Tuesday, January 31, 2012

jumpin backsplash!

It's a gas gas gas! 

Rolling Stones, anyone? 

This past weekend I helped my friend Jenny install a backsplash in her kitchen. Get ready, because there are a millllllllllllion pictures. 

Some before shots. Here's the view from the sitting area into the den. The stove wall was the one we started with.

Other side to be backsplashed.

Same side different view.

Here is the GLORIOUS tile Jenny bought. She told me she knew she wanted blue, so we checked homedepot.com (I typed blue tile in the search bar). This option came up, and I must say: 


We only needed about 18 square feet + a couple extra just in case, which equalled two boxes. 

Instead of thinset to place the tile on, we used these tile setting mats. The lady at Home Depot highly recommended them, and I must say they were extremely easy to use! No mess at all. I will definitely be using them again.

Full shot of all our equipment! They sold buckets that had tile nippers, a sponge, a float, gloves, and a trowel (which we didn't need since we didn't use thinset). In addition to that, we got a tile cutter (it was only about $25), the grout (non-sanded was recommended at HD), and spacers for the tile. 

We started by laying on the tile setting mats. We wiped off the walls beforehand to get off any excess dust or particles. There were 2 sticky sides, one to stick to the wall, and one to stick to the tile. I just pulled off the backing and stuck it to the wall, and left the plastic on the front until the tile was ready.

Whenever an outlet would come up, I would hold the mat up to it, trace the outlet, and cut it out.


Hudson was a big help throughout the process.

The instructions said to smooth it out as much as possible so there weren't any air bubbles.  This part was so easy. It was OK if the sheets weren't touching each other. Luckily the sheets were almost the same width as the area we were covering. We saved any scrap piece to fill in the awkward shaped areas (aka around the outlets, etc.).

Next step.. onto cutting the tile! Jenny ended up cutting the tile while her mom and I put down the mats. 

Here's the trusty tool. I'm not gonna lie, I was skeptical at how this was going to work. And let me be the one to tell ya: 


Jenny just followed the instructions: score the tile by cutting across once. Then take this attached "bar" and apply pressure to the cut tile. Viola! It would pop in half after that. 

Jenny started my cutting the bottom half of the tile off several of the sheets. We were SO lucky that it fit in the space with just this one cut across. We used the leftover pieces to fill in the holes at the top.

Close up of the process. Scoring the tile..

And applying the pressure! 

Perfect cut! Woowoo! 


Note to everyone: we started in the corner! I figured if we started on one side, there could be a chance that the tile could land in a weird position at the corner and end up needing to be cut 1/52nd of the way across. The solution was to start by cutting a sheet in half, and start laying it down in the corner first. 

We placed all the sheets along the wall before putting them on the wall. We also pulled out some lamps to light up the corner a little more. 

I had to use a step stool to reach the back of the corner. There was a picture of me on it, but it was a full on shot of my backside, so I decided to spare you all.

I lined the tile up and started from the bottom up.

Once it was stuck on there, I pressed it firmly to make sure it stuck on the mat. 

The first tile piece!!! WOO! Notice how we used the spacers underneath the tile? We tried to use them between the tile, but the shape made it impossible for them to stay upright... so we just eyeballed it. We eventually stopped using the spacers after the first couple of sheets.

After that, we began placing whole sheets. It was easiest for Jenny to hold one side, while I stuck the other side onto the sheet and slowly pressed the entire thing on there. If I tried to stick the whole thing, it would inevitably end up sticking to the mat before I wanted it to. 

Like I said earlier, we used the spare pieces to fill in the holes at the top. Again, SO LUCKY that it fit perfectly! 

The first outlet was a bit tricky for us. We tried measuring at first, but ultimately decided it was easiest to lay as many whole tiles around the outlet as possible. Then we held a single piece of tile up to the outlet, marked it with a pencil, and cut it.

It was OK if it wasn't right up to the edge since the outlet cover would hide it.

This is where we stopped the first night. We worked from about 7-11pm.

The next day, we still had the whole other side. Since we had gotten the hang of it, it didn't take nearly as long. 

We also had to get behind the stove.

We started in the corner on this side as well.

I didn't show this earlier, but I would use a box cutter to cut the plastic cover on the tile setting mat. This way I could determine the width I wanted to pull off, rather than taking an entire sheet off at once. It helped when we needed to hold up a sheet to measure (the plastic wrap prevented it from sticking). 

I tried my hand at nipping the tile. Super easy! 

Nip nip nip it in the bud! 

I also cut a few. I cannot wait for an excuse to backsplash something at my house (or a future house).

See how nice it looks with the tile centered in the corner?! 

Lovely! We saved the small nipped pieces just in case. We ended up using a few around the outlets and such.

Jenny laid tile as well! 

Next up was mixing the grout. We just followed the instructions on the box. It doesn't look like there is enough water, but you just need the 1.4 liters to mix it all together. 

Jenny's mom had this fancy mixer for the drill. I recommend using it if you have one. We didn't try to do it by hand, but I feel like this was much faster/easier.

