DIY Backsplash

Our Virginia house didn’t have backsplash and I’ve been trying to commit to a backsplash a year! I’ve had a major phobia since it permanent. Backsplash is typically installed once in a lifetime and I’ve struggled to commit. I kept bringing home samples and returning them for months.

My first kitchen transformation was to I paint the oak cabinets white. Next I wanted a crisp backsplash up against the black granite. My final decision was to use white subway tile. Shocker, right? It’s lassic and timeless.

I only had 2 smallish areas to add backsplash. I decided to use Charcoal grout with the subway tile. Once decisions were FINALLY made it was time to head to Lowe’s! Yay!!!


  1. Adhesive
  2. Grout
  3. 1/4″ float
  4. Crayola marker
  5. Manual tile saw
  6. Sponge
  7. Backsplash tile
  8. Screwdrivers
  9. Level
  10. . Rubber Tile spacers
  11. . Paper towels
  12. . Rounded bullnose pieces to start/stop design.


I bought a premixed tile adhesive and a 1/4″ metal float to spread it on.

I purchased a premixed grout in Charcoal which was the darkest color available. We chose Charcoal grout for the mud room tile floor and I love it!!!!

This is a manual tile saw – super easy to use. It scores the top of the tile then you press down on the handle and it snaps it in half. Easy peasy and it was less than $25? Nothin’ fancy needed.

Tile spacers come in many colors and sizes. I wanted 1/8″ spaces and thought rubber might be easier to work with.

I bought this ginormous float that was way too big and awkward in most of the spaces. Used a wide putty knife in tighter places, back buttered tiles as needed and even used a plastic knife for teeny edge pieces to smear adhesive on the back.

I estimated that I needed *about* 12 sq feet of tile and purchased one box of 3×6 white gloss ceramic tiles which cover 12 sq feet. Figured I could go back for more if I was wrong and I know you can return unused individual tiles. It was almost exactly enough- a few to spare.


Clear everything off the counters for a clean work space. You may want to cut the breaker for the kitchen. Remove outlet covers and remove screws from the electrical outlets. The outlets need to rest outside and on the tile not stuck beneath so everything will be flush. Gather the supply list and turn on some tunes.


1. Make sure counters are level

2. Cover counters w trash bags for easy cleanup

3. Cut a few subways at 50%

(Mark 1/2 with a marker and cut)

4. Use the level and draw a line for your bullnose edge.

5. Start tiles from the edge with a bullnose vertically. I put adhesive on them individually called back buttering and used spacers against the bottom row

7. Spread mortar /adhesive on a section of the wall

8. Work from outside in. Eyeball placing tiles in a small section then add spacers and slide to adjust. Repeat.


Counters are level! Woo hoo. Thank the Lord. Not sure what I would have done if not!??

I like to toss my covers in the dishwasher for a spin. They come out shiny and new.

Cut the circuit breaker. Loosen the screws so the outlet is hanging out. You will tile up to them so the metal rests on the edge of the tile once you add the outlet cover all will be flush.

Draw a line with pencil where you will start to tile. This starting place is where you can use a bullnose vertically or use other options.

Go ahead and cut a few in half. Classic pattern is alternating one whole and one off set 50% with the next row offset at the middle. Makes more sense when you see it.

Here you can see the vertical bullnose starting the backsplash. It’s pushed against my level to make sure everything is super straight. I smeared on the adhesive with the monster float tool anywhere there was a straightaway. Use spacers under the first row and then all over the dang place!

It’s faster to smack a few of ’em on the wall then go in and add the spacers. You have play time to slide them in place. You can see the classic staggered pattern forming above.

It’s all fun and games until you get to the outlets. Ugh. These were a little tricker and took some creative cuts. I held up whole tiles across the outlet to gauge the cut needed so the overall pattern continues despite the interruption of the outlet.

Before I knew it this section was all done! The tile spacer stay put and the adhesive needs to dry over night.

I was pretty pleased with the progress and even took a subway selfie!

This whole area is odd but would really snowball if I wanted to change it. Toaster garage to the left and microwave is meant to go in the open vented area. I put that unsightly sucker in the pantry and made a coffee bar. This area was a bear to tile. It is small with a massive 4 light switch AND an outlet. Seriously stupid placement.

The teeny area took a lot of creative cuts around obstacles…and a lot of patience.

Next step is grout!!! I bought premixed and when I opened it there was a sponge inside. I had also purchased another large sponge. Fill a bucket with some water so you can rinse the sponges and then pour outside somewhere.

The sponges and my fingers where my tools. I put grout on the corner of the sponge and scrubbed it into the crevices using different directions.

Once you feel the grout is evenly filling in the tiles take a wet sponge and wipe the surfaces clean. I used a rag or paper towel to dry after. And that’s it!!! Easiest part of the job for sure.

I put the clean outlet covers back on and that’s it! Love the charcoal grout and white tile. It really made the new backsplash stand out.

Just to throw it back….here’s where it all started when we moved in.

And here’s the kitchen today. Walls and cabinets were painted. New hardware, made a rolling barn door and now new backsplash!

Feels much more “us” around here- lighter, brighter and has lots of black and white contrast.

If you are contemplating doing some DIY backsplash I say GO FOR IT. Quit overthinking it and just do it!

Happy tiling~


Laurel Dane Designs, LLC

DIY Blogger, Personal Organizer and Designer

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