Inspiration

Spicing Up Subway Tile

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Mid week greetings friends!  Today I bring you a topic we all love to chat about, home improvement that beautifies spaces!  I’ve invited contributing writer Liz from It’s Great to Be Home back to share her insight on spicing up a design classic: subway tile.   You all know Liz as a talented home remodeler, and she’s a wealth of information on everything from structural changes to cosmetic upgrades.  Please welcome back Liz!

“Hey there, peeps. Let’s talk tile today!  It seems that you can hardly look at a kitchen or bathroom in a design magazine or on without seeing subway tile. That little 3 x 6 inch white tile has a well-earned reputation for being the “little black dress” of tile – it goes with everything, never goes out of style, and can be dressed up or down. Sounds pretty great to me!

spice up subway tile

 

Traditionally, subway tile is installed in an offset brick pattern, end on end in staggered rows.

classic white kitchen

House and Home

 

classic subway tile in bathroom

Southern Living

 

While this is a timeless look, what do you do if you want to spice up your space with a fresh twist?   Here are six options!

1.   Changing the color of the grout that surrounds your subway tile is one option which makes a graphic statement. 

white kitchen backsplash gray grout

Veranda Interiors

 

gray grout white tile

Design*Sponge

Tip: Use a shade of gray for the grout – darker gray will have a more dramatic impact but will also highlight any imperfections in your tile job.  Avoid grout in shades of tan when working with subway tile – it will just look dirty.  (I may have learned this one the hard way!)

 

 

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Tiling Around a Window

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I showed up at the shelter kitchen we revealed earlier this week to make sure the mosaic tile backsplash was getting installed by a skilled volunteer, but unfortunately the tile guy never showed up.   We never got an explanation as to why he didn’t show, he just didn’t.  With an inspection looming, Warren (our partner at COTS) and I looked at each other and decided we would just get ‘er done ourselves that day.

Installing a tile backsplash is not difficult, and it involves following just a few steps from prepping the wall to applying the thin set adhesive, cutting and setting the tiles, and then grouting and sealing.  The more challenging part is tiling around a window with mesh tile so that the grid stays perfectly aligned.  At first glance you’d think it all lines up easily (basic math right?) but we learned that’s not the case – here’s how we got it just right.

tiling around a window

 

First, I’ll apologize for the quality of some of these in progress photos!  I had no idea on this day I’d be tiling when I showed up to the house so I didn’t bring my good camera.  Many are shot with a cell phone in bad light, but hopefully they will be illustrative.   The project took two days, with me working one side of the kitchen, Warren working on the other, and then we paired up to tackle the feature wall together.

There are plenty of detailed tutorials online for installing a simple glass mosaic tile backsplash, including this one from This Old House, but I’ll do a quick review.  What you’ll need:  paper or drop cloth to protect countertop, tile, thin set mortar, V notch trowel, tile saw, grout, grouting sponge, level, acrylic caulk.

First, prep your walls so they’re smooth and ready for tile and double check you have enough tile to complete the project.  (It’s good to have 10% more than your square footage for horizontal or mesh installation, more like 15-20% extra with diagonal installation due to all the cuts.)

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