Which backsplash is easier to DIY-subway tile or glass mosaic?

mycatzMay 30, 2008

For anyone who has tiled their own backsplash, which do you think would be easier for a first time tiler to handle, standard subway tile or glass mosaics on a mesh sheet? The subway would be plain white, no pattern involved. Also, is it possible to hang anything on the wall with tile? I'm wondering if a small fine nail would crack the grout. Thanks for any help!

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glass mosaics will be easier, since there's far less material to lay due to the 12"x12" sheets vs. smaller 3x6 tiles.

you can drill into tile after it's laid, grouted and set, provided you have the right kind of drill bit. don't use a nail.

to hang something, you're better off using one of those 3M removable wall-hanger deals, though, so you won't have to put a hole in your tile.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 6:08PM
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I was going to say I thought the subways should be easier...Larger, so fewer tiles. Of course, though, edlakin has a good point that the mesh makes them into larger and fewer pieces, but there is still more grouting (to get right now and keep looking nice later). The mesh isn't always that great to work with, as it allows the whole piece to be floppy and can sometimes scootch around when you're installing, so you have to be extra careful to keep it all square and properly spaced. I've encountered different types of mesh that could make things easier or more difficult.

The bottom line, though, is what do you like and want to look at when it's finished? I did glass tiles on mesh in one of our bathrooms, and just did white subways in a brick pattern in our laundry, and I'm no tile expert, but they both came out fine and I didn't find either one to be that difficult to do.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 6:26PM
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Having done my fare share of tiling, most recently a backsplash that incorporated both subway shaped stone tile and a marble mosaic on sheet backing, I must say that subway is far easier to DIY. With mosaic, it is more difficult to ensure that all pieces are perfectly alligned with one another and are on the same plane. Also, the thinset oozing through between the rows of mosaic squares as you press them to the surface is also difficult to deal with. If you absolutely love mosaic, you might want to consider using it as a strip (you can cut the sheets into the strips of the desired width)between rows of subway tile. Good luck with the project!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 7:24PM
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glass mosaics will be easier, since there's far less material to lay due to the 12"x12" sheets vs. smaller 3x6 tiles.

I'm sorry, but you couldn't be more wrong. Installing subway tiles is a basic tile 101 installation. With glass tile, there's a whole lot more to it.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 8:07AM
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Subway tiles are simple to install. I agree that getting the little 1 x 1 tiles perfectly aligned (where they are not on the mesh) is harder plus grouting is a much bigger issue.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 8:21AM
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I am a new DIY tiler and I have recently done both. I can say hands down subway is much easier. Although the mosaic is on sheets many times the backer material is water soluble and it is much more difficult to place as the backer starts to break down. You have much harder time lining everything up.

I am also doing my subway backsplashes right now. Very easy and DIY friendly. I read as much as I could first and have a can do spirit. This is something you can do and you will be so happy with your efforts.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Sounds like subway tile is the definitely the way for me to go. Acountryfarm, since you are new to this also, how are you handling the tile cutting? That's the only thing that worries me. Did you rent a wetsaw or just use tile cutters or nippers. The other thing that concerns me is around the outlets-I guess there are extensions you have to put in? Hopefully something my husband can handle. Thanks for all the great advice, it helped me make up my mind which way to go.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:36PM
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We bought a wet saw. I just taught myself how. I have already done 3000 sq. ft of hardwoods and plenty of finish work on this house so figured I can do tile as well. Its a long story but we have an absentee builder and a bank who says we must finish, even though they chose our builder.
I have learned a great many things from doing all this and feel I could tackle just about anything.

Oh and yes you may have to put in extensions,we had to anyway as we have extensive beadboard and need extensions for that as well.

Here is some of what I have been working on. Cabs will be white, haven't decided if I am going with lt grey or white grout yet.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 3:28AM
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hey country farm, you inspire me!! i have the boxes of tile sitting in my kitchen gathering dust...and we really should do this soon!! very nice job... kren

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 10:20AM
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kren pa--
Go for it, I am so glad I DIY'd this.
I am gong to grout today. In the process of designing backsplash for range wall, it will have some color and some relief botanical fruit tiles in as well. Excited to get going on that.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:35PM
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Acountryfarm, that is mighty impressive looking work! Everything looks beautiful. Your tile looks like exactly what I want, is the tile matte or glossy? I'm guessing matte but not sure. Since this is the only tile job I would ever be doing, do you think tile cutters would be enough for simple cuts or should I go for the saw?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 7:19PM
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I do not think tile cutters would do for this at all. I could be wrong. I had to do some very interesting cuts around windows and switches etc.
I would buy the saw, you can always sell after.

As for the sheen they are gloss. I personally love the gloss. I do have 1 inch hex in matte in all the bathrooms and don't think thats the a look I would want for the kitchen.

As I am not a professional (I just play one in my spare time) my finished edges are something I made up as I went, don't know if this is right or not. I do like it fine. Its the picks with the 45''s on the top , end .

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 12:44AM
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Tile cutters are good for straight cuts only. Anything past that, you want to use either a wet saw or a 4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade on it.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 7:38AM
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