Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kitchen Remodel: Tile Backsplash {Part 2}

Yesterday I gushed all about our kitchen, and even gave you a little history lesson in the countless projects we've done in the heart of our home.

Today I will show you how we DIY tiled our own kitchen backsplash, improving the look and function of our kitchen for very little money (less than $100!). Honestly, tiling isn't difficult, it's just time-consuming, but if you're up to the challenge, read on for Phase 1 of a 3-Phase tutorial!

How To DIY a Tile Backsplash: Phase 1 {Laying the Tiles}

1) Gather your tools. For this part, you'll need:

Wet Tile Saw (or Tile Cutter)
Tile Adhesive (we used Type 1 in white, for wet-areas)
Tiles (we used white ceramic 3x6" subway tiles from Lowes, along with the matching edge tiles)
Tile spacers (we used 1/18", the same as our granite kitchen countertops)
Notched Tile Trowel (we used one with 1/4" notches)

2) Make sure the surface you're tiling is clean. In most backsplash cases (except for an area that will get directly wet repeatedly, like a shower wall), you can tile right over the existing drywall. Also in most cases, it's usually recommended that if the drywall isn't in good condition (or suffered from a previous tile backsplash), that you replace the drywall before tiling.

But honestly - we HATE drywalling. We've tiled over uneven surfaces before, and we were positive that the slightly bumpy existing drywall and old adhesive wouldn't pose a problem for us. Onto the next step!

3) Decide on a pattern. It's best to lay out your tiles somewhere before starting that way you'll know you'll like the placement before you begin - because once those babies start to dry, you won't really want to rip them out and start over again. Believe me.

For our pattern, we decided to stagger the tiles 1/4 the width of each tile (you can do all sorts of staggering on these tiles - I've seen 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4).

4) Protect any other surfaces. Tile adhesive is messy stuff - and once it dries, it's usually next to impossible to get off. So wear your paint clothes and protect stuff like countertops and outlets before beginning (we taped off the adjoining edge of the countertop with masking tape, and used towels to protect the rest of the countertops. We just put masking tape over the outlets.).

5) Start tiling! Dip the Notched Trowel into the adhesive and smear it onto the wall, and then take the notched end and drag little lines through the adhesive. It's sorta like working a zen garden.

Well, except without the soothing music and relaxation.

6) Once you've got a little area with adhesive on it, take your tile and plop it on the adhesive (you can also "butter" the back of the tiles with adhesive to get more grip, but it's not strictly necessary). Then just wriggle it around for a bit to get any air out from under the tile and to make the tile stick better.

Just think of it as squishing out the air from underneath one of those plastic suction cup things that you put on windows and stuff? After you spit on it (believe me, spit works the best), you push it up against the glass and get the extra air out, and it creates a vacuum/suction which holds the suction cup in place. Even when you try to get it OFF the window, it doesn't want to come off. Yeah, just imagine that, but with tile. And your "spit" is the tile adhesive. Got it? (By the way, this is exactly why I don't have a career in teaching. Just FYI.)

7) Put up another tile and use spacers to make sure they're an exact distance apart. Make sure no adhesive gets on the top of your tile, and that not too much gets in between them (since that's where the grout goes).

8) Okay, now repeat steps 5 and 6. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.... x100 (or however many tiles you're putting up). As you go along and start running out of spacers, you can take off the spacers from the ones that have started drying and re-use those.

9) When you get to corners or electrical outlets, you'll probably need to make some cuts on the wet saw. You'll probably also have to get creative when an outlet falls right in the middle of a tile. Yeah, after 5 attempts, we finally got it. And we're still thankful that the outlet plate will cover most of that one. Whew.

10) Make sure to keep a small space (about 1/4" inch or slightly smaller) between the bottom row of tiles and your kitchen countertop.

11) Make sure your tiles are level with one another. Oh, and make sure you have a furry supervisor at all times.

12) All-in-all, it's pretty easy! Right? No? Haha, either way by this step I'm sure you're already loving it. So, after waiting around 24 hours for the adhesive to dry, wipe any substances off your tiles (I had to use a scrubby sponge followed by a microfiber cloth to get off any particles), and now you're ready to grout!

Just look at that beautiful tiling job.

It sure adds alot to the kitchen, doesn't it?

Before Tiles:

After Tiles:

Just wait until you see it with grout! Grout really adds that finishing touch and makes everything look gorgeous and (dare I say it?!) professional. So, if you're ready, head on over here for Phase 2 {Grouting} of a DIY Tile Backsplash!

What about you? Anyone going to be tackling their own kitchen backsplash soon (especially if it is $100 or less)?

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  1. OH wow! Love it! You guys did a great job, and I'll definitely refer back to your post in a month or two when we do ours. I'm a little worried about working around the outlets and making everything look professional, but your tips will be really helpful. It will look so good with the grout, too!

  2. I'd really like to tile the backsplash, but we have a few obstacles beore this gets done. The wall has wallpaper, so I'm worried that despite the fact that it won't budge from the drywall, hanging tile on top might make for a disaster DIY project. If we remove the paper, we will be left with a gouged wall, so our only option may be to replace the drywalled sections we intend to tile with tile board, then going from there with a clean slate.

  3. Oh what a difference it made! My hubs is not going to be happy because I am going to start pushing for this even harder now!


  4. Spec. Tac. U. Lar. That looks amazing, and what a great tutorial, very clear and concise. You guys are an impressive duo.

  5. Yayyy!! Brings back so many memories (sniffle). I think that was such a great choice for a backsplash. You guys are speedy, too!

  6. This is great. I've never tiled before, but I do want to put up a backsplash eventually!

  7. I hate white subway tile.... NOT! We have it in our kitchen and it is my favorite part. We hired someone to do it for us - You are brave to tackle it yourselves! Looks amazing!

  8. Love it! I have white subway tiles too and they add such a richness to the kitchen. Good job!

  9. We will definitely be doing this whenever we decide to do the kitchen. It will be a long time coming though!

  10. It looks great...that's one of those project I've alway wanted to try... thanks for the tutorial.

  11. I love it! Your kitchen is really beautiful. :)

  12. Wow, what a difference! I love subway tiles! It looks beautiful.

  13. Thanks so much, everyone! :)


  14. your instructions are WONDERFUL!!!! I am trying to figure out this process, so I have been online for a couple hours today.....just wanted to let you know that yours is the best step by step i have seen so far!!! Also, you are thrifty, and that is what makes this blog even MORE awesome!!!


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