Ceramic Subway Tile: 3 Pro Installation Secrets
I have 3 tips to share for ceramic subway tile.
The first is a lesser-known layout technique for subway tiles. The second is an installation detail and the third is a cutting method done tutorial style.
Let’s get right into it. Also, don’t forget to check out my previous post: Subway Tile Installation: Three Basic Tips
Quartering your subway tile layout
The normal way of installing ceramic subway tile is to start in the middle or end of a wall and each row is staggered, or offset, from the other. You start with a whole tile, then a half tile, and go back to a whole tile, etc.
The problem with this is when you don’t like how your rows end. Maybe they don’t wrap the corner the way that you like or maybe it leaves a tiny cut in the corner. That’s where this quartering technique comes in.
Quartering your subway tile gives you another layout option. Basically, it works like this: Instead of whole/half tile rows, you would install 1/4-3/4 rows. Say you’re installing normal 3×6 white glossy subway tile.
Subway tile layout video
I’ve included a short video that I made where I talk about the layout of this tub surround and some of the different trim pieces that were used.
Originally, these were 5 short Instagram videos but now they are stitched together in one video.
Your first cut would be 1.5 inches (1/4 of a 3×6 ceramic subway tile). Then the next row would start with a 4.5-inch cut. This gives you a 1/4-3/4 offset all the way up.
Sometimes this layout is just what you need to make your corners wrap properly or to keep you out of a little tiny sliver in your installation.
Bonus: This quartering layout technique also works when installing:
- Square tile on point (diagonally)
- Larger subway tile (subway tile have been trending bigger and bigger)
Hide the cut edge
With typical white ceramic subway tile, you’ll have to have cuts on the ends of your rows. There’s no way around it. If you are starting a row with a whole tile/half tile then the half tile is a cut tile.
Most ceramic and porcelain tiles have a slightly rounded edge on them. In the photo above you can see that the half tile loses the rounded “shoulder” that the full tile has.
This can cause that cut edge to be proud, or stick out a bit, from the other tiles. This edge can then show up in certain lighting or just when you simply run your hand across the tile.
To get around this I will usually apply a bit more adhesive to the full tile next to it so that it “rounds” into the cut edge.
The photo below shows half of the tile back buttered to keep the edge from sticking out past. It’s a pretty simple trick that helps with the details.
Ceramic Subway Tile Cutting Tip
One thing that can be annoying when cutting ceramic subway tile is always having to set the guide in two different positions depending on which row you are working on.
Here’s a way of cutting both rows of subway tile and keeping the guide in one position.
Delta Cruzer 7-inch Tile Saw vs Dewalt D24000 | Tool Review
First of all, this works for modular subway tile. Modular means that two tiles with a grout joint are the same as a lengthwise tile. You can make it work for non-modular tile but you’ll have to make your own spacer.
Here’s how to do it photo tutorial style:
A word of caution: This will only work if you are meticulous about starting on your plumb layout lines. Also, it won’t work if your walls aren’t plumb.
You may be able to use this for 2-4 rows at a time but don’t cut all your cuts before you start if you don’t have plumb walls. It’s probably not a good idea to make all the cuts before you start if you haven’t done a lot of tiling anyways.
Those are 3 secrets that many pros don’t even know in regards to ceramic subway tile. Do you have any subway tile secrets that you want to share? Let’s hear them in the comments below.
And don’t forget to read: Subway Tile Installation: Three Basic Tips and
Tired of Bullnose Tile Trim? Here are 5 Edge-Trim Alternatives
Where r u and will u install my tumbled marble subway tile in my kitchen???
I’m on the west coast
Lisa McDuffie says
Hi – thanks for the blog! How do you recommend finding someone who really knows what they are doing? I am buying good tiles from subwaytiles.com (3/8″ thick, rectified edges) and floor mosaic tiles from the same company. The store doesn’t give installer recommendations. The TCNA certified installers I can find don’t come to my area – which is only 5 minutes outside of the city of Chicago. Any advice on finding something knowledgeable? Thanks!
You can search for an NTCA contractor member here and CTEF certified installers here. If you really are from Chicago and this isn’t a spam comment then you should have no trouble finding a qualified contractor. Try Surfaces 15.
I had beveled subway tile put in and the greet lines are not smooth they look like rows of bubbles is this right
If the grout itself has bubbles in it then it was probably mixed too wet and will need to be redone.
