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The Easiest Way to Tile a Backsplash

I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you have a tiling project you want to take on but don’t, because you’re unsure of yourself. I don’t blame you, there are a lot of steps…planning it out, mixing the thinset (mortar), applying the thinset, applying the tile, waiting for it to dry, grouting, sealing….

I have good news for you. You can tile a small area, like a backsplash, in a few hours WITHOUT wanting to rip your hair out or feeling completely lost.

How to tile the easy way...lots of time saving ideas!

 Here is the secret….

product that makes tiling super easy and fast

(If this feel like Deja vu it’s because I wrote an almost identical post when I tiled our other bathroom last year.)

This is a tile setting mat, you use it instead of thinset mortar to adhere your tiles to the wall. This saves you at least 24 hours and is super easy. Here is what it looks like close up…

Tile Setting Mat

To adhere it to your wall, you first cut it down to size, peel off the backing, and press it into place.

Use a tile setting mat instead in thinset mortar for quick and easy tiling

Be careful when applying and trying to get it into place, this stuff is crazy sticky. You don’t really get to mess up. After the mat is in place use your fist to rub it into the wall and make sure it will be there forever.

Then peel off the clear plastic on the mat, exposing the “honey strips” (as I like to call them). Then add your tile.

sticking tile to a tile mat

Press the tiles in firmly and keep going…

simple tiling

On a side note: Adam informed me that professional tilers always start in the center and work their way out. This ensures that the tiles not only match, but it also makes cutting the corners easier (less measuring). I just started on one side an worked my way across. It looks fine, but I thought I’d pass along that little morsel of tile knowledge just in case.

tile corners

Okay, now don’t freak out on me, but we used an electric tile saw to cut the tiles in the corner.

tile saw

There are a plenty of cheap non-electric options, like this super cheap tile scorer,  or this better one, or this larger non-handheld version. With all of these you basically just make a cut, (score the tile), then break it…wearing gloves and safety glasses if course. Don’t worry, it sounds scarier than it is.

After all your tile is in place it’s time to grout. I’m all about keeping it simple, so I buy pre-mixed grout.

pre-mixed grout

Spread and press the grout into the cracks using a grout float…but I don’t have a grout float so I mostly used my hands. Push it in the cracks really well so you don’t get air bubbles, then let set for a few minutes and wipe it away with a wet rag or sponge.


Pre-mixed grout comes in all different colors, I used tan because I already had it and thought it might look nice. But I didn’t like it…there are already more than enough lines in the bathroom and I wanted the grout lines to blend in. How do you do that? Let me introduce you to one of the best products EVER…

grout paint and sealer

Grout paint and sealer, together in one cheap bottle. If you have dirty old grout this stuff is magic. I own a couple of bottles and plan on Grout Renew-ing pretty much my entire house.

You just put a little paint on an old toothbrush, rub it into your grout, let it sit for a few seconds, then wipe it away with a dry towel.

paint and seal your grout in one easy step!

Next I added a bead of caulk around the bottom. I had tried grouting but it looked…not good, so I switched to caulk when I painted the grout.

caulking the tile

If you feel like your tile is a little lifeless and dull after installing you might want to use a grout haze remover to shine it up a bit, then give it a good coat of  sealer. (A reader said that plain vinegar works just as well as grout haze remover. Vinegar is awesome.)

grout haze remover and sealer

And there you have it…cheater tiling!

Tiling the easy way

lazy girl tiling - a tutorial


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  1. Ohhh this does look easy! Does it last as long as if you were just use the thinset?? I will have to store this little snippet of information in the back of my mind for my future projects! =]

    1. I think so. I heard about the tile setting mat from a contractor friend and have had zero issues with the backsplash I did last year. You can’t use them on floors, and I’m not sure I would feel totally comfortable using them in a shower even though the box says its fine.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t refer to the stuff on the tile setting mat as ‘honey strips’ again. I kind of liked that name. It perfectly describes them.

    1. Haha, I really didn’t think anyone would remember that! “Honey strips” is a good description, I think I’ll go back and add it.

