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.

subway_tiles_in_rollers

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.

white_subway_tile_backsplash

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?

before_and_after_kitchens

Supplies:

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)

Sponge

Trowel

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”.

 

Tips:

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.

installing_subway_tile_backsplash

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!

white_tile_backsplash

subway_tile

white_subway_tile_kitchen

subway_tile_backsplash

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.

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Comments

  1. 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! :)

  2. 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!: )

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

      • Cherryl Dillon says:

        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!

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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!

    Emily

  6. 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!

  7. Becca Willard says:

    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!

  8. I love it! It looks really good.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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. :)

  12. 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.

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

    • 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! ;-)

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

  15. 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. :)

  16. 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 :)

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

    xoxoxoxo

  18. 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!

  19. 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

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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!!!

  23. Jennifer Fledderman says:

    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!!

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

  25. 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!

    • 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.

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

  27. 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!
    THANKS!

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

  29. Karen@feathermynest says:

    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!

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

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

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

  34. 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!

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

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

    • 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.

  39. 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! :)

  40. 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 :(

  41. 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!

  42. 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!

  43. Rachel Long says:

    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!

  44. 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? (http://www.thepauperscastle.com/2011/10/faux-leaded-glass-stained-glass.html) 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

  45. SHARON HURD says:

    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?

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

  47. 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

  48. 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 :)

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

  50. 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! =)

    • 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.

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

  52. Lesley Warren says:

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

  53. Christine Elizabeth says:

    What was used to darken the cabinets?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Last year we got the granite counter tops, painted our cabinets and added crown molding (tutorial here). We also just finished the subway tile back splash. I am in LOVE with it!  You can find some helpful tips here. […]

  2. […] How to Install Subway Tile Backsplash by Infarrantly Creative. […]

  3. […] cabinets. That’s why Beckie’s white subway tile backsplash really pops beneath the Infarrantly Creative blogger’s black cabinets. Take a look at this great ebony-and-ivory […]

  4. […] with dark cabinets. That’s why Beckie’s white subway tile backsplash really pops beneath the Infarrantly Creative blogger’s black cabinets. Take a look at this great ebony-and-ivory […]

  5. […] Subway Tile Backsplash by Infarrantly Creative […]

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