Friday, September 13, 2013

Kitchen Backsplash on a Budget

Tools you will need:
  • Tile Saw
  • Margin trowel 
  • Wall trowel
  • Buckets at least 2
  • Towels
  • Pencils or sharpies
  • Tile spacers
  • Sand paper (optional)
  • Rubber Float

To save money, we purchased floor tiles from the clearance section of Lowes.  We got the last remaining 10 pieces of these dark 16x16 tiles for .72 a sf, and a 2 boxes of 12x12 tiles for .60 a sf.  The black marble tile was a splurge at $4.  With thin set, grout, and the cheap tiles, we ended up paying less then $50!

But we payed for it in labor.  To create all of those tiny pieces required hundreds if not thousands of cuts. 

Drawing the Accent Star
Here's a  great tutorial on drawing a 5 pointed nautical star.  For mine, I used a piece of paper starting with a center point (argh for not taking pictures!) and sketched 2 10" perpendicular lines centered at 5", then 2 5" perpendicular lines diagonally centered at 2.5".

You could also size and print an image from Google and use that.  Once I had my paper drawn, I cut out one of the triangles and used that as my template.  After cutting out all of the triangles, I had this:

I attached masking tape where I would cut the black marble because I couldn't see any markings on it otherwise.  To do the cutting, I cut it into 4 pieces first, then trimmed out the star section.  The marble was very brittle because of the veins, so be very careful and slow.  One tiny section broke off but with a little super glue and the star and grout pushing up against it, you wouldn't even know it was there!

Excuse the dirty crockpot in the picture
Here's the final product ready for some thin set!!!

I measured out where I would need the star to go before taking the stove out.  Use a level to make sure it's perfect.

You can apply tile directly to drywall, but you should rough up the paint with some sand paper to get better cohesion.  Because the star was so heavy, and the marble was so slick, I had to screw some boards up to make certain it stayed put.

Here's a great tiling tutorial.   

I cut each piece to be 5 7/8" x 1 7/8."  The best way to do this is to make templates, and cut each piece exactly the same way to create cohesion.

Using the 12x12 tile, cut a strip that is 12x1 7/8."  This will be a cutting template to create more strips.  Use this template strip butted up against the edge to cut another strip.  Cut this one in half and it should be about 5 7/8."  This will be your final template.  Mark each template with sharpie, and don't lose them!   

When marking the tiles, make sure they are dry or the marking will bleed.  Find what marking techniques work best for you and the material.  I've used heavy pencil lines on certain materials, and sharpies on others.  If you use sharpie, rub it off right after you put it through the wet saw.  I hate the "tile pencils."   I find they don't give a good enough edge, and peeling the paper/sharpening them is awful.

Here's the 90% completed stove side.

If you look closely at the top of the tiles you'll see numbers.  I would number tiles and spaces that needed distinct cuts, so I could take out several without confusing what goes where.

I was working 2 jobs at the time so I only had a few hours a day to work on this project.  It took a long time!

Here I'm applying thinset to a trowel, and then putting it on the wall.  I found this to be too messy and imprecise because of the minimal working room.  It also didn't give you enough time to get everything perfect.  Eventually, I would just apply thinset to each individual which seemed to be easier.

Use spacers in every direction and make sure your lines are straight.  Check them with a straight edge of some kind often.  Also, consider how you want your outlets and edges to look.  If you want them inset, draw a box around where your outlet covers are and leave 1/8" space.  Also consider if you want a grout line in the corner or if you want the tile butted up against the wall. 

Since this project I've used the harder plastic spacers which have a lot less give to them, making it easier to hold straight lines and not have to keep going back to fix slippage.

Here's the finished view from the right side, without grout.

Here's the view over the sink.  There were a ton of tiny slivers below the windowsill.  Those were the hardest pieces to cut out of the whole project because they had a tendency to break, especially tiny L's.

Here's the left side without grout, breathtaking!

Abby sure loves it!

And here's the final with grout! 

If you have created a custom back splash, floor, or shower, I want to see it!  Comment below and share.

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