A kitchen backsplash is important to protect your kitchen wall. A new kitchen backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen at a minimum cost and let your creative side bring new life to your kitchen. Replacing your kitchen backsplash tiles is easier than you may think, and with a few simple instructions, you will enjoy the final product and the project.
- Thinset Mortar
- Tile Grout
- Spackling Compound
- Trisodium Phosphate
- Simple Mat
- Latex Caulk
- Sand Paper
- Notched Trowel
- Tile Towel
- Grout Float
- Tile Cutter for Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles
- Tile Nipper for any Circular Incisions
- Wet Saw For Natural Stone
Tilling the kitchen backsplash is easy with the correct tools and steps. For the greatest results, make sure the used tiles have the proper type of mortar and that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
Step 1: Measure Your Wall
The backsplash needs measuring to get the correct square footage and to calculate how many tiles you need to cover the surface. To calculate how many tiles you need, take the height between the cabinet top and the bottom of the upper cabinets and multiply it by the width.
Include an extra 10 percent tile to cover spaces smaller than a full tile size and for damaged and accidental breakage. A little more calculation needs consideration when you have walls with disproportionate sections, like the stove section that needs tiles down to the floor or some tile covering areas under windows.
There are separate areas to measure, the first section is the space between the base of the cabinetry and countertop, and the second is the mid-section of the wall where the oven fits.
- Measure the length of the space that needs tiling from left to right; for example, it is five feet.
- Measure the height between the bottom cabinet and the top cabinetry; for example, it is two feet.
- Follow the same principle for the area of the stove by measuring the width and height and multiplying the length and the width to get the square feet coverage.
- Add the sums of each measured section to get the total square footage for the tiles needed to complete the project and add the 10%.
Step 2: Prep Your Workspace
Before tiling the backsplash, you must prepare the work space to avoid any hindrances, including the working surface and the floor where you will walk during the tiling project.
- Remove any obstacles, appliances, and cookware from the countertop.
- Move it away from the wall to easily access the tile behind the stove.
- Unplug the stove and remove it completely from the work area for safety to make it easier when you measure and tile.
- If your kitchen space allows, follow your manufacturer's instructions for handling the appliance.
- Place a layer of cardboard or heavy-duty craft paper over your countertop to protect it from debris.
- To prevent tile adhesive or unintentional scratches, tape off the old countertop and the cabinets underneath.
- Shut off the power to the electrical outlets or light switches that are in the work area.
- Once you shut the power off, test that the plug or switch has no power before you remove any faceplates.
Step 3: Prep the Wall
Preparing the surface that needs tiling is very important because it will determine how well the finished product will present and how long it will last. It will be difficult to remove and fix after tiling the surface.
- Inspect and repair your kitchen walls before you install your backsplash.
- Your walls must be clean, dry, and capable of holding the tile's weight.
- Patch any holes with spackling compound and sand the area lightly to a smooth surface to clean your wall.
- Take a mild soap detergent with water to rinse the surface and give it time to dry before installing the backsplash.
- Wipe any painted walls down with Trisodium Phosphate, and sand them gently afterward.
- Sand glossy surfaces and de-gloss them to give the wall a better bonding capability.
- Wipe the wall to remove any dust or dirt on the surface with a soft cloth to ensure it is clean and dry.
- Often behind the stove, there are oil or grease stains. Clean any oil or stains with a degreaser or primer if you have tough stains.
- Wipe the surface behind the stove and give it time to completely dry.
Step 4: Pre-Lay the Tile
Before you permanently tile your wall, do a trial run to plan where the tiles will give you the best look, and it will help to determine where any cut tiles will be if necessary.
- Place the tile across the wall and mark your points to determine how many tiles to use.
- The tiles' starting point depends on the wall's most viewable area.
- Work your way outward and upward, and use a straight edge or level to keep the tile even along the wall.
- Some tiles may need cutting on the ends of the row to fill and give a proper finish to the backsplash area.
- Use a tile cutter for ceramic or porcelain tiles and a tile nipper for any circular incisions.
- Use a wet saw to cut natural stone, preventing the tile from chipping or breaking.
- Mixing up the tiles from different boxes is a good idea because they sometimes come in various tones, and mixing them up the variations helps to get a uniform pattern to your backsplash.
With the tile surface prepared and the placement of the tiles measured and cut, you must prepare the mortar to start placing the first tile.
- To prepare powdered Thinset Mortar for natural stone mosaic tile, fill your bucket with water as instructed by your manufacturer.
