We DIYed Subway Tile!!!

On a recent week-end, Yankee and I didn’t have any plans.  The lack of snow has made it impossible to do some of our winter sports – especially snowshoeing.   So,  we decided to go ahead and tackle the kitchen backsplash.  Tackle makes it sound worse than it was, though.


Tile prep

We had talked about doing a subway tile backsplash, so we already did our research.  We even took a free “How to Tile a Backsplash” class at our local Home Depot.  That class is where we learned about this Tile Setting Mat.  It makes/made the process so easy.


Subway tile prep

Yes, this method cost more than the old school way of putting up tile, but we thought it was worth every penny.  We followed the directions exactly.  It was up, and we were ready to tile in no time.  Plus, we were able to grout right away.  We didn’t have to wait for the bottom layer to dry first.  Basically, we took this backing and stuck it to the wall.  Then we pulled off the plastic covering when we were ready to put up the tile.  There is no mess.  Just imagine.  No mess with installing a back splash.   I love this product!


Subway tile

This shot shows the start of the subway tile actually going up.  We only had to do spacers on the bottom where we were going to caulk because the tile already has built-in spacers.  We had five outlets to deal with, and we made sure the power was turned off before starting the tile work.


Subway tile

The outlets made it necessary for us to cut some tiles.  We didn’t always make a clean cut as you can see.  This was not a successful attempt.


Subway Tile

We used this product to cut some of the tiles, and after we got our routine down,  it was very easy to use.


Subway Tile

However, we eventually had to upgrade to a wet saw.  We had some difficult cuts for the tile that was going to go around the window.  Yankee, made those cuts.


Subway Tile

 After just a few hours, the tile was up, and we were ready to add the grout.


Subway Tile

This is not the best picture, but we used the grout that was premixed.  Again, it does cost a little more, but we didn’t want to question if our constancy was correct.  We just smoothed it on and wiped it off.



Kitchen Before

This is what the kitchen looked like before we painted the walls a soft blue, painted the cabinets white, and added the subway tile.


Subway Tile

Voila!  The After!  We removed the spice rack that was behind the range and decided to keep it off.


Tile kitchen before tile

This is the kitchen before the backsplash.  It looks better than the original, but the backsplash just gives it that final finishing touch.


Subway Tile

We are thrilled with the way the tile came out.  Here you can see one of the quirks of our house.  The sink is not in front of the window.  Only a small part is in front of the window.  What were they thinking????  The tile actually helps it not look so strange.  I still have some ideas for that area to help even more, but  if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.


We are going to take a breather from the kitchen now.  We still have appliances to buy, but we want to save up for them.  And meanwhile, with spring around the corner, it is time to turn our attention to the major facelift we will be doing on our front yard.  Stay tuned…….



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  1. Courtney! says

    I am just about to do this! So glad you mention the tile setting mat! Our countertop is sort of labor intensive and I’m so happy to find something that will make the backsplash tile work easier!

    Also, I love the blue with your subway tile!

  2. says

    It turned out great. I bought a small wet saw 10 years ago, and have replaced the blade a couple of times, but it’s the best investment I’ve made. A lot of friends like to borrow it too! I will have think about that question, what to do?
    Have a great week,

  3. says

    I saw your kitchen when you first finished it and thought it looked great then. The backsplash is a terrific addition. You guys did a super job. What a talented DH you have to use a wet tile saw. That takes real skill. But tile always helps a kitchen!!

    Re the window area. I’d do a “cheater” Roman shade the full width from cabinet to cabinet to equalize the space. It could be simple and neutral or a sun shade that doesn’t block out light entirely. If it were left partway down — lined up with the natural horizontal there right at the top line of the backsplash, I feel it would help the space. You can test it with a $5 paste up EZ shade from Home Depot that can be cut to fit. I used those and they last a surprisingly long time. Great bang for the buck until you feel what you want.

    Thanks for stopping by to see our kitchen week offerings. Jane

  4. says

    so your kitchen didn’t have a backsplash at all until you put in the subway tile? whoever put the window not over the sink must have been responsible for that one hehe. You did a FAB job, it looks completely awesome! You did the right thing getting rid of the spice rack – spices should be kept away from heat, so right over the range is the worst possible place for them.

  5. says

    This looks so great! I’m really fascinated by the tile setting mat. Never even heard of such a thing but I LOVE the idea of no mess. Ick! It’s looking like a different kitchen now! So much brighter and lighter! Did you seal? I only ask because I have and haven’t, and found that for a kitchen, sealing is the way to go. I would HATE to have spaghetti stains on my pretty grout. But, I’m sure you are way ahead of me!

    Great work!

  6. sweet violets says

    You did a wonderful job here!!! It all looks so fresh and clean!!! Now, I like the window off center……I am into asymetrical……..how about a sweet little lacey valence at the top on a spring tension rod……then I would add a little something on the wall to the left of the window, something round to soften the straight lines. hugs…cleo

  7. says

    I had no idea that tile setting mat exists. Don’t tell my wife.

    I don’t know how the window looks in person or how the sink/counter/range works for you. But it’s so different and so unexpected I’m fascinated by the way it looks. “Everybody has q window over the sink” is kitchen dogma and for good reason I guess. But I like breaking the rules.

  8. says

    Your tile job looks fantastic and does subway tile ever really go out of style…I think not. We have a friend that is a tile and carpet guy. His parents own a tile and carpet store so he was raised being around it. Anyway, they just built a new home and he used this product for the first time and loved it too. If this were my kitchen, I would think about maybe hanging a three tiered basket above the sink where you have that funny wall. Or built open shelves for cute decor. Okay, I would go with the shelves.

  9. says

    I love it! I love subway tiles and y’all did a wonderful job. I love the new look of your pretty kitchen!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;0

  10. says

    I love love love your tile backsplash! I’ve been wanting a subway tile backsplash in our kitchen, but have been hesitating (I’ve done tile before and know how difficult it can be). But that tile setting mat? Awesome! It may be the thing that pushes me to tile the kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. says

    I finally made it over to check out your subway tile. It looks gorgeous! Subway tile is hard to beat, I love it with your white cabinets and soft blue walls- very refreshing.

  12. says

    What a great job! That is awesome. The tile job looks completely professional. How strange that the previous owners put a spice rack above the range. I bet spices lost potency fast by always getting heated.