I just poured the grout into the bucket

and mixed! 

It took a few minutes for it to all mix together,

but once it's done, it's all the same consistency. No powder left over. It's like a thick paste. The instructions say to let it sit for a few minutes before mixing it one more time.

While we waited, we put down this paper to protect the countertops. 

Time to grout! 

We used these floaters, which are kind of like trowels with a foam flat surface. We also had a couple of putty knives to use for the little crevice under the cabinet and around the outlets.

Sweet sweeping motion! 

We wore gloves. It turned out to be a good thing, because I used my fingers to press the grout into the crevice between the tile and overhead cabinet.

It looks so good! 

After it sat a several minutes, Mrs. Becky went over it with a sponge (like the instructions said).

Something I didn't show before: we pulled the stove out a bit and placed tape in line with the countertops. This helped with keeping the grout line straight and prevented it from dripping down the wall.

Sadly, I had to leave to go to a wedding shower. Jenny and her mom sponged off the tile. She said it took a long time to make sure there wasn't any grout remaining. Note to everyone: you don't want grout to ever dry on the tile. It's almost impossible to get it off.

Don't fret, everyone! I went back on Sunday and took after shots! 

How luxurious!!!! 

I love it!!!


It looks so good! 

Once more...



I love the added color!!!! 

Special thanks to Jenny for trusting my DIY skills while helping to install tile in her lovely abode. And for paying me in tools! Yes, everyone, I earned the tile cutter!! Also thanks to Jenny's ma, Mrs. Becky, for helping to take bloggie pictures! 


  1. that looks awesome! great job!

  2. No idea how I found this blog, but as a designer I am applauding you! I LOOOOVE the tile!

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! I loved it as well! And I'm glad you found the ol' blog!

  3. Nice job, want to come do mine now? ;0)

  4. Your backsplash turned out amazing! It is just beautiful and I love the tile you chose. I had no idea you could buy the sheets of sticky stuff instead of thin set. We just tore out our backsplash and redid it and that would have come in handy. We tried mixing our own grout but that was a huge fail a few years back so we buy the ready made kind and it is super easy to work with and if you have to leave for a few hours you can still get it back off with a wet sponge and a little elbow greece.

    1. LOVE LOVE the tile!! what is it called...i want it for when we redo our kitchen ;)

    2. Hey LauraLou!

      It's from homedepot.com and is called Merola Tile Lantern. Here is the link:


      Hope that helps! It comes in white too!

  5. I've seen this tile setting mat in the store but I can't find any information about it's temperature limits. I am installing this behind and on the side of my stove and want to make sure than when I am using the oven / stove for long periods at high temps (350 and above) that the tiles will not start loosening. Any information on this? (Yours looks amazing, btw!)

    1. Hey Bev!

      I just checked on HomeDepot.com and the Simplemat site and couldn't find any answers on your question. I would ask a Home Depot employee, they might know! Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

    2. I'm a Home Depot flooring associate and am a big fan of the SimpleMat product. I always wondered about the heat limit for behind a stove top but never took the time to research it. If you have looked on both websites and found nothing the next step would be to call the manufacturer. If someone came into the store and asked I would be more than happy to call and find out. I must say I am thoroughly impressed by your step by step instructions!!! Your backsplash came out so beautiful.

  6. Hi Rachel,

    I love the way this turned out. I'd love to pin it to The Home Depot's Tile pinboard if you don't mind.

    Senior Editor, homedepot.com

    1. Hey Caroline! Please do pin it! :D Such an honor to be asked by you!

  7. So nice!!! Thanks.


  8. How did you finish the edges of the tile where it isn't butting up to a wall?

  9. The design is really awesome! And Most likely I love BLUE!!! ^_^ Installing some glass splashbacks could surely protect the beauty of your wonderful kitchen!

  10. That looks great! I'm installing the same tile in white in my kitchen in a few days. Wit the Simple Mat, did you have any issues or concerns with the tile sticking when you hung it up with the back netting? and when you hung up a sheet of tile with the netting on the back and put single tiles without the netting on the back, did you notice a difference in one sticking out further than the other?

  11. You ladies did an awesome job! It gave me the inspiration to do my kitchen. I can't wait to start!

  12. That looks so good! How cool that you ladies did it yourself. We just ordered similar tiles from Overstock.com (I think the blue is a bit different), but plan to have professionals install it as we have an existing backsplash that needs to come down as well. How did you finish the end? Did you use any bar or pencil-style end pieces or just grout the ends as well? Again, excellent work. Looks really nice.
    Sue P.

  13. What an amazing set of after shots, I especially like the action shots. Gorgeous kitchen.

  14. Your blog post inspired my husband and me to do our backsplash ourselves. Thank you for such good photos and instructions. See our finished job at
    Sue P.

  15. Wow!! It looks like all of u were having fun throughout the process, n the end result is awesome! N it's DIY!! Thank you for sharing.... It's inspiring too... for my future home projects. Gonna show this to my ladies - girls can do a good job too!

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