Kitchen Makeover Phase Three: Tiling Over Laminate & Adding Cabinet Brackets

Countertops done – check!

Cabinets complete – check!

Now I’m on to the details…

I’m always attracted to a custom tiled backsplash versus the typical plain 4″ high backsplash that matches the countertop surface.  Before embarking on the countertop transformation, my husband and I tried to remove the existing solid backsplash, but were unsuccessful.  We moved forward with our makeover, but I still had it in my head to do something. hmmm…

Once the countertop was complete, I thought, ‘how about tiling right over the laminate to create a custom look on the backsplash?’…why not?

From my many tiling projects – powder room backsplash, fireplace surround, and kids bathroom – you know how I love to tile.  Like paint, it truly changes and updates the overall look.  The process of tiling this kitchen backsplash was the same as {THIS TUTORIAL}, but I’ll give a quick run-down anyway….

1. After measuring the backsplash height, I cut the tile to the appropriate size. I love using small tile because it usually has a mesh back and it’s easy to work with.

2.  Apply the tile adhesive to the back surface.

3. Spread the grout on the back surface and using a grooved trowl, spread it out so the adhesive covers the entire tiled area.  You don’t want the surface to be overly covered with adhesive, but just enough so the tile can “grab” to the surface you want to cover.

4. Adhere the tile to the surface.  Continue with the remainder of the area.  Again, to see a more in depth tutorial, check out these two previous posts {here and here}.

5. Grout.  My trick to grouting small areas, is to use a Ziploc bag.  Cut off the tip and grout,  just as you would if icing a cake.

This is a picture of me tiling my fireplace surround using my ‘trick of the trade’.

TIP: Another important bit of advice that I’ve found SO HELPFUL is to use painter’s tape to cover the areas you don’t want grout to touch.  Grout is very gritty, and is sometimes difficult to get off a surface, especially when it hardens.  It also gives you a nice, clean line once it’s removed.

Tiling is fairly easy!  And fun (seriously)!  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again…it truly is an inexpensive way to update a space.  To tile this backsplash was less than $50 for materials.

I wrapped the tile around the existing laminate surface to create a custom tile look.

Doesn’t the tile change the entire look of the kitchen?

Adding Cabinet Brackets

Another detail that I added to the kitchen, are faux brackets underneath the upper cabinets.  I’ve always loved the look of brackets and chose a profile that was fairly simple and in keeping with the modern sophistication I was trying to achieve for the kitchen.

The inspiration of the brackets came from Layla’s kitchen and it shows how adding details to a space, give it the true character and intrigue.

After painting them to match the cabinet color, they were ready to be hung.

These brackets are actually shelf brackets, and the hardware that they came with wasn’t going to work.  After giving some thought on how to install them, I decided to use an instant glue.  On second thought, I used this Epoxy Instant Mix that dries in 1 minute, giving me a few more seconds to make sure they were placed just right.

Apply a small amount to the back.

Then adhere to the wall.  Use a level to make sure that it is plumb. It dries fast, so don’t move.

It worked perfectly and they are never coming down (even if I wanted them to)!

Here is a before….

And here is how it looks now….

What do you think…what a change, right?  Small details make the world of difference!

And if you don’t remember what the kitchen looked like before…here’s a peak ~

And here is how it’s looking now ~

I am sure you are tired of me saying this, but I’m still not ready to share the entire reveal. I have a few more projects to complete, then I’ll show you the results of the whole space!  (I forgot to mention, we splurged on new appliances ~ SOOO excited).

I want to hear from you – What projects have you been working on this summer?

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  1. says

    I love your kitchen! It is GO R G E O U S!!!!
    Beautifully the cupboard colour and those brackets are such a nice touch!
    Backsplash is very nice!

    Deborah xo

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Deborah….after all this work, I really appreciate your kind comments!! You are so sweet. xo Jenna

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Brittany. I really wasn’t sure what the result would be and how it would look, but I am quite happy with it.

