Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kitchen Backsplash Transformation

Look what a bit of paint and drywall compound can do!  I transformed my backsplash from stark white and burgundy tiles to a warmer tumbled stone look and I am quite happy with the results.   The original tiles measured 8" x 8" and were very ugly.  They looked like leftover tiles from a bathroom! 

This is how I created the look and, just a warning, when I undertook this project I had not idea that I would be sharing the process on a blog, so I didn't take many pictures of the process nor did I take any "befores".

Here's my "How-To":
1.  I washed the original tiles with T.S.P. all purpose cleaner to remove any dirt or grease and then I applied a good primer to the surface.

2.  I masked off each tile into four smaller tiles using 1/4" tape to create the grout lines.  I also created a border tile using the tape.  After the taping was complete, I started applying a thin layer of drywall compound using a spatula or putty knife.  I applied three coats, letting each coat dry completely before adding the next one.  After the final coat was dry, remove the tape and lightly sand the surface to remove any rough or raised edges.

3.  I wanted my border tile to have a design, so I drew a pattern and created a stencil.
**I'll share my stencil-making talent with you, but don't laugh.  I draw out my pattern/design onto regular white paper or kraft paper (whatever is handy) and then I cover the front and back of the paper with clear packing tape.  This kinda "laminates" the stencil and protects it from ripping, etc.  Once its all taped, I use an exacto knife to cut out the design. Voila!! A stencil!!**

4.  Now, apply your stencil to the tiles using a putty knife and drywall compound.  This can get quite messy!  Once, completely dry, again, lightly sand removing any sharp edges.

5.  Paint the entire surface with your basecoat color - mine was leftover wall paint in a light beige color.  Let dry.

6.  The I started adding a darker wash to the surface using more leftover latex paint thinned with water.  Just dip an old damp rag (t-shirts work well) into the paint mixture and start washing it onto the surface in a circular motion.  Keep working the paint into the grooves  until you are happy with the color. 

7.  I then added bits of highlights using a cream colored paint using a dampened seafoam sponge.  Again, just "play" with it until you are happy with the look.

8.  Finish by applying a coat of varathane in a gloss finish.  This gives the backspash durability.

This took me three days from start to finish.  I am very happy with the results and have actually fooled a few people who thought is was actual tile!  I did a fireplace makeover using a similar technique, which I will share with you in a later post.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me at

Thank you for stopping by.



  1. That is amazing! I thought it was real tile too! After you took the tape off did you fill in the grout lines with anything? I don't think I read that in the post. You should totally link this up at DIY Thrifty Thursday @
    Way to go girl!

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  3. I love how you did your backsplash,, it is gorgeous. I've also used the "stencil" method.. a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

  4. This is really fantastic!!! I really love it. How creative you are...I have seen a number of very unique backsplash ideas this weekend. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Love.This.
    Totally Awesome!! Looks wonderful!! Great Job!! Can you come do mine?? :-)

    Stacey at Embracing Change sent me the Versatile Blogger award and I'm sending it over to you! Please come visit my blog to get the details!

    Hugs ~~ Suz

  6. I just wanted to shoot you a message that DIY Thrifty Thursday @ is back up and running! I've got a cleaning/organizing linky up now, and DIY Thrifty Thursday will be up Thursday. Hope to see you back there again! :)

  7. NO WAY! It's so beautiful.... I have never seen this any other place - it looks awesome!!!!

  8. P.S. I featured this post on my facebook page

  9. I absolutely ADORE this! Being a faux-finish artist, I will be adding this to my 'try' list. Many thanks for sharing and great job!

  10. This is indeed beautiful work! Now that it's been a while, I was wondering - how has it stood up to wear and tear vs. regular tile?? Did the sealer work to keep out moisture etc?

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  12. I know it's been YEARS since you posted this, but I'm about to try a similar technique in my kitchen, so I have the same question as Qlaryx above--can you tell us how it has held up to moisture, etc?

  13. Hi Jessica,
    The backsplash has held up beautifully! You would not know that it was created with drywall compound. It has fooled many people! It resists moisture and it's very easy to wipe clean. Very durable. Lesa

  14. Hi!

    I hope you are still accepting comments. I think that these designs are great but you never get the full impact of the tile unless you physically touch it and see it live.

    Tiles truly can dynamically change a room and working with a local supplier is your best option.


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