Kitchen Subway Tile Backsplash Ideas

I have another aspect of my kitchen makeover to share with you. It is about the fresh and clean white subway tile backsplash.

Kitchen subway tile backsplash makeover using whtie subway tiles and grout

After looking at a few different types and styles of white subway tiles, I decided to go with 3-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ size ceramic tiles in the color Imperial Blanco and white grout. I bought them at The Tile Shop. They cost a little more, but the Home Depot and Lowes near me only had smaller subway tiles and I liked the slightly larger size that The Tile Shop had in stock.

White cabinets, white tile and I even painted the countertop to resemble Carrara marble. I still have to caulk around the cooktop, but I will be sharing how I painted the counter next week.

After living with…

1970's kitchen before updating on a budget

…a brown kitchen for the last year, it is so refreshing to see bright and white on every surface now.

Tiling a kitchen backsplash

Tiling is not hard, but you do need the right tools and supplies. Having a wet saw is needed if you have to tile around outlets or windows. I didn’t have one, but a friend did and he cut 4 tiles for me to fit seamlessly around the outlets. I cut the rest using a simple tile cutter…

Tile cutter for the DIY'er

…that looks like this one.

Tiling a kitchen backsplash

I didn’t write a tutorial about how to tile, but did want to show you a little bit about the process. There are literally hundreds of great tutorials on YouTube that are better than I ever could create.

Tiling a kitchen backsplash-3

I started tiling from the bottom center of the backsplash and worked out to each side. I only needed to make cuts on the tiles at the end of each row.

Subway tile installation on a kitchen backsplash

Tile spacers and a bubble level are crucial to make sure you applying the tiles level and spaced evenly on each new row.

Kitchen makeover and backsplash

Once I had the tiles attached, they sat without any grout for a few weeks until I tiled the other side of the kitchen. Once all the tiles were up, I then grouted all of them using white grout.

Kitchen backsplash before adding white subway tiles

Here is what the backsplash and counter on the other side of the kitchen looked like before. There was a telephone jack on the left side of the backsplash that I removed and Spackled over.

White Subway tiles on kitchen backsplash

Here is the AFTER. Bye-bye brown….Hello updated and white!

I still need to caulk where the tiles meet the counter, but I am waiting to do it right after I finish painting the last section of counter this weekend.

The cost of the tiles and all the supplies I needed came to $267.37

Other Subway Tiles I Considered Using

Aspect Peel and Stick tiles

When I first started thinking about how I was going to makeover the kitchen, I was going to use Aspect Peel and Stick glass tiles in Frost. They are so pretty. They do need to be cut with a tile saw or cutter just like any other tile, but they don’t need any mortar or grout!

Aspect 3 x 6 glass subway tiles in Frost White

See the left tile above, I started to peel the paper backing off so you can see how easily these tiles are to install.

When I held them up on my backsplash however, the light in my kitchen made them have a slight grey tint that threw my plan for a bright white kitchen color scheme off.

I will be using them soon though, not in the kitchen, but in my laundry room… so stay tuned.

Aspect glass Subway tile color options

The Aspect Peel & Stick tiles come is a variety of colors and even matted mosaic.

Aspect metal and metallic Subway tile color options

I like the glass the best, but they also come in a few metals in a different colors and shapes from Subway, Square, Hex and Honeycomb.

Aspect peel and stick lightweight stone tile color options

They even come in stone!   The stone peel and stick tiles are the easiest to apply since they can be cut with heavy duty scissors or snips. No tile cutter or saw needed.

You can learn more about them on the Aspect Tile website. They are sold at Lowes and Home Depot.

Kitchen makeover - back splash ideas using subway tiles

I am truly loving my kitchen now :-)  Making it over by myself has been a long process, but worth the time and effort. I will post the tutorial on how I painted the counter to look like Carrara marble next week.

I will have to wait for Ed’s help to cut away the wood valance over the sink and hang a new light fixture. As soon as I get that done I will post all about it and then do a final Before and After.

If you have any questions about the subway tile backsplash or any part of the makeover, please leave it in the comments. I am sure I have left a few things out. :-)

Before and after DIY kitchen backsplash makeover using white subway tiles. You won't believe how the homeowner turned a dated and brown kitchen into a light and bright one on a dime.

