30 Sep How to Install a Backsplash
Sometimes the smallest updates make the largest visual difference. Freshen up your kitchen with a small facelift for your kitchen. A brighter, elegant design enhancement will definitely help improve the look and feel of the heart of your home – plus these changes could also improve the function. Here is our guide to help the adventurous homeowner figure out how to install a backsplash.
Track homes tend to feature plain cabinets and either no backsplash or a small 6 inch backsplash that is simply a continuation of the countertop. The first thing guests notice when they walk into a kitchen is the cabinetry and the backsplash, so make a personalized statement with an upgrade. Since the area is relatively small, you can splurge a little for a nicer product.
There are four main types of backsplash, the first we already mentioned. The 6 inch continuation is the cheapest option…and unfortunately looks about as great as it costs. We highly recommend breaking away from that tableau to go for something a bit classier. Subway tiles, marble mosaics, natural stone details, or glass tiles all make for a gorgeous display. Take a virtual stroll on Houzz to see kitchen motifs similar to your own, so you can pick the best design for your taste. Whether you’re laying backsplash up to your cabinets or taking it all the way up to the ceiling, the effect will be breathtaking. Backsplash is a great place to bring in color and texture without worrying about hurting the material. Unlike countertops, backsplash does not take the same cooking abuse so you can use unique and stunning materials.
Once you’ve selected your product it is time to prep your work space. Keep in mind, laying tile is a labor of love and a true skill. If you’ve never done this before we recommend hiring a professional for the best results.
- Scrub-a-dub – While you will be covering up those cook-splattered walls it is still important to clean off any dust or crusty remnants that are stubbornly sticking to your paint. Then you have two options either float mesh like you would for a shower wall or use hardiebacker or wonderboard. Either option enables you to level out your wall prior to laying the tile. In our long history of installs we would recommend using hardiebacker instead of the mesh or wonderboard options. The name brand product is waterproof and has stronger lasting power compared to concrete or wonderboard. Hardiebacker will increase the longevity and integrity of your install.
- Get those Studs – Once you’ve cleaned up your backsplash surface, and covered your countertops to avoid installation damage, find and measure the studs. Finding the studs prior to mounting the hardiebacker will make your life a lot easier when you screw the boards to the wall to reinforce the mortar mount. Either line or mark your hardieback will the locations of the studs so once the board is mounted you can easily place your screws.
- Thinset & Screw – Now that you have the location of your studs, mix up your mortar and mount your hardiebacker. You’ll want to spread the thinset along the back of your board, and then mount it. Use a level to make sure you are creating a flat surface to lay your backsplash on. Once the mortar sets, screw the hardiebacker into place to reinforce the mount. Last, we recommend caulking the hardibacker to the countertop for a perfect seal. We recommend caulking to increase the waterproof seal, just in case things get a bit steamy.
- Layout – It is crucial to layout your intended design before you start laying your tile. From a visual perspective you want to make sure there are any tiny slivers or awkward spacing issues before you cut your first piece. The easiest way to accomplish this is the literally layout your pattern on the counters and start taking some measurements. You may find that you need to start with a half a piece to avoid a tiny sliver or unnecessarily thick grout lines. The practice of layout out the design and measuring where your cuts are going to land will save you time and money down the road – do not skip this step. Be sure to check your measurements from the center out, from left to right, and from the corner outward.
- Pick the Starting Line – The time has come to select where you want to begin mounting your tile. Based on the design your starting point may change. For example, if you have a unique mosaic over the stove top, we recommend laying the design out, then measuring and snapping lines on the hardieboard. Build the tile around the snap lines and install the decorative mosaic last. This process is installation preference, but we have found it makes the process a lot easier. By laying the surrounding tile first, those set pieces help keep the mounted mosaic in place. This will increase the integrity of the design, make for an easier layout of border tiles, and will simplify marking and cutting your tile.
- Mix & Mount – Now that you’ve measured and marked, you will soon be mixing and mounting. When it comes to mortar, we recommend using a white thinset without additive instead of grey. Keep in mind this recommendation is the more expensive option; trust us we have our reasons. If your backsplash is a natural stone or lighter in shade, the color of grey thinset can bleed into your stone changing the appearance of your product. We also recommend not having the additive included so you can control the speed of the set, the strength of the set, and can adjust your mortar to account for the moisture of the area. While these are installation preferences, we like to share our knowledge with you so you can make an educated decision on your purchase. Now grab the appropriate trowel and start install!
- Glamour Shots – Now we admit, we are a bit biased on this step. We truly believe that if you put in the hard work to install your own backsplash, it should be put on display. Don’t go through a couple weekends of hard labor to then leave it hidden in the shadow of your cabinetry – brighten up! Whether you have a modern motif that begs for a cool white illumination or a cozy Italian mosaic that needs a soft warm white glow, our 3 in 1 under cabinet light bar will suit your needs. Don’t let your labor of love hide in the shadows, show it off and provide a more functional cooking space.