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Budget Kitchen Ideas

Budget Backsplash Project: Wooden Subway Tiles

An old picket fence is cut up, painted white and made to look like classic subway tile. This low-cost project is perfect for renters because the backsplash can be taken down in just a few minutes.

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Courtesy of Susan Teare

We cut up strips of picket fencing and painted them all white. We then attached all the pieces to a thin piece of plywood (luan) and attached the plywood to the wall. The curve of the fence pieces gives our backsplash a unique shape and texture.

Tools and Materials

chop saw or miter box
measuring tape
glue gun with glue sticks
white paint
scrub brush
a 1/8" to 1/4" luan panel
wood glue
paper bags and a marker (to make template)
optional: 1/2" wood trim for edge around the backsplash

Create a Template

Make a template of the backsplash area with a large piece of paper (we used paper bags taped together). Make an exact cut around edges and double-check the measurements.

Use the template to outline your cutting area on the luan panel.

Cut the Wood Panel

Use a jigsaw to cut the luan. Double-check measurements and make sure the panel fits properly in the backsplash space.

Cut the Tile

Use a chop saw to cut the fence pieces to 3" x 6" -- standard subway tile size.

Clean and Scrub

Clean each wood piece with a scrub brush and soap; let the pieces dry completely.

Sand and Paint

Sand each piece, especially around the edges, then paint each piece white.

Attach Subway Tiles to the Luan

Attach the wood tiles to the luan panel with wood glue. Place something heavy on the wood to weigh it down while the glue dries.

Use a jigsaw to trim the pieces that extend over the side.

Attach the Panel to the Wall

Place the panel onto the backsplash area. Find the wall studs and use drywall screws to attach the luan panel along its edges and into a couple of the studs.

If you want, place a small piece of wood trim around the edges and nail into place.

When it comes time to remove the backsplash, just take the screws out and fill the holes with joint compound.

Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.