Sunday, December 24, 2017

Kitchen Backsplash

I was pretty good about picking out all the details in the house, but the backsplash stumped me. I wanted something clean, unique, not trendy and something I would not get tired of. I am not a fan of mosaics and the 3x6 subway tile was a little too boring for me.

Arabesque tile drew me in because of the name, but the intricate design made me fearful it would grow old. It was pretty, but the shape also didn't look very DIY friendly (Cutting-wise).

I really liked the look of glass tile. Besides the difficulty of finding a color that matched, I had read that glass tile was harder to cut (show imperfections) and you had to use a special glass tile adhesive because if you used normal mortar, it would show through and change the color that came through on your tile. With that said, if I found a glass tile I liked, I would hire this job out. But, I didn’t. I bought one tile of each design I liked at Lowes and held them up in my kitchen. The white was too white and had a blue hue to it. The whites in my house are white, but they are not stark white. The grey was off. I guess the grey in my cabinets has a brown undertone in it that did not go well with the grey glass tile.

Then I had a sample of a 4x8 white ceramic and a 4x16 white ceramic. I love the 4x16 right off the bat, but wanted to make sure it would look right. It might be too big (no such thing with me). I loved it, Mr. JCrew loved it and my mom loved it. This was it!

Once the decision was made, I moved pretty fast. Mom thought I was still going to hire it out until she saw me drawing on the wall. I knew I could do it myself with my tile choice. A few tips I had read were finding the center of the wall and drawing a level line. You can’t be too sure your counters are level, and if you follow the line and have your tile rest on the counter, you will be looking a slanted grout lines and tiles and it will bug you for the rest of your life!

Our counters weren’t too bad, but there were some slopes.

I had leftover adhesive and leftover epoxy grout, so I was ready once I bought the tile. I installed the first line of tile first and let it set for half a day. Because I was using that first line of tile to be my straight line and all tile would rest on it, I wanted to make sure it was solid.

I also tackled the laundry room first for practice. If I made a mistake or came to a problem in there, it would be okay to learn from it and not repeat the mistake in the kitchen. I decided to tile the laundry when I was thinking I would hire out the backsplash job. Our kitchen backsplash is a small space and not worth someone’s time to come out for, but if I added the laundry room job to it, it was worth it to come out and set up for someone. Same thing with my time. I decided I liked the idea of having a backsplash in the laundry and it’d be worth my time while I had things out and on a roll, to do more area. I ended up having a lot of tile left over, so now I will find time to backsplash the wall behind the washers and dryers. I am hoping maybe Christmas Break this year. I am excited about that.

After the first line dried, I went to town laying tile in the laundry room. I was nervous about the width of the grout line I decided on. I still think the grout for my brick floor is too wide, so it made me second guess my decision. But it looked fine. I then moved onto the kitchen and repeated the process.

I had two outlets to go around in the kitchen and one outlet in the laundry room. When tiling around these, I got lucky in the placement of my tiles. The width of my tile was the exact height of an outlet. I didn’t have to do any fancy cutting.

But when you tile around outlets, you want the outlet to rest on your tile so that the outlet has something to hold it in place when you attempt to plug something into the outlet. Otherwise, your outlet will go into the outlet box.

To solve this, I bought cushions that you can customize. I needed to use these in the kitchen, since my tile lined up so that there was no tile in the way.

The spacers came in one big piece. You fold it, accordion-style, until you have the desired thickness. Then you break off the remnants not needed.

I also had to buy longer screws for the outlet box. Since I would be creating more space between the outlet bracket and the outlet box, the original screws wouldn’t reach the box.

The spacers worked perfectly.

Once complete with the tile laying, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Mr. JCrew laughed at the “high” I was getting from this project. I was elated that my choice looked good after installation. I did it! I still loved it! Next up, the grout.

This made me nervous, once again. I had just done step 1 of the process and didn’t mess it up, I didn’t want to get to the finish line and mess it up.

I kept reading about the epoxy grout I was using and any tricks I needed to know. This was the most important step and also the hardest physically. My arms were so strong after this. They felt so heavy afterwards.

I used a float to put my grout in the lines and by the time I had reached the end, it was time to go back to where I started and start using the circular motion with a wet sponge to get the excess off. Key is to use a clean wet sponge. Luckily I had sinks nearby. Wringing out the sponge also made my arms sore.

I just kept going. It was during this rinsing step that I realized how to get the professional looking grout lines. It naturally happens, but key is you have to keep going. You’re tempted to stop cleaning the grout because it looks done, but you can’t stop. Keep going a little longer and then you have it right. This is really hard to describe, but I knew when to stop and am so happy. You don’t want the grout line to be level with your tile. The lines of my tile were lost that way.

Again, I was happy with the job and I still liked it (important). I say it all the time, but I didn’t realize the finished look it gives the room. I’ve never had a backsplash. Always wanted one, but worried I would pick something and hate it later. Not the case.

I went white on white because I was going for the clean look. And because the tile was large, they recommend laying it out in a brick pattern in thirds. I like the look of thirds anyways.

I did the same design in the laundry room. I still can't believe how finished it makes the space look. I've never had a backsplash. I always wanted one, but could never decide.

I did this project last Christmas 2016, and now I am eager to finish the laundry room with using the leftover tile behind the washer and dryer. Stay tuned! Maybe this Christmas!

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