A kitchen backsplash is a relatively small area. Most backsplashes are 18 inches in height, and take up only about 30 square feet in total space. Because the area is small and does not require special substrates, most homeowners can install a tile backsplash themselves with the right tools.
Some types of tile require additional tools or materials unique to the material itself. Always double check with the tile salesperson to ensure the tile you have purchased does not require special installation instructions.
Tools for Preparation
Before the tiles can be installed, the area must be prepped to receive the tile. Use a screwdriver to remove any outlet or wall switch face plates from the wall. Sand down any rough areas using a fine-grit sandpaper and make careful measurements of the area with a measuring tape. If the stove pulls out from the wall, nail a 2 by 4 board at counter height to the wall behind the stove. This will give the tiles something to rest on where there is no counter. Use a pencil or a piece of chalk and a level to find and mark the center lines of each wall.
Tools for Cutting the Tile
There are many tools that can be used to cut the tile on a kitchen backsplash. A tile wet saw can cut through any material. Use a glass cutting blade on the wet saw if cutting glass tiles, otherwise a standard diamond blade can cut through any material. Use a razor blade or scissors to trim the material that holds mosaic tiles to get the tiles to approximately the right size for the space. Tile nippers or glass cutters can trim the individual mosaic tiles to fit the corners of the installation.
Tools for Installing the Tiles
To mix the mortar, use a large, 5-gallon bucket and a hand trowel. A trowel that is sized appropriately to the size of tile that you are installing is required to apply the mortar to the wall. Keep a spare 2 by 4 and a rubber mallet to beat sheets of mosaic or larger tiles into the mortar. Use a sponge to clean up the edges of the installation and keep the mortar from migrating.
Tools for Finishing the Installation
Use a clean bucket and a hand trowel to mix the grout to the right consistency for the tiles installed. Use a rubber grout float to spread the grout across the face of the tiles and a grout sponge with rounded corners to remove excess grout from the face of the tiles. Apply caulk to the corners, edges and joints of the installation using a caulk gun. Scissors or a razor blade will cut the tip from the caulk tube. Keep the screwdriver handy to replace the outlets or switch covers once the tiles are completely set and dry.
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