When I revealed my wild & whimsical pink kitchen makeover, you guys went wild for the new black and white patterned backsplash!
I spilled all the details on most of the sources for the kitchen in this post, but I kept you hanging waiting for the backsplash tutorial…
Well, not any longer!
Before, my kitchen backsplash was an incredibly basic, very 90’s, slightly off-white square tile, and now it’s sporting a graphic DIY black and white pattern that (1) didn’t involve paint, (2) was a super affordable update, and (3) I was able to complete in one afternoon!
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The secret to this crazy-easy way to bring new life to a dated tile backsplash?
You guys, I have to give all the credit to my talented friend Julia from Cuckoo 4 Design for inspiring this project! She had the brilliant idea of using vinyl to update the floor tiles in her bathroom and I was just blown away – I truthfully would not have even considered the possibility of vinyl otherwise!
Thanks to Julia’s experimentation, I knew exactly what kind of vinyl to order – Oracal 751 High Performance Vinyl in Matte Black. This is a type of vinyl used to make professional signs, window graphics, and vehicle lettering – and the manufacturer advertises up to 8 years’ of outdoor durability, so I’m pretty confident in its staying power!
While brainstorming ideas for the kitchen, I was actually browsing at wallpaper patterns online when I came across a pinwheel triangle pattern and everything just clicked. Why not try updating the backsplash with a fun, graphic black and white pattern using vinyl?
Because my backsplash tiles are squares, the pinwheel pattern ended up working perfectly – and made my cuts extremely easy!
- Oracal 751 Vinyl (also available in other colors here) – For reference, I ordered a 24″ x 30′ roll, and I have MOST of it left over. The one I’ve linked is 12″ x 10′ and would probably have sufficed! Tip: Multiply your backsplash height by width to figure out how much area you need to cover – and remember, you’ll only be covering up half of the tiles.
- Simple Green or other degreasing cleaner
- Rotary cutting set – mat + rotary cutter + acrylic ruler
Give your tiles a thorough cleaning with Simple Green or a similar degreasing cleaner, and then rinse with clean water. Allow to dry.
Next, use the guide to cut the squares diagonally into triangles.
The vinyl is very thin and quite sticky, so applying it smoothly might take a little trial and error. The good news: it’s very easy to remove if you mess up! The not-so-good news: it’s not very repositionable and tends to stretch if you try to peel it back up, so it’s pretty much one try per piece.
Start by peeling the paper backing off the triangle.
Then, I found it best to align one corner of the triangle and slowly lay down one side before continuing the other end of the triangle, smoothing with my free hand as I went.
I will say, it took me almost ten tries before I got the hang of laying my triangles down, and I started to panic that the whole project would be a flop. But eventually I got into a nice rhythm and ended up completing the whole space in one afternoon!
Here’s a close-up shot so you can see how perfectly the thin vinyl adheres to the tile and takes on its slight texture – unless you are looking very closely, you would never know it was basically a sticker.
You can also see that some of the edges end up being less than perfect thanks to the rounded tile edge, the grout lines, and the slight stretch of the vinyl, but I think it actually helps add to the “hand-painted cement tile” vibe and makes it feel more real and less “faux finish.”
And when you step back, you really don’t focus on minor imperfections at all!
A Note on Durability:
And now for the most important questions, right? How durable is this?! What if spaghetti sauce splatters up on it (it is, after all, a backsplash) and I need to scrub it off? Will condensation from the stovetop cause the vinyl to peel?
And I have to admit to you, I’ve only had this up for about a month, so I can’t speak to its long-term durability yet. I do feel that if this vinyl is used on vehicles that sit out in the hot sun and drive through rain and snow, it should be able to stand up to a kitchen, but that’s just something I will have to update you on over time.
I also have enough vinyl left over that if one or two triangles get damaged in some way, I can just cut a new one and stick it up.
As to heat and steam from the stove, the evening I applied these, I set a big pot of water on the back burner and let it boil like crazy to see how the vinyl would react. The steam definitely caused condensation on the surface of the tiles, but it beaded right up on the vinyl and wiped off without a problem – not a single corner lifted.
They also didn’t get hot to the touch, although I’m sure that could vary depending on how close your burner is to the backsplash and whether your stove is electric or gas.
Finally, one month in, I decided to do a little test and pick at the corner of one to see if I could get it to lift… That baby was stuck! Not stuck in the sense of, I will never be able to remove this, why oh why did I ever do this?! But stuck so well that I can definitely wipe them down without worrying about peeling!
I’m so thrilled with the way this project turned out that I’m dying to try it somewhere else in the house as well. I have most of the roll of vinyl left over, so now I’m thinking perhaps my entryway tiles need a little graphic burst!
With so many different colors of vinyl available, just think of all the possibilities!