Kitchen Tile Backsplash Installation


Installing a tile backsplash in a kitchen is an easy do-it yourself-project that anyone can do. All you need are some easy to use tools and materials that are available at home and hardware stores across the country. Taking a few minutes to envision, or plan, your project is possibly the most important step before beginning a tile installation project.

Things You'll Need

  • Sample tile
  • Glazed tile
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Light tack tape
  • Tile cutter and nippers
  • Medium notched trowel
  • Spacers
  • Grout
  • Grout Float
  • Goggles
  • Latex gloves

Before you start installing tile.

  • Take note of the features of the area where you will install the backsplash. Write down measurements, make notes of electrical outlets and even take a few pictures with your cell phone or digital camera in order to show your local hardware worker or to use as reference when you are at the store buying materials.

  • Purchase a few samples of tile that you like. Take them back to your kitchen and place them around to determine the best color, style and size.

  • Make a rough count of the number of tile, or tile sections with backing, that you will need to complete the backsplash. Typical backspashes range from 4 to 6 feet. Visualize how the tiles will fit around electrical outlets and how many corners or cabinets you will have to work around. When you measure and make a rough tile count, allow for grout space between the tile and consider that some tiles will most likely break.

  • Purchase the tile and all of your materials at one time.

  • Prep the area where you will install the backsplash. Clean the surface and let it dry. Place protective light tack tape over cabinet corners and edges as well as counter edges. Tack tape is generally produced in a distinctive blue color. Remove any items from the counter as well as outlet and light switch covers as needed.

  • Use your measuring tape, level and a pencil to mark horizontal guide lines across your entire work surface. Write lightly in case you have to erase any marks when completed. Start in the center and work your way out.

  • Place the tile adhesive onto the wall using your notched trowel at an angle, leaving a 1/16" layer. Only coat an area that you feel you can work in a few minutes -- about 2 or 3 feet. Work one row at a time from the bottom up.

  • Place tile spacers on the backsplash and rest the first tile or tile section with backing in place, applying a small amount of pressure with a gentle twist motion. Check often with a level. If you are using tile sections with a backing material, make sure that your spacers match the width of space between tiles on the backing. Place the next tile in place using spacers as you go. You can use some low tack tape to hold the top row of tiles gently in place if needed. Once your first area of tile is in place, check over for any problems and move onto the next section. Avoid rushing.

  • Cut tiles when needed by using a hand cutter, electric water cutter or nipper. You can buy or rent both types at just about every hardware store. Ask the store for any instructions specific to their brand of saw. Water saws require water, a grounded outlet and should be used on a dry and level surface.

  • Clean off any excess adhesive as you work. Let the tiles rest for a few hours once all are in place. Check for anything that has to be fixed or adjusted. Once the adhesive is set and sturdy, remove all spacers.

  • Use your grout float to apply the grout over the tiled area, filling in the spaces evenly. Work the grout in at a 45-degree angle. You will see the grout start to glaze over on your tile.

  • Use a damp cloth to remove excess grout and shape grout in spaces with a rounded wooden dowel if needed. Repeat the cleaning with a damp sponge as needed and polish with a clean dry towel. You may need to repeat the polishing again with the dry towel.

  • Replace and outlet covers and remove the protective light tack tape.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plan your backspash to limit the amount of cuts you need to make with a saw. There are a number of tile options that are mounted to a backing material, which can be cut to reduce the size of the overall piece and possibly keep you from having to use a tile cutter at all.
  • Wear protective goggles at all times when working with cutters, nippers and saws. Tile fragments are as sharp as glass and can cause damage to your eyes.
  • Wear latex or protective gloves. You may not have an allergic reaction to any of the materials, but the tile, grout and adhesive are abrasive.
  • Avoid running your fingers along the edge of the tiles to form grout because the edge may be sharp. Use glazed tile that is intended for kitchen use.
  • Before you remove outlet covers, you will need to cut the power off to the outlets.

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