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Well, here we are! It’s week three of the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019, and I’m getting nervous about the timeline of my kitchen renovation. In week one, I showed off the before, in week two, I installed all the cabinet frames and faces, and now we’re moving towards the ‘finishing’ part of the renovation (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself while I cry looking at my to-do list).

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m Catherine Ballard, the author of DIY Without Fear. I have a deep love for power tools and pillows and spend way too much time at the home improvement store. Thanks for stopping by!

This week has a fun story. If you call speaking sharply gently communicating to your spouse while children are screaming the kids play peacefully fun.

(We’re fine! It was just a tense few moments)

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Dishwasher / Sink / Hardware

What am I talking about, you ask? This gorgeous sink. That was super on sale….and so the story begins.

The Tale of the Sink That Was ‘On Sale’

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She loved power tools and sawdust, and a lovely family she and her prince charming had created. Their home was lovely, but there was one problem. Her kitchen was falling apart.

Kitchen

The girl’s sink had been leaking for 20+ years, and the cabinets beneath were rotting. She and the prince vowed to fix it, so they saved their pennies. The girl vowed to never again have a sink that leaked, and found the best affordable under mount sink and faucet combination in all the land. If only she had known…

During Ye Olde One Room Challenge of Spring 2019, they started the renovation. The kitchen was carefully demolished, and slowly put back together. Then, one day, it was time to install the sink.

It was that day that the girl realized her under mount sink plan was cursed. She planned to route the laminate countertop from beneath and epoxy the sink into place, but her nightmares of a rotting kitchen made her question her plan.

So the prince whisked her and their two children off to the home improvement castle down the road. They found a beautiful, deep, single basin sink on sale and purchased it. The girl and her prince brought home their treasure and prepared the kitchen to install it.

Reality Check

And that’s where the fairy tale ended. See…the sink wasn’t ‘on sale’. It was damaged. It was an open box. Did anyone at the store mention that? Nope. Did the receipt say anything about it? Nope. Did I notice until after trying to install it? Nope.

Here’s the issue. The sink didn’t come with a template (which should have been sign #1 that I should have returned it), so I made my own. No big deal – just measure a few things, cut it out of cardboard, measure again, etc.

I triple checked all my measurements, cut the hole in the countertop, but it JUST. WOULDN’T. GO. IN. We later found out that was because the top left corner was bent, but at that point, there was nothing we could do since it had already partially clipped into place and wasn’t coming out.

Kitchen
You can kind of see the bend in this photo, but it’s tricky to capture.

When you’re installing a sink as a drop in, you have to use silicone to seal the edges, otherwise, your kitchen starts to rot after 20+ years of water damage (sound familiar?). There was silicone EVERYWHERE while we were trying to wrangle this beast into place.

So is this blog post about how to install a sink? HAHAHAHAHA. nope. It’s about managing your expectations with DIY and learning how to remove silicone caulk from countertops, brand new sinks, hair, nails, skin…the list is pretty endless, actually.

Sorry that I don’t have any pictures of the silicone massacre…I was too busy stress breathing to remember where my camera was.

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink

Here’s the end of the sink story – we wrestled it into place, caulked the absolute daylights out of it, and called it a day. It’s a functional sink that is still a HUGE improvement over our old one. My DIY gurus (Mom and Dad) reminded me that if this is the biggest thing that goes wrong in our renovation, that’s a GREAT thing.

How to Remove Silicone Caulk From…Everything.

Kitchen

If you ever find yourself in the same predicament I did, where your whole body is somehow covered in slimy, uber-sticky silicone caulk, I encourage you to avoid all of the ways I failed in trying to remove it:

  • Natural dish soap? Might as well have just been water. No effect.
  • Dawn dish soap (the kind they use to save wildlife with during oil spills)? No effect.
  • 91% Isopropyl alchohol? Minor help, but I couldn’t keep it on my hands long enough to really do anything.
  • Scraping my entire epidermis off – worked pretty well.

After I was clean enough to drive, I went to the store and picked up a few more things to try.

  • Pure Acetone – worked pretty well, but this stuff scares me to use on our countertops since it’s also what I use to dissolve my fake nails when I’m too cheap to have them professionally removed.
  • Goo Gone – worked once it was dry, but really only to loosen it. Left a shiny residue that I had to clean up.
  • Denatured Alcohol – the holy grail of removing silicone caulk.

The Sink Fully Installed

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink / Hardware

So, big dramatic story aside, I’m still in love. It’s beautiful, and checks everything on my wish list:

  • Single basin so I have lots of room for large pots and pans
  • One faucet hole so it’s easier to clean
  • Single drain so the garbage disposal is always available
  • Modern, clean look
Kitchen
You can kind of see the bend in the sink in this picture, but you can DEFINITELY see all the caulked we pumped in there to fix it.

