Backsplash’s stand out or blend in

May 1, 2014


A defining style statement when it comes to the Backsplash in your kitchen.  Let it take on your personality and shine.


The primary purpose of a backsplash is practical: protect the kitchen walls with splatter proof materials.   Nowadays practical can be made beautiful.  Glittering tile, tumbled marble, exotic woods or classic tin ceiling tiles, just to name a few that will create the backsplash of your dreams.  Also a great way to infuse color through elements of design.


Traditional materials for your backsplash range from vintage or modern-day subway tiles if your architecture tends to be Colonial or Arts and Crafts styling.  Contemporary designs of cool stainless steel or sophisticated glass tiles makes a style forward backdrop.  Tumbled marble, terra cotta and mosaics are a natural for European and Transitional interiors.  Repurposed tin ceiling tiles of yesterday can be a great money saver that shows off your unique self.


Some of the latest materials being implemented are tongue and groove wood flooring, ran horizontal, vertical or a herringbone pattern, bead board painted or stained can bring your lake home all together.    Sheets of colored glass tied in with tiny squares of mosaic glass tiles draw attention to the tile rather than the way they were installed.  The list seems endless, so stay focused and decide to blend-in or stand out.


Updating your current backsplash will add value and bring a refreshed look to your whole kitchen.  Inspiring backsplashes can be created in just a weekend from $300 to $1000 depending on the wall space you are covering and the materials you choose. 


Planning Your New Backspash


  1 - Design your backsplash layout on paper first - Using a 1/4” graph paper will make this task much easier.  Measure length and height between counter top and upper cabinets. Draw each      wall section to scale.  Your space above the range is much larger and should be your focal point. Draw several designs before you decide.

  2 - Using a 2-foot level, draw a plumb line through the center of your starting point, which should be above the range.  

  3 - Dry fit your tile pattern (from your drawings) on the floor first, making sure it will fit your space.

  4 - Remove all the outlet/switch plates and loosen the outlets/switches - you will need longer screws when replacing them after you have finished installing your backsplash. 


Installing Your New Backsplash


Items needed:  Mastic or thinset, V-notched trowel, 1/4” plastic spacers, rubber grout float, tile, tile cutter (I prefer a wet saw - which can be rented) grout, large sponge. , sealer and a 2” paint brush.


Step 1: Starting at your plumb line hold the trowel at a slight angle, spread the mastic across the wall, covering only the area of one to two feet at a time.


Step 2: Start setting the tiles at the bottom of the vertical center line (your plumb line). Leave a 1/4” space in between each tile using the plastic spacers.  Firmly press each tile into the mastic.  Continue with each row until you reach the row against the cabinets or your decorative tiles or an outlet.


Step 3: When you get to a cabinet or an outlet area you will need to make cuts in your tile to fit.  Hold a full tile in the space and use a pencil to mark the area to be removed.  


Tip: I find using a wet saw for me is much easier than employing a score-and-snap tile cutter.  Natural materials (tumbled marble, slate, granite) cut much more easily than man-made tiles like porcelain or ceramic.

Step 4: When your new backsplash tiles are all up, allow to dry overnight.  Then mix sanded grout (if using glass tiles use unsanded grout) in a clean bucket according to directions on bag.  Scoop enough grout to smear across the tiles filling the grout lines.  Pack the grout deep into the joints.  Let it set 30 to 45 minutes.

Step 5: With a wet sponge wipe the grout off the surface of the tile making sure to leave grout in joints.  Keep your sponge clean by rinsing it out in a bucket of water.  When you need clean water remember to throw old water outside-not down your sink for obvious reasons.

Step 6: Natural tiles will require a sealer, which you can find at any local hardware store.  Apply sealer with a 2” paint brush 24 hours after you finish cleaning the tiles, which allows ample time for drying. 


Bringing it all together is what a backsplash will do for your kitchen.

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