"Lazy Man" Subway Tile Tutorial

To prep our house to sell I needed to put up a new tile backsplash (since I ripped out the old one on a whim).  You can only take cream tiles with flowers for so long. ;)

To start the process of installing a new backsplash, I had to make sure there was clean sheetrock/cement board (a clean flat surface).  I spackled and painted the drywall since it was left plain for a couple months.  This is the first project I've done installing tile.

The tools we used are:
  • Tile Adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Pre-mixed Grout
  • Large Sponge
  • Grout Float
  • Tile Cutter  

I purchased this pre-mixed tile adhesive which worked really well.  Use the textured end of the trowel to create an even layer of adhesive on the wall.

Make sure you've covered the wall completely where the tile will go because this is what holds the tile to the wall.

Then simply push the tile into place on the wall. I placed a spacer between the tile and countertop so that (1) there was a little extra room if someone ever decided to swap out the counters (2) it prevents cracking in the future since there is room for the tile to expand.
For our tile, I used what I would call "Lazy Man" Subway Tile - meaning it was small subway tiles that came in mesh sheets.  What made this more desirable was that I only had to use spacers between sheets, not between hundreds of small subway tiles.  Plus they were very inexpensive (CLICK HERE).

When you reach a corner, cabinet, window, outlet, etc.  cut the tile to fit around the edge.  To cut straight lines, I purchased a cheap tile cutter that would make straight lines.  For the purposes of our 25 sq ft backsplash, it worked just fine.
For the odd shaped pieces that I had to make two cuts in (to go around outlets) I simply brought my three tiles to home depot with the cut lines marked on them.  They have a wet saw and made the cuts for me for free!  That saved me the cost of having to rent a wet saw.

Once all of your tiles are up, they need to dry for about 24 hours (check the instructions on your adhesive for drying times).  At this point, they looked like this.

Once your adhesive has dried, it's time to apply the grout.  I decided to go with white grout since it wouldn't draw attention to any areas where the tiles may not be exactly straight.  I think gray grout is less forgiving in that regard.  I used pre-mixed grout in bright white and was very happy with the product.


Simply scoop some up with a rubber trowel and begin to smooth it into the cracks between tiles.  Once you've finished about a 3' area, scrape off any extra with the edge of your grout float by holding at a 90 degree angle to the wall.  This will make it easier when you wipe the tile down later.  Note: Make sure to clean up any grout that falls on your countertop quickly - otherwise once it dries it can be pretty difficult to clean off.

I found it was easiest to grout about half a wall, then use the sponge to clean the grout up (that way it didn't dry too much).  Use a large wet (not saturated) sponge to pat the tiles first.  Then rub them down to remove any excess grout.  You may need to rinse off your sponge and repeat until the sandy texture of the grout is off of the tiles.

When you're finished, let the grout dry.  Then come back and caulk the gap between the countertop and tile.

Voila!  Here is your finished product.

Check out these two tutorials from DIY network for suggestions from Pros on how to tile a backsplash.


Disclaimer:  This is the first time that I have ever tiled.  I am not a professional.  This is simply an amateur sharing my own experience tiling.


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