Tuesday, October 23, 2012

faux glass tile backsplash

This is one of the projects / hacks that I'm most proud of, that was done last March.

We have a house built in the late 40s, and some parts of it haven't been updated since at least the 70s.  Our kitchen has issues, and some of them we have been able to address with some creative thinking and help from my parents.

Jeff was drooling over this fancy, expensive tile called green onyx.  We liked the look of glass tile too, like subway tile (the picture on the right we didn't have at the time, but it was totally what we were thinking :)

so, crazy prototyping hacker that I am, came up with the idea to make a fake version that would be much cheaper (since we weren't actually redoing the kitchen otherwise).  It is a very temporary solution, but we love the way it came out and it's actually held up surprisingly well so far! :)

What you probably wouldn't guess (unless you already know the story ;)  is that the above faux "tiles" are made from painted contact paper.  I used white contact paper, a fat paintbrush, green wall paint, white wall paint, plus dark green and yellow-orange acrylic paint.

I cut a 5' length of the contact paper and drizzled the paints on it (mostly white and green with a few drops of dark green and yellow).  Then before it got a chance to dry, I swept across it with the fat paintbrush, blending the colors a bit but leaving it streaky.  I made 4 sheets of contact paper, all of which of course came out different.  Then when they were thoroughly dry, I used the guidelines on the reverse of the contact paper to cut the sheets into a gazillion 4"x8" rectangles (using scissors and a paper cutter it went surprisingly fast).  After cutting, I grouped the "tiles" with similar colors/textures together.

I made sure the backsplash (sandy colored formica countertop which they put continued up the wall for some reason) was very clean.  I put down blue painters tape as a guideline at the bottom, and then just eyeballed it.  I applied a few tiles along the bottom row, leaving an inch from the countertop.  Then I applied a few tiles in the row above it, etc until I had a completed section several tiles wide.  I mixed up the tile colors/textures so it didn't look continuous.  There's no grout - just the original formica showing through :)  Applying all the tiles took less than 2 hrs, probably a lot less time than it would take to put up real tiles!

The corners of a few tiles peel up slightly, but none of the paint has come off even when splashes of who-knows-what need to be washed off.  I think it would look even more awesome and be more durable if it were coated with a thick coat of clear gloss, but that wasn't part of this solution :)


  1. to answer a few questions I'm sure you have ;)
    - the art of the yellow rose is a manipulated cellphone pic taken of roses in our yard. the art of the cat with the sausage was purchased by Jeff in Germany and we love it in every way
    - no, I do not actually have "transformers & bakugan" in my kitchen. the green IKEA containers are a perfect color and size fit, but many of them are labeled with their previous use LOL

  2. It’s really a nice and useful piece of information. Thanks for the share.
    glass backsplash tile

  3. Fantastic job!! Do you think it's necessary to use the wall paint or would all acrylic colors be ok? How do you think the contact paper would hold on the wall in a bathroom? My bathroom is TINY but with high ceilings and I'm thinking about doing this all the way around!

  4. I think the paint will probably stick to the contact paper fine regardless of which type of paint you use. I think the paint will probably stick to the contact paper fine regardless of which type of paint you use. I don't know how well the contact paper would stay on a bathroom wall though. Maybe you can put up a row of contact paper "tiles" like a wallpaper border, and see how they hold up for a month? Curious to hear how it works! :)

  5. This is astonishing! I am curious to know, if you still have this up now, five years later. It's so impressive!