Please advise on backsplash layout

lesinsfMarch 11, 2013

I have read the on-going debates on backsplash height, but I still need your help! I have selected a 1"x1" glass mosaic tile (in 12"x12" sheets) -- first decision made (phew!). The tile is pretty snazzy -- different shades of blue glass with a few stainless steel tiles scattered throughout. The walls are painted white (not green like in the drawing).

So now I have to figure out:
1) how high to go on the west wall with no cabinets?
2) how high to go on the north wall with the cabinets?
3) do I tile to the underside of the hood or to the top of the wall cabs (I have already ruled out going up to the ceiling)

The hood is 30" wide in a 36" opening (intentional for more open space and future expansion possibilities). The outlets and switches are at about 5" from the counters and the counters don't have an integrated back splash. Doing a 4" strip would be the easiest, but would it look strange adjacent to the big patch of tile under/behind the hood.

Thanks in advance for weighing in and helping me think this through! I can use just about any power tool, but I lack confidence in my eye for design...

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If you are the one making these 3D models of your space, you should be able to change the colors and textures of the different surfaces to model the choices. If you can find a picture of your tile on the web, you shoulc be able to download that picture and put it into the software tool as a paint option.

Given the layout you are showing here, the choices are really yours to make, based on your own personal preference. My personal preference would be to make the backsplash go up to the bottom of the upper cabinets, keep that same height around the sink and window, and up to the bottom of the hood over your cooktop.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Karen -- thanks for your feedback! The model came from the IKEA kitchen planning tool. I'm not sure if it will allow me to upload my tile as a paint option.

The cabinets are 19" above the counter so if I carry that height all the way around I will definitely have to grapple with cutouts for the receptacles/switches. Can anyone speak to whether it is hard to cut glass mosaic? I have a wet saw and have worked with granite and slate tiles, but never tiny pieces of glass!

Any votes for the low (4") backsplash or is that too out- moded?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:46PM
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I'm not a fan of the 4" splash. Are your counters going to be butcher block, or is that an image rendering thing? You might want to take an image of all your materials together - better yet, browse through the splashes on houzz to get a better idea of which looks appeal to you.

Another option would be to use the under-window-height throughout.

You're planning to use 1" x 1" tiles in a dark color against white paint. Grout is going to be almost as big a feature of your bs as tile. Will that be white as well?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 2:14AM
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Tile from counter to cabinet all around using the cabinet wall as the height. You can do two things with the hood. Just follow the same line all around or use a different tile and go up and behind the ceiling.
Under no circumstance should you use a four backsplash!
Just my honest opinion. Take with a grain of salt:)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:23AM
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robo (z6a)

Go up to the cabinets and to top of uppers (my preference is to ceiling) behind the hood. You will have to go around the receptacles.

I think people use tile nippers to cut mosaic tiles, even glass ones? Good idea to have extra to practice on.

In the IKEA home planner you can click on the wall and choose panel (tile) height and then select from their pre-made backgrounds to put on your wall. In your case choose 1/2 wall for your two non-hood walls and 3/4 or full wall behind the hood and go for a small grid tile just to get the effect.

Did you order your cabinets yet? Any reason you went with 30" instead of 39" uppers?

Here is a link that might be useful: Video showing tile installation with nippers

This post was edited by robotropolis on Tue, Mar 12, 13 at 8:43

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Thanks for all the excellent feedback! To answer your questions:
- EAM: the perimeter counters will be IKEA gray laminate with the metal effect edge; the island will be beech butcher block; the tile grout will be white.
- robot: the ceiling is actually low vaulted so the 39" cabs wouldn't fit :(

The house is an old rancher that I am trying to turn into a calm, sleek mid-century modern. The kitchen is 14' wide by 12' long and is open to the living room (which faces the cooktop wall). So the kitchen decor will effectively become part of the LR decor.

I looked at a few zillion mosaic backsplashes on Houzz yesterday and they almost all have full tile from counter to cabinet. But...I must admit that some of them look *really* busy to me. I was originally thinking of a low backsplash just to add a bit of bling to the kitchen. If I do the full 19", will it be too much? Here's a pic of the tile I have chosen -- what do you think, wise GWers?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:57PM
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I think if you are going for calm, you should not use white grout. The 1x1 mosaics are beautiful and they can essentially "disappear" into the background if you can keep the contrast minimal.

If you are trying to go for a calm and quiet look, have you considered a larger format tile? Our 1957 ranch now has a 4x8 tile backsplash. We are using bright colors, so not quiet like you are describing, but the larger format, rectified edge tiles look very modern.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:37AM
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robo (z6a)

You could just to behind the hood to the ceiling and paint out the rest of the BS.

Not sure if that's a sought after look but I have seen it a few times.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Thanks for the additional ideas everyone.

Karen:The white grout was used in the store display and I will have white walls. What do you think would be calmer? Gray perhaps if I can find one that is close to the countertop color? As for switching tiles, I have already bought the mosaic and it is past the point of returning it. :( That said, I really do like it -- I just don't want to overdo it.

Robot: I like the no-BS (!) look but can't do it because my walls are too wavy and the counters aren't scribed.

Looking today at how the hood looks temporarily installed, I am thinking I will tile to the top of the wall cabinets. So I think that will delay doing the cooktop cutout since it sure is handy to have the counter to stand on while do the tall work... Is that the right order of things? Tile, then mount hood, then install cooktop?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Grout color can be almost anything. Your tiler should be able to show you samples of different grout colors. You can pick what you like best.

Here is a link that might be useful: here's an image of a similar mosaic with gray grout

This post was edited by karen_belle on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 0:15

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:13AM
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Thanks Karen -- I can see what you mean about the tile calming down with a non-white grout color. My tile is a mix of blues and very pale greens so I will have to see what I can find that works with all the colors (I am the tiler...and the carpenter...and the electrician...and no wonder this project is taking so long!)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:33AM
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