And this big caulk dam on the side? I’m okay with it. It was a learning process, and it doesn’t affect the functionality of the sink at all. If it was on the other side (where most of the countertop is), I probably would replace it, but time is precious around here and mama doesn’t have time to re-do everything when there’s still SO MUCH TO BE DONE.

Installing The Faucet

Kitchen
Faucet / Cabinets / Sink

Guys…if I could tell you to RUN to Amazon to buy this faucet, I would. But they don’t have brick and mortar stores so I’ll just give you a link. It was incredibly affordable, a breeze to install, and packaged like it cost 5x what it actually did.

It has a retractable sprayer, single lever that controls both hot and cold, weighted recoil system to make sure the sprayer goes back easily, and…well I just love it. I can’t wait to turn it on for the first time (we still have to hook up all the plumbing, since I didn’t have the energy to be under the sink this week after fighting with silicone)

Installing Hardware

Something that went really well this week was installing all the hardware on the lower cabinets. Thanks to a little trick that I shared in Fearless Weekly (my email newsletter), they were all measured, marked, drilled, and installed in under an hour with no mistakes. If you want in on those tips, just sign up right here!

Kitchen
FCabinets / Hardware

I love how they turned out. The extra long handles are a way to make the kitchen look a lot more expensive than it really is. Can you believe that hardware was $5.50 each? Handles that long usually go for $20-$30, if not more.

Kitchen

There’s still so much to do. I’m heading back to the home improvement store this afternoon to pick up paint for the pantry door and new window treatments, and when we get home I’m installing toe kicks. Hopefully I can get it all done by the reveal date!

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 3 Kitchen Progress Check-In

  • Install brand new cabinetry (mostly done, except for the uppers)
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby (mostly done)
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an under mount sink with our laminate countertops (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls (Done!)
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way

PS: Wanna catch up on the rest of the renovation? You can check out the other weeks here:

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 3: Caulk and Cabinet Pulls

Kitchen

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Hello again, friends! It’s week two of the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019, and I’m slowly chipping away at renovating my kitchen. In week one, I showed off the befores, and then got straight to work (there is SO much to do!)

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

If you’re new here, welcome!

I’m Catherine Ballard, the author of DIY Without Fear. I have a deep love for power tools and pillows and spend way too much time at the home improvement store. Thanks for stopping by!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

I can hardly believe it, but we’re already in week two (check out week one here)! As a reminder, here’s how the room looked before we started.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The Floor Plan

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

We’ve already re-wired the hallway, moved the plumbing, and (very badly) installed the new drywall. Well, mostly.

Problems in drywall-land.

Removing the soffit left us with this mess.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Before we started demo-ing, we peeked into the soffit. I didn’t see anything, so we went ahead and ripped it out. Now I wish I had looked a little harder.

I assumed the vent would stay in the wall and go directly outside, but it takes a hard turn back into the kitchen before making it’s final exit.

I was pretty bummed when I saw it, but we’d already removed the soffit, so I went to plan B. I’m actually going to be building custom cabinetry out of IKEA parts around this silver beauty, so stay tuned for that.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Anyway, there are a few things we need to do to finish the drywall around the soffit, but I NEEDED counter space first. It’s a proven fact that moms can only live through kitchen renovations for so long without countertops before they spontaneously combust.

Assembling the Frames

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

To save the fire department a trip, we first assembled all the cabinet frames – these are the SEKTION part that hold all your doors, drawers, shelves…the fun stuff! They aren’t hard to put together, and once you get in a groove, they fly. (PS: I love Ikea’s railing system. It makes hanging cabinets so easy.)

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Once the SEKTION frames were installed, I really got to see the shape of my new kitchen. And I’m elated with how good it looks. I can already tell moving the sink was SUCH a good decision.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Installing The Frames

Part of the installation process is to screw neighbor cabinets together. Which always makes me nervous (don’t even get me started on installing hardware), since there’s no going back once you screw through particleboard. But we got it done, and they feel SECURE. These puppies aren’t going anywhere.

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The day we moved the dishwasher back? I celebrated. I even posted on Instagram about it. Is it hooked up to water? Nope. But I don’t care. It’s (finally) out of my dining room!

We did goof up a little in our excitement though, and forgot to drill a hole for the power cord. But one session with a spade bit later, and that problem was solved.

Installing The Drawers

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Over the course of three or four days, I put together and installed ALL those drawers. (The one room challenge really does light a fire under your butt!) Regular lower cabinets are usually just a standard door/shelf combo, but I hate digging around to try and find something. Drawers just make it so much easier.

It was definitely more expensive to go the all-drawer route, but I’ll get 1000% more use out of them this way. We even slapped a countertop on, though it isn’t secured to anything yet (mostly because I was about 2 hours away from spontaneously combusting).

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

The other side of the kitchen is looking pretty good, too. The drawers are organized, and the shelves have been cleaned up. I wish we could replace our fridge with a counter depth one, but it’s not in the budget right now.

