How to backsplash your kitchen with glass subway tile

I’m a firm believer in if you can do something yourself, don’t pay someone else to do it. Most of us are on a budget, right? And if I can backsplash my kitchen, anyone can. Plus, I’m an avid HGTV and DIY Network viewer and love to pretend to be a host in my spare time at home 😉 After watching an episode of Income Property, I thought – why not take a stab at this myself?

how-to-install-glass-subway-tile

Keep in mind, this is the most difficult, pain in the you know what backsplash I’m talking about here. Individual glass subway tiles. Not those big sheets with 10+ tiles already in them with the netted backing. I’m talking individual tiles. Laying them one by one. Spacing them out, one by one. Yeah… but again, trust me when I say you can also install individual glass subway tile in your kitchen… because I did it. (Note: We also got some new countertops right before we took on this home improvement renovation. Out previous countertops and backsplash were painted wood. Yes, painted wood glued above the cabinets and to the wall. Ew! Also, new countertops = new sink and faucet. We couldn’t splurge on new cabinets, so we just freshened them up with white paint and new hardware.)

hgtv-income-property

Now, back to the backsplash. Besides patience (and a good looking helper, AKA my husband) this is what you’ll need for glass subway tile backsplash:

installing-backsplash

  • Tile (Measure your wall and buy a little extra. Note: Glass tile is not easy to cut and it breaks easily)
  • Mortor or mastic (It’s what you put on the wall to stick the tile to)
  • Grout (Pick a color you like!)
  • Spacers (For me, the smaller the better. Thicker grout is kind-of outdated)
  • Wet saw (For the glass cutting. Note: Cutting a tile to fit around an outlet = challenging)
  • Trowel (This is the tool you use to apply the mortar or mastic, then the grout)
  • Sponge (To clean off the grout after applying it)
  • Sealer (To make sure your grout doesn’t stain)

Now, that you have what you need, this is how to backsplash your kitchen (or any other room) with glass subway tile:

subway-tile-in-the-kitchen

  1. Measure your wall. Multiply the width and height of the wall to get a square footage. The square footage determines how much tile you’ll need for the project. (Remember, buy more than what you need.)
  2. Organize your workspace. You can do this by pulling out your oven, removing outlet covers, taping off your countertop to protect it from debris, etc.
  3. Do a practice tile lay. We have a microwave in one corner, so since we knew that corner would be covered up, we started at the opposite end. (My recommendation is to start laying tile at the end that is more of a focal point so the lines look cleaner and more even.) Tip: For a clean start right, caulk a straight line where the wall meets the counter and smooth it out.
  4. Prepare your mortar or mastic. (It’s really just adding water and stirring.)
  5. Lay the tile. Ah, you’re really starting now! Start at one end, at the bottom just right above the counter, and apply the mortar or mastic to the wall. Put it on using the flat side of the trowel, but then turn the trowel to use the grooves to ensure you aren’t applying it too thick and evenly. (I think it works best if you hold it at a 45 degree angle.) After you get it on, place your glass tile over it and push firmly. Do it one more time right next to the tile you just did.
  6. Add tile spacers to keep the tiles lined up perfectly. (You can use a level to ensure they are straight, but if you use the countertop as a level, that should work too. It’s what I did.) Keep doing this until you reach an outlet or corner. When that happens…
  7. Cut the glass tile to go around the outlet or fit into the corner. (Do it slowly and carefully!) I measured and marked on the back of the tile where to cut.
  8. Let it dry. After you tiled your entire wall, or room, let it dry for 24 hours. (Since this was an off-and-on project for three weeks, not a problem!) Also, make sure it’s squeaky clean and there isn’t any mortar or mastic left on the tile.
  9. Prepare your grout. You will do this by just adding water and stirring, like you did with the mortar or mastic.
  10. Grout. Use the trowel to fill in the spaces with grout. Unlike the mortar, you don’t have to wait till this dries. You can wet your sponge and wipe off the excess in just a couple minutes. (I found it best to work in 2 feet x 2 feet sections.)
  11. Clean the edges. Some people buy another shape of tile to finish off the edges. I didn’t do that. I just ended it. (I think it looks more modern this way.) So, I just covered the visible edges with grout and smoothed it out.
  12. Seal the grout with a sealer to prevent it from staining.

Okay, looking back at everything I’ve just written, it sounds like a lot. It’s really not. And remember, this is the most time consuming kind-of tiling. While I think it looks beautiful, I think I’m going to go with the sheets next time. I love the look of glass subway tile, but it’s no walk in the park.

glass-subway-tile

Money saving tip: If you don’t have a ton of glass subway tile to buy, ask to visit the “back room” to check out what extras or almost out of stock tile costs. You can save big money this way. It’s the first place I stop!

Money making tip: If you have enough space in your home, consider using part of your home as an income property. It’s what the DIY Network’s Income Property is all about! Here are some pictures of other kitchens designed by host and licensed contractor Scott McGillivray. Income Property is premeiring with brand-new episodes on Thursday nights at 10:00 EST on the DIY Network. The episodes feature never-before seen makeover and reveals, great renovations, and tips for turning your home into an income property. Here are some pictures (courtesy of DIYNetwork.com) of what has been done on Income Property. (I love the rustic look! Next project.)

diy-scott-mcgillivray

hgtv-scott-mcgillivray

dig-income-property

hgtv-income-property

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DIYNetwork.com. The opinions and text are all mine.

About Mascara Maven and More

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I'm a blogger, media specialist, and most importantly... mother of two! I operate my own business, Media Maven, specializing in media relations, video production, writing, blogging, and event & on-air hosting.

19 Comments

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  1. Excellent work, maybe I can just hire you when want some tile work done!! 🙂

    Aubrey @ 53 Weeks / Reply
  2. I love your kitchen! Your tile looks great, it looks so nice with your countertop & cabinets. Must be a really nice space to cook and spend time in ?

    Cozetta Corbett / Reply
  3. Yes! I love this look, will have to come back to this when we get a house

    Hayli / Reply
  4. We didnt do our backsplash when we re did our kitchen since at the time we couldnt decide which tile we wanted.. now 2 years later it is still bare!! My hubby did the backsplash at our last home.. maybe I need to get on him about this one!

    Lauren / Reply
  5. Lovely work! Seems like it would be quite a undertaking- I always get nervous about projects of this scale.

    Erica / Reply
  6. Wow – you did an excellent job with this post. I love all the references and it turned out so professional. Made a world of difference.

    Vi Dotter / Reply
  7. Girlfriend you ROCKED it! This looks amazing! What a great makeover…I’m in awe!!

    Kristen / Reply
  8. OMG– That looks so good! 🙂 Congrats to you and your husband for that great project. Looks like a “real professional” did it! Awesome! YOU GUYS ROCK!

    Constance / Reply
  9. love me some DIY! love me some saving money too! looks fab!

    nicole / Reply
  10. One of the most important concepts is to have PATIENCE. Especially, when doing a task that you are not familiar with. Of course, having the proper tools can help as well, but it can be done by the DIY!

    Mike Belk / Reply
  11. Great info on the glass subway tile backsplash install. Time and patience and it really turned out awesome!

    Mike Belk / Reply

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