REALLY Uneven wall- tile or granite backsplash???

southerngalinnycOctober 28, 2013

Hi, they are coming to template countertop TODAY.. and DH waits until this morning to second guess my subway tile backsplash decision....
Our 1935 house has really uneven walls, NOTHING is square. So the depth of the front edge of the cabinets from the back wall ranges from 24.75' on the left wall to 25.375' on the right. We couldn't pull out the cabinets and address this issue because our budget is shot...
Link to photos below...

Will a subway tile in running bond pattern be a disaster visually or would it be better to use granite backsplash. We had a tile backsplash before but it was so ugly that i think that might have distracted one from its unevenness.
I really don't want the granite, but would that make the uneveness less noticeable than white subway tile in running bond pattern?
Countertop will be black cambrian in satin finish if that matters....

Also, while I am at it... concensus is tile, then how far up the wall?
Thanks for your sage advice!!!

PS I hate google +... just lost 40 mins of my life trying to figure out how to embed photos into this post which you could easily do with Picasa

Here is a link that might be useful: uneven walls

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The cabinets need to have a finished surface behind them. That's a bug highway as is, and is complicating your projects. Put the counter template on hold, remove the cabinets, install drywall, and finish the wall there. You then need to address the wall waviness above the cabinet height. Skim the walls with drywall setting compound (the mix up from a powder type) and have at it until they are smooth. Build up in thinner layers. Then prime it and it's good to go for whatever backsplash you pick.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Owner of a 1916 house with uneven everything here who just finished installing running bond subway tile (a DIY job). The installers might be doing some playing around with the granite today to get things level themselves. So, don't make any firm and final decisions until they have done their thing.

I just installed running bond subway on a wall behind my range that had about 1/2" difference from one end to the other over the course of about 5". This was a wall that we tiled all the way to the ceiling. I think it is okay.

If you tile all the way up to the upper cabinets, how much of this final uneven row would be visible if you weren't sticking your head up under there? In other words, would a causal observer notice is you started with a full row at the counter level and then ended up with the adjustments in that less visible area?

If you do stick with the subway (what I'd do in your case because I don't think granite will achieve what you want), don't event think of using a contrasting grout that would just go to emphasize the differences in height.

Look for a fairly recent post here called something like Am I out of luck? The poster's question was regarding uneven ceiling and subway tile in an older house.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Thanks so much to both of you for your quick response.

Green Designs, wish I could go with your recommendations sigh... but we have plaster and lathe walls behind the countertops, that the plumbing pipes are configured around and long long story short if I pull it all out will end up pretty much back in the same place space wise and we can't afford to pay someone to do it - plus we need to put the house on the market sooner rather than later... so I will have to put some foam something in behind to help solve the bug highway issue....

Needinfo, thanks for the encouragement and advice on grout color and where to run the cuts, etc.
The templater just showed up and said that they are using a laser to run the template so I shouldn't have more than 1/16 inch gap anywhere... His vote was for subway tile so that I wouldn't lose more counter depth and thought that might be the best look too. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can make the right decisions on tile cuts, etc.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 12:07PM
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If the stove goes as pictured, you have an installation not in compliance with the stove manufacturer's recommendations. Not only is there no space for pot handles, the wall to the right must be covered with a non-combustable surface at a minimum. Better go with full-height granite.

Were I a home inspector, this would never pass without abatement. It could be very dangerous.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:11PM
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Here is another photo from the posters photo collection.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Hi trebuchet,
Thanks for your note. While the range hasn't yet been installed, i just looked again at FP installation guidelines which state that we need a min of 11" above 36" height to the nearest wall (we have about 13") and that one of the sides above 36" needs to be clear. The upper cabinets are also within guidelines so I am a little unclear as to what you believe is not in compliance. We are planning to tile the wall to the bottom of the upper cabinets.
Many thanks.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:07PM
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Thanks Enduring, :) Just realized that you posted my additional photo because the angle of the other made it look like my range was right next to the right wall. I really need learn how to get those photos embeded in my posts again!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:17PM
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The grout spacing on a small tile, like 3x6 subway, can be tweaked to hide unsquare walls.

If you pick a tile with slightly irregular edges - the "hand made look" - the edges hide any waviness extremely well. Plain smooth ones do a good job too.

Large format tiles need a flat surface for installation.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:15AM
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We dealt with the same issue except that our walls were adobe brick with thick wormy grout. Granite will be much more of a disater as it is essentially like one giant tile. A talented tile installer can work with uneven walls with less or more mudding as necessary. Make sure you choose a tile with edge quarter round pieces and corners. With thicker mud, you will need something wider on the edge to cover the thickness of the base layer. Hope this picture helps.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:37AM
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You have the clearances that weren't apparent in your first picture. Whew.

I've installed many full-height backsplashes in Corian and in stone. The good thing about them is that you can bring the wall to the splash with shims instead of straightening the wall for the splash as is needed for tile. You may need box extensions, but that's not a big deal for your electrician.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:36PM
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