DIY tiled backsplash

I thought I would put some pictures up on the process behind the DIY tiled backsplash

in my kitchen-the one that barely cost me $8.00 and a couple of days.

I love the look the slate but in my restricted income-well that there was no income at that time basically, I had to get creative and do with what I could afford; and unfortunately a slate backsplash was not in my price bracket!

I purchased a bucket of “drywall compound”-you know the stuff you use to fill holes or smooth out uneven wall surfaces.  I also went to the local dump and picked up paint that I could either use as is or mix to create the faux slate.  Assuming you already have tape and a trowel, the only thing purchased was the drywall compound which came to just under $8.00 since the dump recycles the paint for free! (BIG happy face)

Step 1.  Our original backsplash did have tile already so we took it down. 

100_7524(Sorry for the messy BEFORE picture)

Step 2.  Using a trowel, I put a skim coat of drywall compound over the entire surface area where I wanted the tiles to be-it did not have to be smooth and “finished” looking as this is the coat that will be your “grout”.  Depending on the climate inside your home this could dry in a couple of hours or you can leave it overnight. 

Step 3.  Paint the skim coat whatever colour your want the grout to be.  One client wanted the grout to be the colour of the drywall compound so I skipped the painting stage.  In the case of this kitchen, the grout was going to be the wall colour-so a taupy, beigy, greeny, colour. 

(I mixed a pile of colours from the dump to get my wall colour so I cannot give you a formal name!

Hence; taupy, beigy, greeny) 

Step 4.  When the paint is dry, tape off the design you want.  Make sure you leave the end bits of tape overhanging in places so you have something to grab on to when you are ready to pull the tape off. 

I wanted a pattern but a large one and I wanted to transfer the pattern quickly so I drew my design on a piece of paper that fit in the space from under my cabinets to the top of the counter; the paper was approximately 16” x 16”, then I traced that pattern onto the wall using graphite transferring paper found at art stores.

Step 5.  I taped off the design with the 1/4” green tape. Apply a coat of drywall compound thicker than the original skim coat but not too thick or it will crack!  HINT: Let the trowel create dips and uneven surfaces because it will add to the illusion of real tile when you paint it.

100_3977(this is another kitchen with a simple tile pattern; basic squares with the skim coat over top the tape)

Wait for that layer of drywall to dry probably one night or one day and put on another layer.  When that layer is dry put on a third layer.  Let the texture build up each time to add to the illusion of real tiles.  Make sure each layer is not too thick or the drywall cracks as it dries but make it thick enough so there is texture.  (I would put one layer of drywall compound on in the morning and leave a fan on it and by dinner be able to put another coat over it and then the next morning put the last coat).

Step 6.  When the drywall compound is completely dry, paint the wall the base coat of your tile. 

Mine was dark charcoal grey.

100_1962(you can see the bits of tape hanging out the bottom so I have something to pull on when the paint is dry and I am ready to pull the tape off to create the grout lines)

Step7.  I added more paint in various colours to simulate the slate, charcoal grey, and the taupy, beigy, greeny from the walls.  Dry brushed on so the texture from the layered drywall compound would show up.

Step 8.  When the paint is dry, peal off the tape-slowly. 


It will not be perfect straight edged lines but that leads to a tumbled tile look.

I did not like how bright the grout looked so I continued to dry brush paint overtop of it, deep red and brown with the other above colours and got this;

100_2042So with a paint that was darker than the wall (that taupy, beigy, greeny colour mixed with the tile base coat of charcoal grey), and a finer paint brush I filled in the grout lines letting them be uneven so it would look realistic.  I removed the rest of the tape and filled in any space between my tile and counter with caulking.

Three coats of a varethane and I was done!

100_2052DSC_0294  Another clients backsplash in the same stages as above… 100_4029

Grout to be the same colour as the drywall compound, three skim coats on and tape taken off. 

Ready to be painted.

100_4032 100_4034

Layering of the paint to match the counter tops and existing decor of the kitchen.

100_4040Off white paint to lighten and pull out texture.


Close up detail of texture and finished product!

It does require time on your part but is easy on the pocket book!


This post is linked to:

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Gay Vaughan said…
Really nice...and your blog is beautiful. Thanks for linking. I will be featuring this!
stef said…
~Gay~, thank you so much-I'm new to the blogging world!
I have to say that is simply amazing! Great job!
Unknown said…
Wow, what an amazing transformation! I love love love how the 'slate' looks!
stef said…
Thanks so much! Very easy peasy to do too, all you need is time for the drywall to dry!
I love it, you are so talented!
Unknown said…
Wow! That looks amazing. You make it look easy.
stef said…
~Madigan~ it is easy,you just need time for it to dry that's all!
Anonymous said…
nice post. thanks.

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