DIY Kitchen Backsplash! Just walk into any high dollar kitchen and the first thing you’ll probably see is fine wood cabinetry and top of the line countertops. But more often than not, that sliver of a space in between the cabinets and countertops the backsplash areais blank and vacant. Turn that boring and bland backsplash into a work of art using these five simple steps for backsplash success. You’ll not only convert your kitchen backsplash into an area that looks great, but you’ll also help increase the value of your home without having to spend a fortune on materials and labor.
Since this is a messy job, it’s a good idea to completely cover the counters, cabinets, flooring and appliances with a canvas drop cloth before you begin. Remove any outlet covers and cover the outlets or switches with painters tape. Once everything is covered well, a quick sanding of the drywall with 80 grit sandpaper will help the mastic bond with the tile.
After the sanding, you’ll need to find the center of the backsplash areas visual focal point. Use a tape measure to measure both the horizontal and vertical centers to find the true center, and then mark a level line vertically up the wall. This line will be your starting point for your tile.
It’s always important to test fit the field tile before you actually attach it to the wall for good. Always lay them out on the countertop when applicable, but if you can’t, lay them out on the floor. This way, you can see how the tile will sit on the wall and you can make any adjustments as needed before the pieces are stuck to the wall but don’t make any cuts just yet.
Apply the Mastic
Thinset mortar is commonly used to install bathroom tiles, but to make it easier on yourself, it’s best to use a premixed synthetic mastic adhesive. It’s easy to use right out of the bucket and holds tile to drywall very well. Using a 1/8-inch V-notched trowel, spread the mastic on one side of your layout mark. First, spread the mastic on the wall using the flat side of the trowel. Use the notched side to comb the notches into the mastic in a rainbow like pattern. Don’t spread too much mastic’just use enough to do a row or tow of tile.
Set the Tiles
Begin by setting the first row of field tiles onto the top of the counter so that a small 1/8-inch gap surrounds each tile. You’ll later fill in the gap on the bottom with caulk and the other gaps with grout. You can use tile spacers if you like, but they really aren’t necessary as each tile has slightly different dimensions then the next and may actually inhibit your layout. Work your way across the wall setting tiles in rows as you go and don’t worry about making any cuts until you’ve got all of the whole tiles in place.
Now that you’ve got the largest pieces set, you can begin to make the cuts. Using a wet tile saw, carefully cut each tile as needed.
To attach the smaller cut pieces, it may be necessary to back butter the tiles with mastic. Simply apply the mastic to the back of the tile (just like you did on the wall) so that the mastic retains the combed grooves. Once you’ve got all of the tiles set in place and any leftover mastic removed from the surface of the tiles with a damp sponge, allow it to dry overnight before continuing to the next step.
Grout and Caulk
Mixing grout is easy enough when you use a mixing paddle bit and a ½-inch drill (but you can also just use the notched trowel). Add small amounts of water into a five gallon bucket along with the grout mix as you’re mixing the materials with the drill. You’ll want to achieve a pancake batter like consistency with the grout. Once it’s ready, let the grout sit in the bucket for 10-15 minutes before you use it.
Using a sponge float or grout float, spread the grout into the cracks of the tile (except for the bottom crack). Don’t worry about getting it everywhere, it wipes off easily with a sponge. After you’ve filled the joints, allow it to sit for 30 minutes or until it starts to harden.
Finish the grout by removing any excess with a damp tile sponge. Clean the sponge during each pass to speed up the excess grout removal process. After the grout is complete on the main tile, use a colored caulk that matches your grout to seal the grout line between the backsplash and the countertop. This allows the backsplash to move independently of the countertop and prevents cracks from developing later on down the road. Enjoy your new backsplash!
Making your home stand out