Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year... New kitchen Tile Backsplash.

A long time ago in a kitchen far far away, we planned for a tile backsplash. It's been over a year now, and darnit if I didn't get a fire under my backside last weekend.

We had gone to an open house in Newport a couple of months back...I took pictures, but the mishap with the camera (RIP) may have killed those images. I really haven't checked the card yet.. I may get to doing that soon enough... but anyway, I digress.... the open house was done by a very competent fellow who showed us some great tips and cheats (Yeah, I'm definitely going to have to hunt those pictures down, they were really informative and I really wanted to document his work) Argh! I'm digressing yet again!!

Ok, breathe... Tile.

The guy in Newport did a great job in his kitchen with come very cool looking copper/verdigris/brown 1"tiles for a backsplash. Similar colours as our kitchen as well. We thought it looked great. When we asked where he got the tiles we were very surprised to hear that they came from Home Depot.

We were thrilled when he said they cost $5 per square foot. We went and bought a sheet.
We also bought 6 other (much more expensive) patterns and colours we thought might look good if not better, just for the sake of comparison. They all sucked... except for the copper/brown squares. We brought all the others back and bought 32 feet square, a bucket of Omni-grip (same stuff I used for the marble tiles in the master bath shower), and some greenish sanded grout. (Note from DH: I was absolutely SURE we were going to prefer one of the much more expensive glass tiles. It wasn't even close to as good as what we went with. This is important. Look at samples of your tile on site. Test view lots of different tiles. Lighting can dramatically change the way your tile look. So can the light reflecting off the counter and cabinetry. Just cough up and buy lots of samples. You can always return them. I'm SO glad we did.)

The first thing I did was test the grout colour. I wanted to be sure it was the right hue. So I attached (with the Omnigrip) a 4x5 patch of tiles to the back of a piece of clear plastic , (broken from an old cd case) waited for the Omnigrip to cure, then I then mixed up some of the green grout and pressed it into the cracks... waited... wiped... and scratched my head.

It looked too dark. Maybe if I waited a day it would lighten up.

Well it did, but not enough.

So I did the same test with a 50/50 mix of the green grout and some leftover tan grout I had in the basement from the 3rd floor bathroom floor tile job. Then I said "WTH, try it out with the tan grout as well." So now there were three samples.

We narrowed it down to the two green grouts, tried holding them up in different lights, different areas of the kitchen, then chose the middle-mix. (It's the one on the right.) The tan looked awful.

So off to installing the tiles. First thing's first, line the countertop with thick blue painter's tape, get your v-notched trowel in hand and start smearing the goop... at least that's how I started.

Frankly, I recommend learning from my mistakes and pulling the little round tabs off of the light sockets first. For some reason, I kept forgetting to do this, and would lay out the mastic on the wall, realize that I hadn't pulled the tabs off (they WILL get in the way of the tiles, especially if they're small tile like ours.)

So I got the pliers all masticky, and then, well, I shorted out (fried) the dimmer switch. *&^$%#$%%.

No, I didn't switch off the fuse. I didn't think I'd need to, but $30 later for a new dimmer switch says I'm a dumbarse.

Here are the tabs you'll want to bend off (They're notched to make it easy.)

Yeah, so I replaced the dimmer switch, broke off the side tabs (to make them fit next to each other better... with the FUSE OFF (note the flashlight light... heh heh.)

The other thing we were thinking about was the cover plates. We had the cheap white plastic ones and they weren't going to look too hot with the copper tile, so we bought a can of Hammered Copper spray paint and sprayed a few coats on the switch plates.

I think it looks pretty darned good, considering the copper ones I was looking at had to be custom ordered and were NOT in the budget.

Something else to consider was that once the tile was installed, the switches and the plugs would be reset about 1/4" too deep for the plates. They make a lovely little tab for just this purpose, and they snap together for varying depths depending on how deep your tile is.

These little yellow-green tabs got folded in half and inserted onto the screw behind the switch, but in front of the junction box screw. It just holds the whole switch out a little further from the wall to it's flush with the switch plate. Cheap little buggers, too.

Once the switch plates were all taken care of, it was all about measuring, cutting and installing the tiles... which was pretty easy until I realized that as I moved into the corner, that my tiles would not be an even match sizewise... I could not fit a whole column of tiles evenly into the corner. *&#@$.

So, BEFORE I installed the last panel of 12" x 12" tiles heading into the corner, I started cutting them into strips of 1" x 12" columns. Each column was spaced about 1/32" farther apart than the connected panels, and the spacing faded away and fit perfectly into the corner. Just squish and move around until they all lined up and looked even. Viola.

Then it was just a matter of scraping out the mastic, squshing the tiles into the mastic along the wall (The easy part) and keeping the spacing intact between sheets of tiles.

The one aspect we hadn't really planned on is that the tiles on the wall behind the sink weren't going to match up perfectly (full size tiles) with the cabinets on the left and right side.

Thankfully, we bought Ikea cabinets and the dark brown siding of each cabinet came off with a twist of a few screws. I was then able to tile right underneath where the siding would cover up, making cutting a million iddy bitty glass tiles in half unnecessary. Yay!

(In the picture below you can see the white side of the cabinet just to the right of the kitchen sink. This is with the dark brown siding taken off. No need to put it back on until the grout is laid in and sealed. In the picture above, the panel is still attached and the mirror is not yet taken down.)

Oh, and I took the tiles up under the cabinets as far as I could with whole tiles, about 1/2" away from the bottom of the cabinets. I wasn't about to start snapping glass tiles in half to make a perfect fit to something only 5 year olds would ever see.

I'm planning on continuing the tile behind the stove, but I haven't decided on a layout just yet... so I'm on hold until I make a decision.

I'm thinking about going straight across the bottom of the stove vent over to the fridge and stopping just out of sight behind it. I'm just not prepared to tile the whole darned wall up to the ceiling... then above the cabinets... where would you stop? (note from DH: Yes, she is fully prepared to tile the whole darned wall up to the ceiling. Trust me.)

Heh. And I have a camera. Well, DH got one for xmas... he lets me use his. Apparently I'm going to have to show I can not destroy a valuable piece of equipment while dancing the epileptic blues in strange parking lots.

Until we grout again, my pretties... ciao!


kitliz @ DIYdiva said...

I tiled all the way up the wall and love it!

That's an awesome tile you've got there, I love the color. I'm thinking of something metalic like that as well, maybe with a little more black in it for my itty-bitty kitchen.

Awesome work.

Concord Carpenter said...

Nice post! I like your blog.

SweetHomeMom said...

Wow-- these are exactly the tiles I want and have been looking for for our coppery kitchen-- and we get to benefit from your great tips also. What a help! Last step in becoming our total kitchen hero: Will you please tell me the name/number for the tiles you bought at Home Depot? Thanks!