Organizing

‘Moving’ into the drawers feels sooooooooo good. I’d never invested in real organizers for our original kitchen since I knew we would replace the cabinets someday. BUT THAT DAY IS HERE, BABY. And I’m elated. I mean, look how great my plates look all organized!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

Up next is to finish installing all the cabinet pulls, actually install the countertop, and figure out how to make an under mount sink work with our laminate. Wish me luck (that’s a lot of pulls to install)!

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week Two Kitchen Progress Check-In

  • Install brand new cabinetry (kinda halfway done)
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby (mostly done)
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an under mount sink with our laminate countertops (stay tuned for that one!)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls (getting there)
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way

Seeing that big to-do list has me nervous. Hopefully, I can pull it off! If you’ve done the ORC before, leave me a comment with some advice! I’ll need all the help I can get!

PS: If you want more of the nitty-gritty day to day of my kitchen renovation for the One Room Challenge (spring 2019 edition), come and follow me on Instagram stories! I’d love to chat with you!

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 2: Cabinet Installation

It's time for a week two check in on my One Room Challenge Spring 2019 kitchen renovation. The kitchen has been a fun project, and it's really coming along. We installed cabinets this week - come see! It isn't a before and after yet, but we'll be there soon! #diywithoutfear # #kitchen #renovation #oneroomchallenge #kitchenremodelideas

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I’m participating in the One Room Challenge for Spring 2019 by renovating our kitchen! The ORC is a bi-annual 6-week intensive renovation that takes a room from start to finish. Bloggers from all over the world participate. 20 designers are chosen to be featured designers, along with guest participants like me. The Spring 2019 challenge will be my first time, and I’m PUMPED!

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Guest Participant Logo

And in case you’re new here – welcome! I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m Catherine, the voice behind DIY Without Fear. Just like you, I love sinking my teeth into a new home project, dream about knocking down all.the.walls. and spending WAY too much time looking at homes I can’t afford on Pinterest. I consider it my mission to help other homeowners DIY without fear – you can achieve anything you set your mind to! I’ve tackled some majorly big projects so far in my quest to fix up our fixer upper, and I can’t wait to tackle even more!

Because it’s such an intensive renovation over such a short time period, my posts will be once a week for the next six weeks. That’s the only way I can complete everything on my to-do list. Check back every Wednesday for an update! And I bet you can already guess what room I’m doing – our kitchen.

The Layout and Problems

The layout is terrible and is one of the largest reasons we’re diving into this renovation. The builder squeezed everything into one side of the kitchen, making it seems way smaller than it actually is. The second part of the gif is the new layout.

Old and new kitchen layout gif

Just to give you an idea of where our kitchen started, here are 10 of my biggest gripes.

  1. The faucet on the sink was broken and didn’t swing back and forth properly (and leaks).
  2. The sink was scratched something fierce, and the right bowl’s plumbing putty was disintegrating.
  3. The original laminate countertop had a big hole in it.
  4. The contact paper that we slapped on top of the countertop to hide the holes was peeling.
  5. The countertop near the wet areas was disintegrating.
  6. The cabinets were incredibly hard to open.
  7. The cabinets had been cleaned so many times that you can actually see the particleboard underneath because the finish is gone.
  8. Our microwave sounded like an AT-AT coming in to annihilate rebels.
  9. Most of the cabinets on the window wall were rotting and covered with mold.
  10. The layout is terrible. It’s like half of our kitchen is unusable.

Before Photos

It’s a fairly large sized kitchen, and the usability will be greatly improved with the new layout. There are two square(ish) windows on the exterior wall of the kitchen, and we’re moving the sink to give us more prep space next to the range.

Kitchen before picture with two windows and a moveable island

To the right of that exterior wall is our cooking area – see how cramped it is? I’m really looking forward to actually having prep space when this renovation is said and done.

Kitchen before picture showing moveable island and a stove/microwave unit

The wall directly across from the one with the windows is new. My husband and I framed it out, drywalled it, threw a few cabinets up, and finished tiling prior to the ORC since I knew we’d still need a place to prepare meals and store all our stuff once everything was demolished. As a family with two under two, there is just no way we could function with a completely gutted kitchen!

As for the rest of the room, we’ve already demoed the tile and cabinets, moved the sink, rewired everything, framed and drywalled a new wall, and built out the refrigerator wall. In other words, I already took care of the structural, plumbing, and electrical stuff. That’s not what you’re here to see in the ORC – it’s all the pretty design stuff and the things in front of the drywall!

Inspiration

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to talk the pretty stuff. In keeping with the style we’ve developed throughout our suburban neo-colonial(ish) home, I’m incorporating lots of neutrals, traditional shaker cabinet fronts, matte black fixtures to keep it current, and some raw steel elements as well to give it some edge. To give you an idea of what the finished space will look like, here are a few inspiration pictures.

I love the open shelving from Studio McGee in the first photo. And that herringbone in the second from Okayest Moms? Gorgeous. Jenna’s kitchen has an absolutely beautiful pairing of traditional shaker cabinets with modern pulls – the best of both worlds.

