Backsplashes “R” Us Part 2

Before DCI began installation.

Last week, we introduced a backsplash job DCI is currently working on in a newly constructed home in Chesterfield County. We featured what you need to consider before beginning a tile backsplash and what tools you will need.  You can read that part 1 post here. This week we are focusing on the second half of this project – the installation and the final result.

Once your surface is ready and you have all the required tools and materials, you are ready to install! Tiling is not a hard process,but it does require patience and attention to detail. Here’s some helpful tips to make this job easier:

  1. Check for level: When starting to lay out a backsplash I recommend checking the horizontal level of the area you will be working on.  It is not wise to assume the cabinets are level. I often will draw a level line across the whole area I will be covering. To look good, you want your tiles to run straight/level across the whole area you are covering.
  2. Measure before you start!: You want to avoid having to cut a 1” tile horizontally in half. Trust me on this. I usually try to start with a whole sheet of tiles (which is about 11 ½”). However, this might not work in every case. It could leave you with a half of an inch to cover at the top of the work area. You may need to cut off the first row or two to make the height of the area you are covering easier to work with.  This is all part of the planning stage. Plan this part carefully and your tiling experience will be easier and more enjoyable. Measure for width too for the same reason. You don’t want to get to the end and have little tiny pieces to cut and fit in…which brings us to cutting tile.
  3. Cut the tiles to start:  Tiles often are sold in 12” square sheets with “finger joints” on each side. When starting, I usually cut those finger joints off of a square and start my tiling in a corner. When tiling in a corner, always start with the surface farthest away. That way when you tile the surface that is a right angle to it, that seam where the two meet will not show the grout line as readily.
  4. Methods of cutting tile: I have 4 methods for cutting tile… the Tile Nipper, a handheld rotary 3” saw with a diamond blade, a tile cutter that scores and snaps the tile and a table tile saw with a 7” diamond blade. All 4 can be purchased at your local tile store or DIY store like Home Depot.  I would recommend the Tile Nipper and the rotary 3” hand saw with diamond blade for this type of job. They will allow you to make all the cuts you need without spending a ton of money. When cutting tile always use caution and always wear your safety eye wear.   
  5. Apply the adhesive: I use a ¼” toothed mortar trowel on wall tile. You do not want too much mortar or adhesive on the walls. Too much adhesive oozes out between the tile pieces and you end up spending hours cleaning and scraping. In this case, less is best. 
  6. Install the tiles: As you install keep checking your spacing between tile sheet sand also when a piece is put on top…keeping your spaces uniform makes for a neat professional looking job.
  7. Grout the tiles:  After you tile has set (usually the next day) it is time to grout. When mixing your grout, I recommend buying the grout additive.  It will seem pricey, and you might be tempted to skip this and just use water to mix your grout.  The advantage to the grout additive is that is has a sealer in it already. Your save time by not having to go back and seal your grout. Sealing grout lines in small tile can be extremely tedious. There is also the option of buying grout that is premixed. However, I can’t recommend that product…for me it has looked good at first but has caused issues and been a disappointment later. I have had the best results with grout I mixed myself.

Maintenance for tile basically includes keeping it clean.The tile you choose for your backsplash will determine how to do this. A basic solution of 1-part vinegar and 1-part hot water will clean regular tile and glass tile efficiently. For stone or marble tile, use a solution of a 3 drops(marble) or 5 drops (stone) of liquid soap and 4 cups of water. For marble, wipe with a damp cloth first then dry immediately before washing with the solution then rinse and dry thoroughly. For stone, rinse with warm water after washing and dry with a clean cloth.

So, without further ado, here’s the final result on the most recent tile job DCI has completed!

After #1
After #2
 After #3

Tile is an inexpensive way to update and add some visual interest to your kitchen. It can be a good DIY project for those willing to grab the trowel and get going. If you are considering updating your backsplash or installing a new one, give it try yourself or give us a call at DCI!

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Backsplashes “R” Us!

One of the most requested updates to a kitchen that DCI receives is a new backsplash and the request is nearly always for tile. A tile backsplash is affordable, classic (unlikely to become dated too soon) and currently, extremely popular. DCI has recently completed a backsplash on a newly constructed house in Chesterfield County. This post will focus on the “before” look and things you need to think about before installing a tile backsplash.

  • Types of tile – There a many different types of tile to choose from for a backsplash – ceramic, porcelain, glass, cement and stone are all good for this purpose. Consumer Reports has a great break down of each of these including price, “best for” and considerations. The homeowners on this DCI project chose a glass tile colored in blacks and grays to compliment the similar coloring in their granite countertops. This turned out to be a great choice! The backsplash pulls everything together visually while adding dimension to the space.
  • Sources for tile– Your DIY stores like Home Depot have a decent selection of tile and usually stock some of the more trending styles. But for more options look for a tile store in your area. One I use in the Richmond area is Floor and Decor. They stock a huge variety of tiles and because tile is all that that they do, you are able to get expert advice in store. Once you have picked out what tile you want the next step is the surface preparation.
  • Is the surface ready for tile? – What is currently on the surface where you’d like to have a backsplash? Most common is drywall or plaster surfaces and the good news is that you can tile over painted or unpainted drywall or plaster without any additional surface preparation. All you need is tile adhesive( sold at tile stores prepackaged) and a ¼” notched trowel to spread it on with.  If however you have wood or plywood surfaces, then you will need to install ¼” backerboard to those surfaces before tile can be placed there.  Backerboard has a surface that the tile adhesive can grip  and is reinforced to be rigid and strong to hold the weight of the tile.
  • Tools/Equipment/Supplies – There are several tools required to install tile, but none are expensive or difficult to use. You will need the following:
    • Notched trowel/float
    • Sponge
    • Bucket
    • Tape Measure
    • Straight Edge
    • Level
    • Tile Adhesive
    • Tile Cutter
    • Utility Knife
    • Wall tile
    • Mortar
    • Sealer
    • Grout
    • Cheesecloth

Next week look for the “after” post featuring the installation steps and the final result of our current project in Chesterfield. In the meantime, check out previous backsplash jobs DCI has done below and perhaps be inspired to think about doing your own or calling us to do it for you!