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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DIY Kitchen Remodel | $40 Subway Tile Counter Tops

As I've mentioned (but for those of you that are new...), we are planning to do a major addition in the near future, but in the meantime, I wanted to do a DIY refresher on our kitchen to make it lighter, brighter and more functional (and tolerable).

We started by ripping out the upper cabinets and old tile backsplash, then replacing them with painted wood paneling and open shelving.  The next step was to address the counter tops.

I didn't want to spend much money, as we'll be ripping it out in a year or two, but I wanted it to feel brighter and happier.  In our first home, we had a charming country kitchen that sported a combo of butcher block and white tile counter tops.  As I had learned to tile while re-doing our old bathroom and entryway, I thought adding bright white subway tiles would be the perfect solution for our temporary counter tops. 

This is the BEFORE.  

As you can see, I just laid white 2 x 6 subway tiles directly over our laminate counter tops.  I used a pre-mixed combo grout and adhesive that I purchased from Home Depot.  It took me all of an afternoon and $40 to do the entire thing. 

I recommend you watch a couple of YouTube videos if you're going to do some tiling.  I had done our old bathroom and entryway, so I was comfortable just slapping this together.  Here is the basic method I used.

Step 1 : Lay out tile in pattern.
Step 2 : Cut all pieces with a tile cutter (I used a manual tile cutter vs. electric wet saw) to fit.
Step 3 : Spread layer of grout/adhesive with tile.
Step 4 : Butter the back of each tile with adhesive and set into place, using spacers if necessary.
Step 5 : Set all tiles in place.  Let dry.
Step 6 : Grout.

Again, this is not a great guide, but gives you an idea - be sure to consult a real resource before you do your own!

 I used 'bullnose' tiles for the sides - you can see they have a rounded top for a finished look.

To see my post about ripping out our upper cabinets and replacing them with a painted paneling back splash and open shelving, click here.

For more information about the new Verona Range, click here!


  1. Its amazing what a new countertop will do to a room. Your DIY project looks to do the trick! It is amazing. - Tonya

  2. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I would love to use white subway tiles on my kitchen island(I even have some leftover from a bathroom project!) but I've been worried about stains on the grout. Have you had any problems?

  3. Great job! It looks so fresh and clean!

  4. Anonymous9:20 AM

    It looks good, but yikes, I would not want to clean all of those grout lines.

  5. It's AMAZING what you did on such a small budget :) We also did a minor kitchen facelift before our major kitchen renovation. People thought we were crazy, but seriously in a room you spend so much time in, a year is a long time to put up with a dark, dreary, depressing room (as was ours!) Haven't regretted it for a single second!

  6. I just love the open cabinets! We just had our cabinets painted white and I decided to leave one of the cabinets open rather than following my initial plan which was to put glass doors there.

  7. I can't believe that you did that project for $40 in an afternoon. It's truly inspirational! We're in the same situation- waiting for a 'full' kitchen remodel and trying to make it the best we can in the meantime. I love the drawer pulls you replaced- They surprisingly make a huge difference. I love how it's come along for you!

  8. so impressive! what a transformation from what was a bit dark before is now so light, bright and airy. love what you did!

  9. I love all your kitchen updates! I'm your newest follower and just love your style. Your house is incredibly charming and make me miss my east coast home. So quaint and cozy.

  10. pamela ann meier5:06 PM

    Adorable! Love your style and posts. Congrats on new home!! pam minneapolis, mn

  11. Your kitchen DIY looks terrific!! What an uplift!! I wonder why you would choose antique brass drawer pulls and not brushed nickel pulls, when the stove and fridge are stainless? I love the white tile but oh the grout. I am sure I would spill spaghetti sauce on it! I love the creamy white look and the bead board. Can't wait to eventually see your bigger remodel. I am sure with your excellent taste it will be spectacular. I really liked that your Dad and husband could help out with the renovation. Thanks for such a great blog. I love to look forward to your postings.

  12. Excellent designs to reinstate the kitchen, the tops are really adorable, just loved your kitchen designs, the white tile background adds to its beauty.
    Gestuz online

  13. Awesome design. I never think to use these tile on counter, but its looks perfect.

  14. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Totally love your kitchen mini-redo! Very clean and open for a small place which is what I have... Hopefully I can talk DH into something like this!
    I look forward to all your postings AND recipes ... have tried a few and they are hits THANKS!

    Sylvia ~

  15. really incredible, and very cost effective. i have black granite and white cabinets in my kitchen with subway tile backsplash, i'm thinking this will be great to cover my cheaper sinks upstairs.

    ps. i also love to tile, and i feel like a pro when i do!

  16. I think your sense of internal design is great, keep us updated!

    -Bronx Shower Doors

  17. Hi Jenny,

    Your kitchen turned out so well. I love how you used subway tile to update your countertop! Would you mind if I pinned this to the Home Depot tile pinboard?


    1. Caroline - That would be great! Thanks!

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  23. Very nice workable kitchen. Great! impressive photos.

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  25. Are just the edge tiles bullnose or did you hear use normal subway tiles?

  26. This looks great.. We just bought a handful of subway tiles to play around with on our counter tops to see how they might look.. I'm so glad to have found your blog so I know it can be done!

  27. Thanks so much for this post! Your blog has been so helpful to me and my wife as we have been building our new house. Keep up the great work here!


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