Want a quick and easy way to transform your kitchen in a weekend—and for less than $200? Install a mosaic tile backsplash in no time with these steps (and a little help from my parents, who tackled the project you see here).
Step One. Find your backsplash tiles. Search online and at home-improvement centers for the material, color, and style that’s right for your kitchen. The ones shown here were purchased on eBay for $6.95 a sheet, versus more than $20 elsewhere. So if you’re looking to stay under $200 with this project, be sure to explore your options before you make any purchases.
Although you don’t have to use small tiles like the ones my parents used, they’re a great option because they come in sheets (which means less design work for you), and you likely can get away with less tile-cutting than if you use larger ones. Regardless of what type of tile you purchase, be sure to buy more tile than you need in case you break or otherwise damage any of your tiles.
Step Two. Prepare for the project. This involves clearing the countertops, removing electrical outlet and light switch covers, and moving appliances that may be in the way. Also clean the walls where you plan to install the tile with warm water and allow them to dry.
Step Three. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations, apply adhesive to a section of the wall with the trowel and lay the tiles in it. Working in small areas ensures the adhesive won’t dry out before you’re finished laying tile. Depending on your backsplash design, you may need to push spacers into the adhesive between your tiles to keep them even. With small mosaic tiles like these, however, you can lay down entire sheets at a time—much easier than placing each of those tiny tiles individually! As you work, wipe up any excess adhesive that oozes up between the tiles.
DESIGN NOTE: If you have to cut tiles, like my parents did with the tiles around the outlet, score the tile with a tile cutter and use tile nippers or a saw to carefully cut each piece.
Step Five. After the tile has set (you may want to wait a day or so), mix the grout. (For best results, mix the grout in small batches so it doesn’t dry out.) If you used spacers, remove them now. Spread the grout diagonally across the tiles with a rubber float, making sure to pack the grout between the tiles. When the grout becomes firm, wipe off the excess with a damp sponge, taking care to rinse the sponge frequently.
Step Six. After the grout dries, a haze will form on the tiles. Once this occurs, wipe the tiles down again and shine them with a clean cloth.
Step Seven. Your project is complete. Replace electric outlets, switches, and appliances and enjoy your new backsplash. See what a difference a backsplash makes—just check out the before and after of my parents’ kitchen!
DESIGN NOTE: Keep in mind that when you replace your electric outlets and switches now, you may need longer screws.
The Home Know-It-All