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DIY Backsplash Installation – ORC Week 5

Well, friends! We are almost there! It’s week 5 of the One Room Challenge and we’re finally feeling like we’re in the home stretch. I don’t know about you, but taking on certain DIY projects is really intimidating. At first doing a DIY backsplash installation seemed daunting and even impossible. But, this turned out to be one of the easiest upgrades!

One Room Challenge

Catch up on the rest of the challenge!

Week 1 – Before Photos and Design Plan

Week 2 – How to Remove Backsplash and Repair Drywall

Week 3 – The Power of Paint

Week 4 – How to Add Personality to a Space

What You’ll Need:

DIY backsplash

The Installation Steps:

  • Take sticky backing off of the Simple Mat sheet and place on wall. These are EXTREMELY sticky so make sure you place it where you want it from the beginning. You will not be able to remove and readjust with ease.
Tile Backsplash with Simple Mat

DIY tile installation
Easy DIY backsplash installation
  • Determine the pattern you would like to place your tile. (We played with them on the floor and tried several patterns before deciding to go a more modern route and do a vertical stack.)
  • Then remove the front film on the Simple Mat and begin placing your tile on the Simple Mat lightly, using your spacers. The Simple Mat is sticky to keep the tile in place but you do have some room to readjust and replace the individual tiles as needed.
subway tile backsplash
  • Continue placing your tile as you can and cut the tile appropriately at corners and edges.
  • To cut the tile, measure the size of the piece you will need, keeping the spacer width in mind.
  • Measure the tile and mark with a chalk pencil or marker.
  • Place the tile in the cutter and score the tile with the cutting wheel at least 3 times. (We found 3 times across with the scoring wheel was the perfect amount for our tile to get a clean edge.)
  • Once you have scored your tile, put down the snapping foot, apply pressure and snap the tile. This should provide a nice clean edge.
  • Then apply these smaller pieces to the Simple Mat using your spacers the same as you did previously.
Installing subway tile backsplash
  • Once all of your tile is in place and you are happy with the look, use a rubber grout float to push the tile in place on the Simple Mat. This essentially “locks” the tile in place.
  • Now you are ready for grout.

Side note: This is what is really great about Simple Mat. It is easy to work with and is not as messy as a thin set. And on top of that, you can move to the grouting stage right away. So for a smaller project like this, it was helpful to get all of it done in one day.

  • To apply the grout, use your plastic spackling knife to scoop the pre-mixed grout out of the container and onto the rubber grout float.
  • Hold the rubber grout float at a 45 degree angle to apply to the tile and to get into the spaces evenly and effectively.
  • Once you have a 2′ section grouted, take your rubber grout float at a 90 degree angle to scrape off the excess grout on the tile.
  • Now you can take a damp sponge (ring it out as much as possible) and slowly clean the surface of the tiles in a circular motion. You will likely have to change out the water often.
  • But don’t worry about getting it perfectly clean. In about 4 hours, your grout will be mostly set and you can come back with a damp cloth to finish cleaning the surface.

We also applied grout to the top and side edges of our backsplash. We found it helpful to put painter’s tape on the wall around the edge of the backsplash to help with the mess. Apply the grout here at a 45 degree angle as well and smooth in one stroke to create a clean edge. Once it’s dry, you can go back with a sanding block to clean up any small bumps.

how to install backsplash tile

And there you have it! A project that creates a big impact with only a few hours of work. Of course, you can apply this to larger spaces as well, which we will be doing in our kitchen eventually.

I hope you can use this simple DIY backsplash installation to customize your space and make it your own. If you do, please send me pictures! I’d love to see your projects!

And make sure to come back next week for the big reveal of our space and see hundreds of other inspiring spaces. It feels good to almost be in the final stage of styling and bringing the whole space together. (Not to mention to have our bathroom back!)

(Update: You can see the reveal here)

Happy Creating!


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