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How These Homeowners DIYed Their Kitchen Backsplash For Only $90

30 October 2023 | BY

They decided to DIY it after regretting getting a glass kitchen backsplash.

Besides acting as a safeguard to keeping your kitchen free of cooking stains and oil splashes, the right kitchen backsplash can help take your home from bare to on point.

But not all reno decisions come out the way we want them to, and that was the predicament that homeowner Jolene faced, sharing that her glass kitchen backsplash was one of her biggest reno regrets. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and DIY a subway tile backsplash for only $90.

Treating their kitchen area as an evolving work-in-progress

kitchen areaImage credit: Jolene Chua

In their kitchen’s first design iteration, Jolene and her husband positioned a tall bar table against the empty wall opposite their built-in countertop. Given their kitchen’s considerable length, the couple assumed that a single row of built-in cabinetry spanning its entirety would be enough.

“However, after moving in and beginning to cook regularly, we quickly realised that we wanted a separate coffee counter that would free up space on the main cooking countertop,” Jolene said, adding that her coffee machine occupied an excessive amount of space on the main countertop.

new coffee counter area, complete with an open shelf and DIY kitchen backsplashJolene’s new coffee counter area, complete with an open shelf and DIY kitchen backsplash.
Image credit: Jolene Chua

As a result, the couple decided to replace the high bar table with an extra 1.8-metre coffee counter. “After it was installed, it was our new favourite space,” Jolene said, “but I felt like something was missing – the empty wall looked too bare. So in addition to installing an open shelf, I decided to DIY our own kitchen backsplash for fun.”

Giving their original glass backsplash a DIY upgrade

 Subway tile stickers pasted over the original glass backsplashSubway tile stickers pasted over the original glass backsplash.
Image credit: Jolene Chua

While Jolene and her husband initially took their contractor’s suggestion to install a standard glass backsplash without much consideration, the design choice quickly became one of Jolene’s biggest renovation regrets.

“After living in our home for a while, it became an eyesore – I really didn’t like the reflectiveness of the glass and the whole look of it and began to wish that I’d opted for a tile backsplash instead,” she shared.

coffee counterImage credit: Jolene Chua

Jolene’s choice to opt for a DIY route instead of getting a new backsplash installed professionally was based on its massive cost and while DIY-ing the backsplash proved to be more cost-effective, she also acknowledged the trade-off between saving money and investing her own time and effort.

That being said, the main reason for Jolene’s choice was the inconvenience of undergoing wet works whilst the couple was living in their home. “We didn’t want to go through the entire process of hacking away our current glass backsplash and installing new tiles,” she said. For the couple, avoiding the hassle of another renovation process was crucial.

Bought subway tile backsplash stickers for $90 on Amazon

subway tile backsplash stickersImage credit: Jolene Chua

After sieving through several options online, Jolene finally landed on subway tile backsplash stickers from Amazon. “I like that these ones had a bit of a 3D effect without looking tacky. Most importantly, they can be cleaned easily with just a quick wipe down,” she said.

Meanwhile, she added, “there are definitely a lot of cheaper printed peel-and-stick stickers such as Peranakan tile prints, but those are typically not 3D and tend to come across quite flat.”

The backsplash stickers came in peel-and-stick sheets measuring 30.5cm x 30.5cm. With each box of 10 sheets costing $42.60, the couple spent a total of just $85.20 on 2 boxes, which were sufficient for creating a backsplash that spanned the entirety of their 1.8m coffee counter.

Jolene even gave us a comprehensive breakdown of how to calculate the number of sticker sheets to buy:

  • Their coffee countertop measured exactly 180cm
  • For the length: 180 / 30.5cm = 6 sheets
  • For the height: 60 / 30.5cm = 2 sheets
  • Total sheets needed: 6 x 2 = 12 sheets (hence 2 boxes)

Backsplash installation & Jolene’s firsthand tips

Backsplash installationImage credit: Jolene Chua

Jolene explained that she first tested the subway tile stickers on her coffee counterside, applying the stickers directly onto the kitchen wall. “I was really pleased with the quality of the stickers and the end result, so I decided to order some more and “overlay” them on our existing glass backsplash on the other side of our kitchen,” she recalled.

Additionally, Jolene was thrilled to find that the glass backsplash was easier to work with. If a sheet was pasted slightly out of line, she could easily peel it off and reapply it. In contrast, the wall proved less forgiving as once the sheet was pasted, there was no room for adjustment, and attempting to remove it would just ruin the adhesive.

Backsplash installationClose-up of the DIY subway tile backsplash.
Image credit: Jolene Chua

The young homeowner shared that the most difficult part of the installation process was ensuring that each sticker sheet fitted seamlessly without any gaps. “My secret tip is to have a tube of white silicone on hand,” she shared, advising fellow homeowners to use the silicone to fill in the small gaps, much like how tilers use grouting between tiles for a flawless finish.

DIY kitchen backsplash for only $90

DIY kitchen backsplashImage credit: Jolene Chua

In hindsight, Jolene reflects that she would have definitely opted for a tile backsplash from the get-go. “But the reality is that we can’t go back in time, so this DIY backsplash was our next best option,” she rationalises, emphasising that she has no regrets about embarking on the DIY project.

Although Jolene personally found the process both fun and fulfilling, she understands that DIYs are not for everyone. “Looking back, it’s a bit of a luxury actually, because I don’t think I have the time to DIY something anymore,” she said.

other DIY projectsJolee’s other DIY projects include a gallery wall for her home office (left), and a DIY confetti sticker feature wall (right).
Image credit: Jolene Chua

“It’s great to make little tweaks here and there to optimise your home after living in it for a while, because you never fully know until you experience your daily life in it,” she concludes, adding a reminder to fellow aspiring DIY-ers that both patience and time are prerequisites for any DIY home improvement project.

Take a look at Jolene’s home design journey here @februarynest.

For more DIY home inspiration:

Cover image adapted from: Jolene Chua

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