Excellent tips sir, appreciate you taking the time to walk us through the process. One question, using the 1/4-3/4 rows approach, do you recommend starting at the end of the wall, opposed to starting in the center? I would imagine the start or end of the wall is the only way to ensure this works out.
I’m hoping you will see this and be able to help me out because I’m racking my brain trying to get this layout right.
Here’s what I’m working with:
3×6 subway tiles by daltile
I’ll be using the built in nubs for a 1/16″ grout line
Three sided tub surround
Back wall is 59.25″ wide
I’m trying to not end up with little slivers of tile. If I use the quartering technique I somehow still end up with 1/2″ at the end of the run. So I was thinking about moving the tile over 1/4″ (split the difference) and that gets rid of the sliver of tile (there is an equal amount of space at both ends that will be covered by the tile on the other walls). However, both sides aren’t mirrored. That is one side has a 1.75″ and a 4.75″ cuts, while the other side has only 1/2″ cuts.
I’m a doing something wrong? In your opinion, if I were to leave it like the above, does being asymmetrical look bad? I guess my question boils down to: is it more aesthetically pleasing to have slivers rather than a symmetrical layout?
I always start on the middle and make two marks- one at 1/4 off center and one at 3/4.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to start at one end. It could just be that I’m trained to start on the middle. If you do start at one end you’ll want to make sure the corner is plumb.
If you divide the back wall in half to find the center point then the two halves would be about 29 5/8 inch each.
If you start with full tile on the center line you’ll have four full tiles and one near-full tile that you cut 3/8 inch off of. So your rows would alternate as near full-near half into the corner.
I don’t see the need to do a quarters layout with a 60 inch back wall.
So you wouldn’t try to wrap the 5/8″ piece? Or would you?
I would not take the tiny sliver cut-off and wrap it around onto the other wall. I’m not sure if that’s what you are asking, or not. I would try to make the side wall start with 1/2-full’s or near-1/2 and near full tiles. Hopefully it will look like the pattern carries through onto the side wall.
With subway tile I always want a perfect mirror image right left up and down when it comes to cuts. Lay it out on flat surface take measurements twice or five times. The wall will tell you what works for your project . Don’t be in a hurry when laying out any tile insulation. Cool website you have
Thanks! I call that “mirroring” and it’s another way to do it. Good suggestion.
Hi diy tile guy!
Thanks for such a detailed post with so much information! I’m wondering if you can point me in the direction of another post (or if you haven’t already covered it, maybe give me some advice here) regarding the cutting of molding pieces. My partner and I are tiling a new bathroom in our home and we’ve reached the top of the wall tiles, meaning it’s now time to install our molding tiles. Installation along the wall is going fine, but we’d like to cut the tiles that will touch the room’s corners at an angle and aren’t quite sure how to do this. We’re using a snap cutter (I realize that cutting these pieces at an angle might be asking too much of this tool) and are working with molding tiles similar to the ones pictured in your “subway tile bullnose” photo in the previous post about subway tile installation.
Any tips or advice would be helpful!
You won’t be able to cut those with a snap cutter. The best way is probably to rent a tile saw. If you can get one where the blade will make bevel cuts that would be the best and easiest.
Otherwise you can rig up some sort of angle or wedge type of contraption that will do the same thing.
Nice tips. What color grout from your experience would go better with white beveled gloss subway tile: bright white or snow white?
I would think bright white. The best thing is to get the tile and a grout chart and look at it in the lighting of the room. Don’t pick the color with the tile store lighting.
Hi, great work. Have you any experience with the beveled 3×6 subway tile, I’m a avid DIY guy myself and as I’m researching the tile and how it will finish off, I’m having the same thoughts you address here in your tips regarding the finished edge and how it meets up to a factory edge and if there are comparable trim pieces to finish the layout in a nice fluid installation. i can’t find any accent tile or specialty tile that goes with the beveled subway 3×6 from daltile. Any suggestions would be appreciated, I’m ready to scrap the idea.
With beveled subway tile you are going to have the thick 1/2 tile on the end along with the skinny end of the full tile. These would be in alternating rows. I think your best bet would be to cut the skinny part of the full tiles off so that all rows will end in the thickest part of the tile. Hopefully that makes sense.
Then you need to find something that will trim the thick part of the edge. This can be maybe a natural stone tile, a metal profile- like the ones from Schluter, or maybe Daltile has something that would work in the same line.
