Creating an Attractive Backsplash

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ April 19, 2010

The kitchen backsplash should not only protect your walls from flying liquids, it should complement your decor. Tile backsplashes are my personal favorite, although you can find attractive materials made out of solid surface, steel, or granite. They're easy to clean and can be exceptionally attractive. At their best, backsplashes fill out your color scheme; at their worst, they scream aloud, calling attention to themselves.

You can find plenty examples of both by looking at completed backsplash projects online. This example works well:

Tile backsplashes don't have to pick up the color or pattern of your countertop, but they are artistic continuations of colors, textures, and themes used in your kitchen renovation. You need to know your way around a tile cutter to handle the job yourself. Most tile workers use a score-and-snap cutter to make clean cuts to fit corners, cabinet sides, or hoods.

Steps for Installing Tile Backsplashes

Before you start, look over your backsplash options. Prepping the wall is critical. Take down any switches or electrical outlet plates, then use 80-grit sandpaper to create a surface that works well with adhesives and grout. Wash off the leftover grit or wood. You should find the center of the backsplash, a focal point that draws the eye. From here, mark your plumb line.

Sort and arrange your tiles on the floor while the wall dries. Then use a trowel to apply mastic to the bottom of the backsplash where the first row of tiles line up with your plumb mark. Set the first tile in the center of the line, then work out toward the edges, creating your field row. Be sure to leave a bead line between tiles for caulk. You may want to "dry fit" your pattern of tiles to be sure of your placement.

Cut any tiles that have to run around the edges of outlets, cabinets, or light switches. After fitting them, apply a thin layer of grout into all the tile joints. Don't work again until the mastic dries for at least 12 hours. Now it's time to grout them again, making all bead lines straight and clean.

The last step is to caulk around the backsplash where it lines up against the bottom, at the edges of the cabinets, and in the corner sections. Find a caulk that matches your grout. HGTV details the process.

Meanwhile, we can help you find ideas for backsplash materials.

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