How to Tile a Kitchen Back-splash

Appliance City - Food & Home

The back-splash is the area of tile just above your kitchen counter. Back-splashes are particularly important near your kitchen sink and your oven. The back-splash is there to protect your walls. It is far easier to remove food stains from tiles than it is to get them off paint or wallpaper, and tiles less susceptible to water and steam damage too.

mosaic black-splash

Image source: http://www.midwestliving.com/

Tiled back-splashes are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. You can use ceramic tiles, marble, or even stainless steel to make a back-splash. What sort of tiles you choose, and whether you go for a chunky look or use smaller mosaic tiles is entirely up to you. Mosaic back-splashes take longer to lay since you have to follow a precise pattern, but they look beautiful when they are done.

Stainless steel backsplashes are hardwearing and eco-friendly, and look great in any modern kitchen. Ceramic tiles offer an attractive, rustic appearance and are available in a range of colours whilst still being quite affordable. Marble tiles are more expensive than most other kinds of tiles but they have a lovely, luxurious appearance and are also hardwearing and easy to clean. Remember that if you cannot afford a particular kind of tile, you can often purchase cheaper tiles that create a similar visual effect.

Tools Needed to Tile a Kitchen Backsplash

To tile your kitchen backsplash, you will need:

  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Two spatulas (one for the grout, one for the putty)
  • Tile edging strips and spacers
  • A chisel
  • Putty
  • A spirit level

If you want to create a truly rustic looking kitchen, consider leaving out the grout and laying your tiles so that there is almost no gap between them. Groutless backsplashes are harder to keep clean, since there is more risk of dirt getting between the tiles, but they do look great in a country-style kitchen.

rustic style back-splash

Image source: http://www.plumsiena.com/

Whatever tiles you choose, be sure to order enough to cover the area you intend for your backsplash, plus an extra square meter or so to allow for mis-calculations or tile breakages. Choose a supplier that allows you to send back unopened boxes of tiles, so that you are not left out of pocket if you order extra and end up not using it.

Step-by-Step

  1. Before you start tiling your kitchen backsplash, you should prepare the area to be tiled. It’s best to remove your existing tiles before laying the backsplash, because laying tiles on top of tiles results in a loss of counter space. However you decide to lay the tiles, make sure that the surface is clean, dry and free of dust before you start work. If there are any holes, dents or gouges in the wall, fill them in and let the filler dry.
  2. Measure the area that you intend to cover with tiles, and work out how many tiles you will need. Remember that tiles can be cut to cover unusually sized areas, but it is difficult to achieve a neat cut if you need to make a very thin tile. If you expect to have just a small amount of wall left uncovered, consider adjusting your starting point so that you can use one roughly half sized-tile at each end of the wall instead of incredibly thin tiles. If you need to cut tiles down to size, use a wet saw to do this.
  3. Turn off the power to your kitchen wall sockets, and remove any faceplates in the area to be tiled.
  4. Once the wall is prepared, you can start laying the tiles. Apply tile adhesive to the wall using a notched trowel. Make sure that the adhesive is applied smoothly and evenly across the whole of the wall, with no bumps.
  5. Put the tiles onto the wall, pressing them gently into place. Position the tiles close together, but do not push or drag them into place, because this will cause adhesive to seep between them. The tiles should sit together naturally with only a small amount of separation.
  6. If you put a tile in the wrong place, or place one upside-down, gently pull it off the wall and rinse the glue off with water. Re-apply some tile adhesive to the wall, and then place the tile again.
  7. Leave the tiles to dry for at least 24 hours before applying the grout. Mix the grout until it has a consistency similar to that of toothpaste, and carefully apply grout to the gap between each tile. Wipe off any excess grout with a damp sponge.
  8. Once the grout has dried, replace the covers to any power sockets, and turn the power back on.

Always put safety first when doing DIY. Do not attempt to tile around electrical sockets unless you are sure that the power is off. If you have to cut tiles, wear goggles while doing so to prevent any sharp splinters from damaging your eyes. Take your time, and try to keep the room well ventilated while you are working. Tile adhesive is generally safe to work with, but always read the labels on any glues, paints or cleaning substances, and follow any safety instructions given carefully.

mosaic back-splash

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hhmosaics/

Conclusion

Tiling a kitchen backsplash is an easy job, as long as you measure the area to be tiled carefully and are patient while waiting for the tile adhesive to dry.

Updating your kitchen backsplash is a great way to breathe a new lease of life into an old kitchen. A striking new backsplash will add variety to your kitchen, and makes even the plainest of cabinets and counter tops look good.

Whether you are an avid DIY enthusiast, or someone with less experience, tiling a backsplash is a project that can be completed in a weekend, and is good practice for bigger projects such as re-tiling a larger area of your bathroom. You don’t need to do the entire kitchen – many people only use backsplashes near the oven and the sink, leaving the walls next to other counters bare. You can tile as much or as little of your counter as you need.

Title Image Credit: HouseBeautiful