I am using the 3×6 ceramic beveled subway tile from dalitile. I’m doing the backsplash in our kitchen so each run is about 7′ long and two ends will be exposed. This is my first time doing tile and just wondering what the best look is for finishing those exposed ends and What is the best type of cutter to use on this type of tile? Is there any particular type of thin set adhesive that you would recommend for this? Thank you
With normal subway tile you would usually alternate full/half tiles on the end of the rows. With beveled tile that creates a problem because they will also alternate as thin/thick.
I think the best way is to cut the bevel off of the full tiles so that both rows are the same thickness on the ends.
As far as trim I don’t know if Daltile makes anything for the beveled subway tile. You may have to use a metal profile for the trim on the edges.
A snap cutter probably won’t work well for that tile. I would either purchase or rent a tile saw to make the cuts. The saw will work better for the outlet cuts also.
Most any thinset will work for that tile. You could even use a mastic for that particular application as long as the tiles aren’t dished in on the backs.
Can you do your own beveling on the short cut tile with an angle grinder or something? Also, how do you have beveled tile meet up on an inside corner? Do you run one side of the tile all the way to the wall and then have the other side butt up against the tile or do you leave a little space on both sides and then fill in with your grout? Thanks.
Are you saying with the 1/4 and 3/4 cuts that this will get rid of all bevels on the ends so that all the tiles meet up with a straight non beveled line?
Unless it’s marble or something like that you won’t be able to. If out had a glaze on the front you’d take the glaze right off.
For the inside corner you have to bevel the tiles on both walls do they meet up together.
We are planning to do an elongated subway tile with a bevel (maybe 4×12 or 4×10). Sales reps at the tile store are all saying that beveled subway tile should really be done with white grout, but we are hoping to get a darker color (probably taupe) so that we do not have to worry about yellowing.
Are we totally crazy for considering a taupe grout with the beveled subway? Let me know what you think!
That would work also.
White blends better with white tile and will cover up more imperfections. But I don’t see a reason to not go with beige.
Using a better quality grout will reduce/ eliminate yellowing and fading issues.
Hello, I’m glad I found this page because I’m planning on tiling a “stoop” at our front door with pebble tiles. It’s a 4’x8′ concrete pad.
On other sites I’ve read about first cleaning ithe concrete thoroughly using a TSP solution. In addition, some sites recommend applying a liquid water barrier to the concrete first. My question is: Would you recommend the water barrier? Also what type of thinset do you recommend?
It depends on how exposed to the elements the tile will be. If it’s exposed to the elements and freezing temps you’re going to want a heavy duty thinset mortar. ANSI 118.15. Something like Custom’s Megaflex or Laticrete’s 254.
The water barrier I think is a good idea but, again, it depends on how much weather it will see and how much ground water there is underneath. I prefer a sheet membrane for waterproofing. Nobleseal TS is probably what I would use but would use EXT if I wanted the maximum protection.
You’ll want to perform a water drop test. Sprinkle some water on the slab in different spots. If more than a minute goes by and it’s still in drop form and hasn’t absorbed then your thinset won’t absorb either. You’ll need to either grind the surface of use something like Mapei’s Ecoprimgrip over it.
Thank you for the reply. Living in Louisiana there is rarely freezing weather , but I have some Red Gaurd left over from a prior shower tile job, what about that? Also I planned on doing some grinding to remove old concrete left from removing the previous covering and then washing it with a muriatic acid solution to give it some roughness.
Sounds like that will work out ok.
Hey thanks for your time. I am stumped. I am laying backsplash on a desk area in the kitchen, but it is connected to another height countertop (same wall just two different height counters) do you recomend using full tile on the higher countertop and working down where i will have a half tile at the base of lower desk area or start at lower desk area with full tile and work up creating about a half inch tile at base of higher countertop. Sorry so confusing i think picture would help but unable to post one. Thanks again
Thank you for your help!
I would say that you want a full tile off of the bottom of the “main” counter top. Usually this is the higher counter.
Diytileguy, im on the west coast too.
Just had to rip out a bad tile job and going to do it myself. The guy didn’t plan the layout and just went with whatever. Disappointed and huge lesson learned but happy im going to do it myself.
While laying out my 2×8 9mm thick ceramic I noticed the harringbone accent over the range wasn’t quite centered. (Edges of accent weren’t the same length)
What I figured out was that if I offset my center, half the tile height I would end up with slightly off-center but symmetrical to both edges which I feel draws more attention than the center of the accent.
Im currently drawing up a full size template to post to the wall before laying any tile. Also to make sure it looks great before committing.
I can post pictures once the template is posted.
