A marble herringbone tile kitchen splashback from the 2015 Reno Rumble series.
A marble herringbone tile kitchen splashback from the 2015 Reno Rumble series. Photo Elizabeth Allnutt

DIY: How to tile your kitchen splashback

LAST week we ventured into kitchens; I could talk about them for a month.

We run our own cabinet-making business in south-east Queensland. I frequently get asked a number of questions, but one of the ones that sticks out is: What sort of splashback should I put in?

It's actually a hard question considering there are quite a few different solutions out there. Do you choose glass, tiles, engineered stone, granite, Laminex Metaline or even stainless steel? Do you opt for price over looks or vice versa?

You can have the best of both worlds with tiles.

Tiles have really made a come back in the last couple of years for two good reasons: they stand the test of time and it has to be the most inexpensive option, especially since you can do-it-yourself.

Tiled splashbacks also have the added benefit of choice. There's millions of different tile choices and several ways to lay them. Think herringbone, subway or straight lay, just to name a few.

We really love marble laid in herringbone, which probably has the same price tag as a glass splashback. If you are on a budget, straight lay is the easiest and a good place to start for first time tilers.


Tape measure  

fine felt tip pen  


4mm notched trowel  

tile cutter  

2 buckets



1.5mm spacers  

ready mixed tile adhesive


To work out how many square meters of tiles are required, multiply the length of the wall by the width and take the measurement with you to the tile shop.

Measure the size of your selected tiles. Measure the size of your spacers (we'll use a 1.5mm spacer). Now work out how many tiles will fit along the length, remembering that there is 1.5mm in between each tile. You can also have up to 4mm on either end as it can be caulked after finished.

As a rule, I like to keep my gaps at a 4mm maximum as you'll achieve a better finish. If you need to cut a tile to finish the run, work out where the cut will go. Stay clear of putting the cut tile in a door way where you stare at it as you walk into the kitchen. Hide it as best as possible, especially if it's only a small piece. Also check both ends of the wall with a spirit level. This will help as you start to lay as you may have to cut the first tile to suit the wall 4mm rule.


It is always a good idea to have a clean and tidy work area. Set all of your tools and materials on the bench, as well as a couple of rags and bucket. Tiling can get messy if you don't know what you're doing. Having everything on hand for a clean up is key to keeping calm. Nothing should be out of arm's reach.


Starting in your chosen corner, hold the tile upside down in one hand. Now using a 4mm notched trowel apply the adhesive to the entire tile. You should be able to see a lined affect with the glue on the tile. Now place the tile onto the wall firmly but not so the glue oozes out everywhere, just so it sticks. The suction from the adhesive will keep the tile on the wall. Now place two spacers between the tile and the benchtop at either end so it is sitting 1.5mm off the bench. That's your first tile down. Now repeat the same process and apply to the wall, this time as well as the bottom two spacers place two more in between the two tiles and gently push together. Run your hand over the join to see if it needs tweaking. The two tiles need to sit flush and smooth. Keep tiling until you get to the first cut.


Using your tape, measure the space between the last tile and the wall. Make sure you measure the top and the bottom as it may need to be an obscure cut. Now minus 1.5mm and 4mm off that measurement. This is the size we need to cut the tile. Make sure you mark the tile so that the cut is against the wall and not the joining tile.

Using a ruler and fine felt tip pen mark on the face your tile the measurement. Using your tile cutter (you can hire one of these from a tile or hardware shop), place the tile face up and do a test run. This means make sure the cutting wheel is going to run along your line. Now that it's lined up push down and pull firmly along the tile twice. Now return the handle to the top of the cutter and push down. It's a snap - your first cut tile. As a splashback is generally a small area, it's probably better to cut them as you need them. Now repeat the adhesive method and keep tiling.

Check out your tile shop for how to grout. It's easy.

Ayden and Jess Hogan were on The Block Triple Threat and won Reno Rumble in 2015. Follow them as they build their dream home on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AydenAndJess