Tiling is a lot like painting….many stages and waiting for things to dry. I am not going to write a tutorial on tile because there are so many amazing ones out there on the blogosphere and I don’t think I can write a better one. My favorite tutorial is from Pretty Handy Girl. She even posted a video. Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
I am going to tell you a few things I did that wasn’t on a tutorial or I figured out as I went. This was my first time to tile so I learned a lot!
- Glass tile MUST have a glass certified tile blade
We rented a wet saw and I asked the guys at the store what kind of blade it had. They all assured me it would cut glass even though it wasn’t a “glass tile blade”. They had some name for the the blade I had not heard of and said it was the best. Alrighty, I guess they know what they are talking about. Well….they don’t. At least not with this. We used a the sample tile to test it and the blade tried to eat my expensive tile. Of course the rental store closed at noon on Saturdays and was closed by the time we tested the tile. We went to HD and Lowes and neither one of them had a 10 in glass blade for the saw so we were stuck. To make a long, dramatic story short, we ended up buying a wet saw. It was about $50/day to rent a saw and on that day the rental was useless. Even if we found a glass blade for it we would need it for a few more days just for the backsplash project. A small new one at HD was $130 and they had a glass certified blade for it. We will be tiling our bathrooms over the next year so we felt it was a good investment compared to renting. Here is the one we bought.
It worked great! Its small so its easy to store and move around. If you have several tiling projects in the future, I recommend you consider buying instead of renting. For us it was the cheaper option.
- Tiling is messy….really messy
Everyone says its messy but they don’t really say more. I will. It has been the messiest project so far. Worse than sanding dust being every where. Thin set is a wet paste and drops off the wall or tools sometimes. If you get thin set on your hands it then gets on the tile. Glass tiles coming off of the saw are wet and have to be wiped off or they drop dirty water through the house. Grout is a whole new level of messy. You wipe this stuff all over, then wipe it off with damp sponges. I protected my countertops with plastic first. I tape the plastic along the wall where the tile was being installed and let it fall over the cabinets to protect everything. Then I cut up moving boxes and laid them over the plastic. I also recommend putting plastic or cardboard on your floor. We went through tons of rags and paper towels last week! MESSY. Since I had the boxes and plastic clean up was really easy but know that you will have a huge mess on your hands during tiling.
- Thin Set
Your thin set depends on your tile so ask a pro or research about what kind you need. When applying less is more. Our tiles are 4 x 12 and I read in several places that since they are so big they should be back buttered (put thin set on the back of the tile). Several tutorials said they should be back buttered and thin set put on the wall. I did both (wall and back butter) and I think it was too much. Thin set was wanting to push through to the grout lines and it made it hard to level and even out the tiles. I think next time I will just back butter or go with a smaller trowel.
Do not mix the whole box!!!!! I mixed a little at a time. With grout you apply it, let it set for 10 – 20 minutes, then you start wiping off. Keep that in mind when you start mixing your grout. Only mix as much as you think you can work with in that time frame. Also, you probably don’t need the whole box. I maybe used 1/4 of the box for the entire kitchen. I sealed up the left over and stored it for a future project.
Be sure you plan ahead!!! Be sure you have enough tile. Be sure you watch videos to know how to cut around outlets and windows. Be sure you know how to prep your wall. Be sure you have several days set aside for the project. Be sure to protect your countertops and floors. Be sure you have all supplies ready.
- The right state of mind
This is important with any DIY project. Know going into it that the final product will not be perfect. Thing is, if you paid a pro to do it, it still wouldn’t be perfect. You just don’t always see imperfections at first when someone else does the project. When you DIY something, you are usually aware of every imperfection. Every DIYer experiences this and knows its kind of a curse. Most of the time the imperfections fade when you look at the space but sometimes they don’t. Just keep the right state of mind that you are doing your best, you are saving TONS of money, most imperfections will not be seen by people visiting your house, and you can proudly say, you installed the tile yourself. Always remember to be patient (I struggle with this) and that there are going to be bumps in the road.
I am glad we DIYed this project. It saved a lot of money and it was good practice for the bigger tiling projects that will happen in the bathrooms.
This can be a project you do by yourself but it is nice to have a second person cutting tiles and/or cleaning up behind you. Blittle was the designated tile cutter. He was better at using the saw than I was. I marked tiles to be cut and he would go back and forth from the kitchen to the saw and back. It was a good system for us and kept things moving .
Now for the part you all are waiting for. The pictures!
Before: White laminate counters that flowed up the wall to make a white laminate backsplash.
During: This is what it looked like behind the laminate backsplash.
I cleaned off any extra glue and bumps off the wall then primed wall. I primed to keep any previous paint color or glue from seeping through and staining the back of my tile.
New window stool and trim added. Tile laid out and ready for install.
My grout supplies.
Post grout. Pre caulk.
Pull tape before the caulk dries.
After: Thank you to Jessica of Ever & Anon for taking such beautiful photos of my home.
Click below to read my interview with Wayfair about our kitchen and backsplash.