Monday, May 20, 2013

DIY Kitchen Backsplash

I've been wanting a tile backsplash in our kitchen since we first moved into the house, but kept putting it off because the thought of installing it ourselves intimidated me.  Little did I know that installing tile is pretty easy.  It's the perfect weekend project!

First, choose your tile.

We found that the following tools helped us out a lot during the installation.  They included a notched grout trowel, mosaic tile cutters, and glass tile nippers.

Then, clear the countertops, remove all light outlet covers, and bring the stove or range away from the wall.  Scrub the walls with a wet paper towel to remove all food and grease residue.

You're ready to begin!  We chose a pre-mixed floor and wall adhesive from Lowe's.  Using the trowel, scrape on about 1/4" worth of adhesive across the wall.

The easiest thing to do is to work in small sections no longer than 1 or 2 feet across.  Apply the tile sheets one at a time and press down on it for a few seconds to ensure that it adheres properly to the wall.

For any small areas, especially those between outlet covers, trim down the tile sheets using scissors.  This will make things a lot easier for you while installing the tile.  If you need to actually cut the tile, the mosaic tile cutter or glass nippers will slice through them safely and easily.

While applying the trimmed sheets, you'll want to make sure they align properly with the other sheets that are already applied to the wall.  The adhesive dries slowly, so if need be, you may adjust the tiles while they're already on the wall to ensure that everything lines up correctly.

The most difficult part, honestly, is installing the tile on awkward areas behind stoves, sinks, and refrigerators.  It helps if you're working in a two-person team: One person trims and hands the second person the tile; meanwhile, the second person applies adhesive and presses the tile in place.

Don't I look glamorous?

Almost done!  The actual installation of our tile backsplash took us between 2 or 3 hours.  

Even though the installation isn't completed at this point, it is truly remarkable how much a great tile backsplash can spruce up your kitchen!

Grout may be applied 4-6 hours after the tile has been installed.  This will allow for the adhesive to dry.  We bought two buckets' worth of pre-mixed grout in a sandy beige color.  We also purchased several different sized rubber floats from Lowe's, and recommend that you do the same.  These floats will help push the grout between the cracks of the tile and ensure uniform coverage. Be sure to have a lot of trashbags on hand, too.  This part's messy.

The most important thing to remember is to work in small sections.  Grout dries a lot quicker than you think, and it forms a thick crust against your tile.  You don't want it to dry too much, or else it'll be really difficult to scrub off.

As you work, use a damp sponge to wipe away any excess grout.  Wipe down the cleaned surfaces again and again.  Each time you do this, you will buff the tile and make it shine.

Last and final step!  Approximately 1-2 weeks after you install the tile and apply the grout, you should finish the backsplash using a grout sealer.  This stuff is pretty toxic, so be sure to use gloves and ventilate the kitchen, as necessary.  The sealer will protect your tile and grout from food stains and will also make everything waterproof.

Ready for the reveal?  Here's our new tile backsplash!

We chose the small square tiles originally so that we wouldn't have to trim the edges too much.  It saved us a lot of time that way. 

I love how the slate and glass combination really brings out the red of our refinished kitchen cabinets and the silver of my spray painted outlet covers.  This was a perfect fit for our kitchen.

I just wish that I would've been brave enough to do this sooner!  Couldn't be any happier with the results.  

Do you remember what our kitchen looked like when we first moved in?

Here it is today!  Our completely DIY kitchen finally feels complete.  All it needs now is crown molding.

Hope you like it as much as we do!

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

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  1. I love this!! I really want to backsplash in our kitchen but unfortunately it already has a matching to the countertops as the back splash. But we'd love to replace it one day! Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I will be pinning it for future reference. I came over from More the Merrier Link Party. I hope you will check out my blog!

  2. This looks incredible!! It looks like you stained your cabinets at some point as well? Amazing job...truly. I love how the whole room came together!


  3. This looks great! I love how you took it all the way to the ceiling. Stopped by from Monday Funday.
    Corey from

  4. Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging tile cutter review


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