I love to work with wood. I’m comfortable making decisions when the design involves wood. For some reason I struggle with tile and textiles. I see so many beautiful designs and love them but making that final decision for my home is hard. I feel like wood is less expensive and can be taken down or fixed without as much headache. But tile is more permanent. At least it is in my brain. With wood I know I can add a different paint or treatment if the element is not working.
I really wanted to do a tile backsplash in my kitchen. I’m a little eclectic in my design choices. I like elements of different designs. My favorites would be traditional and farmhouse. There are elements of modern, rustic and industrial that I enjoy as well. When I walk through tile stores I have a hard time envisioning the small samples in my space. Or I have a vision of what I want but I’m not able to find it which is incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I don’t know what I want until I see it.
Trying to Decide
Just a couple miles from our home is the amazing store ‘Floor and Decor’. It is full of tile options for all areas of the home. I had looked at Home Depot and Lowe’s and a couple small shops and wasn’t able to find or make a decision about what I wanted. The first time I walked into Floor and Decor I was determined to find my backsplash design. I walked up and down the aisles for way too long. There are so many pretty options that it can be overwhelming.
I filled my cart with samples to bring home to get some advise from loved ones and to look at it in the space. I was leaning towards a traditional backsplash that would be classic and timeless. My cabinets are traditional so I wanted it to flow together.
I decided to mix a couple of design choices. I love the arabesque pattern and also the clean classy style of subway tile. To turn the subway tile into the farmhouse design you use a darker grout. I didn’t want to lean too heavily in the farmhouse design because my cupboards are not true shaker style. So I made the decision that white grout would work best for our home.
I decided to add some pretty grey arabesque tile behind the cooktop and marble subway tile everywhere else. I was nervous standing in line waiting to check out with the tile. It was a huge commitment for me. It felt so permanent. I chose the marble tile over a cheaper tile because I loved the sharp edges.
Here are the products needed to begin the installation. We picked up the tile mortar and spacers at Floor and Decor and used the tile knife we had at home from other projects.
We started with one row of subway marble so we could have the straight edge to rest the arabesque tile on. It also helped get it the proper height. It would have been easier to not have the arabesque feature but I was wanting to elevate the look.
The arabesque tile wasn’t an individual piece but a larger piece with a mesh back that you fit together. I thought it would be simple to put those pieces on the wall. It took a lot longer then expected. The original plan was to install everything in one day. Yet another example of me underestimating the time it takes to do a project. It took a lot of figuring trying to center the tiles and make it the proper size. Hanging the arabesque tile that was attached with a mesh backing was tricky to get the grout lines even. It was tricky because it kept moving around a bit. We were up fairly late getting the arabesque pieces installed.
A couple days after we had the arabesque tile installed we had the time to finish the subway. We got going Monday evening after work. We set the saw up outside and Monte started cutting. Monte did the cutting and measuring and I handled the installing. We spread some tile mortar on the wall then ‘butter’ the back of each tile to install. You don’t want to cover the whole space with mortar because it will dry out. We would spread just wider then a subway tile width onto the wall. If you do have issues with it drying out it is simple to scrape off with your tile knife. Subway tile installs fairly painlessly. Because of it’s shape and the straight cupboard edges you don’t need to worry about crazy angles.
I really enjoy the process of laying the tile. Backsplashes are not a huge space so it isn’t as overwhelming. You can really see your progress. Each row went up very quickly. Our son and daughter in law were living with us when we were working on the backsplash. My sweet daughter in law wanted to give it a try. I was happy to turn over the tools to her for a few minutes.
Monte got a little dirtier then normal cutting the tile. We purchased a new tile saw from Offer Up and didn’t realize until we were ready to use it that the spray guard was missing. Because we were set up and ready to go Monte worked without the spray guard. It was still safe he just dealt with water and dust spraying him.
I loved the way everything looked after all the tile was installed. It looked so clean and elegant.
We let the tile sit for 24 hours before we started grouting. Monte had a grout float but we grabbed a new sponge and white unsanded grout from Floor and Decor. I tried working with the grout but it requires a lot of muscle. My shoulders couldn’t handle the twisting so I turned it over to Monte and I did the washing off with the sponge. The grout went on fairly quickly but it does require a lot of washing. The fine particles from the grout just keeps showing up and when you have that cleaned up there is a ghosting on the tile that takes some work to get off.
Because I went with a marble tile the backsplash was a little more expensive then other options. This project came out to $400 for both tiles. I’m so happy with the way it looks and love the charm we were able to make and create in our home.