Final Selections

While I would LOVE to have the funds or sponsorships that the featured designers for the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge do, our kitchen is going to be on a budget. I’m actually hoping I can pull it all off for less than $10,000 by doing almost all the labor ourselves. Here’s a roundup of the final sources.

Mood board for an affordable IKEA kitchen
  1. I’m using the brand new AXSTAD line of kitchen cabinet fronts from IKEA.
  2. IKEA is also where I found our extra-large BAGGANAS pulls.
  3. It will be a big upgrade to switch to the VARIERA organizers.
  4. I picked up this ultra-inexpensive subway tile for our backsplash. There will be a mixture of herringbone and traditional straight subway tile.
  5. We’ll be using IKEA’s EKBACKEN countertop in the concrete effect.
  6. I’m dreaming of this slate tile from Floor and Decor, but it might be out of our budget.
  7. I’m going with this faucet from Amazon. It’s beautiful, simple, and functional
  8. There will be open shelving on two walls – the window wall, and the one above the desk.
  9. We’re going with an ultra-deep sink from Amazon. It’s an undermount style, so stay tuned for how I’ll make that work with our laminate countertops.
  10. Greenery everywhere to break up all the white!

The Plan

There is SO much to do in this space. Since we’re a young family with a tight budget (and I LOVE DIY), my husband Aaron and I will be doing everything ourselves.

  • Install brand new cabinetry
  • Organize every drawer, shelf, and cubby
  • Tile a new backsplash all the way to the ceiling
  • Install an undermount sink with our laminate countertops (stay tuned for that one!)
  • Install gorgeous cabinet pulls
  • Paint the pantry door a fun color/replace it with a glass one?
  • Build a custom range hood
  • Trim out the doorways into the kitchen
  • Install undercabinet lighting
  • Install new window coverings
  • Hang steel open shelving for our dishes
  • Replace the pass-through with some bookshelves on each side, while still maintaining the openness I love
  • Trim out the windows
  • And I know I will probably think of 10,000 other things that I want to include along the way.

Want to help?

In conclusion, I’m going to need all the encouragement I can get complete my kitchen for the Spring 2019 one room challenge. I’d love if you would come over on Instagram and tell me what you think, or leave a comment here. I can’t wait to share the afters with you (and not live in a construction zone anymore!)

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

One Room Challenge Spring 2019 Week 1: Kitchen Inspiration & Before Photos

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I’d be willing to bet you’re a lot like me. You enjoy HGTV, dream about renovations, the what-ifs, the could-we’s. But you’re often pulled back into reality by your spouse or partner, right? It’s hard to get them to say yes to your crazy ideas, right? Except when they really need to be done. Some home renovations are because you don’t like something, and some are just…necessary. That’s why I’m going to show you how to install engineered wood flooring over our plywood subfloors. The carpet throughout the second story of our house definitely needed to be replaced (just look at those GROSS pictures below). All we had to do was teach ourselves how to install it, and we would have a brand new floor.

With a dog and two kids (though they were just a twinkle in our eyes when we started this renovation way back in 2016), I knew I didn’t want to replace stained carpet with new carpet. So after looking around a bit, I settled on a gorgeous, distressed, dark bamboo. It would be durable, eco friendly, and most of all, affordable.

There was a total of about 800 square feet to install, with lots and lots of corners, weird shapes, and angles to contend with.I also wanted to tackle the stairs (I’ve got a bunch of posts all about how we ripped out the carpet, dealt with the waste, replaced the risers and installed the caps, painted the risers and installed an inexpensive runner), so I made sure to order a little extra for that.

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Required Tools

Time to talk tools! My biggest regret from installing engineered wood flooring over plywood was that we didn’t purchase a table saw sooner. I ripped (cut lengthwise) every. single. one. of the boards on the edge of each room with a jigsaw just to save a few bucks. It was time-consuming, and it’s pretty much impossible to cut a straight line with that tool. Don’t be like me! If you’re planning on tackling this project, buy a table saw!!! Below are all the tools that we used.

  • Tape measure
  • Tapping block
  • Pry bar
  • Pull bar
  • Wood or plastic spacers (3/8″)
  • Miter saw
  • Chalk line tool
  • Painter’s tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Table saw
  • T-square or straight edge
  • Multi-tool
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses – seriously. Wear them.

Preparation

Acclimation

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

The hardest part of installing engineered wood flooring over plywood? – waiting. When you’re installing a naturally porous and flexible (relatively) material like bamboo/wood, you have to let it acclimate to the space you’re installing it in, so it can expand or contract based on the humidity, temperature, and elevation in your home. If you skip this step, it can lead to BIG problems down the road with buckling and gaps.

The wood sat in our daughter’s future nursery for a week or so before we ever made our first cut. It was KILLING ME to wait. I was so ready to get started, but I also knew I wanted to do it right. So I waited and passed the time dreaming about the gorgeous floors that would soon be underfoot.