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  1. Hi Diane
    You are Kitchen improvement champion and I have regular visitor your blog for new kitchen design and its improvement tips.

  2. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    It looks absolutely awesome. You outdid yourself with that counter top too.

  3. Mary Kaiser says:

    It looks beautiful. The old back splash looks like the old counter top material, did you have to remove what was on the back splash, or did you tile over it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Mary – Yes, you are correct. The backsplash was covered with the same Formica as the counters. I did not remove it since it was in good condition and solid on the wall, so I tiled right over it.

  4. Linda Weeks says:

    this is one of those ‘clean’ kitchens, so unlike mine. Looks great, and I wouldn’t be scared of eating anything you made in this place!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – :-)

  5. Centsational Girl says:

    Beautiful work and such a dramatic change!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kate – Thanks. It has been a big job since I am doing it myself. Now that I am getting close to the finish line and take a look around, it has been worth all the time and effort. XO

  6. Nice job! Looking forward to seeing how the peel and stick tiles work in your laundry room. You continue to inspire me! Thanks!!

  7. Beautiful! It looks amazing!

  8. Diane, you are amazing, and not scared to tackle any project.
    your kitchen is beautiful.

  9. Gail Vernali says:

    Diane, it all looks so lovely, an amazing transformation. Well worth all your sweat equity. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us.

  10. Elaine Williams says:

    Yay! More Kitchen! Beautiful! I love it! Too bad about the wall oven going up. I cannot get over the counter top! It looks fabulous. I like the open shelving concept – ala Martha Stewart but I think I’d have to put some frosted glass doors up – mainly because my kitchen shelves would look like a post rummage sale at a thrift store.

  11. Fantastic! I’ve never been brave enough to try tiling… the floor of our bathroom was a DIY project by our previous owner, and it’s all uneven and unprofessional, and I worry that mine would come out the same way. But you continue to provide inspiration for all of us – so maybe there’s a tiling project in my future! Your kitchen is just beautiful. Can’t wait to see how you painted the countertops.

  12. So far so good, Diane! It looks terrific & can’t wait to see the final job done. It looks so clean, crisp & white.

  13. Ashleigh Hall says:

    Diane!! YOU are so talented! What a fantastic job you’ve done, not only on your lovely kitchen but the rest of the house also. I have truly enjoyed watching and reading about your progress. Way to go!

  14. All i can say is “fabulous”.

  15. Jeanette @ snazzylittlethings says:

    What a gorgeous transformation, so bright and beautiful! I love white kitchens and always will!!

  16. It appears that by using the 3 1/2″ tiles you were able (lucky you) to not have to cut to fit at the underneath side of the upper cabinets. That had to be a big time and effort saver for you – and it’s not often that it works out that way. You indeed are very talented at DIY and have done a beautiful job throughout your home. I’m just beginning to update my little 1200 sq ft house and while my kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts are painted and ready to go, I still have to paint the cabinet boxes. The kitchen reno also involves floor, countertops, new sliding door (yikes) and backsplash. I’ve changed out vanities in the bathrooms but still need new toilets and new floors. Fortunately the rooms and woodwork have all been painted by my daughter and myself, but the floors will be replaced throughout the house and I’m not looking forward to that mess. Some I can do myself but some I will be hiring out since my 74 year old knees and shoulders just can’t do what they used to do. I look forward to more of your updates and so envy your lakeside location.

  17. Diane @ An Extraordinary Day says:

    You are my DIY hero!! Great job! What a wonderful bright and fresh spot to cook and work, Diane!

  18. Diane, you are simply AH-Mazing! It looks so nice and I know how much you are loving it.
    I like the subway tile look, but that stone is gorgeous. I wonder how well it works around stoves with all the grease splatters, etc?

  19. I can’t even believe that you have done this much.
    It is just incredibly beautiful!
    Well done.

  20. YOU are soooo talented Diane!!!!!
    Love it all.

  21. Oh, this is gorgeous! And you did a terrific job!

    I have always wanted a white kitchen – well, white and red actually – and I keep imagining my kitchen that bright and cheery. I want to do the lower cabinets with a true red and the uppers in white. You have given me new inspiration! :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julie – Red base cabinets and white uppers will look amazing! The hardest part about painting kitchen cabinets and updating the surfaces is getting started. Once you get it going, it does get easier.