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  • Writer's pictureAron Pinto

DIY for Homesellers: How to Tile a Kitchen Backsplash

The cabinets are in good shape, the appliances are more than adequate and the walls and floors are looking pretty good too. And yet the kitchen in your home, the home you are trying to sell, lacks a certain pizzaz, a pizzaz that would be great to have, as you know that kitchens really do tend to be huge selling points for buyers. One way to add that extra visual interest without spending a fortune is to upgrade your kitchen backsplash.

A kitchen backsplash design can run the gamut from the very simple to so elaborate it practically deserves the title a kitchen work of art. Traditionally glazed ceramic tile is the most popular choice of material to create a kitchen backsplash because it is not only very attractive to look at but is very durable and easy to clean as well, two very important attributes for something that is likely to encounter all manner of spills, plashes and satins on a daily basis.

Installing a tile backsplash is not that hard and make for a very satisfying DIY project for the home seller, as long as you follow some basic steps.

Ceramic Tile Backsplash Installation Guide

Tools & Supplies You’ll Need:

tiles level chalk line adhesive (mastic) trowel spacers float grout wet saw bucket tile nippers sponge rubber gloves

Choosing the Right Tile for You

Before heading out to purchase the tile for use in your kitchen backsplash project take a good long look around your kitchen. Are your cabinets light or dark? What is the prominent colour scheme in the room? How much space do you have to work with to create a backsplash in the first place? A good idea is to take pictures of the various areas and elements of your kitchen with you to the tile store so finding a coordinating tile is that much easier and a tiling salesperson can better help you find just the right tile for your new kitchen backsplash.

Getting Started – The Prep Work

Ceramic tile can be installed over almost any solid substrate as long as it is clean, smooth and dry. That means that if you need to do some stain scrubbing or uneven areas need to filled or smoothed take the time to do it right, otherwise your finished kitchen back splash is simple not going to look right (or possible fail to stay intact)

Laying Out and Cutting Ceramic Tile

The next step is to “dry lay” your tiles so that you know exactly where cuts will have to be made so that the whole thing fits together properly according to the design plan you are following. Measure tiles to be cut carefully and mark the cutting points on the tile with a pencil or felt-tip pen.

Straight or diagonal cuts are best made with a basic tile cutter and then switch to a nipper for curves for the best possible results. If you haven’t used either of these tools much (if at all) in the past buy some “waste tile” when you are at the tile store so that you can get some practice in before you begin cutting the tile you intend to use in your tile backsplash.

The Sticky Part

When you are at the tile store make sure that you consult with your salesperson about which is the correct adhesive for both the tile you have chosen and the substrate you will be applying them to. Read all the package instructions very carefully and only mix enough for thirty minutes work at a time .

Using whatever the type of trowel that is recommended on the adhesive package, spread a 1/4″ coat directly onto the wall surface, utilizing the flat side of the trowel. Next, while holding the trowel at a 45 degree angle, use the notched side to comb adhesive into ridges.

As you begin to lay the tile itself work slowly and carefully and remember to insert tile spacers after each one of them is put into place.

Grouting Tips

It is imperative that you allow the full drying time indicated on the adhesive package before you begin grouting. After that time has elapsed read and follow all instructions and precautions on the grout package and only mix as much grout as you think you can use up in fifteen minutes to avoid unnecessary waste.

When you are ready to begin grouting around a tile carefully remove the tile spacers and using a rubber grout float, spread grout over the tile surface, forcing it down into the joints. Remove excess grout form the tile surface immediately with the edge of the float.

After just about 15 minutes the grout will have set slightly and you can take a damp sponge to clean residue from tile surfaces and smooth the grout joints.

Rinse the sponge often and change the water frequently. Let everything dry until grout is hard and a haze forms on tile surface at which point your should buff with a soft clean cloth. Continue rinsing the whole new tile installation with clean water until the haze is completely gone.

How much such a project might cost will depend for the most part on just how much you choose to spend on tile. It does not need to be a lot and you do not necessarily have to buy the more expensive patterned tiles, as there is a lot you you can do with plain tile and a little imagination (they don’t even all need to match!) Need some inspiration for your tile backsplash project? Then check the gallery below.



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