I think I understand what you are saying. With a herringbone pattern- an individual tile has a top point and then another to the right of it. This would be on the two inch side of your tile. I usually take the halfway point between those two tile corners and call that center. This will give you even cuts on each side of the pattern.
If you center the top point then the sides won’t match each other. Hopefully what I’ve said makes sense. It’s hard to describe in text.
Lots of good tips for us diy folks. Thanks. But I do have a couple of questions for you. Your tip for blending the cut tile with a full tile when doing a staggered-brick pattern works great for that joint but in doing that, doesn’t the full tile that you backbuttered now stand proud of the row above and below? Also, the 4×16 American Olean tiles I bought from Lowe’s says you should have a max overlap of 33%. Makes no sense because if you overlap one tile by 33% then the next tile is overlapped by 66%. No getting around it. Is there a problem with doing a 50% overlap?
If you like the 50% offset then that’s the way that you should do it. But read my post on wood plank tiles to understand why they recommend 33%. The 1/3rd offset looks like a stairstep pattern- each row is 1/3rd so your joints line up every 3 rows.
As far as the backbutter technique the purpose of it is simply to ease the transition from the 1/2 bullnose tile to the one next to it. Yes, it will have affect the neighboring rows but you have the rounded shoulders on those rows. The rounded shoulders are your friends. Bottom line is that if you find that it’s not working then don’t do it.
Hi! I am in the middle of tiling a kitchen backsplash and am using 3×6 inch beveled subway tile. I have been using a wet tile saw. It works great until I need a U shaped cut for an electrical outlet. How do I make the “bottom” cut for the U? I was tryimg to use a compound tile nipper but the tiles are breaking. Do I need a scoring tile saw? Or is there a hand scorer I can use? Thank you for your help!
You want to make a bunch of cuts in the middle of the U so it looks kind of like a comb. Then you’ll be able to break out the teeth of the comb with your nippers.
Jack Mallek says
Is the 100% silicone caulk you mention the same as the tile caulk in colors that is put out by Maipei, TEC, and Laticrete, or are there two different products? The tile caulk has a someone grainy texture that mimics that of grout, and am thinking of using that for the movement joint between the floor tiles and the cove molding. However for the change of plane joints in the shower, I would want to use the colored silicone caulk such as at the corners and between the walls and the shower pan/tray. I think Laticrete makes both products, but does TEC or Maipei as well?
All of the companies that you’ve mentioned make colored caulk in both silicone and acrylic. If it’s grainy in texture it’s the acrylic version.
I recommend silicone for everything and not just the wet areas. You’ll likely be repairing everything that’s done in acrylic whereas the silicone lasts longer.
I do have a video on my site that shows a simple way to caulk with silicone.
Fast question about your quartering technique. If you start in the middle of your wall with a whole tile and then proceed with whole tiles until you reach the end of your walls, how do you ensure that the end spaces will be alternating 4.5 and 1.5 inches in length? Wouldn’t the length of the wall space factor into what size the end pieces will be?
Should you always start at the end of the wall, with alternating 4.5 and 1.5 inch tile pieces?
Thanks for the great advice, instruction. and help…
If you’re tiling the back wall of a shower then typically you would center the wall and then the tile on each end would be symmetrical- the cuts on the left would be the same as the cuts on the right.
With a subway style pattern, you would center the tiles as whole/half tiles on the center line. But another option would be to quarter on the center line.
The only reason to quarter is because you want another different size cuts on the ends than what you would get by centering with whole/halves.
Now you can choose to not center the tile and start at one end or another. If you choose this route, then you would start at one end with whole/halves or 1/4-3/4.
But if you do this the other end won’t be the same and it won’t be centered.
Oftentimes, on a shower, I prefer to start with whole/halves on the end walls and then let the cut in the corner determine which centering technique to use on the back wall.
Thanks, so in a nut shell, if I used the quartering technique I would line up the quarter part of the tile with the center line of the wall (line through the middle) and place my first tile on that spot.
Hi – great blog and information. I am about to start a project and want to purchase the tile cutter for my subway tile. I will be buying a manual one. What do you recommend? I cannot tell from the pic’s what brand you used in the demonstration for cutting the tile. Thanks so much!
Yes. You could also draw two additional lines: one 1.5 inches from center and the other 4.5 inches from center and set to those.
Just another way to get there.
With tile cutters, the bad news is that you get what you pay for. The good news is that subway tile is fairly easy to cut so it doesn’t require a top-of-the-line cutter.