  3. You didnt talk about cost. Ive seen something similar at lowes but it was really expensive. Do you think this cost most than using thinset would have?

    1. Using thinset would be cheaper….convenience always comes at a cost. A box of the the tile mat costs about $20 at Home Depot and I did both my bathroom backslashes with it.

  4. Thanks sooo much for sharing! I have some tile work in my near future and I will most certainly consider this product, pretty cool!

  5. DO NOT use a putty knife to do the grout! You will have air bubbles and it will not last nearly as long. Invest in a good grout float (they sell ones that have a pointed tip for small jobs like this). I have an extensive background of DIY with tile (over 2000 sq ft of tiling so far, floors, backsplashes and even a shower surround. You can use vinegar water to remove haze from tiles, no need to buy expensive stuff at the home improvement stores.

    Love the bathroom :)

    1. Good to know. I used the putty knife a little, but mostly my hands because it was easier and did a better job. And the vinegar thing doesn’t surprise me…I’ve never heard of using it for grout haze, but vinegar is pretty much amazing. I’ll update the post!

  6. Sounds interesting. I’ve never heard of this, but then again I’ve never tiled anything! I should imagine Home Depot carries it as well, seeing how we don’t have Lowe’s. Thanks for the info!

  7. What a smart product! I’ve done lots of tiling in the past couple of years – our kitchen, bathroom and even stone tile on the fireplace in our last house – and it would be nice not to have that whole step, the work and the mess, of thinset. I’m tiling a backsplash in our new, tiny kitchen next, so maybe I’ll see if I can find some of this.

    The bathroom looks great! It must be a good feeling to tick off another room. :)

  8. I’ve never heard of grout renew until now. Thai you for sharing. My bathroom tile is original and the grout looks awful… Now I know how to fix it. THANK YOU!!

  9. Now I would take on a tiling project. I have a small night stand that I picked up and would love to add a tile top to it where it was damaged. (yes, cheap pressed wood so it can’t easily be fixed). I really need some of that grout renew product. My apartment was built sometime in the 1940s, the tile work in the bathroom is original and not the prettiest there is. Does it come in colors as well?

  10. I used the tile setting mat when I put in a tile backsplash in my kitchen. It worked wonderfully! The only downsize is that you can’t use small tiles with it. Mine was a 1×1 stone and it was almost too small. Overall, it was extremely easy and has held up nicely.

  11. We used the mat yesterday when we tiled our backsplash in the kitchen and the wall in front of our bar stools. Soooo easy. Thanks for this post and the tips. They worked!!!!!

  12. What did you do to cap off the exposed tiles on the top? Caulking? Or is it just grout to seal the top layer? I’ve been looking for something to cap off the mesh tile backsplash I want to put in the bathroom. Something I can wipe easily to clean. I’m not a fan of an unfinished/ rough look. OH, and that will look ok with a granite counter top! I’m really regretting that we didn’t just have them make the backsplash from the same granite piece because I’m having such a hard time figuring out how to cap off the backsplash tile.

    1. I had the same issue, I didn’t know how to finish the exposed tops. I ended up carefully grouting it and it looks good, but it’s not something I can wipe easily to clean. If I was to do it again I think I would use caulk.

  13. here is a tip my contractor husband says that all DYI shows forget to tell you.VERY often your counter is not going to be level…sometimes its off by an inch from one side to the other.This will really make your tiles look awful.There is a lot involved in making a level line and tiling off of that and then using trim to cover the space that is “off”……..or tearing out cupboards and making them level.This problem is really bad if there is top cupboards that are also not level…the space in between counter and cupboards will not be square.The bottom line is…you can do this IF YOUR COUNTERS ARE LEVEL.
    Mine of course WERE NOT.ha ha Many older homes were never square! I made him put in moroccan lantern shaped tiles.NEVER try this as a DIY.I heard many bad words coming from my kitchen.:)

  14. how about wood tiles??? Home Depot website sells Toungue and groove
    Wood tiles online (Rustix Woodbrix) and it doesn’t need grout. Would the adhesive
    Work for wood??

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