Holly’s Kitchen Makeover: Adding a Backsplash {and tips for the first time tiler}

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash - Adding a Backsplash

We’ve been doing a kitchen makeover [I’m ecstatic, because I REALLY didn’t like my kitchen]!

Kitchen Makeover - Before

Here’s what it looked like BEFORE [above]; this is after a new window and after tearing off the old backsplash (which was the same material as the countertop).

PROGRESS: To date; we’ve painted walls, installed new window, built a frame around the window, and applied a countertop transformation kit (see details on that here).

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash

Now we’re installing a backsplash (I’m super excited for this part!). A backsplash can completely change the look and feel of a kitchen.

I love the look of white subway tile. I think it looks clean, fresh, timeless, and farmhouse-ish.

And, it’s one of the least expensive options available!

We used the sheets of tile rather than individual tiles because this is our FIRST TIME TILING!

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash

There are lots of tutorials for tiling a backsplash on Pinterest and YouTube, I recommend reading and watching a few of them before you get started so you’ll know what you’re in for and what products and supplies to purchase.

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash

I decided to use a darker grey grout because I wanted the individual tiles to stand out and give my kitchen a little more character. The color of grout is called Pearl Grey by MAPEI (I purchased it at Lowe’s). I actually think I may have liked it a tad bit darker better because I really liked the color when it was wet, but this color matches the little flecks of grey in my countertop and I’m happy with it.

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash

Here’s what the tile will look like with just the mortar (above). And here’s after being grouted and sealed (below)…

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash

So pretty huh!? Just wait until I have the caulking done and the outlet covers back on!

Note: we purchased caulking that is the same color as the grout.

Painted Cupboard Knobs by Creatively Living

After all said and done I noticed we didn’t have much wasted tile, so that was really awesome- I’d prepared for the worst I guess and was able to return 9 sheets of tile (yeah for cash back in my pocket!).

Tips for the first time tiler:

  1. If we can do it, you can too (this was our [me and my husband] first time tiling).
  2. Look through several tutorials (there are lots of great ones out there, so I’m not creating one for you).
  3. We did NOT use a tile saw! We used a Dremel tool with a tile saw blade on it (we didn’t have too many cuts to make). If a tile saw scares you then hopefully a Dremel tool will seem manageable. There are also a few other tools out there that score and break tile.
  4. Use the same or similar color of mortar as grout. We used a light mortar and a dark grout and wished we’d used a darker mortar since there were a few spots that were a pain to cover.
  5. Buy extra tile and supplies and return the unopened leftovers; there’s nothing like having to run to the store in the middle of a project (I was fortunate I got to return some supplies and get some $ back!).
  6. After paying for ALL the supplies: tile, spacers, mortar, grout, caulking, trowel, grout float, sponge, tile sealer, a couple five gallon buckets, and the spiral mixing arm; the cost was still under $200 (for approx 31 sq ft of space tiled).
  7. You can purchase premixed mortar and premixed grout; it’s more spendy. Don’t be afraid to mix it yourself, it’s not hard. It’ll save you $.
  8. I’d estimate it took 20 man hours to complete the labor; plan for at least that and be happy if it takes you less time.

Kitchen Makeover - Tiling Backsplash


Holly Creatively Living

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  1. You did a great job! I love that color grout with the white tile. I personally am not that great working with my hands, so I would probably get a professional to help me out. Great inspiration, thanks so much for sharing!

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