I just moved into a home and have a lot of items on a “to-do” list. One of them would be to tile my backsplash above the kitchen sink. Can this be done easily?
Congratulations on the new home! It sounds like a normal move-in, where there are many things to be done on the wish list. Tiling an area above the sink can be a great way to add character and dress up the area. Tiling a backsplash is not a very hard job to do. The hardest part of the job is cutting the tile, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
First, I’m assuming the area above the sink is drywall or plaster, and is in decent condition. If so, you’re ready to go. Begin by choosing the tile you want. Most backsplashes consist of 4” tile, but any size can be used. Generally, you’ll want to lay the first course of tiles just above the counter top and sink. Starting at one corner, spread the adhesive with the smooth edge of a notched trowel.
Next, using the notched side of the trowel, go over the same area to create the ridges from the notches. As you begin, just run the mastic to go slightly above the first row of tiles, for one or two feet. Press the first tile into place, giving it just a slight turn both ways as it goes on. Be sure the tile is straight and don’t just depend upon the corner wall being straight, because chances are, it isn’t.
Next, place two plastic spacers on the top of the tile and two on the side. This allows for perfect spacing between the tiles. Continue on to the end of the row, but if the last tile needs to be cut, leave it for now. It’s much easier to do all of the tile cutting at one time. Go on to the second row, remembering the spacers, and continue until all of the full tile areas are done.
You’re now ready for the cutting of the tiles. It is much easier to use a wet tile saw for this. They can be rented from most larger hardware stores, or from a flooring store. Get some instructions from wherever you rent the saw. Make your cuts and install them in order. It is best to make each cut, or only a couple of them and install them, rather than cutting every tile at one time.
Once the tiles are up, you need to let the mastic dry, usually for about 24 hours. You’re then ready to grout the tiles. Be aware, any color of grout can be used. This is an easy way to add a distinctive color to the scheme. Follow the instructions on the grout carefully when mixing the grout. Then, using a grout float, apply the grout to the tiles. This will at first seem like a messy job, but basically, you’re just working it into the joints, in a circle fashion, to be sure it goes in well. As you do this, remove any large amounts off of the tile. Follow directions as to when you can sponge off the haze from the tiles. This will usually have to be done a couple of times.
Once the grouting is finished, you’re ready to caulk the area along the counter top, top, and corners as needed. The coloring of the caulk is up to you, but will usually look best if it matches the grout color.
Sealing the grout and tiles is a good idea, but you usually have to wait for a week or so before doing it. It is an easy process, and the sealer can be purchased wherever you got the tile.
Be sure when you’re all finished to pat yourself of the back!