Subway Tile Back Splash in a Herringbone Pattern

herringbone tiled back splash

Last we left off with the kitchen remodel we had installed all the new soffitts and crown molding as well as the new window, which meant it was finally time to tile the back splash! We decided to go with a subway tile (or white 3×6 field tile) in a herringbone pattern. You may remember that we did subway tile in a running bond pattern in our last master bathroom and hall bathroom. Every time Cody does subway tile he swears up and down that he will never do it again because it takes so long to install it due to the small tiles. However, we keep coming back to it because it is simply a beautiful and timeless tile (as well as budget friendly).  This time around however, we thought we’d shake things up by installing the tile in a herringbone pattern. Herringbone is a classic design in a zigzag pattern that is often used in tiling as well as fabrics. It’s reminiscent of the recent chevron trend as well.  Cody immediately loved the idea when I pitched it to him since it kept our kitchen feeling bright and classic  but was slightly less traditional because of the pattern.

Herringbone uses basically the same amount of tile as the typical running bond pattern and is only slightly more difficult to install because of the angles. Aspect Metal has a fantastic tutorial on installing a herringbone pattern that we used.  The best tip I could give you is that it is easier to install the tile vertically rather than horizontally because vertically they all go in the same direction.

how to install herringbone tile

Cody originally began installing them horizontally, but after a couple of rows he realized that the pattern was wrong (can you spot it below?) Installing it vertically makes it almost impossible to mess up the pattern.

herringbone tile backsplash

Once the tile was all installed we gave it a day to dry before grouting it. We wanted the pattern to stand out so instead of white grout we choose alabaster. Our one regret is that we didn’t pick a darker grout. In really bright light the pattern sort of fades away. Whatever color you choose remember that the grout will go on darker when wet then dry to a lighter color. You can see it looks like a sand color when wet.

herringbone subway tile

Here is a close-up of how it turned out. Don’t be deceived by the picture (it was really difficult to photograph). It is absolutely gorgeous in person. I really love how the tile reflects light around the room.

subway tile in a herringbone pattern

The herringbone pattern makes the room feel a lot more elegant than the typical running bond pattern would have done.  The tile is such a beautiful back drop for the new open shelves for our plates. The room is really starting to come together now. All we have left is to build the range hood and buy a new stove. Stay tuned for those updates!

white herringbone tile

Oh and did I mention how budget friendly this tile was? We bought the 3×6 field tile from Home Depot. For the whole kitchen it came in at just about $100! Can’t beat that!

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xoxo Stephanie

42 thoughts on “Subway Tile Back Splash in a Herringbone Pattern”

  1. Gorgeous, Stephanie! I love the herringbone pattern. I am so going to do something to my kitchen after the new year. It’s pitiful that you’ve done so much in such a short amount of time and I’ve had several years and nothing…there’s a reason I don’t have a home tour on my blog lol! You guys rock! XO

  2. I love the herringbone pattern. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in a kitchen before! It’s awesome that it’s a traditional and cheap tile, but the pattern gives it such a fresh and relevant look. Nicely done!

  3. I love the herringbone pattern in your kitchen. Aren’t you glad you have a handy husband who made this a $100 project? I’ll bet this would cost a lot to pay someone to install. Thanks for sharing with Throwback Thursday.

  4. i know when i love something, it makes my heart skip a bit! love love this!
    i’m glad you decided on herringbone pattern, it absolutely looks timeless & classy and yet modern♥

    found you at throwback thursday, huggies♥

  5. I have spent literally 12 hours looking online for a herringbone mosaic tile. (LOVE the carrara versions, but my budget doesn’t) Apparently, if you don’t want tumbled stone or marble, you cant buy herringbone!! So THANK GOD I came to this site on a google of subways tiles laid in a herringbone pattern!
    All that remains is to know how to figure the amount of tile needed for this pattern v. traditional formats…? Any suggestions??

    1. Hey Lindsay! So glad we could help. From our experience it takes about the same amount of tile regardless of which pattern you do. We actually had almost no discards from the herringbone pattern as the cutoffs will typically fit elsewhere in the design. Good luck!

    1. Oh ya! He was not happy about that one at all. He didn’t even notice until he took a step back. Luckily, he noticed before the tiles had completely adhered to the wall, so it was just a matter of pulling them off. I think he was mostly mad about how much time he wasted. Every time he does subway tile he swears it will be the last time, but I keep talking him into doing it just one more time 🙂

  6. Subway tile is so popular these days. I love that you did a little something different with it though. It makes your kitchen unique with that custom look. Great job!

  7. Love your herringbone information. We are planning to use that pattern but are using the beveled
    Subway tile in a Matt finish and pewter grout. Will let you see how it comes out using beveled. Will require even more matching but should be beautiful especially as we go around the corners. Any helpful ideas will be appreciated.

    1. Please share pictures when you are done! Our biggest regret was that we didn’t choose a darker grout, so the pattern sort of fades away unless you are really close to the tile. Also, it’s easy to lose track of the pattern as you go, so every couple of tiles take a step back to make sure you are still on track. My hubby learned that the hard way! Good luck!

    2. Hi. I am also using beveled. Did your come out looking good? If not I still haven’t bought the tiles so could go back to normal tiles. Would love a picture.

  8. Thanks for posting this…we’re doing the same thing in our kitchen and I’m collecting as many tutorials as possible before we start…and this one is most helpful. Did you guys use spacers? I’m undecided about grout color and only want to do gray grout if the space between the tiles is small…otherwise I think it looks too distracting and less tidy. Any tips for spacing?

    1. Hey Alexis! We didn’t use any spaces because our tiles were lugged on all four edges so they spaced themselves. I can tell you our only regret about the tile is that we didn’t use a darker grout. I think we used alabaster which is more of an off white (compared to the bright white tile) , but when you stand back it can be difficult to make out the pattern. Good luck with your project and please share pictures when you are done!

  9. Did you do anything special around your window to make it easier? We are about to give this a go and that is the only part I am not sure of. It is so gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Beth! We didn’t do anything different to tackle the window. I promise it’s not as hard as it looks. Any tiny imperfections in your cuts will disappear when you grout. Good luck on your project!

  10. Hi- THANK YOU SO MUCH for this tutorial. There is not a lot out there on installing a herringbone pattern for the backsplash and I found this super helpful. My question is: what do you think the level of difficulty is for this? I have done LOTs of DIY stuff, am a very quick learner, and I am also very meticulous, however, I have never done tile work. I have no doubt in my ability to tackle a regular subway tile backsplash, but I do worry about doing the herringbone pattern. I absolutely LOVE this look, but on the other hand, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. I appreciate any help, tips, tricks, and advice you could pass on! Thanks!

    1. Hey Melissa! The herringbone pattern isn’t necessarily harder than the standard running bond as much as it is more work. The are just so many more cuts. You’ll want to make sure you have a wet tile saw for this project. It’s just too much to cut by hand. The other hard part is keeping the pattern straight. It’s very easy to get off (just as happened to my hubby). Just take it nice and slow and you should be fine. If you can get the first row straight and then let it dry overnight before starting the others you should be good. Just make sure to use an actual level to get the bottom row straight , not the counter. You don’t want to get 6 rows up and realize your pattern is crooked because the counters weren’t even. If you’re not sure if you can handle it try practicing on some scrap wood first to test out how the pattern works. Good luck on your project! P.S. our only regret is that we didn’t use a darker grout so that the design would stand out more.

    1. Hey Jocelin! You can buy bullnose tiles for the edges but they are pricey so we just opted for flat long white ceramic tiles to give the edges a finished look.

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