How to Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Installing a herringbone tile backsplash can add visual interest and elegance to your kitchen. With careful planning and some DIY skills, you can create this on-trend look in your own home. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you successfully tile a herringbone pattern backsplash.

Introduction to Herringbone Tile

Herringbone refers to a V-shaped tile pattern that resembles the bones of a fish. It’s created by setting rectangular tiles in an interlocking zigzag design. The tiles are placed at a 45-degree angle to each other, alternating their orientation from one row to the next.

This angled pattern instantly adds depth, dimension, and visual interest to any wall or floor. Herringbone backsplashes are currently very popular in kitchens and bathrooms thanks to their timeless, classic look. The segmented design also makes the space appear wider and longer compared to traditional horizontal or vertical tile layouts.

Benefits of a Herringbone Tile Backsplash

There are many advantages to choosing a herringbone backsplash tile for your kitchen remodel.

  • Visually Striking: The zigzag design catches the eye and adds flair to your cooking space. The pattern looks upscale and elegant.
  • Works with Any Tile: You can install rectangular, square, or even hexagonal tiles in a herringbone pattern. Mix colors or textures for added interest.
  • Versatile: Fits any kitchen style from modern and minimalist to traditional or farmhouse. Always looks classic and timeless.
  • Easy to Clean: Grout lines allow for simple cleaning compared to larger tile or stone slabs.
  • Can be DIY Installed: No need to hire a specialized tile installer. This is a DIY-friendly project for an intermediate DIYer.
  • Dimensional Appearance: The angled tiles make the backsplash and kitchen appear larger than it is.
  • Durable: Properly installed porcelain or ceramic tile backsplash will last for decades with minimal maintenance.

Planning Your Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Careful planning and preparation will ensure your herringbone backsplash installation goes smoothly. Keep the following tips in mind during the planning process:

Choose the Tile: Pick a tile that suits your kitchen’s overall style. Consider porcelain, ceramic, glass, or natural stone tiles. Opt for a rectangular size that is roughly twice as long as it is wide for easiest herringbone installation. Popular sizes are 2”x4”, 3”x6”, or 4”x8”.

Make a Layout: Map out the pattern and tile cuts on paper before installation day. Focus on ensuring even grout lines and proper tile alignment.

Measure Carefully: Measure the backsplash area and order 10-15% extra tile to account for cuts, waste, and future repairs. Measure from counter to cabinets.

Gather Tools and Materials: Make sure to have all necessary tools like a tile saw, notched trowel, grout float, spacers, tape, and safety equipment before starting.

Prep the Surface: Remove any old backsplash tile or wall covering. Clean and sand the surface then apply any needed drywall repairs or wall leveling.

Consider Accent Tiles: Adding different shaped or colored tiles at intervals adds interest. Common options are mosaic tiles or specific patterned shapes.

How to Install a Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Follow these step-by-step instructions for a successful DIY herringbone tile backsplash installation:

Step 1: Mark the Starting Point

  • Measure the length and height of your backsplash area.
  • Mark a vertical line near the center to divide the space in half. This will be your starting point.
  • Use a level to ensure your line is plumb. This helps keep tiles even on both sides.

Step 2: Prepare the Surface Area

  • Make sure the wall is clean, smooth, and dry. Repair any damage.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect the countertop and cabinets.
  • Apply thinset mortar adhesive using a notched trowel at a 45-degree angle.

Step 3: Install the First Tile

  • Begin in the middle of your start line, placing the first full tile with the wide side against the line.
  • Use tile spacers around each tile edge to account for grout lines and tile alignment.
  • Check that it is level and pressed firmly into the thinset adhesive.

Step 4: Build the First Row

  • Place the second tile below the first, rotated 90 degrees so tiles are oriented in opposite directions.
  • Continue alternating tile direction while working outwards in both directions from the center.
  • Use spacers to maintain even spacing between tiles as you build the row.

Step 5: Complete Rows Moving Outwards

  • Once your starting row is established, build the next row outward following the pattern.
  • Tiles should overlap the tiles below by half their length to maintain the zigzag design.
  • Repeat to complete each row across the entire backsplash area from center outward.

Step 6: Cut Border Tiles to Fit

  • Measure and cut any edge tiles needed to complete partial rows along the borders.
  • Use a wet saw for most accurate cuts. Grind the cut edge smooth.
  • Allow thinset to dry 24 hours before applying grout or moisture could discolor grout.

Step 7: Apply and Seal Grout

  • Mix grout according to package directions and apply over the tiles, pressing into joints.
  • Let dry slightly then use a damp sponge to clean excess grout off the tiles.
  • After grout dries fully, apply grout sealer to protect from moisture and staining.

And that’s it! Once grouted and sealed, your new herringbone backsplash is ready to enjoy. Take proper care of your tile backsplash and it will provide beauty and function for many years.

