Back to Back(splash)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, say two weeks to be safe, you know we’ve been renovating our kitchen. If you have been reading this blog since the beginning of time, you know we’ve been renovating our kitchen for the entirety of that time. Yes, you read that correctly. We’ve been renovating/ remodeling our kitchen since December of 2012. *ahem* And this stage? The backsplash stage? It is… THE FINAL STEP.

So without further ado, let’s talk about how I got tiles up and stuck on the walls.

How to Tile_HouseofGold

First step, and I’m not even kidding, was to paint my nails bright red. *scratches head* Lemme ‘splain. Well, I was going to be working with a tile saw. Water spewing everywhere, spinning diamond blade, electricity… recipe for disaster. And Captain Safety here decided to minimize the risk. As in… I wanted to know exactly where my phalanges were at all times, thus creating the need to paint all 10 digits bright red.

Okay, second. I decided to test this phase out, having never done it before, but honestly… waste of time. I made a paper template. Originally, it was supposed to help me lay out the tile and decide where seams go, etc etc etc. This is unnecessary. I wanted to use half tiles along the bottom, and half tiles in the corner. So I just started from that point and moved upwards and outwards. But! Important. I did tape paper onto our precious and beloved countertops. Those suckers are not going to get messed up. They’re too pretty. #Cambriaisthebest.Paper Template_HouseofGold

Then I opened up all my boxes of tile (3, to be precise), and figured out which pieces were broken and removed them from the meshy backing. I also knew that I would be needing half-sizes of tile, so I went ahead and pre-cut a few of them, so once I started, I wouldn’t have to keep going back outside to cut more. (I definitely got my walking in for the week by going back and forth to the tile saw.)

Once I smooshed the mastic on and put some swirlies on that junk, I just found a happy rhythm and laid, cut, smooshed, etc. Now, this is not one of those “geeez! This is soooo easy. Everyone can do it!” kind of projects. Nope, it’s tough stuff. Especially for those that are under the 5′-4″ mark. I was on top of the counter at times. It was not pretty. It requires patience and weird poses (similar to yoga). And I was exhausted by the end of the weekend. And that was just laying the tile!Tiling Behind Faucet_HouseofGold

Once you get a large section laid, I’d recommend finding a flat surface (we had a scrap board from the garage), and used a rubber mallet to <gently> tap all the tiles, so they will all be flush with one another. I let it set up for a week before I came back to grout.Supplies_HouseofGold

But here’s the part where J and I changed gears. We originally intended to use the same dark grout that we had going on in the floor. Once we got the tiles up, however, we realized that would be INSANE and make anyone go cross-eyed. So we switched gears and opted for a plain white grout instead.PreGrout Backsplash_HouseofGold

Tile by Stove_HouseofGoldBefore I got to the grouting phase, though, I read a commenter’s advice on The Ugly Duckling’s blog, who recommended to silicone the seam between the tile and counter first, then grouting. So I did that. Silicone is basically clear caulk. (It comes out white and dries clear.)Tile meets Counter_HouseofGold

Also, sidenote: I knew I needed to plan out the whole “edges” situation. Basically, where the fridge meets up with the counter, there would be an exposed edge. Also where we tiled down behind the stove, another exposed edge. So where the tile met up with the fridge, I ever-so-carefully sliced pieces of a bullnose tile to create a teeny sliver that would be finished on all sides. There’s much more I could say about this, including the terrible suggestions we got from The Tile Shop, but I will refrain. (Disclaimer: I’ve heard wonderful things about The Tile Shop, but the one in Virginia Beach is pretty bad as far as customer service goes. Still love the product, just wouldn’t go there for advice or help.)Tile Edges_HouseofGold

When it came time for grouting, we were tipped off by the nice tile-man at Home Depot to mix in this grout sealer. It’s expensive, but it will seal the grout from the inside, creating less problems down the road. And that, dear friends, is what we’re aiming for. So I took my mashed potatoes grout and smashed it in every nook and cranny I saw. Really, this is the simplest part. You’ve already done the hard work by placing them in their correct locations.

Once the grout was all mashed-potatoed in the seams, I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes (or basically, while J and I were addressing some other messes that will be discussed on Thursday). Then I came back with a sponge, lots of buckets of water, and sponged the excess off.

See? Grout Haze_HouseofGoldYou can also see that I still need to go back and wipe the tiles down again to de-haze them. But SERIOUSLY. The kitchen is so close. SO CLOSE.  Grout_HouseofGoldLinking up with Twirl & Take a Bow, Ugly Duckling @ Dueling DIY, The Makers Link Party & The Dedicated House & Remodelaholic & Tatertots & Jello!


10 thoughts on “Back to Back(splash)

  1. The backsplash looks SO good with the new counters and the cabinets! It’s a total transformation! I actually do think this would be one of those projects that would stress me out like woah, but that I would be so proud of when I was done. The kitchen is looking so good with every post. 🙂

  2. Looking good! Just a note though: I’ve read LOTS of reviews about grout sealer, and not to burst your bubble, but I have not heard the greatest things about the mix-in stuff. Some people think it works great, some think it’s still prone to staining (tile pro shops still sell the stuff but none of them have recommended it when asked). So you may still want to take a quick sealer and go over the grout as an extra step at the end (and bonus: it’s cheaper than the mix-in stuff AND there are some, like the kind I’ve used, that have a brush on the end). Looking forward to seeing the end result!

    • That tile is absolutely gorgeous. It looks wonderful with your cabinets.

      I wanted to chime in on the mix in grout sealer – I’m definitely no expert, but I did use a mix in on my bathroom floor. If I could do it over again I would have sealed it after (or not used white grout…). I don’t remember what brand sealer and grout I used, but I had to use an acid cleaner and reseal everything less than 6 months after I tiled because my grout looked horribly dirty all the time. Sarah’s offered some good advice above. Seal it again if you can.

      Good luck with the finishing touches – I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  3. Pingback: The Master Bath… Revised Edition. | House of Gold

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