diy backsplash tiling

sparkier73September 19, 2013

For whatever reason - I was able to be KD of my own kitchen right up until the backsplash. Now I'm frozen in my tracks. Everything else is done. I'm pretty certain I want a tumbled travertine, one row of 4x4 tiles above the counter, a transition piece above that, with subway tiles up to the cabinet bottom. Pretty basic, right? Is this something DH and I might be able to do ourselves? We've never tiled before, but he is willing to give it a try, and is quite handy to boot. Has anyone tiled their own backsplash, or are we nuts to even consider this after spending so much on a kitchen renovation?

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We did, it's not all that hard. Watch a few youtube videos, plan out what goes where, and go for it. Turns out we really liked using the rented wet saw, so that's not intimidating at all. Our tile came in 12 x 12 sheets. The blue glass tiles were our ad-ins that replaced a same size tile in the pattern. In your case, it sounds like you'll have more individual tiles, but that's fine - just have lots of spacers on hand. Do be sure to use the thinset, grout, and sealer recommend by the manufacturer of your tile.

Our prior experience on tiling was that we'd done two bathroom floors a couple of years before this. They turned out well too.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:55PM
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My DH did ours. Do lots of planning. Know how the tiles will lay out. Take your time. Ours was done over the period of a week.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 6:55AM
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We also DIY'd. Not hard - yes take your time. Ours was also on mesh. I sealed it twice before install as recommended. Sorry I don't have a close up - we sold the house in July and this is what I've got.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:11AM
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I tiled a large walk-in shower as my first project. Like the others said, plan well and take your time. I had to take out my first row 3 times before I was happy with it, but then got the hang of it and it looks great! So, don't give up if you have a few false starts.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:48AM
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Tiling is one of the easiest DIY projects you can do. After tiling my bathtub surround, I tiled my backsplash, then my friends had me help them w/ their tile projects in their houses!! Just be a perfectionist on it, & as the others say, take your time. suzannesl's suggestion telling you to, watch a video or 2 on You Tube is great advice. You'll see how easy it is & be prepared. We'll want to see your results when thru! Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 8:09AM
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HD and lowes often have diy tile workshops for free.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 9:01AM
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Circus Peanut

I can warmly recommend John Bridge's book "Tile Your World", which contained virtually all the information I needed to get going and do a quite professional-looking job. He's also got an extremely helpful online forum if you ever get stuck. Have fun!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 9:53AM
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No advice, but I want to say that I am tremendously impressed by the DIY examples in this thread!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 11:07AM
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One of the biggest mistakes made is grouting the space between the countertop and the bottom of the first row of tile. Any plane change in tile should be siliconed, not grouted, because when the surfaces inevitably move, the grout, being inflexible, will crack. And not a nice big crack that you could stuff more grout in, but a hairline impossible to fill.

Place a continuous shim the thickness of your grout lines on your level countertop, lay your tile on top of the shim and grout. Pull the shim and fill the void with color matched silicone. You will never get a hairline crack and silicone is much more durable and stain resistant than grout.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:07PM
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Thanks soooo much everyone. The tips and encouragement are fantastic. Why did it not occur to me to search YouTube or find a good book? Trebruchet - thanks for that critical tip. Circuspeanut - I will look for Tile Your World. And the rest of you - WOW - what talent in this group! I hope I'll have a pic to show off when all is said and done!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:54PM
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It really is the best place to start as far as discomfort for the body - it beats hands and knees floor tiling for SURE!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:19PM
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sparkier73, did you decide to DIY? We are stuck in a similar situation- almost everything else is done, and we did almost everything ourselves, but for some reason are intimidated by the tile. We're doing nothing complicated- white crackle subway tile (though that has to be sealed- that can't be hard, right)? We just have one funny "don't know where/how to end the tile" place- everything else is just between the counter and cabinets with cabinets or wall on the end. I'd love to save the $ but we're also reaching end-of-kitchen remodel fatigue.

A wet saw is a requirement, right?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 11:23AM
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We tiled our backsplash, a first for DH and presented some challenges not encountered in our previous floor tiling projects. Absolutely take your time. I think ours took at least 3 weeks, but we had lots of tile and outlets to work in, etc. If you are going up very high with the tile, you may want to put in the first few rows and then wait a day for it to set up before putting in the next rows. If you do all of them at once, the weight can make the tile slide, buckle and fall off, more likely to happen with stone tile since it's heavier.

Figure out how you're going to space out the outlets to be flush with the tile. There's a couple of ways of doing it.

Be sure to read up on the sealing requirements of stone vs ceramic tile.

When you pick a grout color, make up a small sample board and let the grout dry at least a day, preferably 2 to see if you like the color. The grout will lighten up as it dries. We found the final color we liked on try #5.

When using real stone, there will be more waste than with ceramic. Since it's a natural material, some tiles will not be useable, or will break when cut due to unseen flaws. Plan for that and buy enough extra. Examine the tile when you get it and see if the colors are consistent from box to box. Mix them up if not. Natural materials do not necessarily have consistent color.

A wet saw is useful. Otherwise, you have to plan your cuts and take the tile somewhere to have it cut, or rent one. We bought one on ebay and have used it on several projects, and will sell it when we're finished with it.

Take your time and don't let the project stress you out. Good luck and let us see pictures of the finished kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:48PM
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We're doing our backsplash right now with off--white, crackle subway tile. It's the same old adage as carpentry--measure twice; cut once. It really isn't that difficult to do.

I opened boxes and used a foam sponge paint brush to seal the tiles before installation. Prior to grouting they'll be sealed again. But, I don't know how thoroughly they really seal.

For one cut my husband used a very fine permanent Sharpie in black to mark the tile and made an extra line on part of the tile that would be used rather than limiting the marking to the portions that would be discarded. We ended up recutting another piece since there was a very, very faint discoloration where the line had been.

We borrowed a cheap wet saw and would have purchased a similar one ourselves if this one hadn't been available to borrow. The cheap saw is about $75; we had to buy a good, new blade for the one we borrowed. That was $25.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Use a pencil on tile.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 7:27AM
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I also DIYed my kitchen backsplash. However, instead of mastic, I bought Bondera TileMatSet ��" a tile adhesive. I wanted to avoid the mess and IâÂÂm pleased to say that I did a great job. I used simple white subway tiles because theyâÂÂre not that expensive and they look amazing.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 2:29AM
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