Tips for Achieving a Flawless Herringbone Pattern

Installing a herringbone backsplash requires careful tile laying to get clean lines and proper tile placement. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Work systematically outward from a center line. Don’t skip around.
  • Ensure tiles are fully pressed into the thinset adhesive to avoid slipping.
  • Use spacers religiously to maintain even grout line spacing of 1/8”.
  • Cut edge tiles should have no less than a 1/2 tile width piece.
  • Keep the rows straight, not sloped up or down. Use a level often.
  • Be extremely precise with measurements and 90-degree angle cuts.
  • Dry lay tiles on the floor first to ensure optimal fit before adhering.
  • Mix tiles from several boxes to blend any color/texture variations.

Taking it slow and steady leads to the most cohesive professional looking herringbone pattern.

Choosing Herringbone Backsplash Tile Materials

Many types of tile work well laid in a herringbone design. Consider one of these popular options for your kitchen backsplash.

Ceramic Tile

  • Budget-friendly option perfect for DIY projects
  • Available in tons of colors, finishes, shapes and patterns
  • Easy to cut using a wet saw or tile cutter tool
  • Scratch and stain resistant when sealed properly
  • Can be prone to cracks or chipping from impact

Porcelain Tile

  • Made from refined clay making it dense and impervious to moisture
  • Extremely durable and resistant to cracks, chips, and scratches
  • Available in matte, polished, or natural stone looks
  • Can imitate styles of stone, wood or cement
  • Cuts cleanly but requires a diamond blade wet saw

Glass Tile

  • Adds brilliant sheen and color to enhance a sleek modern kitchen
  • Naturally impervious to stains, mildew and moisture
  • Easy to wipe clean and keep sanitary
  • Cuts smoothly using a wet saw equipped with a glass blade
  • Prone to cracking or breaking if impacted

Natural Stone Tile

  • Elegant classic look of natural granite, marble or travertine
  • Each piece has unique veining and natural patterns
  • Can be stained or etched by acidic foods if not sealed
  • Requires cautious cleaning with pH neutral stone cleaners
  • Cuts cleanly with a wet saw using a diamond blade

Consider your own sense of style along with practical factors like budget, durability, and ease of cleaning when selecting materials. Many homeowners also opt to mix and match tile types or finishes for added flare.

Design Options for Herringbone Tile Layout

One benefit of herringbone tile is it offers endless possibilities for customized designs. Get creative with these popular layout options:

Classic Zigzag

The standard zigzag pattern is the most common herringbone style. It provides clean lines and seamless transitions between rows for a uniform look. Keep all tiles the same size and color for a classic backsplash.

Extended Zigzag

This layout uses longer rectangular tiles placed in the classic herringbone pattern. The elongated tiles make the zigzags more dramatic. Use tile twice as long as wide, like 2”x8” or 3”x12”.

Stacked Bond

Stacking identical tile widths creates stacked diagonal columns vs rows of zigzags. This works well with square tiles or mixing square and rectangular sizes.


For a bolder look, alternate the tile direction with each row, like a V or chevron shape. Every other row is oriented the same rather than alternating each tile.

Bands and Borders

Add stripes of complimentary tile periodically or border the entire backsplash perimeter. Contrasting colors, patterns, or finishes create defined bands within the herringbone design.


Use small square tiles to create a pinwheel effect. Squares spin out from a center point in place of offset zigzag rows.


The basketweave effect combines herringbone and a grid pattern. Rows of zigzags are intersected periodically with rows or columns of stacks.

Backsplash Areas to Highlight with a Herringbone Design

While herringbone tile brings visual interest to any wall space, certain backsplash locations make the most impact in your kitchen when tiled in this recognizable crisscross pattern.

Behind the Stove

This high-use zone benefits from the pattern and texture of herringbone tile. The color and design hide stains and are easy to clean.

Behind or Between Cabinets

Use herringbone only behind cabinets or alternating between them and open shelves. This allows you to highlight specific areas vs. the entire backsplash.

On the Hood or Vent Surround

Tiling the exhaust hood cover panel, sides or chimney in herringbone turns the utilitarian vent space into an eye-catching focal point.

Entire Wall of Backsplash

Covering the full backsplash wall from counter to ceiling in herringbone tile makes a bold statement and adds major visual impact.

Behind or Around a Sink Window

Framing a window above the sink is a smart way to only tile key areas but still enjoy the herringbone pattern as needed.

Tips for Grouting Herringbone Tile

Grouting completes a backsplash and herringbone pattern. Follow these tips for best grouting results:

  • Wait 24-48 hours after setting tile before grouting so thinset can fully cure and dry.
  • Use unsanded grout for tiles with narrow grout lines 1/8” or less. Use sanded grout for wider grout lines.
  • Apply grout by pressing firmly into the joints using a grout float or rubber grout float.
  • Let grout sit for 10-15 minutes before wiping away excess from tile. Use a damp sponge in a circular motion.
  • Once grout dries, use a soft cloth to buff and polish off any remaining haze on the tiles.
  • Seal grout once fully cured, usually 72 hours after application. This prevents staining or discoloration from moisture.
  • Grout sealing is required annually or biannually to maintain protection and keep grout clean.

Taking precautions when grouting and maintaining the grout seal afterward ensures your herringbone backsplash stays pristine and beautiful for years of everyday use.

