Hello Herringbone!

See, the thing about me, I know what I like. That can lead to efficiencies. It can also lead to weekend long headaches for my dear, sweet husband. But in the end, I just can’t help that the good Lord made me one head strong, determined little lady 😉 Our kitchen was driving me batty, which turns me into bat woman, and bat woman is fierce. Like Sasha fierce, with a power tool. Be very afraid.

We had made some serious progress the past few days (i.e. here and here), but it was still very construction zone esq and I was ready as can be to have some lovely backsplash up so we could call this space good and done. Cue the headache for the hubby. Cause I knew what I wanted, and turns out, it’s a wee bit of a pain … Here is what the kitchen was looking like pre-backsplash. A little rough around the edges.

White Shaker Cabinets

Getting closer, with the cabinets and counters in, but still lacking some fundamental finishing details :)

Since we had already tackled this DIY project in the bathroom, I was mentally prepping him the week before that this was going to be e-asy. Walk in the park. Slice of pie. We can DO this, Jay! But, alas, each project has it’s own twists and turns, doesn’t it 😉 Before we get knee deep into this one, let’s get a good look at the before. Remember this kitchen?

Removing Kitchen Tile Backsplash

Unfortunately, it wasn’t really possible to repurpose the old tile, since we intended to wrap the pattern up around the window. Plus, the tile we had before had a green stripe through the middle we weren’t crazy about and it had a few spots where the tiles had been cut to fit cabinets before. Out to the trash pile it went.

Before we started laying the new pattern, we had some general housekeeping items to check off the list. Learning from past experiences, the smoother, and more consistent your wall is, the better your results will be. The last thing you want is a tile popping up because you didn’t prep the space properly. Although you can trouble shoot these areas to a certain extend as you go, it’s much easier to take care of them beforehand, when you don’t have a tile covered in mortar that you have to pop off. We just took a chisel and tapped away in areas that looked raised or particularly problematic.

How to prep wall for tile

To install the herringbone tile pattern, you want to essentially create the triangle shape below, over and over and over. You’ll see it in you’re sleep 😉 It’s best if you’re able to center the bottom triangle where you want the pattern to originate, we opted for directly behind the sink. Seemed like a good place to have the eye go to. Since we provided a step by step tutorial on herringbone install during our bathroom renovation post, here, I thought I’d focus a bit more on the unique challenges we came up against with this install for this post, which, unfortunately, were bountiful.

How to install herringbone tile pattern

Hard as you try, especially in an old house, there are going to be inconsistencies in your wall, leading to a pattern that doesn’t always match up the way you want it to. This was our first time wrapping around something (aka the window) where the tile had to match up on the other side. We kind of held our breath, and tried to be as meticulous as possible with each measurement, but much to our utter dismay, as we started to wrap around the window with the pattern, this happened.

See the difference in the gap! Eek! Panicked moments ensued.

Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Before we got to that point, we were just coming around the window, thinking that everything was peachy keen. Singing a song, bumbling along. As we inched closer and closer, it was pretty obvious that the space we had to fill, and the tiles we had to fill it, were not at all compatible. Freakity frack.

Installing Herringbone Tile

A la this photo. Oh. no. Do you see the gap there, not going to work Senor. It was about an inch. When you’re talking tile spacing, that is a lot. Never a good moment when you’ve been slaving for days. Oye.

Herringbone Tile Installation

Sadly, the only way to really fix it at this point, was to back track and remove a good chunk of the tiles from the wall. Whomp whomp. Our basic strategy was to come back through and kind of adjust the pattern by hand through sliding the tiles around so that the gap was at least a bit more spread out, vs. concentrated all in one place with one huge, 1 inch gap. Not the look we were going for.

It definitely wasn’t the perfect solution, but other than removing every single last tile, and starting from scratch, we kind of had to work with what we had. Plus, there was no guarantee that if we did that, that it would drastically improve our lot, given the possibility that an uneven wall surface or window surround (likely) were causing it. Obviously getting to this point in your install and having to turn around is a b-ummer.  But sometimes you just have to role with the punches, my friend.

Installing Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Overall, as we were finishing this wall, the side immediately to the right of the window was a bit of a problem child, but other than that, it was looking half decent. Half. Decent. Jay and I definitely notice it, but in all honesty, it really isn’t the end of the world, right?

Definitely a little more gap action than we’d normally go for, but by George, it was done. Plus, in an effort to minimize the glare of any of our mistakes, we opted to use a white grout, which will hopefully help those gap-a-rific areas, to be a bit less noticeable. Craft camouflage, following me?

Herringbone Subway Tile

For all the grief the sink side gave us, the backsplash behind the oven was a piece of cake. We worked together laying the tiles and in total, it took about an hour and a half. Wootie woooot!! I would slather up the tile and hand it off to Jay for placement, and help adjust each piece as we went. Cooperation makes it happen.

How to install subway tile

Before we knew it, we had this beautiful little backdrop, that was only in need of a few periphery cuts to get us donzo. Granted those take the longest, but we developed a pretty good rhythm by the end where Jay would measure and cut, while I would lay each tile in place.

Herringbone Tile Installation

With no obstacles, save the end of the pattern, we were able to get this side looking pretty swakified if I do say so myself. I pretty much want to kiss it every time I walk in the kitchen, bare minimum high five it. The grout lines feel a lot tighter on this side, which makes for a beautiful little backsplash. Since the space was so small behind the stove, it was pretty straight forward, and difficult to have enough deviation in the pattern that it would lead to a noticeable gap.

After a full weekend of slapping these tiles up, the hubster was one happy camper to smack that last bad boy on the wall. Done.

How to Install Subway Tile

Here is a sneak peak of how the oven side turned out. Fancy pantalones.

DIY Herringbone Backsplash

I gotta tell ya, this turned out beautiful once we added grout and sealed it. I’ll have all the after pictures in a kitchen reveal post, tomorrow, which will include a cost breakdown of how much this kitchen reno set us back. It’s going to be epic. :)

Check out lots of great other DIY projects over on Liz Marie’s Blog!

Liz Marie Blog

6 thoughts on “Hello Herringbone!

  1. Just found your blog post through Google.

    I have my heart set on herringbone tile as a backsplash but I was wondering how doable it was.

    Your post is very encouraging!

    May I ask what size the tiles are?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *