Spice up your Kitchen with a New Backsplash

Instructions on How to Install a Tiled Kitchen Backsplash

By Mark J. Donovan

Looking to add both functionality and a little pizzazz to your kitchen? Why not consider spicing up your kitchen with a new backsplash. Installing a tiled backsplash is easy and inexpensive to do. All you need is a weekend to complete the project, and in the end you’ll enhance the beauty of your kitchen while also providing some additional functionality. You’ll no longer have to look at a permanently tomato sauce stained drywall kitchen backsplash.

To install a kitchen backsplash first measure the area between the kitchen countertop and the bottom of the upper kitchen cabinets. Then visit your local home improvement center and purchase the requisite amount of ceramic tile for the new backsplash.

Also make sure to buy the tile adhesive suggested by the tile manufacturer of the tile type you purchased. You’ll also need, tile spacers, a notched trowel, grout, a grout float, large sponge, a large bucket, and a sufficient amount of electrical outlet spacers. The electrical outlet spacers will make sure you can still attach electrical faceplate covers to the electrical outlets and switches that are located in the backsplash area to be tiled. Also make sure to select tile spacers of the desired grout line width.

Prior to installing the new backsplash first turn power off to the electrical outlets and switches in the backsplash area. Then remove the faceplate covers and attach the electrical outlet spacers to the electrical outlets and switches.

To install the new backsplash first rough up the surface of the backsplash area with coarse sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block. This task will help to ensure a solid bond between the drywall, tile, and tile adhesive. The last thing you want is tile pieces popping off your new backsplash while you’re cooking dinner for guests.

Install a kitchen backsplash

After sanding the backsplash area, vacuum up the area and wipe down the backsplash wall with denatured alcohol to remove any residual dust and oily debris that may have still remained on the backsplash surface.

Next, use a level and a long straight edge to create perpendicular and horizontal lines on the backsplash surface. Start by marking one vertical center line in the middle of the kitchen backsplash wall. Then make additional vertical lines every couple of feet along the backsplash wall. Finally make one horizontal center line. These lines will help to ensure you your tiles run straight and plumb along the kitchen backsplash wall as you install them.

Next, apply adhesive to several square feet of the wall. Use the flat edge of the notched trowel to initially apply the adhesive. Then once the adhesive has been applied to the wall, use the notched side of the trowel to create horizontal lines through it. Also, only cover 2 to 6 square feet of the backsplash with adhesive as you only want to do an area that you can tile in about a 15 minute period, including taking time to make any necessary cuts. Moreover, start the tiling at the center of the kitchen backsplash area so that any side cut tiles will happen near the far edges of the kitchen backsplash.

Once the adhesive has been properly applied to a section of the new backsplash area, begin placing tiles, starting at the intersection of the center vertical line and horizontal lines. As you install the tiles into the adhesive insert tile spacers in between the tiles to ensure even gaps.

Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet

After installing all of the whole tiles in the adhesive area, install the required cut tiles to complete that section of the backsplash tiling. Then continue on in this process to complete the installation of the tiles.

Once the tiles have all been installed and the adhesive has had 24 hours to cure, you can apply the grout to the tiled backsplash.

Mix the grout to the grout manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically only a small amount of water is required to be added to the grout when mixing it up, however sometimes a grout manufacturer may suggest using a liquid grout additive product instead.

Use a rubber grout float to apply the grout to the kitchen backsplash. This can be a tough job just because it’s so awkward to apply the grout. Make sure to work the grout float diagonally across the joint lines to ensure you get the grout into the joint lines thoroughly.

After grouting several square feet of tiled backsplash area, clean the surface of the grouted tiles with a damp sponge.

Make sure to have a large clean bucket of water nearby as you’ll need to rinse the sponge continuously. Continue in this process to complete the grouting.

After applying the grout to the entire tiled kitchen backsplash area, go back immediately and wipe down the new backsplash with the sponge and a bucket of clean water. Repeat this process again 15 to 30 minutes later. Lastly use cheesecloth to wipe down the kitchen backsplash to help buff the tile.

Finally, reattach the electrical faceplate covers and turn power back on to the electrical switches and outlets to complete the project. A couple of weeks later apply a grout sealer to the grout lines to wrap up the project.

For help on your kitchen remodeling project, see my Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive kitchen remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

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