  2. says

    Your kitchen is just beautiful. I’m a little behind this summer with keeping up and haven’t done anything to the home, nothing, uhhh
    Kids have been the priority and the weather has been so hot and humid that spray painting isn’t going to happen. I am looking forward to a little cool down so I can work on some projects.
    Love what you are doing, great job

    • Jenna says

      Thank you so much Andrea for the kind comment. To be honest, I don’t know where I found the time to work on the kitchen – between lots of late nights and naptime, I pulled it off (almost – it’s not quite finished). Well hopefully the weather will be a little cooler soon so you can get back to spray painting! Where do you live? Thankfully in NY it hasn’t been too bad – we’ve had some hot days, but nothing like the South. Have a great weekend! xo Jenna

  3. says

    Oh Jenna! It’s looking just beautiful!! That was the best idea to tile over that laminate backsplash! I am so impressed with what you’ve shown us so far and can’t wait to see the rest. :)


    • Jenna says

      You are so sweet Heather – thank you!! I’m very happy with how the backsplash came out. I wasn’t sure how it would look, but went ahead with it anyway. Check back soon for the final reveal. xo Jenna

  4. kathy says

    Loved the tile over the laminate! I’m planning on doing that to my kitchen as well, but the whole wall between the counter and the cabinets (about 14 inches in height). Did you do anything to prepare the laminate so that the adhesive would hold. Laminate is so smooth and non-porous, I’m concerned about the tile being too heavy and not staying put. Thoughts?

    • Jenna says

      Once you put the grout (which is also an adhesive) on the back of the tile, it should stay put. There was really nothing to do to the laminate before adhering the tile. If you feel like the surface is too smooth, rough it up with some sandpaper beforehand. Good Luck with your project.

  5. Pat says

    I am thinking about putting tile on my formica backsplash,but some say the glue behind the formica can’t take the weight. My question is, it has been awhile since you have done yours. how is it holding up?Thanks for any advice.

    • Jenna says

      The backsplash has held up great Pat. I had never read about the glue on the backside of the laminate becoming loose – I just went for it, lol. Thankfully it hasn’t come loose at all and the kitchen is still looking beautiful! Good Luck!

  6. Melissa says

    Did you paint your countertops as well, or are they new? I’m thinking of redoing my countertops and if I don’t have to, I don’t want to!

  7. Kristin says

    This small, custom backsplash is a great idea – and I think this will solve a dilemma we’ve been having for our own backsplash! In your bathroom sink backsplash tutorial, you showed a copper colored piece that finishes the edge. For the kitchen, did you cut the tiles just wide enough to make a “top” for the tile? Kind of looks like it. I realize this was 2 years ago, but do you have any tips for that part of the process? Thanks!!!

  8. Leesa says

    Jenna, I really like how you changed the look of the backsplash with the small tile. It looks wonderful and really changed the look of the area above the countertop. We currently have a laminate countertops and a laminate backsplash from countertop to cabinet. We are having our cabinets refinished and getting a new countertop. I’d like to do tile on the complete backsplash, but have been told we must first remove the laminate because the tile won’t adhere to it. I know for a fact that it was glued in place 23 years ago when we built our home, and I’m afraid ripping it off the wall will destroy the wallboard behind it, and we’ll have to replace it as well. Did you have any trouble getting the tile to “stick” to the laminate? I’ve considered “stacking” travertine tile (sans the grout) as it could be glued to the laminate that’s not going to be east to remove. Any advice or thoughts? Thanks!

    • Jenna says

      Hi Lessa,

      The tile will adhere to the laminate backsplash – that’s no problem. BUT since you are getting all new cabinets and removing your counter, I would recommend removing all the laminate backsplash. The look with new tile will be so much better instead of keeping part of what you currently have. Yes, the sheetrock behind might need to be replaced, but it’s worth the effort to start with a clean slate. The reason I added tile over the existing is because the laminate backsplash was behind the counter which was remaining. This is of course my thoughts… Good Luck.