Kitchen Backsplashes Made Easy

by Lauren Caggiano

Kitchen backsplashes are popular because they can add another dimension to your space and offer function. With a vision and the right materials and supplies, you can set out to make your kitchen the star of the show with this custom feature. Here’s what the experts will tell you about this DIY project.

Plan It Out

First, you must know that not all backsplash materials are created equally. Ceramic tile is king. That’s because it comes in a sundry of colors textures and sizes. It’s also much more durable and easier to clean than others.

There’s also the consideration of placement. You’ll need to calculate the wall space so you can determine how much tile is needed. (The square footage determines how much tile you’ll need.) It’s wise to plan for a 10-percent surplus of tile to cover small gaps and have on hand for future touchups. As the saying goes: measure twice, cut once.

Prepare the Space

From here, you’ll want to remove all appliances and cookware from the countertop, so you have a clutter-free work area. Disconnect the stove as a precaution. It also helps to start with a clean surface. Wipe the area with soapy water so you have a blank canvas, so to speak.

Once clean, the area is ready for you to work your magic. Place the tile across the wall and mark your starting and end as guideposts. Work your way outward and upward from there. A tool such as a straight edge or level is a must in this situation.  Be prepared to cut tiles so they can be appropriately sized.

Place the Backsplash

The next step involves applying the mortar. It’s recommended to begin with a two-foot section and apply and spread a layer with the flat side of the trowel. Apply pressure at a 45-degree angle to ensure it adheres to the wall properly. It’s best to work in small sections to prevent the mortar from drying too quickly. Clean any excess mortar buildup off the tile surface with a sponge.

Now it’s time to place the mosaic sheets along the wall. Add tile spacers if you want to achieve a consistent pattern. Take care to allow the mortar and tile to dry completely — this could be a day or so. Now you’re ready for grouting and sealing as the final steps. Fill a bucket with the prescribed amount of water and then gradually add the grout powder and mix well. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then re-mix it without adding water. Periodically re-mix the grout to maintain its consistency.

Tidy Things Up

Be mindful that once the grout is mixed, you’ll have a limited time to use it. Apply the grout at a 45-degree angle, working diagonally. Wipe off any excess with a grout float held at a 90-degree angle. Remove the grout from the face of the tiles, using a circular motion. Repeat this process several times. Wait about three hours and you can remove the last haze of grout with a damp sponge. The final step is to apply a grout sealant to safeguard against staining.

Ta-da! Your kitchen is Instagram story ready. Enjoy!

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