Do It Yourself: Laying Ceramic Tile Backsplash

Creating a tile backsplash is easy to do and relatively inexpensive to complete. It can add beauty and value to your kitchen or bathroom.

You've seen the pictures in magazines that display beautiful kitchens and bathrooms with creative ceramic backsplashes. You've probably wished your kitchen or bath could look like those on the glossy pages of these home decorating and home improvement journals. Well, they can. It isn't difficult to decorate walls with ceramic tile, and you can save quite a bit of money by doing the job yourself.

Choosing ceramic tile basically comes down to personal preference. Maybe you like the smooth lines of traditional tile, or maybe you favor the rougher cut Mexican type tile. Whatever your choice, applying ceramic tile to the walls above your countertops and sinks is an easy way to update and improve the look of your kitchen or bathroom.

With so many tiles available, the hardest part will be deciding what to buy. Of course, expense enters into the decision making process. The first step you will need to take is to measure how many square feet you will need to cover. The most common size tile for backsplashes measures between three and four inches. Many people prefer to mix this sized tile with smaller pieces of tile that are above or below one inche.

Decide approximately how many pieces of tile you need. It is always a good idea to purchase extra tiles. When you are installing the tiles, you may make some mistakes in cutting them to size. It is a good idea to keep a few extra pieces for possible future use. Tiles may need to be replaced for a variety of reasons, and you won't have to search for tiles to match if you have stored away your extra pieces.

Once you have decided on the approximate amount of tiles you need, visit your local hardware supply or ceramic tile store. Tiles come in a variety of price ranges. If you favor tiles that have intricate designs or are hand painted but feel you can't afford them, then buy just a few for accent pieces.

Other supplies you will need to buy include a bucket of professional grade ceramic tile adhesive, a trowel, spacers, and grout. You may or may not need a ceramic tile wet saw. The ceramic tile adhesive should be an easy purchase. The trowel that you need really depends on the size of the space you will be working on. If the space is confined to above countertops and under cabinets, you will probably want to use a trowel that is only one to two inches wide. If you have a more wide-open space, then you can buy a larger trowel.

You will place spacers between each tile. Spacers come in a variety of sizes. The larger the spacers are, then the larger the area you will have to grout. Study home improvement magazines to decide what type of look you favor. Finally, you will need to choose a specific color of grout. You will probably want to match your grout to the color palette of the tile. If you are unsure, you can ask for assistance from someone who works in that area of the store.

When you get back home, it is a good idea to lay out some of your tile and experiment with different patterns. Take a good look at where you will be applying the tile. You want to place your tile so that the least amount of pieces needs to be cut. This is where purchasing smaller tile squares to intersperse among the larger can be a huge benefit.

If you space your tiles so that smaller tiles can take the place of cut pieces, you may not even need to purchase or rent a tile cutter. If you can space your tiles so that a minimum of tiles need to be cut, then you can take those pieces back to the supply store and have a professional cut the pieces for you. Just leave spaces on your wall, so that the cut pieces can be easily inserted.

To install your tile, take your trowel and insert it into the adhesive bucket. Once you have a good bit of adhesive on your trowel, spread the adhesive along the wall. You will then need to drag the notched edge of the trowel along the adhesive in a wavy pattern. After you have applied adhesive to an area, press pieces of tile firmly into the adhesive, setting spacers between each tile piece at all the corners. Continue working in this manner until all of the tile pieces have been laid with the exception of those that need to be cut. You can lay the cut pieces last.

Try to clean excess adhesive off the front of the tile as soon as you can. You don't want it to harden. You will need to wait approximately twenty-four hours for the adhesive to harden. You can then remove the spacers and begin applying the grout. Read the directions on the back of the grout before you start mixing. If there aren't any directions, mix the grout powder with water so that the consistency of the grout resembles the consistency of cake mix.

Take handfuls of grout and spread over the tile, filling in all the spaces between the tiles. The grout should be almost, but not quite, even with the tile. After you have filled in all the areas around the tile, wipe excess grout off of the tile, being careful not to get the grout between the tiles too wet. Once the grout has dried, you will need to clean the film off the tiles. Vinegar is a great tile cleaner. Keep wiping the tile until you are satisfied that it is clean. You can then roll on a tile sealer if you choose. Creating a tile backsplash is easy and relatively inexpensive. It can add beauty and value to your kitchen or bathroom.

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