DIY Subway Tile Backsplash

Dated: 04/28/2014

Views: 5906

Here's another guest post from my friend Ellen Mallernee Barnes, whose house in East Nashville's Cleveland Park has received another dose of her DIY TLC:

22 cents. That's how much it costs per tile to purchase the completely classic and yet completely on trend white subway tile. Since I was able to borrow tools to cut the tile, our white subway tile backsplash cost a total of $70. (It would have cost $300+ to hire a pro to do it.) Plus I will always remember this as a project that my husband Nekos and I pulled off together--and had fun pulling off together.

A month ago I knew nothing about working with tile. But when my mom was going to have her kitchen countertop tiled by our friend Bobby, she asked me to come over to help him. She knows I'm a sucker for all things home improvement, and learning to tile was on my to do list. Her countertop turned out beautifully, and while we completed it, Bobby taught me how to cut tile, how to lay it, and then, the next day, how to grout. 

Here's a picture from when we were working on my mom's countertop. My mom helped, too. It's one of the best times I've had with her in recent memory. Which is one of my very favorite things about DIY projects. Sure, it's nice to pay someone to do things for you, but when you do it yourself you create memories. And with every project, you put more of your heart and soul into your home. Then, suddenly, one day you turn around and your house is YOU. It's a beautiful thing. 


After we finished my mom's countertop, I borrowed Bobby's tools and took them home with me. That weekend I got started working on my backsplash. 

Here's what we needed to do our DIY white subway tile backsplash:

- 1.5 boxes of U.S Tile Snow White subway tile
- Grinder saw with diamond blade (borrowed)
- Tile cutter (borrowed)
- Tile nipper (borrowed)
- Notch trowel (borrowed)
- Bucket of tile adhesive (got leftovers from my mom)
- Bag of grout (got leftovers from my mom)
- Sealer (got leftovers from my mom)
- Drill bit for drilling through tile (we needed this for reinstalling some of the lightplates)

Here are just a couple photos of the beginning of the backsplash process:


I found this project surprisingly easy to tackle but also thought provoking, in that tiling is a lot like working a puzzle. 

And we love the fruits of our labor:


Until we can afford to update our countertop, my work here in the kitchen is done. 

To see some more of Ellen's progess in her kitchen, see when she painted her kitchen walls here and when she painted her cabinets here
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TJ Anderson

TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....

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