Installing a kitchen backsplash is one of the easiest ways to add style and
beauty to your kitchen. Unlike in floor tile installations, backsplashes donít
need to be applied to backerboard, and can be installed directly on plaster or
wallboard. This allows you to design and implement a backsplash project with a
minimum of mess and hassle required.
The first thing you need to do is design your pattern and lay out your tiles.
Standard applications will have square or rectangular right angle cut pieces,
which will interlock with one another relatively easily. These tiles can be
installed in various patterns which adhere to both straight and diagonal
designs. Tiles can also be mixed and matched in color and consistency, and in
some cases can even be painted with an attractive focal point. In more advanced
designs, broken mosaic chip tiles may be used for a more rustic natural look.
Once you know the pattern, you need to find the exact center of the wall that
you will be tiling. This can be done using a tape measure, and meter stick. Draw
a horizontal and a vertical guiding line, intersecting perpendicular through
this center point. That will be a guide that will allow you to create a pattern
which is perfectly symmetrical both side to side, and top to bottom. Since some
counters may not be installed perfectly straight, you will have to use a level
to ensure that your line is even.
Take a long stick, and mark it with a pencil at regular intervals in relation to
the size of the tiles being used. Donít forget to leave gaps between the tiles
marking to account for grout lines. Then use this stick to mark the wall with a
pencil grid pattern which will act as a guide for laying out the actual tiles.
Once you have everything planned and laid out, you can begin to apply the
adhesive to the wall. Use a notched trowel to apply the tile mastic in an even
coat below the horizon line, using that as a reference for placement. Then take
the notched edge of the trowel and score the mastic so that it is indented for
You should start tile installation at the point where the horizontal and
vertical reference line meet, placing the tile firmly against the adhesive while
twisting it gently to ensure that it sets. Lay the tile from the center, out to
the end of the wall in one direction, and then in the other direction,
completing a full row before moving down a level. If the tile is not self
spacing, use plastic spacers to create even grout gaps between each piece. Once
an entire row is finished, move down, completing a second row while using the
first as a reference. If you find a row cut off by the counter, use a tile saw
to trim pieces to match the space.
This process can then be continued above the reference line. Stop periodically
and step back to make sure that your rows are even, and that your grout gaps are
all the same width. Use bullnosed tile pieces to complete the edges of the
When youíre done, take a 2X4 of wood wrapped in cloth or padding, and place it
over the surface of the tiles. Then beat this wooden buffer with a mallet,
gently, but firmly, to ensure that all of the pieces are dimensionally even, and
set well into the mastic. If you are using natural stone tiles you need to seal
them before moving on to the next step.
Allow your tiles to set for at least 24 hours. Then apply grout to the surface
of the backsplash, spreading it evenly with a rubber float angled at 30 degrees,
to try and push the grout down into the gaps between the tiles. Once finished,
the same float can be used to wipe excess grout from the surface of the pieces,
being careful not to remove any from the joints.
After allowing the grout to dry for a few hours, a wet sponge can be used to
remove excess from the surface of the tiles. When you are done, the backsplash
will shine with beauty and precision, a testament to your own handy know how and
This article was sponsored by PebbleZís line of large
kitchen tables, which are hand crafted in the United States using real
pieces of natural stone. The author of the article was stone artist and design
expert Joey Pebble.
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