How to Install Herringbone Backsplash
Written by Milan Jara on 17th Nov 2022
Inexpensive herringbone tiles add dynamism to your kitchen and bathroom walls. Learn all the tips and tricks on how to install herringbone backsplash.
Herringbone backsplash protects your drywall from spills and conceals the unsightly light switches and electrical outlets. The fishbone-inspired tiles add elegance to a wall without the expensive price tag. However, the herringbone pattern has a reputation for being hard to install. Not anymore.
Our step-by-step guide imparts you with all the necessary skills to install a herringbone backsplash to spruce up your kitchen. If a herringbone tile layout is an idea you can get behind, this guide is for you.
How to Tile a Herringbone Pattern
The dynamism and versatility of herringbone tile make it a popular choice for homeowners seeking to make a room appear larger. Herringbone tiles work well in contemporary and modern kitchens, turning a bland-looking kitchen into an aesthetically pleasing one.
Herringbone backsplash installation may cost you an extra $2 to $4 per square foot in labor since the installation method varies from installing other backsplashes like faux tin. Knowing how to install them can save you a significant chunk of your home makeover budget.
Before you begin the installation, you need to shop for tiles and supplies.
The preliminary step is to select the best herringbone tiles for your home and tools. If you don't have a degree in decorating, you can't go wrong with the classic white tile backsplash. If you are toying with the idea of an open kitchen, consider iridescent marble tiles to add shimmer. The beauty of a herringbone backsplash is that you can change the color of the grout and come up with a completely different yet glam look. For extra inspo, check out this herringbone DIY project.
Measure the length and width of the wall to determine the approximate square feet of tiles you’ll need. As a general rule of thumb, always purchase 10% more tiles than you need to complete your backsplash.
Other supplies to shop for include:
- Tile cutter or tile saw
- Mortar or adhesive
- Combined square
- Pencil and pen
- Tile spacers (T-shaped and wedge spacers)
- Grout float
- Tape measure
Once you’ve got all your supplies, cover the area around your work space with plastic sheets and tape it off. You can use drop cloths or old rags as well. Use the following steps to lay a herringbone pattern.
Steps for Installing Herringbone Backsplash
1. Find the center point
Assuming you are going for a symmetrical herringbone pattern, which is the most aesthetically pleasing design, you will need to find the wall's center point. The center point will be your starting point in forming the zigzag pattern of the herringbone.
To find the center of the wall, measure the length using a tape measure and tie a string running vertically at the halfway point. Do the same for the width, this time tying a string that runs horizontally. Where the two strings meet is your intersection point.
An alternative method is to start on one corner of the wall and tile your way toward the window. Regardless of your method, you will still need the same number of tiles.
2. Lay the first tile
This is the most crucial step, as the first tile sets the pattern for the other tiles to follow. If you are tiling your wall, consider taping up your tiles or using a ledger board to prevent the tiles from slipping down.
Use a trowel to apply mortar or adhesive to the back of the tile. At the center point, place a combination square and obtain the 45-degree angle line. Place the tile such that one of its corners touches the line. If you have space, lay the tiles on the floor and do a mock layout to visualize how the first and adjacent tiles will slide into place.
3. Lay the other tiles
Lay the other tiles to complete the herringbone pattern. The adjacent tile should sit 90 degrees from the first tile. Lay about five tiles while using tape to hold them in place.
Install the tiles working your way upwards and outwards in a herringbone pattern from the center tile. Always finish one row before progressing up to the next. Use tile spacers to obtain equal spacing for the grout. For a quicker installation, apply the mortar or adhesive before installing a set of tiles. But do not apply the adhesive to an area larger than one square meter at a time. Tile adhesive dries quickly. We recommend water-based adhesives for the best results.
4. Cut and lay corner tiles
Corner tiles are the most difficult to work with. Using your tile cutter, make the marks on the tile where you cut, and slide the lever along the tile to guide the blade. Before cutting corners or tiles that bump into a wall or door abutment, counter-check your measurements.
The benefit of a herringbone pattern is that you can use the triangle and rectangular tile cuts in other places. If you purchase a herringbone backsplash tile pack with tile cuts, skip this step and lay them just like you did in step 3.
5. Apply grout
Once the adhesive dries and your herringbone pattern takes shape, use a grout float to apply grout evenly to the tile lines while removing the spacers. Sponge off any excess grout. You may use a different color for your grout to impart a unique finish.
Give the tiles a quick wipe with warm water and a sponge. You can now take your “after” pictures and marvel at your glam-looking herringbone backsplash.
Top Tips for Installing Herringbone Backsplash
Always start with the longest parallel wall in the room facing the window when laying your tiles in a herringbone pattern.
When installing herringbone tiles, consider using a slow-drying adhesive that will allow you to install the tiles slowly.
For an even cheaper installation, consider using tin backsplash tiles that you can lay in the herringbone pattern.
Use a spirit level after a couple of rows to ensure the tiles are plumb with the wall. However, you may notice slight errors if your wall isn't straight.
As a first-time installer, you may need a sealant around the trims toward the baseboard or crown molding.
Give your tiles a nice buff and clean up the following morning for a pristine look. You can also apply a grout protector to prevent reinstalling the grout every month.
Installing a herringbone backsplash doesn’t have to be rocket science. Using the above guide, you can tackle any vertical space and install herringbone backsplashes. Your kitchen, bathroom, and corridor deserve a new look for the winter; check out our catalog of tiles and backsplashes to create striking herringbone patterns.