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How to build a kitchen tile backsplash wall.
Tools / Materials (See Below for
Ceramic tiles (buy a few more than calculated to be used for
Tile wet saw
Tile snap cutter
Tile nippers (for circular tile cuts, etc.)
Power drill with the appropriate drill bit
Ceramic tile adhesive
Grout, the unsanded type (if the the tile joints will be
narrow), sanded (if the tile joints will be wide)
Grout sealer, like Aqua Mix Sealer
Tile adhesive notched trowel
Tile grout float
Tile grout sponge (such as a hydro sponge),
Fine-pointed brush (like what an artist uses)
White caulking tube
Marker (with thin tip that does not wash off
easily, may need to be permanent to meet this not-wash-easily
Medium sandpaper (about 120 grit)
If you want to improve the looks of your kitchen,
perhaps add a unique "accent" to it, installing a ceramic tile
backsplash on the wall facing your kitchen countertop (and sink, as
applicable) may be the improvement project for you. With a
little sweat and effort, such an installation can transform your
Caution: Of course, when dealing with sharp
objects, such as a tile wet saw, make sure you take
precautions. When dealing with chemicals, such as those found
in tile adhesives, grout and a sealer, make sure you take
precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions.
Caution: Have the electrical power to all
electrical outlets and switches in the kitchen (or wherever the
backsplash will be installed) turned off during installation.
Installing a ceramic tile backsplash can be done in a few steps,
and here's how:
When installing a
ceramic tile backsplash, planning is a critical part as is the
case with any other home improvement project: Determine whether
your tile backsplash will be 8 inches high or even 12 inches
high, etc., and make sure you have enough tiles for whichever
height your choose.
precautionary measure, use masking tape to cover all
electrically-disconnected outlets so that no tile adhesive or
other debris gets in them during the installation process.
Ensure that the
wall(s) on which the the tile backsplash will be installed
is/are clean and ready for the installation; as necessary, sand
the walls, especially with a paint coat, with medium sandpaper.
Clean up the sand dust with a broom and dustpan; use a damp
rag/cloth to wipe off the dust that may have accumulated on the
Layout how the
tiles will be installed on the wall, penciling layout markings
of each tile on the wall as may be necessary to assist in the
In this layout
process, placing each tile on the wall for their respective layout
markings, you very likely will run across a few tiles that will need to
be cut to correspond to the wall configurations of outlets and other
place and needing to tightly surround such with tiles, etc. In this
situation, as each tile needs to be modified with cuts, mark such
unique cut lines on the tile, itself, with a marker.
Upon marking your tiles for unique cuts, make these actual cuts with
either a tile wet saw or tile snap cutter; using a tile wet saw will
make the cutting process faster, but buying or renting such a saw
can be a bit more expensive than using a tile snap cutter.
Read the manufacturer's instructions of either tool that you will
use, and for tile wet saw cuts, allow such cut tiles to dry before
you install them with tile adhesive. Use a a power drill with
a hole saw bit made of carbide in order to make holes through tiles.
Use tile nippers to make curved/half-circle/half-oval cuts, etc.
Upon making all
of your cuts, taking all safety
precautions necessary for your situation, use a broom and
dustpan to safely sweep up the created debris from making
necessary cuts of tiles.
With the flat
side of a notched trowel, spread an adequate amount of tile
adhesive enough to be covered with tiles in 15 or so minutes on
the wall(s) where the tiles will be placed, all within the
outer-most layout mark; the spread of the adhesive should be at
least half the thickness of a tile.
Then, upon initially making the adhesive spread with the the flat
side of the notched trowel, use the notched/rigid side of the
notched trowel to run through this spread as if you were combing
through it with a comb, making horizontal lines through such a
spread with the trowel, also making sure to stay within the
outer-most layout mark; this spread effectively becomes "notched"
and ready to be covered with tiles.
Don't worry about crevice space that separates the tile backsplash
in the making and the countertop, as this will ultimately be covered
with caulking, but not just yet.
With the tile
adhesive spread and notched, immediately begin to actually
install the tiles over such a spread on the wall, all of which
should be done in about 15 minutes for the given amount of tile
adhesive applied for this initial phase of installation (other
phases of more tile installation, as necessary, will follow by
repeating steps 6 and 7): The tiles should be placed on
the wall spread, starting from the bottom up, and each tile
should be placed on the wall in a somewhat twisting motion.
If your tiles do not have built-in spacers, you'll need to place
tile spacers on all sides of each tile to ensure equal spacing;
usually, spacers are about 6/16 of an inch in width. Frequently
use a carpenter's level and/or a straightedge to make sure the
tiles are aligned in the process so that any corrections can be
made before it is too late. Upon the setting of this set
of tiles, carefully remove the tile spacers before the tiles
really start to set in/adhere to the wall.
Allow this set of installed tiles to cure/dry onto the wall for about 24
hours or otherwise per the tile adhesive manufacturer's
instructions. Go on to the next phase/batch of tile installation.
Repeat steps 6-7
for each additional phase/batch of tile installation (remember,
enough adhesive spread for about 15 minutes of tile installing
so as to not waste the adhesive in going bad as a result of
spreading too much and being unable to install too many tiles to
cover such a huge adhesive spread before it dries) until the
installation of tiles for the tile backsplash is complete.
Upon 24 hours
passing or any other time period provided by the tile adhesive
manufacturer, using a grout float, apply the grout into the
sides/joints of the installed replacement tile. In
applying the grout, a good way to get the grout well within the
joints without disturbing what grout has already went in is to
maneuver the float across the replacement tile at an angle from
one side to the other; use a moistened sponge to wipe up any
grout to cure/dry for about an additional 24 hours or
otherwise per the grout manufacturer's instructions before you
attempt to touch the tile.
With a caulking
gun, cocked with a caulking tube of white caulking, fill in the
crevice/gap found between the bottom tile edges and the
countertop, as may be applicable.
After about two
weeks since the grout application, apply grout sealer over the
grout on the tiles with a fine-pointed brush. This sealer
seals the grout around the tiles so that such grout becomes
smooth and bears a nice shining-appearance touch.
That's how to install a ceramic tile backsplash.
Handyman Zone Team
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