We are getting ready to tile the backsplash underneath cabinets and behind countertops. We plan to use 2 different ceramic tiles: 3x12 subway tiles for the majority of the area and 1 x 1 mosaic tiles (that come in 12"x12" sheets) for the area behind the cooktop. So there will be the mosaic tiles behind cooktop sort of off center on that wall with subway tiles to the right and left of the cooktop like ===□===== where = is the subway tiles and is the mosaic tiles.

Should I install the mosaic tiles behind the cooktop first and then subway tiles to the right and left or start with the subway tiles and run them up to where the mosaic tiles go? We have never tiled before!


  • 2
    Be cautious: Are your 2 different tiles the same thickness? If not, you'll need to pad out the area behind the thinner ones or use additional mastic to bring them up to the same level. Otherwise, you'll have an odd bump. If you're going to go with additional mastic, set the thicker tile first so you know what "level" is and can bring the others up.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 17:19
  • Personally I would not want to cut a bunch of mosaic tiles and I think a full 1" tile would look better. With that in mind I would do the mosaic first but I agree with the answer below that it doesn't matter. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 17:58
  • Good point. They aren't the same thickness!
    – Roberto
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


Short answer: It doesn't matter.

You're going to cut tile ahead of time and lay it out, right? So you can know and mark exactly where the transition from subway to mosaic will be, and tile right up to that.

If there's any uncertainty about where your mosaic tiles will end, you should do those first so the subway tile can be placed around them and meet in an eye-pleasing way.

But if you have a really good idea where the mosaic should end, you can subway tile right up to the transition (or start at the transition and tile away from it) and mosaic tiles are smaller and easier to cut to fit exactly at the edges of the subway tile transition, again in an eye-pleasing way.

So it comes down to a preference, if you want whole subway tiles at the transition you should start with subway tiles, or if you'll cut them to fit the mosaic edge anyway you can start with mosaic and tile up to the transition with subway after.

And if you're laying out and cutting ahead of time, you could even have two installers working at once, one doing the mosaic and one doing subway tile, that way your mortar bed all goes in at once and you don't have to worry about carefully cleaning around the mosaic-subway transition to keep depth consistent.

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