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Hi, all! I’m back again with a relatively cheap kitchen update that makes a big impact… a DIY tiled backsplash! A nice tile backsplash can quickly make your kitchen look more updated and can be done in a weekend. When I installed the backsplash, I knew that I eventually wanted to change the color scheme in the whole kitchen, so I thought why not start now. I went with a backsplash that was more my style, even though I knew I would have to live with a mismatched kitchen for a few years. The countertops were updated later, in this post.
- Backsplash Tile
- Tile Nippers/ Tile Saw
- Mastic Tile Adhesive (pre-mixed mortar)
- Tile Spacers
- Notched Trowel (square 1/4 inch)
- Pre-Mixed Grout
- Grout Float
- Grout Sealant
- Measuring Tape
- Chalk Line/ Pencil
- Disposable Gloves/ PPE
- Painter’s Tape
- Caulk and Caulk Gun
Let’s start with the before picture.
Nothing special right?! Well, I knew changing out the whole kitchen would be a huge time suck, and money suck. Plus, I would have to learn how to do way too many DIY jobs if I wanted to tackle it all by myself (obv. by myself means with the Mr.). So, I opted to start with painting the kitchen and hanging backsplash. This job seemed pretty easy, even though this was my first time doing it (I have done it several times since.) It is also pretty straightforward.
I start every DIY project with tons of research and a good plan. That is why I appreciate other small blogs documenting their process and techniques. I have learned so many things from other DIY-er’s experiences, that I normally start there. Major home improvement stores DIY tutorials, as wells as This Old House tutorials are all great sources of information. I just make sure that I am careful where I get my information from. Research from the proper sources, helps me determine the right way to do the project so it will last. By the way, I followed The Home Depot’s tutorial on how to install a tile backsplash.
Tools and Materials
This plan started by choosing the tile (to get me motivated) and measuring out how much I would need by calculating the area. I also like to make a list of the materials I will need and check it against what I have on hand, so I don’t buy too much. I hate having several opened bottles of the same material sitting around. This strategy also can save you big time when doing a DIY project on a budget. I have done a whole room makeover with left over materials before!
After gathering all of the materials, it was time to get started. After prepping my area with the painter’s tape, I marked out where the tile would end and start. I used a pencil because I didn’t have a chalk line at the time. I seriously regret not buying one sooner. Over the years, I could have used a chalk line on so many projects. A few years ago, I finally got one (these things are cheap, like under $10) and it has definitely been useful.
Make sure you are wearing gloves and other PPE (goggles, dust mask, etc.) when appropriate. Also, check manufacturing labels to make sure you are working in a properly ventilated space.
Next, I started laying the tile. I didn’t know that I had a tile saw at the time (seriously had one sitting in the garage that I didn’t know existed) and didn’t’ want to spend the money on a new one, so I just bought a tile nipper. It worked well with the rustic look of the stone that I wanted for the backsplash. I could have also bought a manual tile cutter for a little bit more money if I needed to cut bigger tiles than I did. If I were doing a smooth faced tile, like subway, I would definitely use a tile saw with a nice sharp blade. The one I found in my garage and used in a later project was similar to this one, but an older version. It made my DIY tile job a million times easier, but got pretty messy. Tip- you can use a chunk of concrete (or concrete block) to sharpen a dull tile saw blade. Just slice it like tile. 🙂
The process was pretty easy from here. I measured and cut the tile to fit. Then, I used the notched trowel to apply the mastic to the wall, being careful not to make a mess, or apply too much. Next, I installed the tile using the grout float to press it into place. Obviously, make sure that the mortar that you pick will work for your surface and tile selection before you buy it. Make sure to use spacers in between each tile, or batch of tiles as you go.
After the mastic dried (I gave it a day) I went back and grouted. I used the grout float to apply the grout. Then went over it with a wet sponge to get the excess grout off. Check your grout package for specific directions, as they might vary from the process I used.
Cleaning and Sealing
Once the grout was all dried, and I thoroughly cleaned and dried the new backsplash, I used a paintbrush and grout sealer on my new backsplash (again, I followed the directions on my sealant bottle). After the sealer dries, you can caulk around the backsplash. That’s it. Another DIY project in the books. What do you think?
Now I feel like I could use a DIY lighting upgrade with under cabinet lighting. Maybe next year!
*Note- I later updated the rest of the kitchen and ended up tearing off the laminate backsplash and continuing the tile backsplash to the countertops. It looks much better, but would have made a world of difference if I did it when I did this project. You can tell I did the bottom portion at a different time because the pattern of the stone isn’t cohesive. It drives me crazy and makes me want to rip it and start over. If you have laminate backsplash that goes up your wall, I recommending ripping it off and installing your new backsplash all the way down to the countertops.