Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tiling the Backsplash

Warning!!!!: this is going to be a long post. Phew, now that we've established that here we go.

We've been in our current house just shy of 2years. (I think this is a record for handy hunk and me!) Anyways, slowly we've been fixing things up. We've scrapped off nasty popcorn ceilings, put in all new flooring, gutted and redone the bathroom, put in a pool, new garage, etc, etc, etc, oh new kitchen. AH, the kitchen. It was ok. But for the money we spent it just wasn't doing anything for us. Hmmm. What ever could be missing. OH, the backsplash. Plus we still had no door molding around the door frame leading to the laundry/craft/doggie room.  That's all changed. YAY!!!!! (BIG happy dance) I told handy hunk that since I had some time off I was going to tile the backsplash. So, here is a chicks version on how to tile. 

Did it all by myself. :-) Handy Hunk didn't even help grout or anything. 

This is to show you where I'm tiling at before I get started. 

*Disclaimer*- its my version on how to tile, not the perfect way to tile. But hey, it works for me :-)

Supplies (in random order):
-thinset (mortar)
-couple (at least 2. 3 is good, 4 is better :-) 5gallon buckets
-drill stirring attachment
-gloves (you don't have to wear them, but I prefer not to have sandpaper for fingers)
-tile cutter
-tile wet saw
-caulk (that matches the grout)
-caulking gun
-paper towels (the whole roll will do)
-razor (utility knife)
-kitting needle (Yes, for real)
-sharpie (for marking your cut lines)
-hand held tile clipper (I have absolutely no idea what its really called)
-touch up paint for both walls and trim
-clean rags
-etc/misc (whatever else I've forgotten goes here)

If you're doing a floor job add the following supplies:

-Tylenol/ibuprofen (take before starting)
-knee pads, the good ones

Here are some pictures of the supplies in case I lost you:

-Pick where you are going to start tiling.  In this case, I went with the corner.  I had laid my tile out on the countertop and figured out the placement first though. 

-Mix your thinset with water in a 5gallon bucket.  I put a little water in the bottom of my bucket so I don't end up with those silly dry patches. Use your drill with the drill stirring attachment to mix it up.  Make it like really nice, not runny, mashed potatoes or peanut butter consistency. 

-Put on your gloves. Then get your trowel.  Smear some of the thinset on either: the wall or on your tile.  I typically put my thinset on the floor or wall.  However, when I was doing the backsplash the trowel was larger than the area I was working in- so I opted to just put it directly onto the tile back. Use the teeth to make your ripples through the thinset.  Use the flat part of the trowel to clean up extra thinset.  Its easier to scrape it off with the flat side then trying to get it with your hands.

-Keep going, you have lots more tile to put up.  Use the spacers to make sure your grout lines are even.  Especially if you are doing straight tile lines. This tile has a pattern, so I got away without having perfectly straight tile lines.  Clean up the extra thinset that gets squished out of your grout lines. I have just discovered that a knitting needle does an awesome job of getting into the spaces and you can use it to get rid of some of the squishy thinset.  It also works to help shimmy your tile up the wall to get your spacer in between the tiles. My new fav tiling tool. :-) The razor (utility knife) works well too.  You don't want to leave the thinset in those grout lines since your grout is what gives the color when your done- you don't want it to look like there isn't any grout there.

Did I mention that this gets really messy??  Make sure you're wearing clothes that you're donating to the tile cause :-)

-Carefully make the cuts that you need for the outlets, etc.    Do NOT cover the holes where the screws need to go back with tile, thinset, or grout.  Otherwise you'll have to get creative.  If you have a little problem when it comes time to put the outlets back and the tile is just a smidgen in the way.  Take a screwdriver place it where its in the way, take a hammer tap the screwdriver and chisel it out.  It should just break a way.  In theory- the outlet cover will cover the opening and the chisel marks.  :-)  Home Depot does carry extra large outlet covers- just in case you need them...

This is it pre grouting.  You'll need to let it sit for about 24hours before you grout. You could opt to use the bondera and bypass all the fun thinset instructions plus then you can start grouting right away. But, at $39/10sq ft for the Bondera.  I opted for my $7 bag of thinset which I will have plenty left over. :-). 

This close up shows that at the top I had to make smaller cuts.  Don't worry about being totally flush with the cabinets.  That's why I use the matching grout caulk :-) 

This also shows that I popped out some of the square tiles and put in the metalishthinset on the back of the medallion make my teeth marks and add it into the square void.  I used the spacers to make sure I had my grout lines like they should be. Wash the thinset off the tile that was popped out.  Can use it later on.  Don't forget to use the knitting needle and razor to get the excess thinset out.

Here is behind the stove.  Since I didn't have a 1x2 handy to put up as a support I had to get creative
:-) Thus this picture.  Otherwise the tiles did start to slide down the wall.  At this point I almost wished I had purchased the Bondera.  However- when I did behind the fridge I had purchased some Bondera for that little space.  BUT- when you read the box- it too says to make sure you have support underneath to hold the tiles up.  So, I didn't use the Bondera after all and will be taking that back. You can also see where I used some clothespins to keep the tile straight and spaced.

I also didn't see the validation of wasting tiles behind the stove.  So, I simply went beyond where you could see with the stove in place and stopped tiling.  I did the same thing behind the fridge. 

