Baby Got Back(splash)

I like mosaic tiles and I cannot lie...

This is probably my #1 favorite project we've done yet.  (We're also currently working on our bedroom, which may take the #1 spot.  Who knows.  But so far it includes a nightstand facelift, a new platform storage bed, new bedding, a furniture elimination, new lighting {a modern chandelier!} and a new chair.  We're also working on building a headboard, finding a new paint color, adding a 6-foot mirror and hanging new wall decor.  But I digress...)

**If you're only interested in seeing the befores and afters, 
just scroll to the bottom to see pictures.**

Thinking about tiling scared me.  I mean, you throw in words like thin-set, back-buttering, and grout, and that's a whole other playing field. was surprisingly easy!  Tedious....but easy.

JP and I had never tiled before this project.  We researched for WEEKS, trying to find the best information out there. (Pause for a quote from The Office: "Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information." Resume.) That being said, we did not use wikipedia.  We searched for other DIY blogs, spent alot of time on DIY Network, and talked to several employees at Lowe's and Home Depot who knew a thing or two about backsplashing.

Unfortunately our camera died very early in this project and we didn't have any spare batteries.  I was able to get a few pictures of the beginning steps, but otherwise we watched Amy Matthews' videos and took scrupulous notes.  Since I can't give you pictures on how we did it, I'll give you links to the videos and whatever notes we wrote down. 

Step 1:

Our notes:

* Do check to see if counter is level.  We thought ours would be fine but surprisingly it was slightly sloped!
* Use spacers.  We talked to an employee at Lowe's who was able to show us exactly what size spacer we should use.
* Do lay out all your tiles on the counter for measuring purposes.
* Butter = thin-set
* Definition of "back-butter" (Amy Matthews mentions it at 2:53 in the video): spread thin-set on the back of the tile, like you're buttering a slice of toast, and press it to the wall. (check down at video #4, at 2:43, for demonstration)
* Consider buying recycled glass tiles (we used recycled glass from Lowe's).  It's half the price of normal glass you can classify yourself as a greenie-weenie.  Win, win.
* Do sand any drywall.
* Behind your stove/oven, screw a ledger board to the wall.  This way you can still use your spacers to keep your tiles nice and straight when you don't have a counter top for the tiles to rest on.  This is what ours looked like:

Step 2:

Our notes:

* We only had a few cuts to make.  For those cuts, we borrowed a wet-saw from our neighbor.

Step 3:

Our notes:

* When you go to buy your thin-set, find an employee who knows what they're doing and they can help you.
* It is my opinion that you should not use a tile setting mat.  When using thin-set, once you press the tile into it, you can shift it around to make sure the tiles are straight.  If you use this mat, once you press the tiles onto it, they're stuck there forever.  Usually Lowes or Home Depot has a display set up for this product.  If you look at it, there are many imperfections.  I've seen 3 different displays for this mat, and all of them have wavy tile lines.  Not cool.
* Thin-set can be mixed by hand.  It takes some serious muscle, but it can be done.
* Only apply thin-set the width and height of your tile.  Our tile was 1ft x 1ft so we applied our thin-set in 1ft x 1ft sections and then pressed our tiles into it.

Step 4:

Our notes:

* Since we did not use subway tiles, we did not do a border tile.  We just caulked the edge where the tiles ended.
* Do use a grout float to press the tiles into place.
* We did not buy a tile nipper but we wish we did.  It would have been very handy to have around the outlets.  (Amy Matthews mentions this tool at 1:36 in the video)

Step 5:

Our notes:

* We might not be pros, but we used premixed, sanded grout and it was the perfect consistency.
* We did not use a sealer before we grouted but we probably should have.  We had to scrub the tiles pretty hard to remove grout haze that stuck to the tiles.
* After you grout, wiping the excess with a sponge is much more tedious than it looks.
* We used a spray sealer that worked like spray paint.  It comes out fast and tends to drip down onto your countertop, so just be ready to wipe away drips.
* Definitely get longer screws for your outlet covers.


Stephanie said...

Jamie- that looks so pretty! Your under-mounted lights look great too!

Jenna said...

SOOO pretty! You guys did awesome! Really adds to your kitchen!

Kelly @ View along the way said...

Looks amazing! Your under-cabinet lights are high-impact and beautiful too! I bet you're loving this kitchen.

Mrs. Taylor said...

Great job! I want that exact backsplash in my kitchen (we have a similar shade of cabinetry). Where did you find those orange bottles? Love them!

Jamie said...

The orange bottles are Rachael Ray brand from Kohl's. I've also seen them on Amazon. The big one holds my olive oil and the smaller one holds vegetable oil.

Steph P said...

Oh my! That's impressive! It looks like a million bucks! I love it!!