Would you believe that you can have a new kitchen backsplash for under $50? And that it can be done over a weekend? You absolutely can!
Your kitchen is not just a place to cook dinner every night. It’s a place filled with memories. We spend so much time in the kitchen with our families, friends, and neighbors. It’s where we hang out, talk, and laugh, on holidays, birthdays, or for no reason at all. A place that is so special in our homes should not be just functional, but also beautiful!
Tiling a kitchen backsplash is a project that can be done in a weekend, for a small amount of money. We decided to tile the area behind our new KitchenAid gas stove, as it was only painted drywall and was always getting grimy and difficult to clean. We figured out all the materials we would need, went shopping, and then rolled up our sleeves and got to work! We were very fortunate to have a neighbor who was able to lend us a couple tools and some professional advice. We also decided to use a plastic putty knife instead of a float, and it did the job just fine. Aside from that, we purchased most of the supplies on our own, and the whole project cost less than $50! So, let’s get started!
The first thing you’re going to want to do is visit your local big-box store or other tile store and pick out what tiles you like for your project. There are so many to choose from! Our suggestion is to pick out a few that you like, purchase a few of each, and take them home. Look at them propped up against your wall for a day or two and see which ones you fall in love with.
When picking out tiles, there’s also budget to consider. Tiles come in a wide variety of prices, so keep that in mind, particularly if you’re doing a bigger project. Once you’ve decided on your tiles, carefully measure out the area for the backsplash (Remember: height x width = area). When you go back to the store to purchase your tiles, make sure you get 10% more tiles than you measured for. You’ll definitely want to have these extras in case some break, get chipped, or if you drop one that then slides under the cabinets (What? It happens!Don’t judge.)
- Mastic or thin-set
- Tape measure
- Notched trowel
- Tile cutter
- Tile spacers
- Cheese cloth
Okay, you’ve got all the supplies. Now where do you start? As I mentioned earlier, our project was installing a tile backsplash behind our stove. So we began by measuring the area, which happened to correspond very closely to our tile size. Our project was just over 30” wide x 18” high and we decided on a 6” tile, so tile cutting was not necessary. Most projects, however, involve some tile cutting in order to fit all of the pieces nicely. Tile cutters can be purchased inexpensively at big-box stores.
Before you start applying anything to the wall, make sure you clean it well with a grease-cutting soap, to remove all grease, debris, and dirt. You want to have a clean working surface. The next step is to apply the mastic or thin-set according to the directions on the packaging.
Apply the mastic to the wall using a proper-size notched trowel (see guide below). All tile manufacturers offer a recommended trowel size. Mosaic installations up to 2 inches can use a ⅛-inch notch, as can wall tiles of up to 4 inches, as a general rule. 16-inch tiles need a ½-inch-deep notch, and anything over 24 inches should use a ¾-inch notch. You’ll first spread the mastic, then hold the trowel at an angle and comb through it in order to achieve a consistently even surface.
You’ll now begin placing your tiles on the wall, starting at one end of the wall. Press them against the wall in the proper location, give them just a little wiggle, and press firmly into place. Before placing your next tile, place your tile spacers on the corners of the first tile, to ensure that they will be properly spaced (you’ll need to do this after placing each tile). Continue placing your tiles on the wall until it’s complete.
The next step is to sit down, relax, and wait. The mastic or thin-set has to dry for a certain amount of time before you go touching it again and moving stuff around (you certainly don’t want to mess up all your hard work!). We used mastic, which had a required drying time of 24 hours before grouting.
The next day, get ready to grout! Simply mix your grout according to package directions (this usually involves adding some water and mixing, then waiting a few minutes and mixing again).
Once your grout is mixed, hold the float at a 45-degree angle and apply the grout to the empty spaces between the tiles, using firm pressure. Wait 15-20 minutes to allow the grout to start to dry.
After 15-20 minutes, using a slightly damp sponge, very lightly wipe the tiles to remove the excess grout. Rinse your sponge in a bucket of clean water frequently, remembering to wring it out well after each rinse so that it’s only slightly damp. I also pressed my sponge onto an old towel after each rinse, to remove any excess water.
Let the grout dry for at least another few hours, if not overnight. Your grout packaging should have instructions on how long it takes their product to fully dry. When the grout has completely dried, use a cheesecloth to remove any remaining haze from your tiles.
Finishing the New Kitchen Backsplash
To finish your project, decide on what type of edge you’d like on the exposed ends. You can just leave it as is, if the edges of the tiles are finished; you can finish it with a strip of metal or wood; or you can neatly caulk the edge. It all just depends on personal preference!
As an additional optional step, you can seal your tiles (after another 48 hours). Simply spray the tiles with a tile & grout sealer and let dry.
We encourage you to try this project for yourself! It was easy, inexpensive, and has a huge impact on the appearance of your kitchen!
Did you install a new kitchen backsplash? Let us know in the comments below!