Kitchen Backsplash – How To Tile A Backsplash
Written by Todd Fratzel.
How To Tile A Kitchen Backsplash
Kitchen backsplashes can be as simple as a 6 inch high piece of your countertop and as complex as an intricate tile design. Installing a kitchen backsplash is a DIY project that most people can do with a little planning and elbow grease. We recently installed a tile backsplash in our kitchen and the following information will help you understand how do it yourself and save money.
Kitchen backsplashes come in a variety of materials today to match almost any design and decor. A kitchen backsplash offers you the chance to be very creative with colors, materials, and accent pieces. A well designed backsplash can turn an ordinary kitchen into a showroom that all your friends and family with envy.
Selecting backsplash materials is the first step in the design process. When I say the skies the limit I really do mean that. Today you can buy tile in almost any type of material from natural stones, ceramic, glass, metal and even plastic! The best place to start your selection process is at your local building supply store or tile store.
For our kitchen backsplash we chose to use a tumbled marble tile along with a ceramic decorative accent tile. The colors we chose matched the rest of the kitchen nicely as the adjoining wall paint is is a tan color and the accent tiles pick up on some of the dark gray colors int he granite.
Backsplash Design & Layout
Once you’ve decided on the type of materials to use for your new kitchen backsplash then it’s time to design the layout. Time spent laying out the tile design will make the difference between an elegant complimentary feature and an amateurish looking mistake. Unless you live in a perfect world your kitchen backsplash area will include lots of obstacles like electrical outlets, cabinetry, appliances and even windows.
Read our previous article on how to design a kitchen backsplash for tips and guidance on designing your backsplash. Be prepared to create a scale drawing or sketch of your design to ensure an accurate design. The sketch also will help you purchase sufficient materials and avoid costly mistakes.
In addition to choosing a backsplash material you’ll also need to choose an adhesive for those materials. Typically most backsplash tiles are adhered to the wall using either mastic or thinset. The debate of Mastic Vs Thinset is worth talking about before you begin installing your new backsplash. Backsplashes are one of the few applications where we think mastic is an acceptable product. In fact, mastic will make your job much easier and quicker. If you’re backsplash will get wet often then you should opt for thinset as it’s a waterproof product.
How To Install Backsplash Tiles
Now that you’ve selected the materials and created a design it’s time to install the backsplash tiles. Installing backsplash tiles is pretty easy to do if you followed all the previous steps. The key to a successful installation is being prepared and taking your time. There is no reason at all to feel as though you must finish this type of project in one day. In fact, we did this project over the course of several days. It’s better to slow down and take your time vs rushing and being unhappy with a shoddy looking backsplash.
The first step involves adhering the tiles to the wall. You can learn all about this step in our detailed article on how to install kitchen backsplash tiles. This step involves cutting tiles, attaching them to the wall and following your design. The tiles are set with spaces between them for the next step of grouting the joints.
How To Grout Backsplash Tiles
Once the tiles have been installed and the mastic or thinset have cured you’ll need to fill the joints with grout. You’ll need to select a grout type, sanded, unsanded, premixed or dry. All of this is covered in our article on how to grout backsplash tiles. Grouting the tiles is the messiest part of the job and one that most people dislike. Frankly I don’t think it’s that bad so long as you just tackle small portions at once.
Once the grout is inserted into the joints you need to remove the excess by repeatedly washing the tiles with a wet sponge. In the article on how to grout backsplash tiles we show a time saving trick to apply the grout with a pastry bag. Grouting the tiles is also a step that hides small little imperfections in your tile installation. Once the grouting is finished the job is nearly complete.
Once you’ve cleaned up all the messes and straightened out your back it’s time to add some finishing touches.
For our project we used a premixed grout with a sealer additive. However, if you use a traditional grout this would be the time to install a grout sealer to protect the grout lines from stains. Grout and tile sealers are very easy to install and most of them are VOC compliant and easy on the lungs. Most are simply wiped on with a clean cloth and then left to dry.
For our project we also decided to upgrade the electrical outlets and switches to more closely match the kitchen. Our old outlets and switches were white with white cover plates. As you can see above we replaced the outlets and switches with black and also replaced the covers with stainless steel to match the appliances. These little details certainly helped bring the final design together for a beautiful look.
As you can see installing a kitchen backsplash is fairly straightforward and a great DIY project.
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