel Long

    Beckie…that looks really sharp! I didn’t know about the white when you were explaining it! It looks so good! You are the pro!

    • Beckie

      Thanks Rach!

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  • Kellie (The Pauper’s Castle)

    OOOH! Thanks for the post! We have had a back splash (ours is currently painted on…faux brick, because I needed something) on our list of things to do since we moved in (8.5 yrs ago). We did paint our cabinets when we first moved in. Looks like we might have the same taste! Black? White island? ( I keep thinking I want to repaint mine white too….but it’s a LOT of work and the thought of keeping the cabinets clean….well, not because my daughter is all that messy, but because I am the worlds messiest cook (my husband will tell you the same), it has kept me from painting them white. After “seeing” the white subway in real time…I love it. I just may steal your idea….hope you don’t mind! Kellie

    • Beckie

      I would be honored! It makes such a HUUUGGGE difference.


    Very nice job. I love it!!!!!!! I have been thinking about doing this for 6 months. I just have one question. How did you finish the left side next to the water cooler?

    • Beckie

      I got some tiles that had a rounded edge on it. They sell them right in the tile section. I also turned them up and down.

  • Dacia @ Lemon Drop Life

    It looks really great, Beckie! Quite an improvement I would say!!

  • Debbie

    You inspired me! I was thinking of paying someone to do my back splash when the new cabinets are installed but we are going to DIY it. My hubby was thrilled because he NEVER has anyone do work at our house so just getting the cabinets installed is stretching it.
    Love it!!!! LOL

    • Beckie

      Well good luck there Debs. It is like a puzzle. Some of the cuts are tricky but you can do it.

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  • Heidi @ Mom’s Crafty Space

    Love it, Beckie! I’ve been contemplating doing the white subway tile in my too-dark kitchen too…and for what it’s worth, I ALWAYS hand grout too (and usually without gloves haha!). It just feels like you have more control that way, even though the professionals would probably die over my “technique” lol :)

  • brandy

    Wow the end results are just stunning. I always hope to have black cabinets someday when we own a home lol.

    • Beckie

      Brandy, IT transformed my kitchen completely!!!

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  • Shelly

    I am so excited to see your post! I am in escrow right now, and my new kitchen is fabulous (dark cabinets, granite counters) but it is missing a backsplash. I am a total DIY’er and knew that this was something I could do with the proper research. I feel like your post and the video addressed all my questions! Thanks for sharing, and wish me luck! =)

    • Beckie

      Yay I am so glad you found it helpful. Congratulations on your new house. You can totally DIY it. I would love to see some before and after pics.

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  • Stile

    Your kitchen is amazing. It is really beautiful. I need to tile my kitchen back splash.

    • Beckie

      Thanks, it’s not a hard project as long as you get the right tools.

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  • Lesley Warren

    Awesome. I looked at these tiles today for the boys bathroom. What is a tile cuter? Are you referring the little snippers?

    • Beckie

      No, it’s a tile saw. You would have to rent or buy one.

  • Christine Elizabeth

    What was used to darken the cabinets?

    • Beckie

      Paint! You can read more about it here.