So I won’t be able to give a recommendation on a cutter because I don’t have a lot of experience with the lower prices cutters. But I would say to check the reviews and do your research.
You might also look into a small under $100 electric tile saw. This will allow you to make smaller sliver cuts and notch cuts that you can’t make with a manual tile cutter.
Thanks for all the great info! I’m tiling above a fiberglass shower stall three sides, the height does not allow for a full row of tiles at the top. Would it be better to have the partial (3/4 tall) row at the top or bottom? I’m leaning toward the bottom because it is a little harder to see 6+ foot height & the eye is drawn up to where the walls meet the ceiling more.
Cut at the bottom for the reason that you’ve stated. I usually figure it so that I’ll have to cut 1/4 inch, or so, off the top row. This allows for the ceiling being out-of-level or minor miscalculations and will still look like a full tile at the top. There’s nothing worse than being 1/2 inch short from the ceiling.
Hello DIY TILE GUY
I need your advice. Looking to install subway tile (like everyone else it seems like) in a 36×36, 3 wall standup shower. I got a great deal on 4×10 white tile. I’m wondering if this size tile would work in this size shower. Is it too big? Will there be too many cuts? I would like a off set brick pattern. I know to start in the center (18”) and work from there. Thank you for any advice.
“Too big” is a matter of opinion but tile is getting bigger and bigger so 4×10’s and larger are quite common nowadays. The bigger size is sort of a contemporary subway tile look. If you want to keep it traditional then 3×6’s would be a better choice.
But centering the back wall is a good starting point (or using the quartering technique described in this post). However, for the two side walls you may consider:
-starting at the outside edge
-Centering on the shower fixtures
-“wrapping” the corners and letting the outside edges be what they are.
There’s no “always right” way of doing it. The decision can be different for every shower.
Hello! I will be doing subway tile on a backsplash. Since this won’t be a wet location, I plan to tile directly to the drywall. It will be new drywall (the previous got torn up in the removal of the previous tile), so do I need to tape the joints and apply drywall joint compound? Or can I just leave the joints “open” since they won’t be visible?
If I do have to tape and mud the seams, would it be ok to apply mesh tape like Fibatape, then apply thinset to the joints immediately before I apply the thinset for the tile installation? I figure it would be convenient to only mix up the thinset once, also convenient to use the same products I’m using already rather than buying drywall tape and mud just for this little area. Thank you for your help!! (sorry if this posts twice, my pc was acting funny)
If the tile will cover the seams then you can tape the joints with mesh tape and just go over them with thinset. That’s a better way of doing it than with drywall compound.
You can do them as you go, if you like, but I like to have the tape installed and the thinset dry. That way the tape doesn’t move around and come undone as you go. Also, if you have to pull a tile off the wall during the setting process it won’t take the tape with it.
Great tips! I’m laying out a 3×12 subway tile for a shower. If I stagger each row 50% , would I likely have lipping issues? If so, is it better to stagger a tile of this size by 1/3?
This is impossible to give an accurate response over the internet. The only way to know would be to measure the actual curvature and lippage of the tile. But if you like a 50% offset and have laid it out with the tile that will be used then I don’t see any reason not to do it that way.
What size spacer do you recommend for white 3×6 tile with dark gray grout for a kitchen backsplash?
This is a personal preference and it depends on how big of grout joints that you want and how simple of an installation that you are looking for.
Many subway tiles, the Daltile ones at Home Depot for instance, can be stacked on top of each other. This gives you a narrow grout joint and I would advise unsanded grout.
If you want thicker, then 1/8 inch might be the way to go. In this case you could use a sanded grout or you would have many other options also.
There’s not a right answer on this. It’s about what’s right for you.
Thanks for your posts on subway tile. I am using the AO Starting Line subway series from Lowe’s. The mudcap does not make a complete 90 degree turn. What is it’s purpose, please? I have a 4 inch interior wall that I need to wrap and I would love your recommendation on making those outside corners look finished.
Appreciate your guidance!
You don’t need the mud cap unless you have mud walls that stick out past the sheetrock.
So I’m not sure what you’re wanting to do. A mitre cut will turn a corner but I don’t know if that’s what you want?
I am installing 3×6 travertine beveled subway tile in my shower remodel This will be my first time installing beveled tile, and your post was very helpful. My question is that at one point, the tile will be on an outside corner, and I am not sure how to deal with that. I would like it to look like it wraps around like it will on the inside corners, but not sure how to get that effect. Do I need to put a 45 degree miter or is there another method?
