Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Installing Subway Tile for Kitchen Backsplash | #PBJreno Update

When we finally got to the stage of installing our kitchen backsplash, I could hardly contain myself.    Even though many people don't choose to have a backsplash I couldn't help but feel that our kitchen wasn't complete without it.  It was the "big step" that was going to make the space feel <almost> finished!

Picking a tile for backsplash can be a daunting task.  There are SO many possible decisions - material,  tile size, colors, grout size, grout color, pattern of the tile layout.  However, I was very happy that I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted the second we walked into this home for the first tour.  I knew I wanted larger subway tiles, simple pattern layout, white grout and something that made the white cabinets feel seamless.

I was very excited when The Tile Shop wanted to work together for my backsplash and told me to go on a shopping trip in their store or online.  One trip to their local store and I walked down the first aisle and pretty much the first tile I looked at - I knew was the winner.  Talk about luck.
I chose their Calacutta Bianco Gloss Subway Tile - 4x16". It's a bright white subway tile in a gloss finish with subtle grey veins.  The veins were sparse enough it wasn't going to compete with our countertops, and the bright white matched the white of our upper cabinets.
We have helped my Father-in-Law install our backsplash in our first home's kitchen in Virginia so we were at least familiar with the, and his, process.  He and I got in a pretty good routine to go through the installation process. A lot of pre-measuring, laying out the tile with the spacers, measuring again, once more to be sure, and then cutting of the tiles when necessary.

We started with our shorter of the two walls we were tiling and templated out the full space with the tiles, as you can see above. Then we had to go back and measure out where the outlet cuts would be in the tiles.

I'm still a little skiddish when it comes to cutting tile.  I got comfortable with doing the simple straight cuts, but when it was time to cut out sections for outlets and light switches I let my FIL do all that work.  However, he made the process seem pretty easy.

We used painter's tape to tape off the measured area of the outlet.  Then he'd cut in on the sides to the depth of the cuts.  Since you can't make the "horizontal" cut, you have to do many many many cuts to remove the total area.

Once we had all the cuts ready to go, it's time for the goop Thinset.  Things I learned along the way: I've heard both thinset and mortar talked about when laying tile... well, what's the difference and when do you use which?
Thinset is actually a type of mortar made to go on in a thinner manner.  Thinset uses a finer sand than other types of mortar allowing for the thinner bed application like on backsplashes.
To mix the Thinset you want to add water to the dry mix little by little mixing it each time to ensure you don't add too much water.  You really need the mixture to be about a texture of toothpaste, or frosting in order to hold the tiles without sagging but be able to be thinned out smooth enough.

Ready to add the Thinset and tiles!

We hit a BIG hurdle as we finished our smaller wall and moved to our longer wall.  Luckily since we were laying out the tiles first to be sure of spacing and measurements, we were able to notice that our walls were not 100% flat.  Despite all the squaring we did when installing sheetrock, and mudding and sanding. Since our tiles were 16" in length they cover a lot of "real estate" on the wall and when you're crossing over where studs are, where we tapped/mudded, it was bound to not be totally flush. So, we had to go back and mud over areas that had depressions in the wall that would have caused the tiles to not lay flat on the wall.  We just added a thin layer, let dry 24 hours and sanded smooth. 

 Once that was all fixed, it was time to resume the tiling. 

Similar to how we cut the outlet tiles, we had to cut out the areas for the pendant lights.  It was a little more difficult since it's a curved area, but we just did the same process as before. 

<Moment of truth: There was actually about 6 weeks in between when we finished tiling and before we grouted. Yah... sometimes it's hard to finish projects on a tight timeline.>

Since I was working with The Tile Shop we were able to use all their suggested products for their grout which is great because they actually suggest using an additive to the unsanded grout powder instead of water.  The bottle on the right is the "flexible grout mixture" and just hearing the name made me feel more confident about using it.  We used a bright white grout, but I did debate for a little using a dark grey grout for dramatic contrast.  But, ended up deciding I wanted a more clean seamless appearance. 

This process is just a lot of smooshing on the grout, being sure it's smooth in the cracks and then going back with a sponge and wiping it off the surface of the tiles.  In the picture below you can see the difference of adding the grout (left of the outlet) and once we wiped it down with a clean wet sponge (right of the sponge). 

B-E-A-UTIFUL huh?!

A HUGE thanks to The Tile Shop for wanting to work with me on for our backsplash.  Truly impressed with their products and how easy the process was!

We're moving along in the kitchen reno - practically done.  WHO IS EXCITED TO SEE THE FULL REVEAL!?

As always I love to share little glimpse into our lives on Instagram, especially our progress of #PBJreno.  Wouldn't you agree the backsplash looks gorgeous paired with our glass jars?



1 comment :

Love hearing back from my readers, you make my day! Thanks, Pamela of PBJstories

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