Kitchen Diaries: Subway Tile Application Day 1

One of my home goals this year was to finish the kitchen. There’s wasn’t a major renovation planned just a few updates one of them being adding a backsplash. It didn’t take us very long to decide we wanted to use white subway tile in a basket weave pattern. But we struggled for months to find the time to actually complete the project. I knew I had to get an action plan together including a timeline. I gave myself until the end of February to finish the task and called my bestie S to the rescue.

Before I walk you through our process, I just want to make it clear – we are not professionals. We are learning to DIY basic home projects just like you guys are. I am sharing our experience. However, as with any project you tackle, you need to use common sense. Follow the directions and instructions given to you by professionals. In addition, follow the directions and instructions from the products you chose if you decide to Do It Yourself like we did.

I originally wanted to use this tile with a beveled edge. The size, shape, and price made it a great choice.


 But when we got to the home improvement store we found, these tiles.


They were a little smaller than I thought we would use but in the end they already had the mesh backing and spacing we needed which made it easier for us to hang.


The first thing we had to address was the electrical outlet. We turned off the power source and took off the outlet cover.


Because the tile was going to stick out of the wall we knew in advance we needed an outlet extender. We chose this one based on the recommendation of a friend.


They were really easy to install.


Once the outlets had been addressed, we moved on to the next step, which was how to adhere the tile to the wall. We found these tile setting mats called Simple Mats at our local home improvement store when we bought the tile. We’ve never used these mats before but we’ve never used tile adhesion either especially on such a large space. These mats were easier to use than expected. I had visions they might be like clear plastic wrap, my nemesis, but they weren’t at all.

Simple Mat - Tile Setting Mat

The great news is that these mats come in sheets so you can cut them to a custom fit. Following the product instructions on the back of the box, we cut around the adhesion dots to the differing sizes we needed. This was especially helpful around the electrical outlets and around the edges of the cabinets.


With the cuts in place, S carefully pulled off the back of the Simple Mat. These adhesion papers are double sided which means one side will adhere to the wall and one side will adhere to the tile. We made sure to smooth out air bubbles and creases.


Now we were ready to put the subway tiles in place. Once we had the tiles where we wanted them, we firmly pressed into place.


At this point, I figured we were rocking and rolling. I had grand plans. “We’re going to get this finished in time for a nice dinner out. I can’t wait to celebrate,” I exclaimed, high fiving S with broad faced grin. I was so excited.


Then we hit a little snag. A not so tiny snag that sidelined us. We had been using a tile cutter (Thanks, Uncle Rick) and it worked great as long as we were cutting the tiles vertically. But as soon as we started cutting the tiles horizontally, they began to break. Over and over again. They were just too small. To make matter even more complicated, we needed two different sizes of cut tile, which made adding a tile trim out of the question. It was after 7 pm when we headed back to the home improvement store. We hadn’t eaten dinner, we were totally frustrated and totally over this project. I’m not even playing when I tell you had it not been for the apple dumpling I all but inhaled at dinner I don’t think I would have made it through the night. We had had enough and this is how we left things.


See you guys back here tomorrow. We finished the backsplash and it’s beautiful.

Many blessings,


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  1. Oh my gosh…this is exciting! I appreciate the great tips…the outlet extenders and the sticky sheets are wonderful ideas. Can’t wait to see the finished beauty!

    1. The Simple Mat was definitely a game changer! It’s all coming together ladies and I am so excited. Hugs, Coco

  2. Liz Bonin says:

    Oh how I hate those types of project snags

    1. It was painful to waste so much time driving to the store, Liz. Oh, island life!

  3. Oh the joys of DIY! I’ve never seen those adhesive sheets before, so I’m excited to see how that works out. I’m also sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how everything works out! At least I hope it does!! Have a wonderful day sweet Coco!!

    1. So far so good, Iris! When we woke up the next day and there were no tiles on the floor we counted it as a success 🙂 Hope you have a happy day as well, hugs, Coco

  4. It is going to look so great! I love subway tile in a kitchen. What a nice update. We are in the same boat as far as no backsplash. I just can’t even think about it right now because I am knee deep in bedrooms. I can’t wait to see the change in your kitchen.


    1. It made a huge difference in the kitchen, Nancy, we love it already!

  5. Wow! This is going to look great!! I’m interested in knowing more about the tile adhesive. I had no idea there was such a thing. Now, I’m wishing I didn’t have beadboard backsplashes. This is beautiful!

    1. A beadboard backsplash was on the top of my list Angie! I bet yours looks really nice. Those Simple Mats where definitely a huge help and were much easier to use than we had anticipated.

  6. Coco, WOW you are so great to try and tackle a big project like that, I’d be a little nervous for sure. I love how it’s looking and I was cracking up when you got to the end of your story because that is how my things usually go, totally frustrated, another trip or two to Home Depot and then I get it figured out and end up LOVING it. Apple Pie always makes things better too….lol. Can’t wait to see it all done xoxo Lisa

    1. Ha ha Lisa, it was like hard times when I finally sat down to dinner. We were totally over it. It’s amazing what a little dessert and good nights sleep can do for your attitude 🙂

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