- Gradually add the Thinset powder, mixing it thoroughly.
- Let the mixture stand for five to ten minutes, then mix it again without adding additional water.
After mixing the mortar, you will have limited time to use it, but the flex bond lasts up to four hours in many cases. If you want to save time, consider using a simple mat. Mat adheres to the wall, and you can tile immediately and prepare for grouting.
Step 6: Apply the Mortar
After the mortar is mixed, continue and apply it to the wall. The mortar applied correctly will give your tiles an even finish.
- Begin with a two-foot section and apply the mortar to the wall by spreading a thin skim coat layer.
- Place some mortar on the trowel against the bottom of the wall.
- To ensure that the mortar completely adheres to the wall, press at a 45° angle with the trowel's flat side.
- The mortar application starts at the bottom, and you spread it upwards onto the surface.
- Use the notched edge and add a little more mortar onto the trowel.
- Ensure your notch trowel matches the tile you are laying, and comb even ridges in one direction.
- Natural stone tile works best when installed in small portions and with a notched trowel that is 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch in size to avoid the mortar from drying out or producing skin.
- After installing the tile, wipe any leftover mortar with a sponge to prevent any hard places from poking out where it will be challenging to work when it becomes hard.
Step 7: Lay the Tile
The wall is now ready for the tiles, and you must remember to place them in the measured positions you marked out prior.
- Place the mosaic sheets along the wall, working your way up from the bottom.
- Spacers will keep the tile pieces lined up even, and with enough gap for the grout.
- Keep the tiles lined up by following the lines you made when the tiles were dry fit to the wall.
- Gently rock the sheet up and down parallel to the trowel lines to help the ridges disappear, and the tile settles into position.
- Flatten the tile with a grout float to take out any portions of the tile still too far from the wall.
- If the distance between the top row of tiles and the cabinets exceeds an inch, cut your excess tile pieces to match the space.
- If the space between the top row of the tiles and cabinetry is less than an inch, install a piece of molding to hide the gap.
Step 8: Dry and Pre-Seal Tile
You may be tempted to continue with the grouting proses. Still, proper curing is extremely important because any pressure will move the tile out of position or interfere with the curing and loosen the tile.
- Allow the mortar and tiles to dry completely, following the manufacturer's recommendations. The drying process usually happens within 24 hours.
- The drying time depends on the mortar used and your home's temperature.
- Apply a pre-sealer for natural stone at least three hours before you apply the grout because it protects the stone from staining.
Step 9: Clean Tile and Prepare Grout
Before any grouting, the wall must get a good cleaning to give you a good visual of the grouting lines and remove any visible mortar that could hinder the grouting process.
- Wipe the tiles clean with water before you apply poly blend sanded grout to natural stone mosaic tile.
- Fill a bucket with the required amount of water, then gradually add the grout powder, following the preparation instructions on the package.
- Mix the grout powder thoroughly and let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Remix the grout without additional water until it gets a smooth texture.
- Periodically remix the grout to prevent it from becoming lumpy and losing its consistency.
- If the grout mixture is lumpy or hard, mix a new batch to ensure the grout fills the gaps thoroughly.
Step 10: Grout the Tile
You can only use the grout for a short time after it is mixed, whereas a poly mixture you may use for up to two hours.
- Apply the grout in sections to complete an area within 30 minutes.
- Use the grout float to apply the mixture at a 45° angle.
- Apply the grout diagonally and scrape off any excess material while holding the grout, float at a 90° angle.
- Use a wet sponge to scrub the grout off the tiles' faces in a circular motion.
- Shape the grout joints fully and rinse the sponge in clean water frequently.
- Repeat this process several times until the grout fills all the gaps and has the desired look.
- Limiting the amount of water you use is important to avoid washing out the grout joints.
- After roughly three hours, you can wash off the surface of the tiles with cheesecloth or a sponge that has been wet to remove the final layer of grout.
Step 11: Seal the Tile
The tiling is complete and needs final additions before you can return the stove and appliances.
- Once the grout is fully dry, usually, 24 hours to 3 days later, you can apply grout sealant to protect the backsplash from staining.
- A proper seal at the back of a sink is very important if you tile the section.
- After the sealer is dry, the final step in the installation process is adding a small amount of latex caulk to the base of your backsplash, resting against your countertop.
- Replace your kitchenware and appliances, then turn back on the electricity to your outlets.
- Wipe your backsplash down sometimes with a non-acidic kitchen or glass cleaner to keep it looking great.