How to Tile a Backsplash With Your Mom in 24 Easy Steps

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(Firstly, I want to say that as I was writing this blog post today, a lot of my friends and family were hunkered down while severe weather, and a deadly F4 tornado, tore through Oklahoma.  Luckily everyone I was worried about, including my brother, is accounted for.  My thoughts are with everybody down there.  Always an Okie.)  And now to our regularly scheduled post.

Hey derr!  It’s been a lil’ while!  I have been a little busy lazy lately. Turns out that I would rather be out doing the adventure part of the blog rather than the writing part.  Trying to balance it all out and be responsible and keep a timely schedule for the postings is kinda hard.   Not having to be accountable to anyone but myself = procrastination city.

Well let’s just dive in, shall we?

My P’s [finally] had their kitchen remodeled last summer and fall.  It was a long time coming and turned out pretty sweet.  As most remodeling projects go, they ran into some speed bumps along the way that dug more into the budget than was expected. (i.e. When the floor guys ripped up the ceramic tile, the only way they could get up the layer between the tile and the subfloor, the “underlayment,” was to take up the subfloor also.  Whoever installed it got a little carried away with the nail gun, and all of it ended up having to be replaced.)  So, in the spirit of DIY, and those motivational Home Depot commercials, Mom decided to tackle some of the finishing touches, namely the backsplash.  And since I wanted to help contribute to the new kitchen, I volunteered to help with the project.  We did it in two days, but we also had to make a trip to the hardware store and improvise on a few things, and also had mojitos . . .  It could potentially be a one day project for more focused folks.

Step 1:  Take before pictures! Everybody likes a good before and after.

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Step 2:  Get your grungies on.  These are authentic “Farmers, Mechanics, and Miners” jeans.  I found them at a thrift store in middle school and they became my painting pants as you can see.  I may have even worn them while changing the oil in my car at one time.   Mom got me these leather work gloves from some school fundraiser. They are just my size.  Notice the tag.  They are for little kids.  I gots little hands.  (Actually I didn’t end up wearing the work gloves.  Maybe when I help haul firewood, or something.)

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Step 3:  Clear all the crap off the counter tops, and get all your materials and tools together. (This step I added after we were already done.  We did not actually follow this step as you will see below.  Also I don’t have a picture of all of our materials from day one.  Blog fail.)  You will need a pencil, tile edging pieces, the tile, tile stick’em, a square or a level, tape measure, a staple gun or little nails and a hammer, a tile saw maybe, and safety goggles!!

Step 4:  Set up your tile saw.  We dug out the saw horses from the shed to make a nice makeshift table for the saw.  No squatting required!

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Step 5:  Realize the saw is totally scary and moves around on the makeshift table.  Ditch the table idea and move tile saw to the floor.  Much better, and I’m OK with the squatting.

Step 6:  Mark off your borders.  Mom didn’t want to deal with cutting around the electrical outlets, so we only went up the wall five inches.  I was a little scrunchie-faced about it being so short at first, but the end result looks really good.  We used those tiles that come in like 12″x12″ sheets, so we just cut them so there were five rows of tiles, which was five inches.

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Step 7:  Cut your plastic strip edge pieces.  Bevel those corners, baby.

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Step 8:  Go to get the staple gun, realize that perhaps your brother has it – this is is a good reason to follow Step 1.  Drive to the hardware store (with a $5 off coupon, woot!), and buy a new staple gun.  (5 BONUS POINTS for wearing your safety goggles in the store.)

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Step 9:  Decide to buy an electric staple/ nail gun, because that’s sure to be way more awesomer.

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and this is why the mom is not allowed to take any more pictures for the blog

Step 10:  Write secret message on the wall where the tile will go, even though no one will ever see it again . . . ever.

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Step 11:  Staple edging to the wall.  (The staple gun was so loud I actually went to get cotton balls to put in my ears.  I would recommend some sort of hearing protection . . . what???)

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Step 12:  Prepare to cut tile to size with awesome tile saw.  A practice piece would be a good idea!

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Step 13:  Realize that the saw is really scary to cut the tiny tiles, (read: where the hell am I supposed to put mah fangers??) and resort to using Mom’s glass cutters from her leaded glass days.  There is a reason why we don’t get rid of anything.

Step 14:  Find glass cutting tools in garage.

Step 15:  Commence cutting tile.

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Step 16:  Once you have your tile pieces cut, you want to cut your adhesive to size.  We used this peel and stick stuff.  It is not what professionals use, but hey, we are not professionals (yet), and it worked fine for our little project.  The stuff is uber sticky though, so make sure you stick it where you want it the first time.

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Step 17:  Lay that sexy tile.

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damn, that’s a nice corner . . .

Step 18:  That’s enough for one day!  Tile is up!  Have dinner and a mojito- or three, and watch Vanilla Ice’s home makeover show with your parents.  I am not joking.  Vanilla Ice has a TV show about flipping houses.  It’s called “The Vanilla Ice Project” -on HGTV no less, and they even use “Ice Ice, Baby” as the show’s opening theme.  It’s pretty bad.

Step 19:  Day TWO!  Shake off hangover from too much rum.  Oops.

Step 20:  Gather materials for grouting.  I took a picture this time!  You will need:  Grout, two buckets- one for mixing the grout, and one for clean water, a mixing stick (not pictured), a sponge, a grout float (we also used that little one shaped like a trowel called a “margin float” good for corners and our overall small project), and a rag for cleaning up messes.image

Oh yeah, and latex or nitrile gloves.

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Step 21:  Mix the grout with water according to package directions.  Ours was to mix for 5 minutes and then let it sit for 10 minutes.  Then mix again and it’s ready to go.

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Step 22:  Trowel it on. Smush the grout into all the little cracks, and squeegee it off with the float.  Clean up any smudges and smears with a damp rag.

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Step 23:  Let it set a little bit and then sponge off the residue with the sponge.

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Step 24:  Keep wiping with the sponge until the tiles are not hazy anymore, rinsing, rinsing, rinsing your sponge in the water bucket (cause you’re not really supposed to let the grout go down the drain).  Then you let it set until it’s all dry.  I don’t remember if the instructions said to wait a certain number of days, but then you seal it.  With grout sealer.  Mom’s on her own on that one.

And then you can sit back and enjoy your handy work!  Doesn’t it look nice??

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Not bad for a couple of amateurs, eh?

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