An outside miter would be the best way to get there. You could also just use a metal trim and wrap the pattern around.
Great info on layout. That tile looks to be a challenge to grout. We just had new granite counters installed and I’m getting ready to do a kitchen backsplash. There is a OTR micro/hood above the range. I am wondering whether I should tile with it in place, or remove it, tile behind and then reinstall? If I remove and tile behind, do you think it will still fit the cabinet above. The vent opening has plenty of room, the screw holes at the front of the cabinet also have some room but I’m not sure if it’s enough to accommodate the tile thickness. We have also installed under cabinet lighting and will be placing a light rail trim to match the cabinets after the backsplash is completed. This adds another complication due to the light rail exceeding slightly the cabinet bottom, Once installed the light rail would sort of ‘trap’ the microwave in place and have to be removed if the microwave needed service or replacement. I only have about 1.5″ to the cabinet bottom under the micro. I was just wondering what you see in the field and if you have ever removed a OTR micro to tile a backsplash and then reinstalled it after tiling. Much obliged for the information provided.
It’s been done either way. The most common way of to tile around the microwave.
You could remove it first but I’d make sure it will fit back in before you tile the wall behind it.
Thanks for the quick reply. I’m thinking I will remove, shim behind the bracket to account for the tile thickness, and then reinstall to ‘test’. If the front screws still line up, then I know I can tile behind it. Tiling behind eliminates a skinny cut, and allows for a different sized appliance later on, or even a change to a dedicated vent hood and only tiles drilled would need replacing.
Julie Johnson says
We installed a shower with subway tile. Looks really good except for just a couple tiles that have jagged edges. We thought maybe it would be covered up with grout but were wrong. How do we fix it? Thanks
I’m not sure why the tile have jagged edges? Are these cut edges? If so, you could file, sand, or grind down the cut edge to smooth it out. Usually something in the 100-200 grit range works well.
If they’re jagged for some other reason then I’ll need some more information to understand the situation.
I’m doing a backsplash. and want the tile over the sink(30’between cabinets) centered and I’d also like to wrap the inside corner of the 124.5″wall that the sink is on and the one that the stove is on in my l-shape kitchen. If i center the edge of a full tile in the center of the sink area, when I get, to the corner the last tile is a full tile thus the adjacent wall would start with a full tile and i can’t get that folded look in the corner. If i center a full tile at the halfway pint of the sink area, the last tile leading to the center is a 1/2 thus the adjacent wall would have to start with a half tile again I can’t get the “wrapped (mirroring) look in the corner. Can you suggest anything? if I start the first row at the sink center with 1.5 tile and the second row with a 4.5 tile on center and work right, what size tile would I use for the first row going left and what size for the second row going left?.
There’s nothing wrong with a full/half tile going into the corner and continuing out with full/half tiles. The corner would be full-full and half-half.
If you want to start with a quarters layout (1.5/4.5) then you would “fold” or “wrap” the tiles in the corner with that size of tiles. So the 4.5 would fold into a 1.5 and the 1.5 would fold to the 4.5.
You don’t want to mirror the corners in this situation. You want the bigger piece to wrap or continue into the smaller piece and vice versa.
Hi tile guy,
I followed many of your recommendations and installed a subway tile shower. The job turned out great, however, now that its been done for 6 months or so the white grout is starting to turn yellow. I’ve used a mild bleach solution to clean but it didn’t;’t help. I used white custom building products thin set, custom products white grout. and Aquamix sealer. Any ideas as to what went wrong and how to get the grout back to snow white? Thanks so much for your help.
Grout problems are quite common and can be a bit of a crap shoot to diagnose and the very common sanded and unsanded cement grouts have the most problems.
You might see if some sort of a grout cleaner will remove it. If so, then the grout isn’t the problem. If not, it’s possible that it’s thinset underneath that’s too high in the grout joint. If this were the case, most likely it would be spotty yellowing. Otherwise, take a good look at your shower products and cleaning products.
These are tough ones and a phone call to Custom Building Products might be helpful.
Terry Mason says
I’m doing a 3×6 beveled kitchen back splash,I like your idea of cutting the beveled edge off at the end to accent the 1/2cuts ,to make it an an covered with plastic or metal edging ,when I come to the inside counter it would be fast if that method worked ,my question if I start with cut to cut &beveled to bed all from inside to other side I will have a under even inside corner ?,filled with silicone, is this the correct way to go? thanks for your forms
I’m having a hard time understanding this question. I think your auto-correct probably didn’t do you any favors. But for the inside corners, you’ll want to either bevel the corners or use one of Schluter’s Dilex profiles.