Subfloors

We started with ripping out all the carpet from the entire second story, removing the tack strip, and evening out any really noticeable dips or high spots. We also opted to remove all the baseboards, mostly because they were comically small. Even if a huge renovation like this sounds daunting, demolition is pretty easy, and something you can definitely DIY to save a ton of money.

Baseboards

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

We did run into one other issue with our baseboards – they were not only nailed in (with some big mama nails), but glued in too. You can see how much we struggled to remove them in the picture above – they just splintered and did NOT want to come off the wall. I’ve never been able to figure out why the original builders chose to adhere the baseboards so permanently to the walls, but I guess it doesn’t matter. We ended up using a multi-tool to cut them away from the wall (the caulk was REAL, guys), and then used a prybar to separate them fully. Brute force was pretty much the only way, and while it did mean we had to repair some drywall, it was worth it in the end.

Door Jambs

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

The only other preparation was to cut down all the door jambs. The carpet didn’t require very much space underneath the trim, but the added height of the new boards meant we would have to make some additional room. We just used a piece of our new flooring to mark on each door jamb what we needed to remove, and cut that bit away. A multi-tool made quick work of it, and is absolutely the right tool for the job, though technically you could also do it with a hammer and a chisel. We actually did this step as we went through the installation – it doesn’t necessarily need to be done as a prep item, just before you actually lay the planks underneath each door jamb.

How To: Install Engineered Wood Flooring Over Plywood

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Step One: Underlayment

After we prepared our subfloors, removed the baseboards, and took care of the door jambs, it was time to roll out the underlayment. Typically, underlayment provides a barrier and helps even out the subfloor and create a softer, quieter feeling underfoot. The salesman at Lumber Liquidators recommended we use something called Insulayment, but I would advise against it if you have a home similar to ours. I do like that it’s made from recycled materials, but Insulayment is actually a glue-down product (which I didn’t find out until months afterward). Our salesman said it would be just okay to put underneath with no adhesive, and while it’s been fine so far, if I could do it over again I’d choose something different and actually follow the instructions.

Generally speaking, the thicker (and more expensive) the underlayment is, the quieter and cushier your floor will feel. I’m pretty happy with the product, other than our installation method, though I have noticed one quirk. When a section of flooring hasn’t been walked on in a while, it creaks when you step on it again for the first time. Not like a scary door opening creak, but more like an oh-no-I’m-getting-old-and-getting-out-of-bed-hurts creak. You know the kind where your whole back cracks when you sit up? No? Just me? Cool.

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

We first stapled it down to the subfloor to hold it in place and then taped each piece together to create a patchwork of blue underlayment goodness. You can see what I mean in the picture above. Getting it around the weird angles required a LOT of different pieces, but it was pretty forgiving and tape does does wonders to hold everything together.

Step Two: Lay Your First Boards

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Finally, it was time to install our first planks of engineered wood flooring over the plywood and underlayment. We decided to run it parallel to the longest main wall on our second floor, but there really isn’t one direction or another that is right or wrong – it’s really up to what you think looks the best. I’ve heard that in older homes when wood was installed near the front door, it was traditionally laid at a 90-degree angle to the door to draw your eye in visually. Since we didn’t have a door to worry about (and our house is about as historic as beanie babies are), I got to choose. Laying it that way also meant it lined up nicely with the stairs that we installed later.

Step Three: Snap and Lock Remaining Boards Into Place

Actually installing the boards was insanely easy. We just measured and cut (where necessary), and placed the new board onto the already placed one, overlapping the joints. It’s pretty foolproof actually – the boards won’t go together if you do it wrong, and once you lock them into place, they don’t really move.

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

We made sure to leave an expansion gap along each wall (you can see the spacers we used in the picture above), and staggered our seams to make sure the installation would be strong and last a long time. If you don’t leave that gap, you can get buckling and separation, and non-staggered seams can leave your floor more prone to those same issues. I also started with the tongue facing the wall, which turned out to not matter all that much.

See, for a floating floor, it’s pretty easy to install things ‘backwards‘. The main wall we started on actually splits our house essentially in two, half of it behind it and half of it in front of it. That meant we installed about half of the flooring forwards (tongue facing away from you) and half of it backwards (tongue facing towards you). This tool actually made it a non-issue (the pull bar), but if you plan to nail your floors down, I don’t think it would be possible, since there wouldn’t be room for the gun. Just something to think about!

Top 5 Tips

If you decide to tackle this project, send me an email or DM me on Instagram! I love seeing your DIYs. And I will 100% want to come help, even though my kids and husband want me to stay here. I’m addicted to DIYing, I think. But even if I can’t come help in person, I can at least leave you with my top five tips to make things go more smoothly.

