Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Subway Tile for Dummies

When I last abandoned you I had updated the progress of our kitchen renovation.

Is renovation even the right word!? 'Remodel' is a definite no (I always think of ripping out or knocking down when I hear remodel) 'renovation' still sounds so expensive.

To date we are still under $500 in the project costs. So I dub this my kitchen makeover.

"Cher's main thrill in life is a makeover, it gives her sense of control in a world filled with chaos"

High five yourself if you can name that movie!

So today I share with you the biggest project in the kitchen so far, the subway tile backsplash.

We went with 2"x4" white subway tile by Daltile purchased at Home Depot. I love it. For around $2.50 the 12x12 sheets of tile made for quicker/easier install. I've never laid tile before so this was all new to me.

My favorite purchase though was the SimpleMat tile setting mat. This eliminated the need to spread thin set on the walls (the "glue" that holds the tile to the wall) final cost may have been a little higher due to using the setting mat as opposed to the thin set, but the sanity/time saved/minimal if any mess made it all worth it! Trust don't want to skip this step!

This was the night I got home with everything. Can you tell I was excited to for a visual!? So excited I ripped that cabinet off the wall.

Hulk Smash.

The next day I got to work cutting my tile mat and sticking it to the wall. 
Scissors or a straight edge and blade if you're feeling dangerous. That was all that it required!

If you're a super sleuth you'll notice that I painted the soffits in-between finishing the other half of the kitchen. I ran out of tile and had to make another run to home depot (1hr away) before I could finish the other side. 

My life is a lesson in patience.

I did have to purchase a wet saw for this project. It was the cheapest one we could get and worked just fine. $50 well spent. I tried everything else before we bought the saw: score and snap, tile nippers, Dremmel with tile bit, miter saw with ceramic blade. 

Each one failed in their own special way. Either burning, cracking, or taking FOR-E-VER.
It would've been $50 to rent/day or $50 to own. Hmmmmm.
Thanks Menards!

Incase you are wondering...yes, I did purchase something for this project from every local big box home improvement store. I'm an equal opportunity shopper.

Grout was Mapei in Warm Grey from Lowes (see what I mean about equal opportunity shopping!?) I went with the unsanded. My tiles were 1/8th spaced. Based on the label of the grout I could've gone sanded or unsanded but preferred the look of the unsanded.

Grouting was not a terrible job. Just wear gloves. Your hands will thank you. Spread it on with a rubber float and when you get tired of that use your hands. Let it sit 15-30 min then wipe the wall with a damp sponge. 

I highly recommend buying a $2 tile sponge with a scrubber side. 

My favorite wall in the place. So glad I ripped out that cabinet. 

I made the shelves and tutorial to come in a post to follow!

Until next time!



  1. Hi!

    I hope you are still accepting comments. I think that these designs are great but you never get the full impact of the tile unless you physically touch it and see it live.

    Tiles truly can dynamically change a room and working with a local supplier is your best option.


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