Lets Grout. :-) 

Same concept as the thinset.  Mix water with your grout in the bucket.  Its too thick in this pic.  It was a mid mix shot.  Creamy thick mashed potatoes or peanut butter consistency is what you want.  Don't be getting hungry. ;-)  This is where the gloves are crucial.  Sanded grout=sandpaper fingers.  Your choice. 

Time to float.  Put some grout on the edge of the float.  Kinda scoop it out of the bucket with the float. And smear it onto the wall. Yes- you get to play with dirt here.  Make sure you get all the grout lines filled in.  Since my stone was porous I went over the entire thing to make sure it got in all the nooks and cranny's.  This is SUPER messy.  Use your (gloved) fingers to help smoosh the grout where you want it to go.  The float will be able to "float" over the tile once the grout is in the lines.  The float helps to put the grout in there and push it in to get rid of air.  Air is bad under the grout.  If your grout is too thin- you'll know right away.  It will slide off the float/wall and right onto your countertop. If that happens- just mix in more grout to thicken it up.  You'll end up with some grout globs on the countertop.  I used the float to smoosh it to the wall and back up the wall.  Don't worry about the medallions- they can stand up to the grout.

See the little snowdrift of grout in the corner?  No worries- the knitting needle is a great tool :-)

-Get your water bucket(s) with your handy dandy sponge(s).  So pretty and clean.  Wont stay that way long.

-Take a damp sponge.  Wring out the water and go over the grout about oh 100 times.  Clean your sponge in between and change out the water as you need to.  If your sponge is too wet- it will loosen the grout.  Notice the pic above. Left side is floated- still has the course marks.  The Right side is getting smoother and you can start to see the tile again.

This part reminds me of Joe vs. the Volcano.  AWESOME movie.  When he goes to get his hair cut.  The chauffeur tells him "your coming into focus kid" and the hairstylist says "Shazam!" That's how your tile will be.  It takes lots of sponging, but its coming into focus and then...SHAZAM- there it is- oh so pretty with all those pretty grout lines.

Let it sit 48hours after grouting before you put the sealer on.

Before and After.  AHHH....  I'm swooning.

Extra little tips:

-Remember this:  If guys that can't read can tile, then you/I can.  If guys who don't even have a GED can tile then you/I can.  Worse case- you start decide its more than you want to do- and then you hire someone to finish.  At least you tried.  

-For backsplashes you will need longer screws to put your electrical all back together.   Handy Hunk recommends getting the machine screws #6/32 in about 1 1/2"- 2" (1" was too short for us)  and  get some longer outlet finish screws too.

-Put some protection down on your countertop. Towels that you don't care about or cardboard.  I happen to have my countertop installer in house ;-) so I know how to fix the scratches I made. oops...

-Don't break your back lugging around full 5 gallon buckets.  Mix only a bit of thinset or grout at a time.  It wont dry out on you, you wont have lots of waste, and you wont break your back.  Same for the water.  You will be changing that water out A LOT so I only fill it up about 1/2way and just deal with it.  IF, I have extra buckets #3 and #4  I'll fill them with water (1/2way) and have my sponge bucket assembly line.

-You can buy premixed thinset and grout.  But, then you don't get to play with the drill and the drill stirring attachment.  That's the fun part.

-Get creative with your issues as they come up. I needed something to keep the tile from sliding down behind my countertop (not all walls are flat and flush) so I used clothespins that I took apart. Worked great.

-Home Depot has online tools to help explain tiling too. Click here to check it out.

-Tile cutter vs. wet saw.  I like the tile cutter.  You slide it across the tile that needs to be cut, it scores it and then you press on it and snap- you have (or should have) a nice straight cut.  This works with big floor pieces- that only need straight cuts.  For smaller tiles, smaller cuts, L shaped cuts, U shaped cuts, and most other cuts- you will need to use the wet saw.  Actually, it's alot of fun.  Wear earplugs.  Its loud.

Sorry about the pictures.  Some of them (ok most) were taken with my phone while I was tiling.  Wearing big rubber gloves covered in thinset/grout and trying to do it one handed was a lil bit hard. Hopefully you get the idea.  Email me if you have questions.  I'm NOT a tiling guru, but I'll help with what I know.  If you have tips- SHARE!!! Thanks

Liking up with these awesome parties:





Darling @ Junque 'n my Trunk said...

Good Job!! I work in a tile/flooring place, so I am impressed! Especially LOVE the knitting needle tool...I am sure every GOOD tiler has one hidden in his/her tool box! lol -
Visiting from the maiden voyage at Meg & Mums -

Love Of Quilts said...

It's a nice backsplash...just think what you saved your self in money. Merry Christmas

Alicia @ Sweet Ava Kate said...

Beautiful backsplash! We used the same accent tile in our kitchen. You saved yourself lots of $$$! Great job! Hope you stop by and visit @

gail said...

I love your back splash! You did a super job!
great tute!
thanks for linking up and linking back--catching you this week

Mel said...

Absolutely amazing! Good for you for doing it yourself. I bet you loved sinking your teeth into this big job.

Great tile choice, it works wonderfully with your cabinets!

Happy New Year!

marina jason said...

Nice blacksplash. You use all of the professional tools for tiling which is the best thing. Sigma Tile Cutter is the best cutter to cut perfect tiles.

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