How to Install Subway Tile Backsplash

How to Install Subway Tile Backsplash?

Many people are choosing subway tiles for the use of backsplash in their homes. They work great in kitchens, utility rooms, etc. And the best thing about subway tiles is that they tend to be very cheap but still retain good quality.

You, too, can have your subway tile backsplash installed all by yourself because it is such a simple process! All you will have to do is spend a few days on this, to see the job through and you'll end up with great results.

Learn the Installation Process

You may think that this sort of work will be tough and cumbersome for someone who is not a professional. People get a little scared of all the materials you would need to use and all the time needed to be spent on the installation.

But if you follow the steps given accordingly, and note down everything you will need, you can work quite efficiently. Even installing mosaic tiles in a shower won't be a problem.

Preparations Before Tiling

  • There are a few things you must do and steps you need to take before you start tiling. The first thing to do would, of course, be buying the tiles. It is not just about which tiles you want but the exact amount you will need. To decide that, you must take some measurements first.
  • Get a measuring tape and note down the length and width of the space you want to tile. Next, you will have to calculate the area, which is just the product of the two measurements.
  • You will also want to buy a few extra tiles, for emergencies. So, calculate 10% of the area you already have, and add it to the previous total. The new amount is what you will use to buy your tiles.
  • After purchasing the tiles of your choice, you will have to prepare your space for the tiling process. First and foremost, you must unscrew and remove all the switch and outlet covers from the wall.
  • Place these and the screws that come with them, in a bag, to screw back on after the work is done.
  • Next, measure out each of your tiles and decide on their placement on the wall. You can get a little creative here and come up with certain patterns for the tiles. This will also help you decide how many tiles need to be cut, as they may not all fit into the wall completely.
  • You can sketch out your design on the wall for further help, making sure you leave some space for the grout. But do not cut your tiles based on the sketch as a lot can change after you place the tiles.
  • Next, to protect your appliances and furniture from the dust and debris that are sure to fly about during your work, get plastic covers and cloths to cover them up. You can tape up these covers over surfaces you want to protect.
  • Cover up the edges of cabinets, windows and the bottoms of floors, to keep them from getting stained while you work. You can use painter’s tape for this.
  • To prepare the wall you want to tile, for the materials that will go on it, use 80-grit sand papers to smoothen out the surface. This little step will help make the tiles more durable to the wall’s surface.

Tiling the Wall

  • Next, you will need to apply adhesive to the wall, which comes in the form of mastic. You can buy premixed mastic, which will save you a lot of trouble. They are among the best tile adhesives in the market. With a trowel, apply mastic to a small portion of the wall, maybe just one row.
  • If you spread the mastic all over the wall first, the adhesive will start to dry, and the tiles won't stick to it too well. So, it is best to work in sections and spread the mastic as you go.
  • When enough mastic is spread over a spot, remove the excess with a v-notched trowel. Holding it at a 45-degree angle and sweeping it over the mastic gently, will help get rid of any excess adhesive. The grooves left behind by the trowel is great for holding the tiles firmly in place.
  • Move in sections and place the tiles on the freshly spread mastic. When one section is complete, you can spread more mastic over the next and continue. Remember that you must leave space between the tiles for grout, so attach 1/8 inch tile space in each gap.
  • While you are placing tiles on the walls, you will be able to decide exactly how much tile needs to be cut. Get the exact measurements, keeping in mind the space you must leave free and then cut your tiles. For this, you can use a wet saw or tile cutter. If you want to make holes, you must learn to drill tiles without breaking it.
  • When you are done tiling the whole wall, you will notice there is some mastic peeking through, between the tiles. Get a toothpick and carefully remove all the excess mastic from the tiled wall.
  • The tiles will now need to set before you continue with the rest of your work. Leave the wall to dry for about 24 hours, or at the least, 12 hours. Without some time to dry, placing the grout and caulk will damage the tiling. In that case, you need to remove the caulk and apply fresh ones.
  • Once the tiles are dry, it will be safe to remove the tile spacers from between them. This must be done before applying the grout, as the grout will fill up the spaces between the tiles. For a stubborn spacer, you can use a flathead screwdriver to gently poke it out.
  • You can either use pre-mixed or unmixed grout. For a DIY project like this, it is best to use premixed grout. Open the tub of grout 10-15 minutes before you apply it but don’t open it earlier than that, or you’ll risk drying it out.
  • Use a float to scoop out a good amount of grout and spread it all over the tiles. Try to focus on the gaps between the tiles, pushing the grout in, to fill them up. Do not apply grout in the spaces between window or cabinet edges and tiles.
  • When you are done spreading the grout all over, use the same float to scrape off the excess. Only leave grout in the gaps, and clean up the rest. You can reuse this same grout for another project. The process of grouting and regrouting your floors and walls should be done meticulously as any flaws will be apparent.
  • Next, get a tool with a rounded edge, like a pen, pencil or the float itself. Use the end to push the grout in, and shape it. This lets the grout spread out a little more and fill any remaining holes or pockets.
  • You want to remove all the excess grout there is. To clean the tiles further, get a sponge and some water. Sponge mops will do as well. Wet the sponge and scrub off any of the grout that remains. Rinse out your sponge often, as it will get dirty quickly. Keep following the steps of cleaning the grout from tiles.
  • The last step is applying caulk to the gaps between the tiles and edges of windows and cabinets. You will want to get a color of caulk that matches the grout and tiles. This product usually comes in guns, so spreading it is very easy.
  • Cover up the tiles and cabinets with tape, before you apply caulk. Once it has been spread into the gaps, use a tool like a pen or a pencil, to fix its shape. After you are done, take off the tapes and let it all sit for an hour or two.


Once you are done applying the caulk, your job is complete. The subway tile backsplash will be perfectly set and ready to use. So, there you have it! A very easy and useful DIY project you can do to improve your home. This will only take one or two trips to the hardware store and a few hours, to complete.

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