Nov 15 , 2018
How to Install Backsplash Project overview: Planning, materials and tools
Nothing packs more style per square inch than mosaic tile for kitchen backsplash tile ideas. So if your kitchen’s got the blahs, give it a quick infusion of pizzazz with kitchen backsplash tile. Because the small tiles are mounted on 12 x 12-in. sheets, installation of a tiled backsplash is fast. You can install the tile on Saturday and then grout it on Sunday.
Professionals charge about $20 per sq. ft. for installing the tile (plus materials), so you’ll save $20 for every sheet you install yourself. The sheets cost $8 to more than $20 each at home centers and tile stores.
The total cost for our tiled backsplash was about $200. Our sheets cost $10 apiece plus adhesive and grout. For an 8-ft. tiled backsplash, you could save about $45 by using a less expensive tile. We chose slate tiles, which sometimes crumble when you cut them. Other types of mosaic tiling, especially ceramic tiles, are easier to cut.
In this article, we’ll show you how to install the tile sheets. You’ll need basic tile tools, available at home centers and tile stores, including a 3/16-in. trowel and a grout float. You’ll also need mastic adhesive, premium grout and grout sealer. You can rent a wet saw to cut the tiles (about $40 for four hours, or $55 for the day).
Shopping for Mosaic Tile Backsplash
Mosaic tiling sheets make it easy to achieve a great backsplash. Layout is a cinch—you can simply cut the mesh backing on the sheets to fit the tile along counters and cabinets. In fact, the hardest part of this or any other tiling backsplash project may be choosing the look—the tiles come in a variety of shapes and materials, and many sheets have glass or metallic tiles built in for accents. To add to your options, strips of 4 x 12-in. tiles are available for borders. So you can match the existing look of your kitchen—or try something new!
Prep the walls
Draw a center line
Mark a centerline between the upper cabinets so the tiles will be centered under the vent hood. Screw a ledger to the wall to support the tile.
Before installing the tile, clean up any grease splatters on the wall (mastic won’t adhere to grease). Wipe the stains with a sponge dipped in a mixture of water and mild dishwashing liquid (like Dawn). If you have a lot of stains or they won’t come off, wipe on a paint deglosser with a lint-free cloth or abrasive pad so the mastic will adhere. Deglosser is available at paint centers and home centers.
Then mask off the countertops and any upper cabinets that will have tile installed along the side. Leave a 1/4-in. gap between the wall and the tape for the tile (Photo 1). Cover the countertops with newspaper or a drop cloth.
Turn off power to the outlets in the wall and remove the cover plates. Make sure the power is off with a non-contact voltage detector. Place outlet extenders in the outlet boxes. The National Electrical Code requires extenders when the boxes are more than 1/4 in. behind the wall surface. It’s easier to put in extenders now and cut tile to fit around them than to add them later if the tile opening isn’t big enough. Set the extenders in place as a guide for placing the tile. You’ll remove them later for grouting.
On the wall that backs your range, measure down from the top of the countertop backsplash a distance that’s equal to three or four full rows of tile (to avoid cutting the tile) and make a mark. Screw a scrap piece of wood (the ledger board) to the wall at the mark between the cabinets.
The area between the range and the vent hood is usually the largest space on the wall—and certainly the most seen by the cooks in the house—so it’ll serve as your starting point for installing the tile. Make a centerline on the wall halfway between the cabinets and under the vent hood (Photo 1). Measure from the centerline to the cabinets. If you’ll have to cut tile to fit, move the centerline slightly so you’ll only have to cut the mesh backing (at least on one side).