This tutorial explains how to install a backsplash above your kitchen cabinet tops and cooking surfaces
using tile, granite, stainless steel, or laminate.
Why do You Need a Backsplash?
Backsplashes on the walls above kitchen countertops or cooking surfaces will add a touch of style to
your food prep area and will also protect the walls and simplify cleaning chores.
Backsplashes will protect the wall from water in your sink area and will also protect from grease
splatters around the cooking surface.
Even though you can employ a professional to install it, a do it yourself backsplash is a very doable
project for any DIYer to take on.
A Variety of Backsplash Materials
Prefabricated cabinets are sometimes built with a plastic laminate (Formica is actually a brand name) backsplash but adding this type
of backsplash after the fact is usually not a viable choice for a DIYer project if your design includes
a curve at the point where your countertop intersects your wall.
But its fine to cut a piece of laminate and attach it using contact cement. Cut it with a saw
blade designed for this purpose. Then simply run a small bead of
latex or silicone caulk where the countertop meets the wall.
Stainless Steel Backsplashes
Stainless steel is popular in commercial settings and stainless steel kitchen appliances are very trendy
in the residential kitchen market. But as an add-on it might not look quite right if it does not fit in
with the kitchen's theme.
But, if you want it, a stainless steel backsplash is easy to install. If you dont have
the equipment to cut a sheet to the proper size, have a machine shop cut it and then apply it
the same way as stated for Formica above.
Granite: Popular Elegance
Another popular counter top and backsplash material is granite. The benefits are its durability and
elegance. It will instantly raise the equity in your property. But the downside is its high cost and
even though a DIYer can install it, all cutting must be subbed out to a stone mason.
One advantage of a granite counter top is that it is available in a mind-boggling array of colors and
patterns so making a match with the rest of your kitchen decor or theme is a snap!
A Better Backsplash Choice is Ceramic Tile
A very stylish and economical type of backsplash material is tile, either glazed or glass. Tile is
very reasonably priced plus it's simple to apply. If you are looking for an ideal weekend DIY project,
this is it.
The smooth glazed surface of the tile ensures that its a breeze to clean as well as disinfect; a
strong plus in your food prep area. Installing tile isnt hard; a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. The tile is
installed the first day and then its grouted on the second.
Color Coordinating with Ceramic Tile
A huge plus for tile is the incredible array of sizes and colors. Consider the possibilities: a solid
color, a mosaic tile pattern, or a color combination.
To ensure that the colors or pattern you like
fit in with your kitchens look, purchase several pieces, take them to your kitchen, and give them a try.
Also, you might want to get creative by mixing in theme tiles that are embossed with farm or fruit
A newer alternative to get that custom look with tile is to
apply tile tattoos. These are stickers
made especially for dressing up ceramic tile.
How to Install a Tile Backsplash
When installing glass tile, use thinset to bond it to your wall. When installing glazed tile, use
a special tile mastic. Always place plastic tile spacers between the individual tiles when you are
setting them. Just remove them after the mastic or thinset is dry before you grout.
When you cut tile be sure to use a wet saw. You can probably find a rental at your local tool rental
outlet. Dont bother with score and snap tools because you wont get satisfactory results.
Next Step: Grout the Tile
Applying grout to your backsplash is simple. All thats needed is a float, a sponge, and a bucket
of water. Choose a grout color that looks right with the colors of the tile. Remember that the lighter
colors show dirt more readily.
Finally, Use a Grout Sealer
You can now buy grout that has a sealer built in. This is a good route to take. If not,
wait until the grout cures and seal it as the final step. This is a personal decision.
When the grout is cured and ready to seal, go to a tile store, not a home improvement store,
to buy your grout sealer. That way youll have access to to good stuff that the pros use.