  1. Spring for the table saw. It will be worth it, even if you aren’t installing as much flooring as we did.
  2. Don’t discard your waste. Keep a pile of messed up cuts, waste pieces, etc. You never know when they’ll come in handy!
  3. Don’t worry about the small chips on the edges of each board where they are cut. These will be covered by the baseboards.
  4. Get the appropriate blade for each saw. Bamboo is a very hard material, and if your blade isn’t sharp enough or aggressive enough, it will chip unnecessarily. If you are using a softer wood, this won’t be as much of an issue.
  5. If you are planning on installing new floors on your stairs as well, finish those last. The stairs were much harder than the initial flooring install, and I was really glad that I had the experience of laying 800+ square feet of flooring behind me before tackling that project.

After a long 5 months (I was pregnant at the time and pretty sick, so progress was slow going), we finally finished our floating engineered wood flooring install.

Reveal and My Thoughts

Total Cost

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Once everything was complete for this DIY floating flooring install, we had spent around $5,000. For the amount of flooring and the fact that we tackled refinishing the stairs at the same time (they ate up almost $1,000 of that budget), I think that’s a bargain, especially when it would have easily been double that to hire a professional.

We actually utilized Lumber Liquidator’s 0% financing and paid it off within the promotional period to help finance the project. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t usually have $5,000 laying around without a purpose. I think as long as you can set aside a budget each month to pay off big purchases like this, it’s a great option.

And because if I was reading this post I would be wondering, no, this post isn’t sponsored at all. I bought all of the materials, tools, etc. with my own money. I’m pretty sure Lumber Liquidators has NO IDEA who I am.

As far as how I feel about them? I’m in love. Birds sing everytime I look at them. I’m magically transformed into a Disney princess and my hair gets an instant blowout. Kidding, but they are pretty nice.

Durability

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Our bamboo floors have held up extremely well in the couple of years we’ve had it so far. We’ve had toddlers drag toys across them, babies drool on them, and our dog has dropped her heavy, sharp chew toys on them on more than one occasion.

The only place we’ve seen some wear and tear is in our office underneath the chairs. I didn’t think about the casters potentially scratching the wood, but they did. Micro-scratches, but they were enough to make it look a little hazy underneath each chair. I just applied some wood reconditioner in a dark stain color, which filled in all the surface scratches, and it looks as good as new! I also switched out the original casters on our office chairs for non-scratching ones. Super easy switch!

Sound

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

Even with two kids, a dog, and several heavy footed walkers, unwanted sound has not been an issue any more than any other hard surface material would be. Of course, carpet would absorb a lot more sound, but I never feel like the rooms feel echo-y or overly loud.

That being said, we have a lot of walls upstairs. Our first floor is fairly open concept, but the second floor is pretty chopped up. Sound just doesn’t have much room to travel before it hits a wall. That, and the kid’s rooms are really small. If you have a super open floor plan, I’d say just invest in some rugs!

Cleaning

In terms of cleaning, these floors are super low maintenance. I sweep when they need it, and use a VERY slightly damp microfiber mop to clean them when they get super dirty. We don’t typically wear shoes upstairs, so they stay pretty clean.

Installing engineered hardwood floating flooring over plywood can be intimidating, but it's really a pretty simple project. You only need a few tools, and it's relatively inexpensive! Whether you choose laminate, or bamboo like us, it's an easy job for any DIYer. We had a plywood subfloor upstairs, but I also installed it over concrete on our first floor. We didn't even have to put in any transitions, and got to continue the flooring down on our stairs. #flooring #floatingfloor #diy #renovation #bambooflooring #hardwood #engineeredwood #plywood

FAQ – How To Install Engineered Wood Floors Over Plywood

I get a lot of questions about our floors and how they’ve been holding up. Two years later, I can say I’m incredibly happy with them. It’s easily been the biggest change in our home, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Why bamboo hardwoods?
    • I do my best to do things that are good for our planet AND good for my wallet. This particular flooring was cheap, durable, and green, so it checked all the right boxes.
  • It’s so dark! Does it show dog hair and dirt?
    • Dog hair, no. Dirt, yes. But I’m in the camp of wanting to see the dirt – I don’t want it hiding! Wouldn’t you rather KNOW your floors are clean instead of ignoring the dirt? A color that hides more doesn’t mean your floors are cleaner, it just means you can’t see it as well.
  • Is it loud?
    • Nope! It is definitely louder than carpet would have been, but I never feel like our second story is home to a herd of elephants or anything.
  • Why floating?
    • It was the easiest installation method. I wasn’t interested in renting a flooring gun or gluing anything down.
  • Where are the transition pieces?
    • I read, re-read, and read again the instructions/installation manual that came with our floors. Floating installations can tolerate a certain amount of length and width before you need to install a transition, and we came in just under that so the entire installation is seamless.
  • My installation guide says to mix wood between the boxes. Do I really have to do that?
    • I didn’t. Mostly because I couldn’t remember what wood was from what box, and partly because I just didn’t see that much variation from box to box. It might be more important in a lighter colored material, but with something as dark as what we installed, it was a non-issue.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! Learning how to install engineered wood flooring over plywood is totally doable for pretty much anyone. Do the research, be patient, put in the work, and installing a floating bamboo floor won’t seem so hard. It will also generally go much more quickly than ours did (since you probably won’t be super pregnant and therefore incredibly uncomfortable the whole time. Bless my husband for putting up with me during this renovation). I would do this project again in a heartbeat, and love walking on these floors every single day.

