diy bs question: 4x8 vs 3x6 subways

ardcpAugust 14, 2014

i have read that subway tiles are diy friendly. i love the 3x6 size but am seeing some of you have awesome bs with 4x8 or 2x6 sizes. any guesses on whether the size of the subway will impact the ease of install? i am stuck at ABB because i want to diy my bs but deep down am kind of scared and dreading it (shh don't tell my husband!)
also anyone who did a different size subway, do you love it? what made you decide on the size? i keep looking at my 1 long run of counter thinking how many tiles 3x6 will be and how it might seem a bit busy?!

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I know the bigger tiles are somewhat harder to install, but I don't think it would justify going with the 3x6's you won't like the look of as much.

We had a lousy tiler do our 4x12's and he made a mess of them. But then I had to do an area myself (changed my mind and decided it had to be done) and I did a much better job than he did. He seemed to have most trouble levelling them so that there was no lip (not sure if that;s the the right way to describe it).

I took a large piece of craft paper cut to the size of bb and drew out the tile placement so I knew exactly what it would like, where to start, etc.

Do you have any window or door frames to tile around? The bigger tiles were a bit harder to do around those as well.

I think the larger format will look great with your kitchen (which is wonderful btw).

Hopefully someone with more expertise than me will chime in, and you can get what you want and be able to do it without too much trouble. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:25PM
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My DS and DIL did their subway backsplash as their very first DIY project ever, and it came out great. You can do it!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:42PM
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robo (z6a)

I have both 4x12 and 4x8 and like them both very much. I think the 4x8 would be about the same to install as a 3x6 - you have to cut them anyway, so this way you're just cutting fewer!

Here's a photo of the 4x8 on our sink run with TEC Sterling grout. The larger size was a compromise as I actually wanted 8x8 square and my husband wanted 4x12 rectangular. I like the larger size as I like fewer grout lines.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 15:10

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 3:08PM
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With a standard 18" backsplash, you will not have to make any lengthwise cuts with 3x6 subways. You'll only have to make cross cuts and around your outlets. With other dimensions that don't add up evenly to 18", you'll have to make lengthwise cuts, which are more difficult for a beginner to master. What tile saw do you own? And how comfortable are you using it?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:12PM
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Like live_wire_oak said, a standard backsplash is 18". So, in theory, a 3" tile will go up 6 times with no cuts.

However, not all 3" tiles are exactly 3". If they are, you'll be cutting some because grout lines might add 1/2-1" that would need to be cut off at the top. Some are nominally 3", and they account for a grout line.

But then, not all counters and cabinets are perfectly level. I used 3" tiles that accounted for a grout line, and still had to make a few top cuts.

But, my top cuts are minimal. You can't tell it's not a full tile unless you look really closely under the cabinets. In robotroplis' GORGEOUS kitchen, you can see at a glance that her top row of tiles is cut in half. Technically, you wouldn't want a half size (or smaller) tile anywhere. The pro tip would be to measure and figure out what the size of the last tile would be and divide the left over tile between the top and bottom rows. So then you'd have 2 rows of tile to cut. But I still think robotropolis' backsplash looks fantastic.

And, standard, schmandard. Maybe your backsplash isn't even 18"?

So, yeah, a 3" tile is more DIY friendly. But it's probably not enough of a deal to justify getting something you don't like anyway.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:33PM
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robo (z6a)

We went with an odd-sized BS to accommodate the kitchenaid under the cupboards and light rail, so would have had cuts regardless.

I totally agree that ideally the top row would be larger - however - we did it to line up with the other backsplash behind the stove which was 8x8. In retrospect I might have brought the backsplash up to the ceiling on the window wall - but I really like color and art so wanted that little bit of wall in case I want to decorate someday.

So many complicated things with backsplash placement!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:06PM
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robotropolis - your bs looks really pretty and i never would have caught that the top row was cut off. that shows you how detail oriented people on this site are! i bet irl no one has noticed!
thanks all for the suggestions. if i do a 4" with the 18" bs it will be more cuts but less tile so kind if a toss up. although my cheapskate side will prob win out since 3x6 is quite a bit less $ than other sizes. i am def not going with special order tile as the kitchen cost puts me way over resale appreciation and no one will ever notice in my area. this is a very middle class hood where almost no one updates anything, ever! i have a jr in high school so in 2 years i am free (in theory) to move someplace warmer, woohoo!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:15PM
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I totally agree that ideally the top row would be larger

Reading this yesterday, I looked at mine, and the top row is halved, the bottom row full-size. Frankly, I would NOT want both rows to be cut - I like it the way it is.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:37PM
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My friend helped me DIY my backsplash. We lined it up from the bottom and the top is not full size. We have some small, stupid cuts on the ends, but it's on both sides and looks even. I'm sure no one would ever notice but me, because I put it in. I LOVE IT!! I did it myself and I don't care what anyone else thinks, I think it looks great. And really, it does, but a professional would have made fewer cuts.

On the sink side, the sink is not square to the wall, so we had to rig up the tiles so that some of them are actually below/behind the sink but once the grout/caulking was finished, no one would ever know because it just carries along the length of the wall. She and I know, but no one else does.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:02PM
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We did the 3 x 6 tiles and did have cuts on the upper edge. But we also put a liner border in there of small 1/2 x 1 glass bricks. Actually the small glass bricks were the hardest to cut. My husband is very handy and it came out fantastic. But I think a subway tile without the liner is a fairly basic not too difficult project you can do if you are comfortable with a wet saw. Cutting around the outlets would probably be your hardest part. Just get a few extra tiles in case you screw some up.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:32PM
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