Along with spring cleaning this year why not do a simple kitchen remodel project? Backsplashes are remarkably easy to do with new products that can be found at your local hardware store. Most people spend twenty percent of their time in the kitchen cooking, cleaning and eating. The popularity of kitchen remodeling is sweeping the nation. Installing a colorful backsplash can make a sink area aesthetically pleasing as well as more functional.
Choosing the tile is the first step. Different kinds of tile fit different tastes and budgets. Subway tile is the more standard tile found in commercial settings. It is smooth, glossy and comes in smaller sizes such six by six inch squares. It is also the cheaper tile and, in the central Texas area, it is usually priced at fifty cents each or about two dollars a square foot. The next kind is glazed ceramic tile that is textured to look like stone. It is usually in pre-arranged mosaics and is a little more expensive at about two dollars and fifty cents a square foot. Glass tiles are the most expensive at about ten dollars a square foot. But they also create a more glamorous effect. Each individual tile is one inch by one inch and placed in a square foot mosaic that has an alternating color pattern. Frequently glass tile mosaics are laid alongside small glazed ceramic tiles to create a multi-textured look. Each kind of tile has a specialized tile called a bullnose that has a molded side. It is placed at the edge of the pattern to make the backsplash flush to the wall.
After the tile is chosen, the backing must be purchased. There are two ways to proceed. The quick and easy way is to use an adhesive tile setting mat called SimpleMat. They cost about twenty-six dollars for ten square feet. Since both sides are adhesive, the mat sticks to the existing wallboard and then the tiles can be stuck to the other side. This option is great for a quick job but it is important to remember that the paper coating on the drywall bears all the weight of the tiles. Also, there is a chance that over many years the mat could lose its adhesive quality and fall away from the wall. Sharon Ross, a homemaker in College Station said, “We haven’t put in our backsplash yet but using the SimpleMat would be one less messy step.”
The other option is to cut out the existing drywall and replace it with a product called backerboard. This option allows for a more permanent remodel. Hardibacker backerboard can cost around eleven dollars per sheet. It can be easily be cut with a work knife to be made to fit the area for the backsplash. Special screws must be used to attach the backerboard to the wall studs. Backerboard screws are covered in a protective coating to prevent corrosion. Then, mortar must be applied to the backerboard so the tiles will adhere to the wall. Premixed mortar is readily available and costs about eighteen dollars a gallon. Use a notched wall trowel to apply the mortar. This kind of trowel is serrated on one side to put grooves in the mortar as it is spread on the backerboard. For small tiles, purchase a trowel with small serrations.
With either option, after the tiles have been placed on the wall, grout must be used to fill in between the tiles. Greg Eastman, a flooring specialist at Home Depot, recommends the grout you mix yourself. “It doesn’t have the additives that can be found in the pre-mixed grout which tends to be spongy for a couple of weeks after it sets.”
He also recommends using non-sanded grout for a kitchen backsplash. It usually costs around twelve dollars for a ten pound box. Use a grout float to apply the grout. Then hold it at a forty-five degree angle to the tiles and scrape it across the backsplash. That action forces the grout between the tiles. The last step is to put a special ceramic tile caulk around the edges of the tiled area to keep out moisture and provide a good seal.
There you have a beautiful backsplash for very little effort. But don’t stop with the backsplash. With more confidence, you can tackle the countertop you have always wanted to retile and then maybe the floors. Use your imagination and have fun.