Dina C says
We are installing 3×6 beveled subway tile in our kitchen. They will cover the backsplash as well as go up to the ceiling behind the stove. We will add a stainless steel hood there as well. Our walls are angled. Imagine a square corner, but the corner is instead an angled wall, which is the wall that is behind the stove. It is the major focal point. How do we cut beveled tiles meet up on the left and right obtuse angles? I’d assume instead of cutting the tiles straight which would leave a very visual seam along those angles, that it would be better to cut the tile on an angle then laying it over the piece on the flat wall. But that all makes sense on a flat tile. How would that work on a beveled tile? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Great tips in this article.
Your best bet is going to be to back-bevel the tiles so they match up. Yes, this will leave a noticeable seam.
Your other option would be to “cope” the corner. I don’t think this will be as easy to do if you’re not used to it. Coping is where you only cut one of the tiles but you cut it around the next tile. Google the term if you don’t know what it means. Carpenters have been doing this for years.
Alex Gledhill says
I’m currently mid way through tiling behind a kitchen hob with metro tiles. Unfortunately the last row before I get to the extractor is just not deep enough for a full tile. I need to more or less take off the bevel on the long edge of each tile, but (I assume because the pressure is uneven) every time I have tried to cut the tiles they break (every time a chunk of the corner comes off). Do you have any advice as to how I can do this? I only have about 4 tiles to cut so buying a wet saw seems a bit extravagant. Thanks
If you have a scoring cutter, you can score the line and use some tile nippers to carefully break the tile along the line. It won’t look fantastic but then you can use some sort of a diamond pad sander to smooth things out.
They make variable speed handheld power grinders that you can buy a velcro disk and diamond pads. These work great. They also have handheld diamond pads which work well too.
(these are affiliate links)
4-inch round pads
variable speed polisher
If you have 4 tiles and they are ceramic tiles then you can do what you need with the hand pads. If they are porcelain, then it will be more difficult but can still be done. Honestly, a belt sander would probably work too.
Hi. Just started learning construction and loving every second of it. Real eager to learn more about tiling, especially so I can get over the frustration of the big learning curve. I’ve typically been working on older Spanish style homes. Needless to say, most walls are NOT plumb. What’s been the best way, in your experience, to make sure you have plumb walls so I don’t make the mistake of laying joining walls, only to realize that my tile sizes are all sorts of whacked?? Make sense? You ever make that mistake? Any advice on this would be much appreciated! Thanks ahead of time
I always install tile over a backer board and I shim the backer board prior to installing tile so that it’s flat and plumb.
They make drywall shims for this purpose and can be found in the drywall section of a home improvement store.
Hopefully, that answers the question but if it doesn’t then please let me know.
Hi. I am planning on doing a corner shower with beveled subway tile. I have figured out what to do on the outside edge (using a metal edge) but what would be the best way to manage the thick and thin ends in the corner?
The easiest way is to make sure that your corners are perfectly plumb up & down and to miter the inside corner on both pieces. Obviously, you’ll want both pieces to be the thick side.
I can’t thank you enough for all the great tips and tricks here in your blog. Just had to drop a line and say thanks for the 1/4 – 3/4 tip. It was exactly what I needed.
I am tiling an old 3-sided shower with a back wall that is 52″ & side walls are 31-1/2″. Using 3×6 subway tiles and 3/8″ grout lines, the side walls were just not lining up with the regular half-full pattern on the back wall. The 1/4-3/4 pattern was exactly what I needed to wrap the side walls. A lifesaving tip!
Glad that it worked!
Thank you for an amazingly detailed article. We hired a contractor to install our subway tile in the shower/tub combo. The problem we have is that the cuts aren’t smooth. The cuts are straight- but if you look closely, the white glaze isn’t perfect, it appears to have some chips. We went to another tile store and they said it is nearly impossible because the tile is so soft. What could we do or what would you suggest? Thank you!
The tile edge can be sanded down to help smooth it out but this should be done prior to the tile being installed. A diamond pad would help with this. Diamond pad from Amazon (affiliate link)
Kerry Hugo says
These are two very basic queries. 1…Halving a subway tile results in two halves being longer than one full tile when allowing for the 1.5 ml spacer gap between the two halves. This means they don’t seem to line up exactly at the other end. How do I overcome this?
2…In the corner it seems that neither corner should go flush to the wall, if I’m interpreting your advice correctly. Have I got this right? Each end tile would be spacer width from the end of the wall?
