We Have a Backsplash!

Ah winter. The cold, the snow, and a feeling of accomplishment about what we have done conspired to make me lazy and not get any more done on the kitchen through most of January and February.

Shoveling, Yuck!

We decided to get some help with the backsplash from my step-brother Gary. Gary has been doing tiling for years. His expertise would help us get it done in one day, make straight lines, and keep us from bickering with each other.

Irene was also worried about laying out the tile properly to avoid weird joint patterns in the corners and at the ends. Gary explained that with a brick pattern, like our subway, there isn’t much you can do about the layout of the tile. Whatever situation you are trying to avoid with the first row, if you shift the first row you will end up with it again in the second row. He did explain the one thing you can do with corners is to put a long piece opposite a short one to create the illusion of continuing the pattern around the corner. The only thing we had to decide was to center the tile on the window or on the sink. We chose the window so the tiles on each side of the window would be the same. On the other wall we centered on the stove since that is the prominent feature.

After making some lines to establish our centers we got mastic on the wall and started sticking up tiles.

Areas that did not require cuts, like behind the stove, went up very quickly. Irene learned how to use the tile saw to cutout around electrical outlets. She cut out this piece being installed here.
We also learned how to use this this scoring and cutting tool. Just don’t try to cut longways like I was here. I ended up breaking this piece. If you are cutting shortways, however, this tool is very fast.

Areas around the windows like this took longer because of all the cuts we had to make.

Working with Gary was a lot of fun and he is a good teacher. Pretty soon I was cutting tiles around the outlets and window sills too.

The chair rail decorative detail took a little bit of patience, especially in the corners. Gary handled these complicated joints. First we tried to miter the joint but the gap was too big. Gary coped the two corners for us! Thanks, dude.

By lunchtime we had put all the tile up so we cleaned up, ate lunch, and got ready for grout. Grouting for me was harder than putting the tile up. I am just not good at it, I guess is the same way I suck and spackeling. The grouting was also very messy so there are no in progress pictures of that. Sorry everyone.

Before grout.


After grout.


We still have to grout at the top around the chair rail. There is a lot of mastic behind those chair rail tiles and it needs a few days to dry.

Now that it’s in I can see why backslashes are so popular, it really makes the room pop. I even think it makes our narrow kitchen seem wider. The white tile wasn’t my first choice (I wanted glass) but it looks really nice with our color scheme. Irene couldn’t be happier with it. A quick note about the grout joint spacing. Irene initially wanted as small of the grout line as possible. Gary thought we should go with a 1/8″ spacing so we could use the stronger sanded grout and give more texture. That’s what we ended up doing and having that line of matte grout between the shinny tiles gives the tiles another dimension and brings out the bevel even more. It looks really classic and clean. We choose the whitest grout we could get without special order, Bright White, but we talked about the possibility of going darker in the future using a dye kit to give it another dimension.

P.S. Our cat likes the backsplash too.

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12 Responses to We Have a Backsplash!

  1. Apriltini says:

    Great job! I love how the kitchen looks. Is this the last of your projects?

  2. Arthur Woods says:

    So is this blog finished or what?

  3. Irene says:

    wow am I late… we still have shelves.. Paul built 2 over the weekend that I need to fill and paint! That is the last project :)

  4. Irene says:

    not entirely.. we’ll keep blogging about our 2nd floor renovation and outside work

  5. Tavy says:

    I love how your backsplash looks. I have been trying to find beveled subway tile for my kitchen. Would you mind sharing what brand tile you used? Thanks

  6. Irene says:

    The brand is ‘Cobsa’ it is labeled to be from Spain. Another brand I considered and is easy to find is ‘Lanka’. Paul really liked the brightness of the Cobsa and all the finishing tiles (the chair rail, side and the corner piece) compared to the Lanka. I hope this helps!

  7. ASHLEY says:

    HI!
    loving your kitchen reno! We’re tackling something similar. Question–I saw you put up the cabs, then added crown moulding. We’re wondering how you went about doing that on ikea cabs after they were already up and installed? We have the same ones. Thanks for any info you have!

  8. Paul says:

    I attached some 1×3 pine boards (the 3″ side facing out) to the top with L brackets. You can get them in 4 packs w/ screws at Lowes. Just make sure the screws are small enough that they won’t go all the way through the cabinet tops. I miter cut the boards on a 45 degree angle to make them form a 3 sided box. I mounted the sides first. There was enough of a gap to reach over the front and fasten the screws. The screws will be tough to screw in until you break through the outside coating of the cabinets. After that it’s fine. Then I mounted the crown molding to those boards using an 18 gauge brad nailer. I never blogged about installing the crown b/c it’s a bit sloppy. Our ceiling has a lot of variation in height and that’s why the crown over the cabinets doesn’t touch the ceiling. In the rest of the kitchen I had to do a lot of tricks and fudging to deal with our wavy, uneven ceiling. HTH.

  9. angie says:

    How did you handle the outlet covers with the beveled tile ? Did it leave gaps around it because of the bevel ? Thanks !

  10. Irene says:

    We cut the tiles to fit snuggly around the outlets and got some very long screws.. It does indeed gap a bit but thankfully, it isn’t noticeable. Some photos will make it easier for you to see. We’ll see what we can put up for you tonight.

  11. Irene says:

    You can see some of it here:
    http://photos.paulgarvin.net/index.php/house/Kitchen-Renovation/IMG_2847

    and also when the under cabinet lights are on (our newest blog post you can see it much larger)
    http://kitchen.paulgarvin.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/kitchenbbq42-300×199.jpg

  12. angie says:

    thanks so much !! this helps a lot

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