This post is sponsored by The Tile Shop. We’re sharing the 5 things we do every single time we tile a backsplash that sets us up for success!
As many of you may have seen in Stories, we are really turning a corner at the Two Flat! We can kind-of-sort-of see the light at the end of the tunnel, and friends, it feels so good. Lately, our focus has shifted almost entirely towards the Unit 2 kitchen, and dare I say, we’re thisclose to calling it done? (Someone knock on wood!)
Most recently, we checked off Unit 2’s backsplash. I’d been pining for the day that I could lay the first tile in this room, and the end result is sweeter than I imagined. We used Stitch Indigo tile, 5″ x 5″ handmade-look tiles with a subtle pattern from The Tile Shop! Grey High pencil liner and standard white grout completed the look and cut down on contrast. (Alternately, could you imagine how pretty a soft taupe grout would look with this charming tile?)
We’ve tiled a handful of backsplashes over the years, and I still stand by it: Tiling a backsplash is a great project for the beginner DIY-er! It’s a satisfying project that yields high impact, instant results, and you’ll earn the respective bragging rights in your household for at least a month. (You could try for longer, certainly.) And because there are countless tiling tutorials floating around already (here’s ours!), I thought it would be more beneficial to share the 5 things we do every single time we tile a backsplash that sets us up for success!
1| Find a Starting Point
Where’s the focal point in the room? Although your impulse may be to lay the first tile in the corner, I urge you to consider the layout of your kitchen (or bathroom). In our case, the gas range is front and center, and we would be installing the tile higher above the range than around the rest of the perimeter. Because of this, we knew it was more important that the tile be centered directly above the range, and the rest would need to fall in place around it.
2| Level Along the Way
Level, level, level – and once you think you no longer need to level, level again. One small misstep during installation could start the domino effect that sets your whole project off-course! We keep a small level nearby and constantly check that our tiles are staying in line, and the moment we notice a small dip or rise, we course correct. Often times, a small spacer (such as a piece of cardboard from the box your tiles come in!) can be the added ‘lift’ you need to stay on track.
3| Back Butter Your Tile In a Tight Spot
Every now and then, you’ll run into a tight spot that a trowel refuses to fit into. It’s during times like this that back buttering your tile – applying mastic directly to the tile, rather than the wall – is your best bet! I also recommend purchasing pre-mixed mastic, which is already mixed to the perfect consistency and takes the guesswork off your shoulders.
4| Skip the Spacers
Most modern tile has a natural easement along each edge, which acts as a built-in spacer. It’s true! Toss your spacers! Okay, okay, before you toss the spacers, here are a few tests to see if you truly need them for your project:
- Hold the tile you’ll be using up to eye level. If your tile has an easement, you’ll notice a slight outward slope around the edges.
- Run your finger along the edge of the tile. If you feel a small ridge, you can skip the spacers!
- Lay two tiles together on a flat surface, such as the kitchen countertop. If you can see space between them, toss. those. spacers!
I didn’t use a single spacer for this backsplash project, and you can see in the photo above that I still have a thin, even grout line. I prefer the look of a small grout line, so unless you like the look of a thick grout line, save yourself that added step.
5| Know Your End Point Before You Start
Where will the tile end? Under the cabinets? The ceiling? Will your tile waterfall down the edge of your countertop and meet the baseboard? This is important to decide before you begin – heck, it’s important to know before you order your quantity – but it’s purely personal preference. I recommend looking closely at photos that inspire you, and take note of where the tile stops and starts.
Our Finished Tile Backsplash!
We’re in love, we’re in love, and we don’t care who knows it! The Stitch Indigo tile is a subtle vintage touch to our (very) vintage home, yet it somehow feels fresh and modern at the same time. We still need to add floating shelves to the left and right of the gas range (we shared this process in our Stories and will be writing a full tutorial), but whew, this kitchen makes us so happy.
What other tips + tricks would you add?
Unit 2 Kitchen Sources:
Wall color: Sherwin-Williams Heron Plume SW 6070 | upper cabinet color: Sherwin-Williams Magnetic Gray SW 7058 | base cabinet shaker panels | Stitch Indigo 5″ x 5″ tile | Grey High pencil liner | standard white grout | gas range | counter-depth refrigerator | brass ball knobs | brass pulls | ceiling flush mount light