How To DIY Faux Subway Tile

The only reason I'm actually writing this post, is because when I went on Pinterest to find out how other people had done this idea.... I could not find one example.  I couldn't believe it!

How To DIY Faux Subway Tile

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There were similar, but not what I was looking for.

In my Pantry Makeover, I thought it would look nice to have some sort of design on the wall.  I wanted it subtle and clean looking. Subway tile seemed perfect! I could have used subway tile wallpaper, but that runs about $30 a roll!  Ummm, I think I can find better things to do with that $30.  Remember this isn't a feature wall, it's going to be the backdrop in my pantry.

I wanted to draw my faux subway tile.  I figured that would be the cheapest.  Maybe not the easiest, but cost is always a factor when I'm doing a project.

These were some of my questions...

    1.  How big is a subway tile?
    2.  How do you draw it on the wall?
    3.  What do you draw in on the wall with?
    4.  How much will it cost?
    5.  How easy is it to do?

Here is what I found out and what worked for me.
The answer to number 1.  A standard subway tile is 3 inches by 6 inches.  Great! That's easy enough!

I figured out the answer to number 2, but I'll explain that one later...

For question number 3... what do I use to draw it on the wall?  A Sharpie? A paint pen? Then what color?

From what I read about drawing on walls, a regular Sharpie or permanent marker won't work well.  It dries out too fast.  I found out that paint pens will work great.  At the store, the only color I could find that would work was black.  I didn't want black.  I just didn't feel it would look like 'real' subway tile.  I mean who uses black grout?  Nah, that wasn't going to work for me.

I really wanted gray, but the 'gray' paint pens were all silver metallic.  I looked everywhere... all the craft stores. Nope, no plain gray.  So, I just went with the silver metallic.  It actually worked perfect.  In the sunlight, it does give off a shine at certain angles.  No big deal, it's just going to be the back to my pantry.

I went with a medium tip and a fine tip pen.  The fine tip was used in the corners of the pantry wall.

So, back to the questions.  To answer number 4 - How much will it cost?  Just the cost of the paint pens.  Depending on how big of an area you are doing... I ended up purchasing 3 pens total.  2 medium point pens and 1 fine tip.  I picked them up at Hobby Lobby and was able to use my 40% off, so for each pen, I paid about $1 each.  Not a bad deal!👍

By the way, there are several manufacturers of paint pens.  I didn't use the Sharpie brand.  The one I used was an off brand, but a very good deal.  Since doing this project, I've now used a paint pen from Walmart and in comparison, they both seem very similar in quality.  I've linked the Sharpie Paint pen.

For question number 5.  Was it easy to do?  Yes, it was.  It was just time consuming, because I drew it all out in pencil, then I went over it all with the paint pen.

Now, I'm going to backtrack and explain my answer to number 2.... This is the easiest way I found to draw out the faux tile.  Start at the top (for me that was the ceiling) using a ruler and measure down, marking at 3 inches, 6 inches, 9 inches, and 12 inches.

Drawing Faux Subway Tiles

I did this about in 10-30 inch sections.  It depend on the size of the space you are doing.  In my pantry, I have two short side walls and one long back wall.  

Once I made all of the marks, I used a ruler to draw all of the horizontal lines.  I didn't make as many marks along the back wall, because I had a long straight edge and a long level, that I could use to connect and draw the lines. I completed all of the horizontal lines first.  Making sure they connected correctly in the corners.

Drawing Faux Subway Tiles

Now it's time to make it look like tiles....

I took my ruler again, and went along the top horizontal line marking at 6 inch intervals, 6, 12, 18 inch, etc.  Then drew those vertical lines.

To give it a staggered look. The second line down, I started at the 3 inch mark and continued to make 6in interval marks at, 3, 9, 15 inch etc... making sure that the line was in the middle of each 'tile' above it. Then drew those vertical lines.

Once I had about 4 rows done.  I took my straight edge and lined it up at the top with the first vertical line and made sure to line it up with the third row's vertical line.  Then I drew a vertical line down every other horizontal row.

Then I continued by moving over to the next interval, and drew those vertical lines. Keeping track of drawing lines on every other row.

This system of drawing the lines moved it along super fast. 👍

Drawing Faux Subway Tiles

Once all of the pencil part was done, then it was time to go over it with the paint pen. You can see the difference. 😍

Paint pen vs pencil faux subway tiles

Now, you might be asking me why I didn't just do it with a paint pen from the beginning.  Well, because I tend to make mistakes... 😝  And I did... pencil is much more forgiving.  A paint pen is not.  I made less mistakes with the paint pen, and had to cover them up with white paint.

Faux Subway Tile Closeup

When I went over it with the paint pen, I used a regular ruler.  Only because, inevitably, if I used the straight edge (which is longer, and heavier) it would slip on me and then.... well, I'm sure you can imagine...

How To DIY Faux Subway Tile

With paint pens, you need to keep shaking them (with the lid on!) And depress the tip often to keep the flow of paint steady.  It's trial and error, since this was only my second time using a paint pen.

How To DIY Faux Subway Tile

But I have to say, I am super impressed with how this turned out!  The gray metallic paint pen worked perfect!  Most people couldn't believe that the tile was drawn on! Yay! That was the plan!

Here are the links to my Pantry Makeover Part 1, and Pantry Makeover Part 2, so you can truly see this wall in action!

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How To DIY Faux Subway Tile


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