How To Install Engineered Wood Flooring Over Plywood

Blog, Emma's Room, Flooring

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Guess how many subway tiles I broke/screwed up during my first tiling job? 40. The good news is that only totals up to $6 since our tile was so cheap, but it’s still a lot of times to fail. I’m a perfectionist (most of the time), and I couldn’t believe how bad I was at just cutting the damn things. I would measure one, measure again, triple check, cut, and it would STILL be wrong! Luckily, I learned as I went along and got much better. I consider myself a pretty competent DIYer, but everybody has their Achilles heel. I guess mine is subway tile (and drywall, but who’s counting?). But why suffer through inexperience and lack of knowledge like I did? I made pretty much every single mistake you could make, but I have the solutions for all of them! PS: If you’re brand new around here, we’re redoing our kitchen 99% ourselves. Come check out the mood board I threw together (there are lots more posts just like it, too!).

1. Measure, think, then cut.

There’s a certain kind of rage that develops when you’ve cut something wrong multiple times. You’re mad at yourself because you messed it up AGAIN, you aren’t feeling great about wasting materials, and you are clueless as to why EVEN THOUGH you did EVERYTHING RIGHT somehow it’s STILL WRONG (not that those words came out of my mouth directed at my husband for no reason, or anything). I can’t tell you how many subway tiles I could have saved if I would have taken a step back to think before I cut. Measuring twice is only part of the equation – talk through it with yourself or your tiling buddy, sometimes just saying what you’re about to do out loud can help you realize what you might be doing wrong (and might save your marriage, too).

If you and your tiling buddy can’t figure it out, take a break. Have dinner. Enjoy an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. When you come back, you’ll be thinking much more clearly.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

2. Don’t cheap out on your tools.

I bought a $20 score and snap tile saw for this project, just to see if it would be enough for my needs. I definitely think if I had chosen a simpler pattern (not herringbone), it would have been absolutely fine. But if I could do it again? “Yes, please, Mr. Salesman, sir, I will take the $100 wet tile saw too. Nope, I’m not at all concerned about my ballooning budget.” But seriously, just buy it. I spent more hours with $10 tile snips trying to make the tiles around the outlet work than I want to admit. My time is worth more than that, and I will definitely be investing in a nicer tool for the other walls (we’ve still got nearly 3,000 subway tiles to go in our kitchen renovation!)

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

3. Adhesive the tile, not the wall.

You know those sexy contractors with the glistening pectorals on HGTV? How you swooned over how they applied tile adhesive to the wall just so…effortlessly? How you just wanted to fall into their big, sweaty arms? Yep, that’s not gonna be you. You’ll probably have more adhesive on the floor and in your hair than on the wall, and that’s ok. Glistening pectorals are for TV – you don’t need to be glamorous while you’re DIYing. All jokes aside, if you are struggling to get the adhesive on the wall cleanly, try applying it directly to the back of the subway tile. I found MUCH more success that way, and I swear I was just a little bit hotter.

Also, a little bonus tip to this one – clean your notched trowel frequently. The key to getting subway tile to stick to the wall is those little notches. If they get gummed up (and they will), you’ll get sub-par adhesion. Just take a little spatula or putty knife and knock out the gunk in each notch, and you’ll be good to go again.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

4. Plan for the edge.

I generally plan. A lot. Like too much. I was the kid that LIKED writing in their planner in school, and scheduling things is fun for me. But sometimes, even the best planners mess up. I forgot to figure out how I was going to finish off the cut edge of where my subway tile stopped, which means the ceramic underneath the glaze (the not so pretty part) is showing. You can see it in the photo above. It’s not that big of a deal to me, and I’ve got a plan to fix it (DIY glazing, here I come!). But if I could do it over again? I would do it differently.

The other thing to be aware of here is that the glaze is the strong part of the subway tile – the ceramic underneath is actually pretty weak. If you’ve ever drilled into tile before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The glaze is hard to get through, but once you get that out of the way, the rest kind of just disintegrates.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

5. Ditch the pencil, and embrace the magic marker.

I’m a pencil person. It’s just something that happens to classical musicians (I taught high school choir for a while before becoming a SAHM). I know some people are die-hard-pens-forever-don’t-give-me-your-pencil-trash people, but they’re wrong (just kidding, if that’s you, I still love you). But guys, I let my love blind me. For about two hours, I tried to mark on the tiles with a pencil and it was not going well. So I went out to the garage to grab a marker (I just used an old Crayola one we had lying around) and never looked back. You can actually even use a Sharpie, but why? Embrace your inner child and break out the art supplies you’ve been neglecting (or just go steal some from your kid’s stash).

