{DIY} Subway Tile!

I almost chickened out 8 times before I committed to tiling the backsplash in our laundry room. If you’re getting DIY cold feet about hanging tile…seriously don’t be scared! This project ended up being my favorite we have done to date! Okay…maybe painting my bathroom floor still takes first place, but tiling was a close second! My biggest fear was using a wet saw…and now I want to put one on my Christmas list. (Hope Santa is reading this.) I promise you can do it…just read on!

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{Supplies List}

{Prep}

As with EVERY house project, prepping your work space is a MUST. Cover everything you don’t want messy with plastic, remove your outlet covers and make sure your wall is clean, dry and free of large holes and uneven surfaces. Since my backsplash was going behind my washer and dryer, I hung a small piece of trim horizontally across my wall about a foot and half below the top of my machines. This is where I started my first line of tile and it saved me from tiling all the way to the floor and wasting money! If you decide to do this…USE A LEVEL! You want that first line of tile to be as straight as possible, because if you start uneven at the bottom it is only going to get worse as you move up the wall.

Now before you start slapping tiles up there, stand back and figure out HOW you want them up there! You may want to start from left to right or you may want to start laying the tiles in the very center of the wall and work your way out. You don’t want to get to the side of a cabinet and have to make tiny weird cuts on the end pieces. Just measure and plan ahead!

{Hanging Tile}

EKK! Open up the doors and windows and wear that mask! Using the tile trowel, scoop up some adhesive and smear it onto your wall. Turn to trowel to a 45dg angle and scrape it along your wall to create ridges in the adhesive. (You can see the ridges in the picture below). This will help the tile adhere and reduce air bubbles behind the tile. Next, press your tile firmly onto the wall and really put some pressure into it to make sure all the edges are flat. Clean up the excess adhesive that presses out along the edges as you go. It is MUCH easier to clean it when it is still wet, versus scraping it off tile once it dries.

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Whew, ok I was freaking out before I put up the first tile! Total panic…but it got super fun once I got the first few up there! Just jump in and go for it. The adhesive has some wiggle room and is not going to dry SUPER fast so you can slide the tile a bit and make sure it is really in a good spot before you commit. Make sure it is LEVEL and flush with your starting surface.

I read a million articles and watched a billion youtube videos to figure out just how much adhesive I should use. You’ll get a feel for it, promise! Too little and it feels…not sticky enough. Too much and it’s oozing out everywhere. Just adjust as you go.

My tiles were in a sheet form, which just means they are linked together with little glue dots to create a 12 x 12 sheet. It made the process faster and the tiles were super straight which was awesome, so I highly recommend it! Use the tile spacers between the tiles to ensure they are straight. Just stick them in like this…

 

 

Okay, so once you get to an outlet or cabinet or other roadblock…time to break out the wet saw!! This thing is so.much.fun! Basically you line up the tile on this little tray, turn on the saw and water and slide it through. Always use your protective glasses and be very careful! What I found MOST helpful was using a washable marker to draw straight onto the face of the tile where I wanted to cut. Once I ran it through the saw, the water rinsed the marking right off and it was ready to be hung!

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Now that you have done a few, turn on some tunes and get going! It is basically a giant puzzle. Just keep pressing them firmly to the wall and use your tile spacers!

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For smaller tiles and hard to reach places, just use your trowel and drag a small amount of adhesive to the back of the tile instead of the wall.

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After the first few rows, I decided to tile to the top of my cabinets. I am so glad I kept going because it looks so cute and really draws your eyes up when you walk into the room. Once you are all done, you need to let the adhesive cure for 24-48 hours. Even though it seems dry, the adhesive under the tile is not getting any air so just walk away and shut the door. Trust me, you’re going to want to grout it right away but DON’T DO IT.

{Grout}

img_7604I highly recommend to use a premixed grout for this project. The one I used was super easy to work with and comes with a sealant in the grout.

Less fuss + easy to clean = win!

I chose a charcoal gray grout for a more dramatic look. While I LOVE it, do remember that the darker grout is going to show imperfections. This grout was a little thick I will say, which made it harder to spread but overall it was easy to use. I liked it so much that I recently tiled our kitchen and used the same stuff.

Again, make sure ALL your surfaces are covered WELL before starting to grout. This was the messiest part of the project, way worse than the adhesive. So if you think you’re so good at tiling and you didn’t ruin anything with the adhesive…please just take my advice and cover stuff. There is going to be grout EVERYWHERE.

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Here is my wall, ready for grout! Removed all the tile spacers and covered my new cabinets really well with plastic.

Now, this is the easy part! It’s like finger painting all over your wall. Use the float to scoop out the grout and smear it over your new beautiful tiles! Hold the float at the 45dg angle and slide it across the tile in all different directions to make sure you’re really getting into the grooves. Not going to lie, I was also pressing the grout between the tiles with my hands too. In my amateur opinion, there really isn’t a wrong way to do this…just get it up there and make sure you fill it all in!

 

Once you are satisfied that it is filled in. Take your sponge and dip it in warm water. Ring it out pretty good so it is just damp and then wipe it across your tiles to remove the grout from the tile faces. This can take a little while so just be patient! Keep wiping and rinsing and wiping and rinsing until all the grout is removed except what is between your tiles. You may want to grout in small sections and then wipe the area before moving on. It seems like the tiles were easiest to wipe clean when the grout was slightly starting to dry but not set yet. Less grout was pulled out from between the tiles if I let it sit for a few minutes.

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You might notice that even after you’ve wiped the tiles 20x and your arms are so tired you feel like you just went to the gym, there is still a haze on the tile faces. Don’t panic! Let everything dry and then take a soft cloth and polish the tiles to remove the haze.

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Voila! Backsplash complete! Aren’t you glad you didn’t chicken out?

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Decided to tackle this subway tile backsplash? Tag me on your social accounts so I can see your masterpiece or leave me a comment below! Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Next up, I’ll be sharing how to hang shelves on your tile! Don’t worry, you’re not the only one having nightmares about drilling holes in your new backsplash:)

Happy Tiling!

{K.}

diy subway tile

 

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