Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A backsplash for your kitchen

Thanks to our loyal follower Jodi for this tutorial on tiling your kitchen backsplash.  This is her beautiful kitchen!!  We absolutely love how the backsplash ties in so well with the cabinets and counters.  It makes the kitchen!!

So if you want to do your own backsplash, here's a picture of what you'll need as you follow the directions below.  Again, thanks Jodi!

Tiling your Kitchen Backsplash (with staggered mosaic tile sheets)
Step 1: Shopping
Tiles.  Pick out your tile!  I went with staggered mosaic tile backsplash sheets from The Home Depot .  (“Bling!” 1/3” French Palace Stone/Glass) 10.98 per sheet.  We used 30 sheets.  **Using other forms of tiles, like individual subway tiles, has a few different steps… like the need of placing spacers between tiles.
             Adhesive (pre-mixed) or mastic (you mix). I went with pre-mixed Adhesive.  
             A v-notched trowel
             A float
             Grout (pre-mixed or you can mix it yourself).  I bought the pre-mixed Grout.  If you mix mastic and grout yourself, you need a heavy duty stick and bucket, or a power drill with metal utility mixer, and bucket.  One small pre-mixed bucket was just barely enough for our kitchen – any bigger and you would have needed more, in which case, it would have made more sense to mix the grout myself from a bag.
             Caulk (I got the matching sanded caulk, which matched my pre-mixed grout).
             Stone sealer (only if using tiles with natural stone, like travertine).          
Big sponge and bucket (additional rags to wipe excess adhesive or grout).
             Painters tape
             Electric outlet extenders
Borrow or rent a wet saw.  I rented one at the Home Depot.  They have a rental shop on site so you can borrow at any time during store hours. Cost was $37 plus tax for 24 hours.  You can also rent for 4 hours for less $.  (They do sell smaller “dry” saws, or tile cutters, for $20-$90, but are better used for only specific tiles, whereas a wet saw can cut any tile well).
Step 2:  Prep
Determine if your countertop is level.  Luckily ours was.  If yours is not level, you will need to use spacers on the countertop where additional height is needed (otherwise, it could be way crooked by the time you reach the cabinet).
Tape down cardboard or protective paper on your countertop.
Pull out your stove and push aside.  Drill a piece of wood level from one counter-top to the other counter top behind stove so your tiles do not slide down when drying.
Draw a straight vertical line with your pencil on both ends of the countertops to determine tile starting and ending points.
Unscrew all of your outlet face plates.  (I recommend putting in the extenders before tiling!)
Set up wet saw.
Find a partner, which makes it much easier. J 
 Step 3:  Begin tiling
Apply adhesive to the wall in a small working area with your v-trowel (apply only in the area you are currently working, so say, per sheet size) about 1/8 inch thick. 
                Start from countertop and work up.
Begin applying sheets of tiles and press into adhesive.  (Use float to push tiles into adhesive if needed). When you get close to outlets, hold up the sheets to determine which tiles you need to remove from the mesh backing around the outlets; using a utility knife, cut off those tiles w/mesh.  Then adhere that sheet to the wall. The rest of the individual tiles around the outlets will need to be cut with your wet saw one by one!  Hold up the individual tiles to the gaps you need to fill and use a pencil to mark where you need to cut the tiles.  (Some cuts are very small and scary with small tiles! Travertine stone cuts more easily, glass can shatter and so you may need to try a couple of tiles before it’s a perfect cut).   As expected, this is the toughest part.  Not too hard, but tedious work, and knowledge and comfort using a saw. 
                You may also need to cut your last row of tiles directly under your cabinets, which we did (consider yourself lucky if your sheets line up close).  For us, they were narrow and thus more close one by one cuts, and placing each tile individually. 
For all one-by-one cuts, you will need to “backbutter” (apply adhesive to back like you would do buttering toast) those individual tiles with adhesive and place in your desired location.
It took us about 6-8 hours to do all of the tiling. 
You need to let your tiles and adhesive dry for 24 hours before grouting.
Step 4:  Grout
Use your float to grout.  Scoop up grout and begin spreading into cracks.  Then at an angle, push the grout further into cracks.  Once again, work in a small working area.  Wipe away excess grout with a wet sponge (get a bucket of water, and wring out sponge before use).  You don’t want to wipe too much group away so as to pull it out of the cracks, so you may need to go over a spot several times with your clean damp sponge. 
Step 5:  Caulk
Very important to caulk along the base of your tile at the countertop.  Also under your cabinets and along your outside edges. 
Step 6: Seal    
If using any mosaics with natural stone, apply stone sealer as per directions.
ENJOY your hard and beautiful work! 


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  2. Nice work .Thanks for the share. Keep up writing so that we can get more informative blogs like this one.
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