Kitchen Mini-Makeover: Tiling Details

**Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Uncommon Supply Company. All opinions and commentary are 100% my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

So, what did you think of that little kitchen update? I have been wanting to update the backsplash in our kitchen for a while, but the whole tiling thing intimidated me. My DIY skills tend to be more painting, wood refinishing and simple sewing projects (the hubby does the basic electrical updates and helps me with building the masterpieces I see in my head). But tiling? Neither of us had any experience, so we tackled it together! #teamwork

Thoughts from our first DIY tile job | One Mile Home Style

Let me tell you right from the start, this is such an easy DIY project, ANYONE can do it. And I am not just saying that, it is so easy, you just have to get started and you will agree, and then you will wonder why you waited so long to do a tile project. Here are my thoughts and the process we used for tiling the backsplash in our kitchen, we are not experts, but maybe something we did can help you in your tiling adventures.

The first step was to pick out the tile. We chose to go with a local company, Uncommon Supply Company, that carries a wide variety of tile samples (and also flooring and countertop samples) and can help you with special orders. The biggest advantages of doing it this way instead of using a big-box store are the personal attention, knowledge of the sales people and you are not limited to what they have samples of in the showroom. You can flip through the entire tile book and order sample of anything that catches your eye.

Uncommon Supply Company

Searching for the perfect tile

I knew what tile I was going to pick as soon as I saw it. But, to be safe we picked a total of 3 samples to look at in our kitchen, just to be sure. That was the easy part, then I had the task of choosing a grout color, who knew that choosing tan grout could be so difficult? We used premixed grout, which was awesome, because the idea of mixing grout in the correct amount and to the correct consistency sounded like a lot of pressure for this first-timer.

Here is the kitchen before all the work started:

Kitchen backsplash before

Once we had all the supplies in house, it was time to get to work. I started by removing the old backsplash tiles. I didn't use any fancy tools for this part; a utility knife, flat head screwdriver and a hammer (probably gloves would have been a good idea, hence the bandaged finger you see below). Before attempting to loosen the tile, I ran the utility knife along the top of the tile to cut the caulk and keep it from peeling more the the paint off the wall. Once the tile started to lift away from the wall I ran my knife along the top again, and also along the grout line between the tiles. Then I carefully pulled the tile and chunks of drywall off the wall.

How to remove a builder basic backsplash

This next part about made the hubby crazy. You should lay out your tiles so you can make sure you like the layout of the full pattern before you put it on the wall. Me being me, I had to make sure that none of the glass tile touched each other, and that there was not a concentration of all dark or all light tiles, it had to be a nice even mix. I opened both boxes of tile in the living room and laid all the tile out together, then as we did each wall section, I laid the tile on the floor directly under the wall we were working on.

Laying out the backsplash tiles

We borrowed a tile saw from some friends, but I also bought tile nippers and a glass cutter. We realized as we got started that we really were not going to need the tile saw, and with glass tiles we were going to need a different blade. So, we the hubby cut the tile by hand, and it was a pretty simple and easy process. The best part of these 12x12 tile sheets is that you can cut the mesh backing with a utility blade first and then use the tile nippers to get a straight edge. (BTW, I highly recommend the tile nippers and glass cutter that we used, they worked way better than we expected, especially the glass cutter.) Tip: To lessen the amount of clean-up you have to do, cut the tiles over a box (the one the tiles come in works perfectly). This also makes for a good collection area for the little end pieces, or any smaller sections you cut off the big sheet, you will most likely need those little bits and pieces to fill in gaps, or replace broken pieces later. Tip: If your tile is ending on an open wall, like ours did, you can make your cut end pieces look perfect by cutting them to the correct size, and then peeling them off the mesh backing, spinning them around and placing your cut edge on the inside, which places the uncut edge along the out side.

Cutting mosaic tile with tile nippers

Now for the fun part! You will definitely want to make sure you are wearing your paint clothes for the rest of this project. I am messy when I work, I use my fingers to clean up drips, and then wipe my hands on my shirt or pants. I'm pretty sure I had tile adhesive in my hair at one point during this project.

You want to put a thin-ish, even layer of the tile adhesive on the wall and then comb the notched end of the trowel through the adhesive to give your tile a nice base to stick to. Tip: Do not put the adhesive on super thick! The first sheet of tile we put up, we had tile adhesive squeezing out between the tiles like crazy! A nice light coat is more than sufficient. Tip: Spread your adhesive a little bit past the area you are working on, that way you always have a nice transition from one tile sheet to the next.

Applying tile adhesive to the walls for a new backsplash

First tiles are up. You can see in the bottom few rows where the tile adhesive came through, and you can also see that we needed to go a little farther past the tile with the adhesive so that I didn't have to smear the adhesive right up next to the tile with my fingers. Tip: Be sure to leave room around the electrical outlets and light switches so you can unscrew them from the wall and move them out to be flush with the tile. (Here is the tutorial for adjusting your electrical outlets.) Tip: You don't have to make perfect cuts around your outlets, trim the tile enough so that it doesn't interfere, but it doesn't have to be straight.

First section of backsplash tiles up on the wall

You will have to wait 24 hours before you can start grouting, which is another messy part. I didn't get any pictures of this process, mostly because the hubby was out of the house working that day, and my hands were covered in grout. I didn't realize how big of a mess grouting the backsplash was going to be, so consider yourself warned. As you are pushing the grout between the tiles, any that gets squished out (super technical term there) falls onto the counter or the floor. And since this grout has a wet sand type of consistency, it felt like there was sand everywhere! Tip: Place waxed paper on your countertops to catch the extra grout and make clean-up a little easier. Tip: Refresh the water you are using to wipe down your tiles frequently, this will help you get the tiles cleaner, faster. Tip: Once you have wiped down the tile to remove all the excess grout, take a dry paper towel and gently wipe down the tiles to remove any water spots and any haze that has appeared. We used Mapei FlexQ Pre-Mixed Grout and it actually leaves little to no haze on the tiles, which is awesome!

Here she is all finished up! The last part of this project is adding spacers to the electrical outlets so they sit flush with the tile, you can see that tutorial here.

Kitchen backsplash after


  1. Wonderful tutuorial! I've been wanting to do our backsplash since we've moved in but I'm terrified!

    1. You can do it Angela! I was worried about cracking a tile when we were cutting them, once I got over it and told myself it's not the end of the world and I can just use another tile, it was all good.

  2. Looks awesome! I'm wanting to do this in our kitchen but have been too afraid/think I'm not capable and your post inspired me!

    1. Thanks Shelbi! You can totally do this project, it seems intimidating at first, but once you get that first tile on the wall, you are golden. Good luck!

  3. Hi there! I hopped over from Posed Perfection! I love how your tile project turned out--great tutorial too! Blessings, Cecilia

  4. Great tute You did a great job explaining and the info on the outlets and light switches is priceless. I did my back splash a while ago but didn't fill in around the switches or outlets because I didn't know how. Now I can finish up. The tiles I chose were glass and metal. I found when cutting the glass with a Dremil using a diamond blade [ blade cost $35.00] money well spent. If you put a piece of masking tape on the front and cut from the back there are way less chips breaking off. Hope this info helps some one have the courage to do there back splash. Thanks for sharing .

  5. Your tiles look great, but how did you finish the open end of the tiles?


Post a Comment

Hey there!! Let's chat!

Popular Posts