Herringbone Backsplash Tutorial

When my wife and I were buying a fixer upper home this time around, I told her that she can design the perfect house. One of the things that came with that territory was a very particular tile style called herringbone. Herringbone is one of the most popular tile patterns ranging from backsplash to floor tile. If you’ve crunched the number though, you’ll realize that there are two approaches to this pattern. Approach number one is buying the 12×12 mesh netting pattern that ranges between $18-$22 a square foot.  Approach number two is buying the individual tile pieces that come down to be under a buck for a 2 inch by 8 inch piece. Long story short, we went from potentially a $600 tile budget (12×12 sheet) to a $200 tile budget (2×8). Yes you save money, but time is what you’re sacrificing. It took me 16 hrs to lay 32 square feet of the individual 2″x8″. If you’re okay with the extra time and want to save the money, let me show you how to make the herringbone backsplash pattern with the individual 2×8 inch tiles.


1/4″ x 3/8 x 1/4″ Tile Trowel

9″ x 4″ Grout float

Wet Tile saw


2″x8″ White Subway Tiles (we bought ours off Amazon)

Step 1: I used a Carpenters triangle to start with the base. Cut off just the tip of the tile piece to make a triangle (45 degree angle), and set the tile down from the base of the counter top.

Step 2: Use your carpenter’s angle to ensure the 90 degree angle. Once it is set, secure your tile with an appropriate width spacer that you choose to use.

Step 3: When setting tile, apply a good amount of tile adhesive to your wall and spread out evenly. Once appropriate, use the 1/4″x3/8×1/4 trowel to “rake” the adhesive.

Step 4: Prime each tile piece before setting it. It ensures a good adhesion to the wall.

Step 5: Work each tile piece UP from there. This is the easy part. As long as the base is “roughly”  90 degrees when using your tile spacers, it helps make sure the rest of the tiles are 90 degrees as well.

Step 6: To ensure you are set up for success, periodically re-check the base to make sure nothing has shifted.

Step 7: Keep on stacking….

Step 8: Stack some more.

Step 9: Next thing you know, you got your herringbone pattern repeating itself naturally.

Step 10: Let talk about tile adhesives. You could use mortar that you have to mix, but for roughly $15 you can pick up a tile adhesive. With the tile adhesive, all you have to do is put one coat on and let it dry over night. Another nice thing about this stuff is that you don’t have to keep hydrating it with water and mixing it after a few hours like you would with a mortar mix.

There you have it! A clean and beautiful herringbone backsplash pattern that is well worth the work.

May 22, 2017

  • Great job! You are truly a universal master, I just have one question is it possible to make the cuts tighter to the cabinets and the counter?