I am so happy to be sharing my first fully finished project since my surgery, this DIY Checkerboard Backsplash! I did this when I still wasn’t allowed to lift heavy things, but I was starting to get bored. So it was slow going, but it was all worth it because it turned out amazing!
If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember when I showed you the backsplash options for the kitchen downstairs. All the tile options were from Bedrosians Tile and Stone. I ended up choosing a combo of two of them: the Chloe tile, which were the glazed white and gray squares, in a checkerboard pattern. I have never seen these two colors combined as a backsplash with this pattern, so of course I needed to do it!
Step 1: Remove any existing backsplash.
I had the standard 4 inch backsplash that comes with the counter tops when they are installed. To cleanly remove mine, I used a razor blade, a putty knife, and a hammer. No damage to the wall here! Use the razor blade to cut the caulk, then use the putty knife and the hammer to pry the piece away from the wall. It should come off the wall pretty cleanly. You don’t want to use a crowbar because a crowbar will damage the drywall.
Step 2: Apply the adhesive backing to the wall.
Instead of using mortar, I used a super sticky adhesive backing, which was basically a glorified giant sticker. It’s a double sided adhesive that goes on the wall in place of grout, so it’s mess free! I applied all my pieces vertically, like you would wallpaper and left the backing on one side until I was ready to apply the tile.
My space isn’t a shower or waterproof area so I wasn’t too worried if I had small slivers between strips because I knew the tile would span it fine. Be sure to get the air bubbles out. And you can put this over painted or primed walls, just not drywall.
3 things to note when using sticker backing in place of mortar: peel the backing off of the Mussel Bound as you go for optimal stickiness, wet tile will not adhere, and it will stick to textured walls, but sample a small piece before committing just to be safe. For spacing, I just used the spacers that came with the Mussel Bound adhesive. It came with 3 sizes but I used the 1/16 for minimal grout lines.
Step 3: Check to see if your countertops are level.
My countertop on this side is level (I checked) so I used that as my guide. The counter top on the other side is not level though, so I used my laser level for that side and lined up the grout line with the laser level. It’s a good thing I chose to do this because the gap between the counter and the bottom of the tile nearly doubled as I went along the wall and installed. You won’t be able to tell once it’s grouted, but it would’ve definitely messed with my pattern.
Step 4: Lay out the pattern.
Before starting I always like to lay out my tiles to see where the small pieces go. There’s two general rules of thumb when laying out tile: start in the middle or start at a focal point. I chose to start in the corner, so I would have half pieces wrap my corners.
Step 5: Install the tile.
Once you have your pattern laid out, this diy checkerboard backsplash moves along pretty steadily. Just follow your pattern, use your spacers, and go for it!
Don’t forget to pop out your outlets to match your tile thickness. I use outlet extenders to bring the outlet out away from the wall a little bit so it ends up in front of the tile once the faces are put back on. You can watch this reel to see more on how I did that.
For easy, straight cuts I really do prefer to use my tile cutter instead of my tile saw. That way the tile doesn’t need any drying time after. Keep in mind this works great for straight cuts only, on tile or thin brick, not on mesh tiles or 3D tiles. For more complicated cuts, make a paper template and use a tile saw!
Step 6: Grout your tile.
Once all of your tile is applied, which if you have a lot of wall space to cover like me, might take a while, it’s time to grout! And you’d grout this like you would any tile. Grout, wait about 20-30 min, wipe down with a wet sponge.
Step 7: Caulk
After the grout is dry, next is to caulk the seam between the countertop and the bottom row of tiles. Not all caulk is made the same, so be sure to buy the one for kitchen and bath. It has a waterproofing agent so it won’t mold if it gets wet.
Voila! This DIY checkerboard backsplash is done and it turned out amazing. I absolutely love it! The dimension and fun it adds to the basement is so unique. And I’m so proud of myself for taking this on as my first project after my surgery. Stay tuned for next week’s post because I’ll have sources and links to share everything with you! But until then, take a look at a few of my other basement projects: DIY Asymmetrical Accent Wall, Budget Friendly Bathroom Makeover, and LVP Herringbone Floors & Basement Reveal.Add to favorites or read later