Backsplash Progress...FINALLY!

As you've surely noticed, I've been promising for WEEKS (maybe even MONTHS) now that I would get around to tiling my backsplash.  It was the final piece of the kitchen puzzle (other than maybe adding some cute curtains or a shutter to the window above the sink) that has been lingering for far too long.  Well...I have exciting news!  I finally got around to it this past weekend.  YAY!  I'm not going to lie and tell you that it was fun or that I would happily do it again...it wasn't and I wouldn't....BUT I am SO happy that it is done!!  And a little proud too for doing it all myself.  I never doubted that I would be able to do it (necessarily), I just wasn't sure that I could do it well....which in my opinion is probably worse!  Why do something if you aren't going to do it right?  I am such a perfectionist too, so I know that I would zero in on all of the mistakes EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Thankfully, it was easy to do a clean and consistent job (thanks to spacers and a handy-dandy level), so I'm very happy with the results.  Even a little impressed.  I love it when I accomplish something that I have never done before.  It is a total sense of empowerment.  Who needs men when you can just do it all yourself? 

Ok...there are definitely some legitimate arguments in favor of having guys around (especially since B spent his weekend finishing up the stairs and railings on the deck....to be discussed later), but I like to think that I can handle most things on my own.  Like I said, it's a bit empowering.  And...even better than that is the fact that we saved a lot of money going the DIY route.  We already had the tile cutter and trowel from our bathroom update and we are planning to use the leftover gray-colored grout from that project as well to finish up the backsplash (we thought that the gray would break up the white-on-white that we have going on between the cabinets and the backsplash).  The only expenses were the spacers (since we wanted a significantly smaller line between these tiles than we had for the floor tiles in the bathroom), the thin set mortar (we chose Omni Grip for extra durability, but regular thin set mortar from HD works fine as well...they were around the same price since Omni Grip was on sale, so I just went for it) and the subway tiles themselves.  Luckily they were all pretty inexpensive at Home Depot.  The spacers ran around $3 a bag, the mortar was around $15 and the tiles were $.23 each (or $55.20 for three boxes/240 tiles), so we ended up around $73 for the entire project.  Not too shabby, eh?

I still have the grouting step to do, but just installing the tile has really brought the whole kitchen design together.  I am really happy with the results!  And I know that I said earlier that I wouldn't do it again....but I probably would.  In all honesty it wasn't that difficult, it was just VERY time-consuming.  Measuring and making the cuts take up most of the time (especially since I set up the tile cutter/wet saw in the garage and was running in and out of the house to make cuts every few minutes).  Once I got in a groove of laying them though, it went pretty quickly!  The areas around the light switches/outlets and the space above the range hood were the biggest time-suckers!!  All in though, I probably spent about 12 hours just laying the tiles and I am anticipating about 3 hours for grouting.  That's 15 FREE hours of labor....although I am paying for it in backaches this week.  Ugh!  Well worth the pain, though!  Seriously.  And I promise that if I can do it, so can you!

So that's it for the backsplash update.  I will keep you in the loop on the grouting process (which will hopefully happen tonight.....fingers crossed) and also share some more news from our very productive DIY weekend (hint: curb appeal)!!

Happy Wednesday!!  Catch you all tomorrow.


  1. I am SOO impressed! Your job looks awesome! I just ordered my white subway tiles and plan to have my backsplash done. I toyed with doing it myself.. but I like yourself, am a perfectionist. I feel like I would be able to see all my mistakes too. You were writing my script! My problem was that when they put my granite countertop on, my wall was not completely square, so there is a gap on one wall, wider than the width of a tile.. Also, I plan on putting one 3" strip of mosaic in, and that strip lands right along where all the outlets need to be cut. I've talked myself out of doing it myself.. still don't have a quote of a tiler professional.. but I know the satisfied feeling of a job done.. What issues did you have to deal with.. Is your counter tight up against the wall?

  2. Thanks for your sweet comment, Judy!! I appreciate it. It was definitely a hard road, but I am so glad that I pushed myself to do it. I would encourage you to do the same, except for the fact that you have a few issues to deal with. I was lucky that the gap between the wall and the counter was small enough for the subway tile to cover it. My suggestion would be to use a piece of quarter-round tile or bullnose tile to fill the gap. Those pieces are usually a bit wider at the bottom, which might span the gap between your counter and wall. It would also provide some nice dimension to the overall design.

    As far as the mosaic goes, I am not sure that would be an easy feat to tackle either. The spacers are a HUGE help, but you would need a lot of them to use under each little mosaic tile. Most mosaic tiles come in sheets though, so you could just cut it down in strips and lay them that way. There would be very little room for error since they are placed on the mesh backing in a perfect line already. I'm not sure which pattern you are looking at, but that might be the best way to go. My advice would be to get a bunch of quotes (2 or 3) and if it is in your budget, go for it. If not, look into the options I suggested and try to take a stab at it yourself. Since the subway tile are so inexpensive, you could try doing a section on a piece of cardboard first to get yourself comfortable with the application.

    Good luck with your project!! I hope this helps!

  3. Heather - thanks for your thoughful response. I think that's an ingenius idea about the quarter round tile or bullnose tile where the wall and counter meet.. that might be the answer. I'll go scout around at the display wall at HD.

    And yes, the moasic I chose comes in 12x12 sheets (with mesh backing) that I am plan on cutting in 3" strips.

    All my tile professionals are not calling me back.. so maybe this is a sign that I need to investigate this further..

    Thanks for your wisdom! Keep posting.. (looking forward to seeing your grout tutorial :)