Tips for Installing a Penny Tile Backsplash + Floating Shelf

A backsplash makes such a big difference to a kitchen or bathroom! And while I’m typically a fan of the full-height backsplashes, I really like the shorter penny tile backsplash that our guest is here to share today. It looks wonderful topped with a thick wood floating shelf, and the changes really made for a great update to Madeline’s bathroom!

DIY bathroom makeover with fresh gray paint, penny tile backsplash, floating wood shelf, framed mirror

Madeline has the details for you below with some tips for making a tile backsplash easier to install, but even if a tile backsplash isn’t your style, or isn’t in your budget, you can still create a great similar look with some of these other ideas:

painted faux brick backsplash - Pudel-design featured on @Remodelaholic
painted faux brick backsplash

or of course, we have lots more backsplash ideas here

Great Kitchen Backsplashes at Remodelaholic

Check out what Madeline did  (plus a smart tip for cutting straight with a circular saw!) and get inspired to make over your bathroom!

DIY Penny Tile Backsplash + Floating Shelf
by Madeline from Create Bake Celebrate

Hi there Remodelaholic readers! My name is Madeline & I am a Latin teacher / cheerleading coach by day & a blogger by night. I blog with my sister over at Create Bake Celebrate & we have a ball talking about home, fashion, food & fitness! We would love to have you for a short visit or an extended stay : ) Or check us out on Facebook & Instagram!

penny tile bathroom backsplash with floating wood shelf
DIY bathroom makeover, framed white mirrors, floating wood shelf, penny tile, painted gray

When my husband and I bought our home, everyone told us how lucky we were that we could just move in and not do a thing! Well… that lasted all of about 2 minutes and then I wanted to change everything. Some big things, some little, but I just wanted to make my house mine! My husband likes to tell me that I don’t sleep at night because I am mentally doing a project- whoops!

One of the first things on my list was our master bathroom

bathroom before
bathroom before
bathroom remodel before

– again, not horrible- it had granite counters and a giant walk in shower- but everything was beige and the walls were purple and I just could not take it one second longer!

bathroom remodel before

We ended up painting, making over the light fixtures, rearranging some of the storage & adding floating shelves over the toilet, but my favorite project was our backsplash & shelf!

While wandering around Pinterest one day I had seen a similar image- I was drawn to the retro flair of the penny tile (from Lowe’s!) & the rustic chunky would shelf. I had to have it! And if you have to have one too- follow along with our process.

How to install a penny tile backsplash

We started by tiling the backsplash. I kept the height the same as one sheet of penny tiles so that there was less cutting involved.

Tips for installing penny tile

For the edges I used tile snips to cut them in half & the backsplash went up in a day. Thinking of penny tiling? Here are a few tips:

Tips for Installing a Penny Tile Backsplash

Tips for Installing a Penny Tile Backsplash

1. Use only a little thinset- if you have too much it will squish out between the tiles and make it harder to grout.

DIY penny tile backsplash install

2. Make sure to use a spacer between the penny tile and your countertop. That will help keep a straight line.

DIY penny tile backsplash
Installing penny tile how-to

3. Squish and step back- when you put two sheets together, you will want to make sure that there is no visible seem. Squish them together but then look at them from a distance- this will help your eye pick up on any oddities that you can fix with more squishing.

Installing penny tile backsplash, tips and tricks

4. Penny tile = sanded grout.

Bathroom makeover

After we finished the tile (a relatively quick task), it was time for the shelf. This was the moment that I had been waiting for! I was really stuck on having a nice thick shelf, so we actually went to a lumber yard that specializes in less common pieces of wood- however, I think that this would look great a little bit thinner with lumber from a big box store or even two pieces fused together.

Since we got a giant slab of wood, we had to cut it down (boy, was my husband mad when he learned we drove a long way and hauled a giant piece of wood that he would then have to cut!). At this point I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I had a thick piece of wood that I needed cut with a perfectly straight line- and there was no table saw in sight! Luckily, my dad talked us through the process using a circular saw.

DIY master bath shelf

How to Cut a Straight Line with a Circular Saw - no table saw required

How to Cut a Straight Line with a Circular Saw

Want to try? What you need:

  • clamps
  • straight piece of wood
  • circular saw
How to cut a straight line with a circular saw

1. Find a straight scrap piece of lumber. We used some extra trim that my dad had laying around. Then, measure how far your blade is from the guide edge of your circular saw. Ours was 1.5 inches.

How to cut a straight line with a circular saw

2. Decide how wide your want your board to be. Then, subtract the width between your saw & blade, in our case 1.5 inches. Draw this line all the way down your board- making it straight.


use scrap wood as a guide for cutting a straight line with a circular saw
use a wood "fence" guide to cut a straight line with a circular saw, no table saw required
cutting a straight line for a floating shelf using a circular saw

3. Then clamp your piece of wood on the line- making sure that it is on the line you drew. Now, you can push your saw guide up against the clamped wood when making your cut. This will give you a straight line.

Since you subtracted the space between the guide and the blade, the cut will end up being that much larger- the size you need!

DIY floating wood vanity shelf in bathroom

After we had the perfect width, I sanded and sanded and sanded some more.

stained rough cut lumber for wooden floating shelf in bathroom

Then I stained and added 4 coats of polyurethane (wanted to be safe since it would be near water!). Overall, the sanding and staining took the longest time- I wanted it to be perfect!

DIY floating bathroom shelf above vanity below mirror

After the poly had cured, we hung the shelf with l brackets. Every time I see the shelf + penny tile combo, I smile.

bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf
bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf

Thanks for checking out my project, you can find the full recap of all of the products here– and feel free to stop by Create Bake Celebrate anytime!

bathroom makeover with penny tile and floating wood shelf


Thanks for paying us a visit, Madeline! Your bathroom looks great!

Be sure to head over to Bake Create Celebrate for more smart tips (like these tips for cutting in, not taping, when painting) and great projects (like this IKEA hack console).

ikea hack console

+ posts

Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. So where are the L brackets? I love this and I’m most interested in how you hang this shelf. Beautiful!!

  2. How hard was it to demo the granite backsplash and granite inset to the cabinets you had to the left that say on the counter in the original?

    1. Hi Heather! After scoring the caulk between the backsplash and the wall, we gently used a crow bar. It actually wasn’t too horrible! I still had to patch some things but nothing major. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. Hi. I love this. Can you tell me what color grout you used? It looks too light to be charcoal but too dark to be the next step down?? Thank you!!