FAQs About Installing a Herringbone Backsplash

Some common questions that arise about DIY installation of a herringbone backsplash include:

What thinset mortar is best for herringbone tile?

Use white thinset adhesive mortar intended for walls and porcelain or ceramic tile. Opt for one containing a latex additive for better adhesion and flexibility.

Can I use machine-made mosaic sheets for herringbone?

Yes, 12” x 12” mesh-backed mosaics work well installed in a herringbone pattern. The mesh backing creates easier installation.

How long does it take to install a herringbone backsplash?

Expect the installation to take 2-3 days total. One day for surface prep, one day for tile setting, and another day for grouting and sealing when tile thinset has cured.

What edge style should I choose for herringbone backsplash tile?

A pencil liner edge or squared edge has a clean, contemporary look. Beveled, rounded or cushioned edges provide a softer more organic style.

Should herringbone backsplash go to the ceiling?

This depends on your kitchen and personal preference, but often extending tile to the ceiling makes the biggest design impact.

Can I install herringbone tile on drywall or do I need backer board?

Cement backer board provides the most durable base for a tile backsplash. But you can apply tile directly to drywall if the surface is smooth and moisture resistant.

How do I cut the border tiles to fit?

Measure and mark each border tile independently. Use a wet saw fitted with the proper blade for your tile material for clean precise cuts around complex edges.


Installing a herringbone backsplash tile pattern provides visual flair and dimension to make your kitchen uniquely you. With clever planning to map out the precise zigzag design and proper preparation of the work surface, a DIYer with intermediate skills can achieve professional results. Invest time in careful measurement, precise cuts, and systematic installation to get clean lines and smooth transitions between tile rows. The effort pays off with a stunning, quality backsplash you’ll enjoy showing off and maintaining for decades to come.

How to Herringbone Tile Backsplash: An Extensive Overview

Herringbone tile backsplashes are a gorgeous addition to any kitchen. Their zigzag geometric pattern and dimensional shape bring visual flair unlike traditional subway tiles or stacked stone. While herringbone tile requires precision to install correctly, its striking appearance makes the careful effort well worth it for DIYers. This guide will provide an extensive overview on how to successfully design and install your own herringbone tile backsplash.

What is Herringbone Tile?

Herringbone refers to a distinctive V-shaped staggered brickwork pattern. The name comes from the herring fish’s bone structure and shape. Herringbone tile backsplashes utilize rectangular tiles placed in an interlocking zigzag design at 45 degree angles to create a signature crisscross look.

Unlike basketweave patterns or chevron designs which also utilize angled tiles, proper herringbone relies on offsetting rows to create seamless zigzags working out from a center point. The offset rows give an elongated, cohesive look compared to shifting tile direction each row.

The Appeal of Herringbone Backsplashes

There are several reasons why herringbone tile is a top choice for kitchen backsplashes:

  • Timeless and classic but also modern and on-trend
  • Dimensional appearance makes small spaces seem larger
  • Matches any decor from modern to farmhouse aesthetic
  • Brings visual interest to plain wall expanses
  • Unique geometric shape catches the eye
  • Easy to wipe down and keep clean compared to natural stone
  • Provides pattern and disguise flaws better than solid tiles
  • Allows for creative mixes of tile sizes, colors and textures

Design Considerations for Herringbone Tile

Success with a herringbone backsplash starts with thoughtful design planning. Keep these considerations in mind:

Tile Options

Herringbone patterns work best with rectangular tile shapes. Square and hexagon tiles can also create neat effects. Tile material choices include ceramic, porcelain, glass, or natural stone.

Tile Dimensions

Optimal herringbone uses rectangular tiles with a 1:2 width-to-height ratio. Common sizes are 2×4, 3×6, or 4×8 inches. Extended lengths like 2×12 inch work nicely too.

Grouting Considerations

Narrow grout lines of 1/16 or 1/8 inch keep the pattern seamless. Contrasting grout colors can accentuate the zigzag effect.

Creative Touches

Contemporary designs often incorporate decorative tiles or bands of complementary colors. Mix and match for added flair.

Layout Planning

Map out your tile placement and cuts accurately on grid paper before starting installation. Careful planning ensures an ideal layout.

How to Install a Herringbone Tile Backsplash

Installing herringbone tile backsplash is considered an intermediate skill DIY project, but with proper planning, tools and patience it can produce stunning professional-looking results. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Mark the Center Start Point

Measure the area and mark a center plumb line to begin tiling outward from in rows.

Step 2: Prepare and Level the Surface

Remove old backsplash tile or coverings. Make any wall repairs needed. Apply tile adhesive mortar.

Step 3: Set the First Tile

In the center of your line, set the first full tile with its wide side aligned with the center mark.

Step 4: Build Out the First Row

Place subsequent tiles moving outward, alternating their orientation in zigzag pattern.

Step 5 : Complete Rows Out From Center

Work in sections, building each row out from center until you reach the edges.

Step 6: Cut Perimeter Tiles

Make precise cuts to fit any edge tiles using a wet saw or tile cutter tool.

Step 7: Grout and Seal

After tile adhesive dries, grout the tiles and seal to protect from moisture and stains.

Key Installation Tips