After seeing several dozen, nice, kitchen back-splashes and helping my in-laws with theirs, I decided to work on my own while the kids and wife were visiting relatives one weekend. This how-to shows the process I underwent.
The kitchen had been sitting alone: color-less and style-less for 4 years since we bought out house. It needed something colorful and dark to really make the mocha-maple wood cabinets pop. Simple paint wasn’t going to do the job. I wanted something 3 dimensional and textured.
I wanted a mixture of tile sizes and colors to bring more interest to the eye. I visited the local Home Depot and Lowes stores and decided on mixed colors and sizes of slate.
I began by cutting the net backing off of the 2″ and 1″ tiles. This ended up being quite a bit of work.
Once I had several sheets worth of tiles separated and ready, I began to adhere the tiles to the wall from left to right. I tried to randomize the tile sizes as much as possible, allowing same size tiles to touch here and there randomly across the field.
On the left side, I needed a side border so that the tile edges wouldn’t be seen. I chose a simple rope pattern in a bronze color.
The biggest problem I had was the non-uniform sizes of the tiles. No 2 4″ tiles were the same length, width or thickness. This causes problem all over. I needed to open up the gaps between the tiles slightly to allow for the variation. Some touched, some ended up being 1/8″ apart or more.
Once I had a running field of tiles coming along, I tried to fill in the holes with cut tiles. All of the little triangle filler pieces were cut on a 10″ wet saw. It was painstaking work in making the cuts.
Overall, I had two fields of tile: One on each side of the appliance garage. Below is the section to the right of the appliance garage.
I ended up with some very vibrant orange, red, brown, white and blueish tiles. The camera doesn’t do the color mixtures justice.
For grouting, I used a dark gray. You use a rubber trowel to mush it in the cracks in 2ftx2ft sections and then come back over it with a wet sponge to rub off the excess grout. You must frequently rinse and squeeze out the sponge in a bucket of water. After about 30 minutes, you need to then go back over however much you have completely up to that point and rub it down a second or third time with the wet sponge to clean off the surface of the tile.
After the grouting, and a dry time of another 2 days for good measure, I sealed the tile with a glossy sealant available at any home improvement store. It was about $9 a bottle and I only used a portion of a bottle for the entire backsplash. This makes it much easier to clean up splatters and spills like tomato sauce.
I used masking tape and newspaper to mask off the countertops to avoid horrible messes on my Corian. As for how to apply the sealant? I just used a cheap 3″ paint brush that you can buy from Home Depot or Lowes in packs of 10. You just slop the sealant on.
I was afraid that the glossy sealant would be too glossy but the slate soaked it up very well and left only a semi-glossy finish.