Tiling DIY

Thursday, 31 March 2011
My mom and dad are rock stars. They know how to do DIY projects from back in the day when they bought a house and fixed it up to sell (they were newly weds). Since then, my dad has taught himself how to do plumbing, electricity, stone work, woodworking...etc. My mom has the eye for detail so she gives suggestions on how to make a project look like a professional job. I'm a work horse and know how to follow directions so we buckled down on their trip to Knoxville last week and tiled the back splash in the kitchen. We made a great team.

I don't have it caulked and shined yet so I'll post "after" pictures later but here's the "before" and during:

Mom took all of the measurements and dad set up his tile saw in the backyard. If you take on a tiling project you almost certainly need a tile saw. You can rent one from Home Depot and don't forget the water! That keeps the temperature down and the tiles don't break while sawing.

We have new kitchen cabinets and counter tops but it just didn't have the "finished" look that comes with a tile back splash. Mom and I went to Lowe's and picked out 12x12 sheets of tile that connected 2x2 squares of an almond-colored, stone-looking tile. We also purchased a trowl for the mastic, a bucket of mastic, trim pieces, grout, a tool to add the grout, gloves, spacers and a sponge for wiping the grout from the tiles. (You also need painter's tape to put along the top edge of whatever you're tiling.)

Mom started putting on the mastic (starting from the corner going out) and there's a bit of a trick to getting the thickness right. You don't want it too thick or the mastic globs through the tile cracks. You don't want it too thin because you want the tile to stick and get a bit of grip. After the mastic was up, I came behind with the sheets of tile and lined them up to the previous row using spacers. It is a simple process, really.

The difficulty in the job is fitting tile around any abnormally shaped space, such as the window trim and outlets. Dad make 5 cuts on 2 different tiles for the windows. I would not have been able to accomplish that by myself so during your first tiling adventure, you need someone that knows how to cut tile to at least oversee your cuts.

Once we installed all of the tile, we did a quick clean up and let the mastic dry overnight. The next morning we were all up early to begin the grouting process. This is also very easy but strenuous and my shoulders were feeling it the next day. You have to use a bit of force to wipe the grout on in a way that works it into all of the cracks in the tile. I took a little DIY video for fun. Please excuse the very attractive no-makeup look.


~C~ said...

I would love to replace the tile backsplash in my kitchen. Kudos to you for being so ambitious! Can't wait to see the after pics.

Denae said...

You can do it. It is much easier than I thought. The cutting tile is the hard part but if you don't need cuts, you're golden.