I was so excited to share my DIY tile backsplash idea last week. This weekend I was able to give it a shot to see if it would actually work.
The verdict? Yes, I found a process that worked! But from an aesthetic standpoint, I’m kind of “meh” on it…
Here was my process.
First, I grabbed 12 of these $.16 tiles from Home Depot. Can we say CHEAP!?! The price alone made this solution attractive.
I also grabbed a $4 scrap piece of drywall (what they sell for patching) and all of the necessary tiling tools and supplies. Have I mentioned yet that I’ve never actually tiled a single thing in my life?
So anyways, I went ahead and added my thinset and set the tiles. I like tiny grout lines so I went with the smallest spacers Home Depot hadâ€”1/16″.
While the adhesive was setting up, I removed the spacers and started to assign different “methods” to each of the columns. This is a trial after all and I wanted to try a number of different options. My four methods were:
1.) No sanding, no primer, no topcoat (so essentially painting my Moroccan pattern right on the ceramic tile with no prep)
2.) Yes sending, no primer, no topcoat (painting right on the tile with a little bit of sanding prep)
3.) No sanding, yes primer, yes topcoat
4.) Yes sanding, yes primer, yes topcoat
Before I move on and show you the results, the first disappointment came when I noticed how ivory these “snow white” tiles actually are. The painted tiles are on the left two columns (painted the same color as my wallsâ€”Behr’s Ultra Pure White) and the right two columns are the natural tile.
I didn’t let the whole ivory thing deter me too much at this point. There was a good chance I wasn’t going to get away with no painted tile anyways to make this idea work.
From a finish standpoint, painted tile isn’t bad. It just looks like, ehrm, painted tile. You can mimic the sheen of a ceramic tile by using a semi-gloss paint but the smoothness of the ceramic is hard to replicate. No matter how smooth you get your painted tile, it will look differentâ€”a tiny bit more texture and a little bit more matte.
So, moving on, it was time to paint on the Moroccan pattern. Now, please do not judge the pattern in these photos. I did this very quickly with an oil-based paint pen. Obviously I would be using a stencil and a dabber for the real thing. I think this looks a little too homemade.
So sans grout, here is what the tiles are looking like at this stage. The painted tiles are much easier to draw on because they have some texture to grip on to. The ceramic tiles were much more fussyâ€”I tended to slip around on those pretty often. But in the end, as far as the painting goes, the result is pretty similar.
I will say the paint-less tiles looked the most authentic of the two. It helps tremendously that the tile in and of itself started from an unaltered state, unlike the top-coat-painted tile.
I let the tiles dry for about 24 hours and the next day, I grouted. I used a non-sanded grout as that’s what the container recommended for grout lines 1/8″ wide or less (and mine are 1/16″).
This is where certain methods started to go wrong.
This is a bad photo but take a look at the tiles with no primer (on the right). The paint started to chip immediately. I also noticed that my wet rag had black paint residue after wiping that side down.
This is probably all very confusing but this means method #1 and method #2 are out of the running. Chipped and bleeding paint is no good!
Now, the tiles on the left faired very well. The fact that I sanded one and not the other didn’t seem to matter. I rubbed on these pretty aggressively with the same rag and I did not get the same black paint residue as I did with the other tiles.
All of this to say, in order to pull this off, the tiles have to be primed and painted before stenciling with any type of pattern. Waiting to grout until the last minute worked well too.
I’m on the fence with all of this because I’m not sure I’m loving it. I worry the painted tile looks a littleÂ too DIYÂ if you know what I mean.
I’m going to noodle on this some more, rub the tile a couple more times and see where I net out.