DIY tongue and groove kitchen backsplash

I did this project a very long time ago but want to be better about making my site a resource, so here we go! You may remember that when we first redid our kitchen for the one room challenge in 2019, I used concrete feather finish over the existing counter tops. The tutorial for that is here, when I did the same thing in our bathroom.

At first, this kitchen makeover was more of a “for now” kind of makeover but after it was done we realized that saving for a kitchen wasn’t really a priority. We liked the new and improved version. Then covid hit, I was sanitizing all the things all the time there for a little bit and decided, since the kitchen would be more permanent, it was worth it to invest in counter tops. Side note: We got a great deal on counter tops at Seconds and Surplus. The solid surface countertops I picked were $399 for a 110″ slab. We needed 2. Then, the store gives you a list of trusted installers for quotes. The installer picked the counters up from the store and installed them in an afternoon. I think the whole job was under $2,000 (slabs, sink and install).


(pardon these grainy photos. They are still shots of instagram stories.)

With the old counters pulled out, I wanted to replace the backsplash. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money and time on tile yet so I bought 5 planks of pine tongue and groove for a grand total of $44.


First, prime them. Fill in the knots and imperfections with wood filler. Sand. All of these things are easier before any cuts are made.

I used good quality cabinet and trim paint in a satin finish. I wanted the paint to be strong enough to withstand water, wiping and all other things kitchen related.


Then I got measurements for my cuts. It’s important that you dont just assume they’ll all be the same. Our old house is a little crooked so I made sure to measure each board. In the garage, on the miter saw, I set up a guard. Yes, each cut is a little different but it still gave me a helpful guide for measuring more quickly.

Dry Fit

I decided to place the boards so that they lined up centered with the faucet and sink and then on the other side, centered on the stove top. (there was a little issue with this so hold on and decide for yourself)

You’ll want to use finishing nails and attach the boards on the tongue of each slat of wood so that no nail holes are on the face of the boards.

This means you’ll have to work from one side, out to the edge, covering up the nail holes as you go. Which was the issue with me starting from the center. You can’t go backwards because then you cant nail into the tongue.

To fix the issue, I dry fitted the ones going to the right of the sink. Then I left one board loose as I installed from the other direction and slid it in at the end. Does that make sense?

It worked out to be fine. I prefer this and having the board centered as opposed to lining the boards up at the edge.


I should also note that I could have used construction adhesive but I only nailed these into place. That way, if…when we decide to tile, there will be caulk to scrape but we’ll be able to remove the boards relatively easily. One more tip: use a level when you’re installing. Just to make sure your seams stay straight up and down.

I didn’t do a great job with my cuts. I know so much more now since I did the stairs. They’d fit better if I did it again. That’s ok. You know what the next best thing is?


When everything was done, I taped the counters and the shelves above and ran a line of caulk at the edges of the backsplash.

I also caulked the gaps between the boards so they wouldn’t be as noticeable.

Caulk is magical. Don’t underestimate it.

Paint touch-ups

After the caulk is dry, you’ll want to touch up the wood and paint over the caulk lines. This seals them even more and keeps them from getting discolored.

Things to Note

At the end of the counters, we measured the width of the last board and cut it down with a table saw. I like that it’s a ripped down edge. It feels like a cleaner look.

The tongue and groove is thick. You may have to get spacers or adjust your outlets accordingly. I was so glad to pull ours through to wood. They were kinda wobbly in the wall before.

We’re so happy with them. They’ve held up great and add so much charm to the kitchen.

Here they are more recently with our new flooring.

$44, yall. Such a huge impact for $44.

I hope this guide was helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions. This process is also saved in my highlights on Instagram if you’d rather watch it.

Feel free to pin now and save it for later.

Thanks for reading, friends!

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