Well, if you follow me on instagram @prvbsthirtyonegirl, many of you have noticed something a bit different in my kitchen. And have asked about it. Well, I’m FINALLY getting to put a blog up about the DIY subway tile backsplash I did on a whim a couple of weeks ago:) I knew I wanted the classic subway tile ever since we moved here. Honestly I wanted it in our last house as well, but that was a bit before my full fledge DIY days. I wasn’t quite as ambitious back then, therefore it never got done. I don’t know about you and your household, but the “extras” or “textural details” aren’t listed on the top of the priorities of the hubby’s list. Quite honestly, I don’t think they ever make the cut is we had to have it hired out. Hence the reason I took on the DIY attitude. If I wasn’t going to do it, it wasn’t going to happen.
So, back to the beginning. I knew I wanted subway tile ever since we moved in this house. It’s classic, goes great with farmhouse style, and in my opinion will never go out of style. Oh and it’s cheap. Yep, that might have been priority number 1!. As in any good home demo/reno project there are phases.
Phase 1: Be able to live in the house and move out of the camper parked in your driveway.
Phase 2: Get all of the bare walls covered up flooring on the ground. Oh and a kitchen, get a kitchen of some sort in. (yes, this all happened AFTER we moved in:)
Phase 3: Bare bones, meaning everything is finished, but no extras. (paint, trim, floors, etc.)
Phase 4: Make it your own.
Most people may only have 2 phases. But if you are a true DIY’er, I’m sure you can relate to ours. Currently, we are in phase 4. (insert applause here.) Oh how I have waited for this day. It means that the visions I had from the house from the beginning can actually start to take shape. As the finances allow that is. There is that.
So, my quest to DIY my own backsplash began. I knew I always loved subway tile, and as the time came closer the question was what color grout did I want? I love the classic white on white….
Then then I started gravitating toward the gray grout, like this..
Gray it was.
Seeing as though I had wanted to do this for quite some time, I had been doing my research. I found out that using tile setting mat was the easiest way to go about it. It wasn’t the cheapest, (rarely do I do more expensive options) but this time I felt like it was worth it. Especially since I would be doing it by myself. Easy won.
On top of that I realized that I would need to use a tile saw to cut around outlets. I figured out that after renting it, it was actually cheaper to buy one. I found this one at Home Depot for $54.00 plus free shipping.
The last thing I got was my grout. I picked warm gray unsanded grout from Lowes. You want unsanded if you are having very small grout lines. It’s nice and smooth then. If you are going with bigger lines, you are going to want the sanded so that it holds.
Now to get started, first I cleaned my backsplash and cleared the area.
Then, I applied my tile setting mat to all of the areas that I wanted tiled.
You peel off the back and just stick it on. You leave the front plastic on til you are ready to tile. Super easy, it just gunks up your scissors pretty good, so you’ll want to use an old one, or I found a utility knife works really well.
Then it was time to put the first tile up.
I got these for the edge, they are a bit skinnier. This is the only place I needed edge tiles. Most places that I researched said to start in the middle of your counter and work your way out, but the middle of mine was my oven, so I just opted to start at the end.
And this is where Allie ran into a problem. Seeing as though our house is 100 years old, and although we did or best to try to level everything….it still wasn’t level. I tried this first row of tiles about 5 times before I realized that from one counter to the next it was 1/4″ off. doesn’t seem like much, but it stinks when you are working with straight rows. So, I saw on another blog that they cut a 1×4 to put behind the stove to keep your straight line. I ran out and cut one and screwed it up temporarily to have a line to go off of. It helped, even if my tile still wasn’t 100 % level. Shh…
Here you can see a little bit of the wave to it…but I did the best I could. Good thing I’m no perfectionist! Just a side note with the tile setting mat, once you place the tile you can pull it off, but if you do it too much it starts to loose it’s stickyness. And it’s hard on the fingers!
This side was so good to me because it only had 1 outlet to work around. Gotta love that. I decided to place my tiles close together, and they actually have a bit of a spacer built into them. I do recommend still buying spacers though, because sometimes with the tile setting mat they can sag a bit and the spacers just help to hold them in place until you are read to grout.
Also, before grout always looks worse than after. So don’t beat yourself up too much about it! You can’t see in this picture, but on the far right I can a couple of tiles pieces that were about a 1/2′ wide. Really small pieces that didn’t stick to the mat, so I just put a little bit of caulk on the back and stuck them on. I had to do that to a couple of tiles actually that didn’t want to stick the best. It seemed to work great and I haven’t had any fall off yet!
On to the other side!
Oh how I wish it went that fast! As you can tell it is now dark! Another thing I do not recommend. I started this project at 11:00 a.m. and finished with grout at about 10:30 p.m. They say that you are supposed to grout within 8 hours of putting the tile on the mat, which is nice in the fact that you have to get it done, but stinks when it’s 9:30 and you are tired and sore and just want to shower and go to bed!
I missed quite a few pictures, but I bought the unmixed grout. To mix I just added 2 bottles of water and about half of the pack of grout. I use my hand to mix it til it is smooth. The consistency should be like frosting or toothpaste, just a little bit of stiffness. It’s actually super easy to do, I’d just recommend only mixing up half so you have some to work with.
We had a grout float from doing our bathroom floor that I used to grout with, and then sponged the grout off about 5 minutes after it set. Once that was done I went to bed and woke up and caulked it in the morning. Caulk is amazing to finish off all the rough edges. It hides a multitude of sins:)
So, onto the finished product…
It went from dark black to bright white, so it took me a few days to decide if I really loved it. But after living with it for a couple of weeks now, I love how bright it makes the room!
I just put the stick em stuff on the back of the metal EAT letters and they’ve been staying great!
I still haven’t gotten my IKEA rail hung back up under the cabinet yet. We did buy the diamond bit to drill into tile, I’m just a bit nervous and am going to make the hubby do that one!
And I may still have a few nail holes to fill:)
If you look closely you’ll find a couple of spots where you can tell it was a DIY job…
Whoops. But it only cost me $38 in tile, $14 in grout, $40 in tile setting mat and $54 in a saw. But….I did do 2 other tile projects since that will cover the cost of my saw:) So, for that price I”m okay with a little blub here and there. And I could say I did it myself:)
The light switch took a beating too, gotta get another one of those!
When you live in a smaller home and you make an improvement like this it’s so fun because you can see it from almost anywhere in the house:) Always looking for the positive!
So, just because it’s so much fun I’m going to take on a journey through our phases.
Phase 1: Complete Demo:
Phase 2: Moved in with a kitchen….Sort of..
Phase 3: Functioning Kitchen
Phase 4….The pretties:)