How to Do Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Installing a herringbone tile backsplash can add visual interest and value to your kitchen. With some planning and the right tools, this eye-catching backsplash pattern is easy to achieve.

Choose the Tile

Herringbone patterns work best with rectangular tiles. Consider materials like:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Glass
  • Marble
  • Stone

Look for tiles with uniform sizes and straight edges for the cleanest lines. Tiles sized 2×4 inches or 3×6 inches are common.

For variety, use tiles with different textures, patterns, or colors. Contrasting grout lines will help define the herringbone design.

Calculate How Much Tile You Need

Measure the backsplash area to determine the square footage. Multiply the length times the height, excluding windows and other openings.

To find the number of tiles needed:

  • Divide the total square footage by the size of your tile.
  • Add 10% extra for cuts and waste.
  • Round up to the nearest full box for purchasing.

For example, if your backsplash is 120 square feet and your tile is 2×4 inches:

  • 120 sq ft / 0.667 sq ft (2×4 tile) = 180 tiles
  • Add 10% = 180 * 1.1 = 198 tiles
  • Round up to 200 tiles

Purchase accordingly for a sufficient amount.

Gather Tools and Materials

For installing a herringbone backsplash, you’ll need:


  • Tile cutter
  • Tile spacers
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Mixing bucket
  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, knee pads


  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Tile caulk

Other supplies:

  • Drop cloths
  • Rags
  • Sponges
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil

A wet saw is useful for intricate cuts but not essential. Having all tools and materials ready will make the installation process smooth.

Plan the Layout

Map out your herringbone tile pattern on paper to determine the optimal layout. This prevents surprises or mistakes once installing.

Consider where you want the pattern to begin and end. Many options exist:

  • Symmetrical: Equal on both ends. Provides the most uniform look.
  • Mirrored: Opposite on each end. Adds subtle interest.
  • Asymmetrical: Different on each side. Creates a random, artistic effect.

Mark a center line and build the pattern outwards from there. Make adjustments on paper before adhering any tile.

Prepare the Surface

Proper prep work ensures your backsplash tiles stick and last.

  1. Clean the backsplash area thoroughly. Remove any existing wallpaper, paint, grime, or oils.
  2. Fill any holes or damaged spots with spackle and sand smooth.
  3. Prime the surface with a bonding agent or primer to improve adhesion. Let dry completely.
  4. Apply redguard or a waterproofing membrane. This prevents moisture damage. Allow to cure according to product instructions.

The backsplash should now have a clean, dry, and stable surface for tiling onto.

Install the Tiles

Now comes the fun part – laying the tile in a herringbone pattern. Follow these steps:

  1. Dry fit tiles: Arrange tiles on the countertop in the pattern without adhesive. Confirm the layout and make adjustments as needed before installing.
  2. Apply adhesive: Use a notched trowel to spread thinset adhesive evenly across one section at a time.
  3. Set the tiles: Start with your center guideline. Set the first row of tiles in place, using spacers for even grout lines.
  4. Build out rows: Work methodically from the center, adding rows of tile building out the herringbone pattern.
  5. Cut border tiles: Measure and cut partial tiles as needed to fill the edges and complete the pattern.
  6. Grout the tiles: Let the adhesive fully cure first. Mix grout and apply it over the tiles, pushing into joints with a float. Wipe excess grout off the tile faces.
  7. Seal and finish: Once the grout dries, apply a grout sealer. Caulk perimeter edges. Polish for a gleaming backsplash.

Take care to work slowly and double check alignment often. This achieves the cleanest herringbone effect.

Troubleshooting Issues

Here are some common problems and solutions for herringbone tile backsplashes:

  • Tiles shifting: Allow adhesive to cure longer before grouting. Use plastic tile spacers to secure rows.
  • Grout cracking: Mix grout thoroughly and apply at proper consistency. Seal grout to protect from moisture damage.
  • Uneven rows: Use tile leveling systems to keep tiles in line. Verify surface is plumb and flat.
  • Misaligned pattern: Plan the layout carefully and dry fit first. Make adjustments and take time to install carefully.

With patience and proper technique, you can avoid these pitfalls for a flawless herringbone backsplash result.

Maintaining the Backsplash

Put your stylish new herringbone backsplash to the test. Follow these care tips to keep it looking beautiful:

  • Seal grout annually to protect from stains and moisture.
  • Clean with pH neutral cleaners to prevent discoloration. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Immediately wipe up spills and messes to prevent absorption.
  • Re-apply grout or caulk if joints crack or show gaps.
  • Limit direct sunlight exposure to prevent fading. Apply UV-protectant sealers if needed.
  • Consider protective covers when doing renovations to avoid damage.

Taking proper care will ensure your herringbone tile backsplash withstands everyday use for many years. With a little planning and effort, you can install this striking backsplash pattern successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size grout lines work best?

For a clean look, use a grout line width between 1/16” and 1/8”. Take the tile size into consideration.

What type of thinset should I use?

Use a polymer fortified thinset rated for wall and floor applications. This provides strength.

Can I do herringbone with natural stone?

Yes, materials like marble, travertine, or granite can work if you account for the thickness and pitting. Make adjustments to keep grout lines consistent.

What’s the best way to cut the border tiles?

Use a tile wet saw for intricate border cuts. Turn off the water and cut slowly for best results. Use an angle grinder for quick cuts.

Should herringbone go to the ceiling?

Not necessarily. Many designs stop at the top row of cabinets or counter height. Take your room height into account when planning.


A herringbone backsplash brings visual texture and interest to any kitchen. With a step-by-step process and careful planning, DIY installation is totally achievable. The end result is an eye-catching accent wall that immediately elevates your space with style and sophistication. With the right tools and techniques, you can feel proud showing off your new herringbone tile backsplash design.