And don’t worry about the marker staining the subway tile. I used a green one, and while at first I was careful, towards the end of the project I was marking will-nilly. It wipes off super easily (anything you can’t get off with your finger will come off instantly with a wet paper towel), and any ink that gets on the sides of the tile that are more absorbent will be covered by grout.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

6. Don’t drill on the edge tiles.

Just taking the picture above breaks my heart. Imagine this: it was the eleventh hour. We had spent ALL weekend tiling, and it was finally time to hang some shelves on top of our gorgeous new backsplash and get some more usable counter space (kitchen reno life, am I right?). The pilot holes were perfectly drilled, but somehow when we screwed the lag bolts into the studs behind the subway tile, cracks appeared. Small at first – giving me hope. But with each turn they got larger. Thankfully, it was only on one side of the shelves – the tiles in the last row before the end of the wall. If you are thinking about hanging shelves on top of your tile, I would consider spacing out the brackets away from the end of your tile more than I did. I think if the tiles we were screwing into had their brothers in arms around them, we would have seen fewer cracks (if any). Oh well, lesson learned.

The good news is, it’s definitely the edge subway tiles that had this problem – out of the 12 holes we had to screw the lag bolts into, only 5 of them cracked (all on the edge tiles). I have much higher hopes for the shelves we’ll be installing on the other walls (stay tuned!).

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

7. Build out your outlets before you tile.

You thought tiling was all about pretty patterns and carefully measured cuts, right? Well, if you have an outlet in the wall you’re tiling, there’s a little bit more to it than that. You’ll need tile spacers, or some other way to keep the outlets level with the subway tile’s finished depth. When you’re picking up your tiling supplies, just grab a few spacers for your outlets, too.

Unfortunately for us, it was late and the home improvement store was closed, so we had to improvise. I just used the actual tile as a spacer, which made for some harder cuts, but it got the job done just the same. I don’t recommend it (do as I say, not as I do!) as the first course of action, but it’s working just fine. I used the snap off tabs on each outlet to hold it out from the wall, which is essentially doing the same thing that the spacers would.

Also, I have a special place in my heart for outlet covers now. They are like a good pair of Spanx – they smooth out all the imperfections and make it look like you actually know what you’re doing. I don’t want to show you what it looks like behind this outlet, but let’s just say it’s akin to what I looked like in my mesh underwear after giving birth. You know what though? It gets the job done, and that’s all that matters.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

8. If you’re a first timer, choose an easy subway tile pattern (or just practice!).

I LOVE the herringbone pattern we chose. A lot. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But for my very first tiling job? Probably not the best choice. Subway tiles are made perfectly to fit between a countertop a standard height upper cabinet without having to rip them. But if you choose a herringbone pattern? Well, now you’re dealing with much more difficult cuts and angles. If you’re intimidated by tiling but want to go for that harder pattern, maybe go pick up some super cheap clearance tile from your local home improvement store and practice before you do the real thing. I bet you’ll learn a lot (I wish I had!).

The biggest thing to remember if you’re doing herringbone, is that you’ll need something with a 45 degree angle to measure with. I have an adjustable square that I used during this project, and it would have been impossible without it.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile

9. Spacers.

There are all kinds of grout widths to choose from, and lots of spacers to go with them. But there are also different kinds of spacers, and the ones that I bought were for a four-tile corner…which doesn’t exist in a herringbone pattern. We ended up just eyeballing the spacing (and honestly just putting them right next to each other, because that ended up being almost 1/16” which is what I wanted in the first place), and it turned out fine, but it would have been so much easier and MUCH more consistent if I had the right spacers on hand.

Also, do your research and don’t trust the tile guys at the store blindly. They’ve probably got 10,000 things on their minds and as much as they want to give you their undivided attention, it’s not likely. Double check the tools they recommend are what you actually need. For example, if we had looked closer, the tile spacers he recommended were wrong.

So there you have it, 9 things to look out for when you’re doing your first subway tile backsplash or other tiling job. PLEASE! Learn from my mistakes. Take time to think, don’t cheap out, slap that adhesive on the back, figure out how to finish, steal your kid’s craft supplies, don’t drill into a lonely edge tile, build up those outlets, choose an easier pattern (or just practice!), and make sure you’ve got the right kind of spacers. If you even do half of those things, I guarantee you your first tiling experience will be light years better than mine.

When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile
When you're installing kitchen backsplash tile for the first time, you're bound to make some mistakes. In one weekend, with a lot of hard work, I transformed a boring wall into a subway tile herringbone masterpiece...kind of, Mistakes were make, but I've got a list of what to do and not to do when taking on a subway tile backsplash project. #backsplash #herringbone #kitchen #doityourself #subwaytile


Do’s and Don’ts for Installing A DIY Subway Tile Backsplash

Kitchen

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