Have you ever wondered how hard it is to do some of these DIY projects you see on TV or read about in magazines or blogs? Well, I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying to do projects around my house. I just try to educate myself as much as possible beforehand. In this situation, it has to do with backsplash tile.
TLC had a show called Trading Spaces where homeowners traded homes and did a remodeling project with the help of a trained interior designer. While there were definitely some questionable things done to their neighbor’s homes (grass on the wall???), I did learn many lessons on how to do certain projects. I started small and began researching new creative ideas along the way.
That interest and willingness to try something new has kept me entertained as I am always on the look out for ways to improve upon or update my home. After remodeling my bar area with new granite, sink and faucet, I struggled to design a backsplash that fit the area and look I was going for. After many trips to tile stores, I arrived at a way to accomplish my goals of a unique design that I could do myself but would look clean and modern in the space.
If you have been curious about whether taking on a tiling project is something you can really do yourself, the answer is yes! But, I would add, start small. Once you get the hang of measuring, applying the grout and mortar and the design itself, you may be ready for a bigger project.
There are so many types of tile depending on your taste, color, style, texture, durability and ability to be cut (for us home DIY people who may not own a tile saw or want to rent one). I learned about an easy to find solution that makes the measuring and laying out part pretty simple. If you go to your local tile or home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards), you will see that while you can buy individual tiles of whatever size you may need, they also sell tiles that are on a mesh. This is typically found by the square foot. This mesh turns out to be a real asset when you are learning how to tile a wall or floor. It’s already measured for you in terms of the space between each tile which makes it one less step for you.
Now for my project, here is how I got creative. I was having a hard time finding just the right colors and textures I wanted. I like using the mesh when I can but was limited in the designs per square foot. Until I realized that if I bought three different 12 x 12 tiles, cut through the mesh to make my own pattern, I would have the look I wanted. And, the mesh still held a number of tiles together for me making the spacing and leveling of each row in my backsplash no problem.
This is what the mesh looks like on the back of the tiles:
So, I am ready to measure the wall where the tile will go. What I paid the most attention too was where your eyes typically go when looking at a backsplash. The middle and in my case, the end that was open to the walkway. So, the part where the walls met was a little easier to hide tiles that I had to cut. Just a little trick of the eye. Once you get your measurements down, measure again. Trust me. From cutting wrong to not buying enough tile all because of a mistake in measurement, you will be glad for the reminder. There is also a saying of cut once, measure twice that fits this scenario. Even after several measurement attempts with consistent results, I will still buy an extra tile or two just in case. The last thing I want to do is have to stop my project and run back to the tile store because I didn’t have enough or the tile broke.
Off to the tile or home improvement store with your quantity of tile needed. You will also need to buy the mortar, trowel, and grout. If you are using the tiles on the mesh, you shouldn’t need to buy the spacers as it is done for you. When it comes to buying the grout, it is important to choose sanded or unsanded grout. Here’s the reason. If you are using glass tiles, you want to use unsanded grout so you don’t scratch the tiles when filling the grout lines. I would think the same would be true for other shiny surfaces too.
Here are the products that I used:
The steps I used to do the backsplash go like this:
- Lay out the design you want now that the tiles are measured to fit the space
- The mortar that I buy comes ready made. So no mixing necessary.
- Use your trowel to put just enough mortar on the wall for your first row, tile or square foot of tile. If you do too much at once, it will dry and you don’t want that.
- Place your tile(s) in the designated space on the wall. Move them gently to be level. Then finish the section.
- Since the two open ends in my design are very visible, that is where I started laying the tiles out. That way, if I need to cut the tiles at the end, it would just be in the corner which is not as obvious. I wanted a clean, sleek look which I think I got.
- Once your tiles are up on the wall, you need to wait 24 hours (or what the packaging on the grout tells you) to let the mortar completely set.
- Time to grout. Mix some of the grout in a bucket per instructions on packaging. I mix small quantities at a time so it doesn’t harden faster than I can use it.
- Fill the grout lines with scoops of grout. It will look really sloppy because you will be covering the tiles themselves as you fill in the depth of the grout line opening. No worries as it will just wash off.
- Once all the grout is in place – remember you need a thick line of it as it has to go the depth of the tile – use a big damp sponge and wipe off the excess from the tile fronts. It’s messy but easy to clean.
- Let the grout dry over night or per the packaging.
- Since my space is a wet bar, I used a clear silicone caulk to fill the space between the counter and the tile, so when I wash the counter, no water will get behind the cabinetry and to the wall.
Congratulations! You just tiled a backsplash! It really isn’t so difficult, is it? As you do a few of these, you learn more tips and tricks. I have found my local home improvement store to be so helpful in teaching me how to do certain projects. They offer answers to questions I haven’t even thought of yet. That’s happened a few times! Plus, they offer different kinds of DIY classes which is super helpful as my confidence grows.
If you decide to try a tiling project, please share your masterpiece. And if you have any tips or tricks, feel free to share those too.
Thanks for stopping by!