The context is a smallish kitchen splash back.
Your quartering layout pic is confusing me. Starting from the bottom of the pic it looks like you did a 1/4, 3/4, 1/4, 3/4, full, 3/4. I thought the order was 1/4,3/4,full, 1/4, 3/4, full, etc and etc.
Or is it 1/4,3/4,full, 3/4,1/4,3/4,full?
I guess I need to lay it out on a floor to see what looks better. I’m doing a 5′ alcove tub/shower job with 4.25″ x 10″ subway tile with glass mosaic accent stripe. Thanks.
If the two halves are too long you’ll have to cut both halves a bit smaller. This would require two cuts to make two halves instead of one.
For an inside corner, yes, there should be a gap where the two tiles meet in the corner.
With a quarters layout, there should only be a 1/4 offset and a 3/4 offset- no full.
So with your 10-inch tiles you would offset them 2.5 inches and 7.5 inches. That’s it. 1/4-3/4-1/4-3/4-1/4-3/4 etc.
Hi. I’m tiling my kitchen backsplash with a 3 by 9” subway tile. 3 walls. There is a focal point(the stove) on one wall and then the sink is the focal point on the adjacent wall. The third wall has no focal point. Thank goodness. Lol. I want to centre both focal points. Does it matter if my tiles don’t wrap around that common corner? I was going to use a 3 inch stagger. Thanks so much. I’m really enjoying reading all the questions and your answers.
I would center the stove wall for sure. Then look to the sink wall.
With a 3-inch stagger of 9-inch tile, there will be three different rows before they repeat again. So you will have three different choices to start the bottom row with. Pick whichever row wraps the stove wall the best. Then, probably, just wrap the third non-focal wall.
Additionally, if the sink wall has a window above the sink you can sometimes cheat the pattern under the window to make things work out better.
I’m doing a backsplash with subways, I have gone the method of laying the tiles on the floor with spacers first, then incorporating the first two rows onto the wall using bluetack to work out my cuts. Once I’m happy with that then the procedure is to take the two layers down and get ready with my project.
What should I use to clean the adhesive out between my subway tile prior to grouting my backsplash?
If it’s dry already, I just use a utility knife and carefully dig out any mortar that’s between the joints. Ideally, having a toothbrush and a sponge is nice for keeping the grout joints clean as it’s being installed.
I just completed a hexagon tile backsplash. It was my very first time doing tile work. My last row on the top needs to be small cut triangles up under the cabinets which was not happening. What do you suggest to cover that last bit up?
I think the little corners would be the best way and sometimes it’s easiest to install them right into fresh grout. However, maybe you can just grout the top? Maybe you can install under cabinet lighting so that it covers the back? You’re the one that will be able to tell what looks the best.
Using 4×10 white subway tile. 5′ main wall & need minimum 30.75″ sides to cover tile board/drywall transition. I planned for 30″ +2″ bullnose but didn’t think about the cut edge issue. Like the raised edge next to cut tile technique but my tile has orange body. Would the grout really hide that colored cut edge? Grout would have to be flush with top of the tile & usually the grout is a bit below and that joint would look different than the others with rounded edges? So kinda stuck trying determine how to end rows. Some ideas are to use well sealed solid wood decor edge outside wet zone, use bullnose schluter with cut offset ends, or L trim to hide cut edges with either bullnose tile (2×6 vertical) or the wood trim. Thinking the L would act like a grout line. I’ve thought of stacking all but really trying to be more traditional. How weird would it be for the long 5’wall which is straight in front of the door to be offset & the side walls stacked? Stacked works perfect with the bullnose tile trim with no cuts & would cover the transition perfectly but tile wouldn’t round corners & its a bit unorthodox. Just thinking outside the box! This site has been helpful in my other tile projects and greatly appreciate the effort you put into helping us DIY. Any ideas?
The red clay body can be tough to hide on some of these tiles. You might experiment with turning the half cuts the other direction so that you have the factory edge on both rows meeting up with the bullnose trim. You will still need to make sure that the cut edge doesn’t sit proud of the tile next to it but it might be less visible.
Additionally, with the grout, you’ll probably have to pay special attention to the tiles with the red edge. Keep the grout as high as you can on those areas and it will require some attention to detail and going over it a couple of times to make it look as good as possible.
Finally, get some white appliance paint at your home improvement store and paint whatever edges are still visible. At least the edge won’t be red. Grout colorant that matches the grout might also work for this.