How to Put Up Herringbone Backsplash

Installing a herringbone backsplash in your kitchen can add visual interest and give your space a modern, stylish look. While it requires some careful planning and precision, putting up a herringbone backsplash is a doable DIY project if you have basic tiling experience. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you install a beautiful herringbone backsplash in your kitchen.

Planning Your Herringbone Backsplash

Before starting installation, take the time to plan your backsplash design. Here are some tips for planning:

  • Measure the space where you want to install the backsplash and draw out a layout for the tile pattern. Herringbone patterns often start in the center and work outward.
  • Purchase the tiles. Make sure to buy 10-20% extra in case some tiles get damaged during installation. Tiles for herringbone patterns are often small, rectangular sizes like subway tile.
  • Choose your grout color. Contrasting grout can make the pattern stand out. White or gray grout is common with herringbone designs.
  • Gather your materials including tiles, thinset mortar, grout, grout sealer, tile spacers, tile cutter, etc. Having everything you need ahead of time makes installation smoother.

Preparing the Surface

Installing a backsplash starts with proper surface preparation:

  • Clean the wall so it is free of dirt, grease, and debris. Use a degreasing cleaner and rinse thoroughly. The tiles need a clean surface to adhere to.
  • Remove any old backsplash completely by scraping off the grout and pulling off the tiles.
  • Make repairs like fixing holes or cracks and smoothing uneven areas. The surface should be as even as possible for clean tile installation.
  • Paint the wall with primer if needed so the thinset mortar has something to grip to. Let primer dry completely.

Installing the Tile Backsplash

Once your surface is prepped, you’re ready to install the backsplash tiles:

Step 1: Plan Your Tile Layout

  • Dry fit your tiles on the countertop or floor to test the pattern and make sure you have the right amount of tiles.
  • Mark the center point on the wall and ensure the tiles will run level using a laser level or tiles spacers.

Step 2: Mix and Apply the Thinset Mortar

  • Mix the thinset mortar according to package directions. Apply it to the wall using a notched trowel to create ridges.

Step 3: Set the First Row of Tiles

  • Starting near the center point, set the first row of tiles against your level line. Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines.
  • Press tiles into the thinset and use a rubber grout float to embed them evenly. Check for level often.

Step 4: Complete the Herringbone Pattern

  • Once the first row is set, continue installing tiles row by row, using spacers to achieve the offset herringbone design.
  • Cut edge tiles to fit using a wet saw or tile cutter. Wipe away any thinset on tile faces with a damp cloth.

Step 5: Let Tiles Set 24 Hours

  • Allow tiles to set undisturbed for 24 hours. Mist them with water to prevent drying too fast. Don’t grout until the thinset has cured.

Step 6: Mix and Apply Grout

  • Follow package directions to mix grout. Apply it over the tiles using a rubber grout float or squeegee. Push it into joints.

Step 7: Clean Excess Grout

  • Let grout dry slightly and then wipe across tiles diagonally to remove excess. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Once clean, allow grout to dry another 24 hours. Use grout sealer to protect it from stains.

Tips for Achieving a Perfect Herringbone Pattern

Follow these tips when installing your herringbone backsplash:

  • Go slow and double check your layout often using spacers to maintain proper alignment.
  • Use a level frequently to ensure your rows are straight. This prevents sloping lines.
  • Be precise when cutting edge tiles to fit. Any uneven edges will be obvious.
  • Use a grout release product on tiles before grouting for easier cleanup.
  • Seal your grout once dry for maximum stain resistance and easier cleaning.

With careful planning and patience, you can install an eye-catching herringbone backsplash in your kitchen. The intricate pattern adds visual texture and sophistication to your space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Herringbone Backsplashes

How difficult is it to install a herringbone backsplash?

Installing a herringbone backsplash is intermediate in difficulty. It requires more precision than a basic tile backsplash but is manageable for a DIYer with some tiling experience. Taking it slow and using spacers is key.

What size tile works best?

Smaller tile sizes like 2×4 inch subway tile work best to achieve clean lines. Larger tiles make a herringbone pattern harder to install perfectly. Mosaic sheets also work well.

What thinset mortar is best?

Use a polymer-modified thinset for a strong, water-resistant bond on walls. Avoid multi-purpose products. An appropriate thinset like a polymer-modified one is critical.

Can you use different tile shapes?

It’s best to use rectangular or square tile. Dramatic shape variations make it hard to achieve clean grout lines and detract from the linear look.

Should grout lines match for herringbone?

Yes, keeping grout lines uniform in color and thickness enhances a herringbone backsplash and contributes to the orderly look.

Achieve a Stylish Look with a Herringbone Backsplash

With sharp geometric appeal, herringbone backsplashes make a dramatic design statement in kitchens or bathrooms. If tackling this DIY tiling project, be sure to carefully mark your layout, use quality materials, and take your time. The final result will be an eye-catching focal point that lifts your whole space. With precision and planning, you can install a showstopping herringbone backsplash like a pro.