Installing a Subway Tile Backsplash

Sunday, January 08, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

If you want a really great way to add style, design, and personality to a kitchen, it doesn’t involve paint or new floor tiles. It involves a new backsplash. Are backsplash tiles beneficial in terms of cooking? Well of course. They keep food and other debris off of the wall. But, over the years more and more people are also adding backsplash tiles to their walls because it's trendy, stylish, can add color and texture to the walls and it looks amazing. Now, if you want to install a really great tile, and have really good kitchen backsplash ideas in your mind, subway tile is a good one to look at. Visit and see what options you can go through. This is a big material trend this year and will be for the next few years. You could also have a look at Here is a quick summary of how to install subway tile backsplash.

Installing a Subway Tile Backsplash

Materials Needed:

  • Tiles for the walls
  • Tile Adhesive like mastic or thinset
  • Spacers
  • Trowel
  • A nipper for your tiles or a tile saw
  • Grouting
  • Sponges
  • Grout Sealer
  • Colored Caulk to Match the Grouting

First Thing’s First

Always clean your walls before painting, wallpapering, or back splashing. Just do this quickly with a warm sponge that has been dampened with some water. Let it dry before you begin the next steps.

Second Step

Wipe a layer of mastic, thin-set, or adhesive on the wall. This tends to be a thick white substance. This really just helps your tiles stick to the wall. After you spread out your mastic, you want to make sure that all the mastic is smooth i.e. if there are any grooves or scoop lines, smooth them out. It's best to work row by row rather than slap this all on the wall – it will dry.

Aligning The Tiles

Assuming you are using individual tiles, take your first tile, bottom right-hand side, and make it flush with the wall as well as the counter. This is going to be the first puzzle piece in a much larger puzzle. Make sure that you press the tile into the mastic. Next, place a spacer between that tile and the next and repeat and rinse until you have an entire row done. Next, on that first tile you laid down, place a spacer on the top so that when you start the new row, you know where to go, add spacers after each tile is placed down, again rinse and repeat. This is very easy, just a tad tedious.

Clear Out The Mastic

Make sure that as you are doing your rows, you are clearing out any mastic that got on the tiles and any mastic that is between the tiles. If you don’t do this now it's going to be very hard in the near future. You have to remember, this stuff gets like dried cement.

Using Your Snippers

Not every subway tile is going to fit perfectly. I know, I’m sorry. I wish it did. But, what you can do is use snippers or a tile cutter to cut the tile into the shape and size you need. provides you good reads on almost everything. So instead fiddling around, have a look at the site for some ideas. Or, simply use a tape measure to measure the size you need, then use a pencil and a ruler to make the lines where they need to go. Then use your tile cutter. A lot of people like snippers, it almost looks like a very small thick pen. It has a blade that comes out that “scores” the line and allows you to literally crack the piece in half right on the line to create the perfect size you need. This will need to be done around weird angles, outlets, switch plates, etc.

Visual Aspects

At this point you should look at your wall and see an entire wall of subway tiles – 4 inches to 8 inches up your wall, 8 inches to 12 inches, or the entire wall – all three options have their own benefits and looks. Between each tile on its bottom, top, left and right side (depending on the area of the tile) you should see your spacers. Good? Okay, awesome.

Wait To Dry and Then Grout

Your mastic will most likely take about 24 hours to dry. Check the label to make sure. Once it's done drying you get to do the fun part. Take all of your spacers out. This is messy and at first, you might feel like you screwed up somewhere along the way, but just go with it. Take your grout and mix it up. Then, take your trowel and place that wet grout all over the wall, spreading it out evenly and pushing it into the spaces (where the spacers used to be) of the wall tiles. Again, it's probably going to look messy, but it’ll work out.

Once you’ve applied grout to all the tiles and gotten it all inside of the spaces, you need to take a sponge, dampened with warm water, and then wipe the wall down. This is going to get rid of the grout from the tiles. This will need to be done several times over.

Make sure that you keep the grout where it belongs, in the spaces. Next, use your grout sealer and place that all over the grout lines. If it gets on the tile, get it off asap because once it dries, it's really hard to get off and it will show up on the tiles.

Lastly, take your caulk, the color choice is yours, and place that on the line right above the counter space. And pretty much any other place you need to. The caulk does not go in grout lines. That’s a whole other project.

Now, you will be looking at a beautiful and flawless end result. Because, it adds color, style, and function. Can't ask for anything much easier than that.

Mary is the blogger behind Remakestyle. She is an environmentalist, freelance writer and future engineer working towards a sustainable future.