From the Floor Up

48 Hours to a New Backsplash

Posted by Daltile Team on Jun 30, 2015 4:00:00 PM

Soiree in Nevis random mosaic on the backsplash

Have a long weekend coming up this summer? Make good use of it and complete a mini project that you can do from start to finish in just a couple of days.

Now is the perfect time to do a backsplash in the kitchen or bathroom. It’s like a breath of fresh air to your design. Plus, it increases the value of your home. You have a few hours; why not use them to revamp the most used spaces in the house with a new backsplash? Here’s how.

Day One

1.    Select your tile.


The type of tile you select may impact how long it takes to complete your project. Many mosaic tiles come set on mesh in 12 x 12 blocks. This cuts back your time compared setting small individual tiles. On the other hand, large format tiles (15 inches or larger) require special installation techniques and may take longer to install or even require a certified installer to put in properly.

It’s best if you have already done your homework and know the exact materials you need for your project. You’ll shave even more time—and worry—off your project if you have your materials (tile, mortar, grout, sealer) and tools ( notched trowel/float, sponge, tape measure, straight edge, level, tile cutter, utility knife, bucket) all ready to go when your long weekend hits. Be sure to measure carefully so you don’t have to halt your project if you run out.

Measuring Walls for Tile

Multiply the width and the height of the wall to get the square footage and buy tile to cover it plus about 10% more for gaps and mistakes.


If your walls are not quite that straightforward to measure, split your walls up into more manageable segments such as the area under the window, the area to the right and left of the window, etc. Multiply the width and height of each single section then add them together to determine how much tile you need total. Don’t forget to get about the 10% extra.

2.    Get Ready

They say success is 90% preparation and 10% perspiration. So it is with your backsplash project. Get everything out of the way including anything on the countertop. Move any large appliances away from the wall enough so you can easily install tile behind them.

Cover your countertops to protect them from drips, drops, and blunt force. A layer of cardboard is effective in giving a little cushion in case you drop something. Tape it down so it stays put.

Shut off the power to the area and remove face plates for electrical outlets and light switches.

Now that your area is prepared, it’s time to get the wall ready. The surface you place tile on must be clean, dry, and smooth before you begin. If you need to repair any areas, use spackling then sand the area smooth once it’s dry.

Painted walls need a gentle sanding to ensure a good bond between the wall and the mortar. If your paint has a glossy finish, it should be sanded down and de-glossed.

Take a moment to check the areas around the stove for grease stains—they will not have proper bond without some additional prep. Use a degreaser or primer and dry thoroughly.

DAL_Artigiano_RES_011

3.    Get Set

Though you’re trying to save time, a trial run might just end up being the best thing you ever did. The old saying goes, measure twice, cut once. Once you pull the trigger on your project, there’s no going back.

Same goes for tile. You can lay it out on the floor in the same amount of square footage to see how it will fit together and where you might need to make cuts. Mark up the wall so you can see exactly where everything should be placed. Use your straight edge and level to make sure everything is even.

4.    Go

Mix up your mortar and let it stand for a few minutes (follow manufacturer directions). Mortar sets up over time, even in the bucket, so be sure to mix up only the amount you are sure you can use before it sets up.

Daltile recommends a polymer-modified multipurpose thinset, ANSI 118.4 or better. If you have no idea what that means, give us a call or talk to your contractor.

Start mortar application in about a two foot square section and work from the center out. Spread it with the flat side of the trowel, holding it at a 45 degree angle. Run the notched edge over the mortar and create ridges that flow in one direction. Trowels come with different notch sizes. Check tile manufacturer recommendations for the proper trowel size.

Lay the tile or mosaic sheet on the wall with a gentle rocking motion in the same direction as the trowel lines. Use spacers and a grout float to ensure the tile sits firmly and in the proper place.

Once you’ve installed all your tile, let the mortar dry. This can take up to 24 hours and depends on the temperature and humidity in your home. If you are using natural stone tiles, apply a pre-sealer about 3 hours before you plan to embark on day 2 of your project.

Fashion Accents in Black Pebbles on the backsplash

Day 2

Recommended Grout: a “no sealing required” grout, ANSI 118.7 or better, will save you the extra step of sealing. Try one of these, available at Daltile: Custom Build Products Fusion or Prism, Laticrete’s Plasma or Permacolor, Mapei’s Flexcolor CQ or UltraColor.

1.    Grout

Clean the tiles with a wet sponge and mix up the grout in preparation for day 2. Remember that the grout will begin to set up right away so mix only what you think you can use in about an hour or so (see manufacturer guidelines).

Different grouts are required depending on the size of the grout joint; check tile manufacturer recommendations for the proper grout.


Start with a small area, one that you can complete in 15 minutes. Use the grout float at a 45 degree angle to insert grout into the joint. Wipe off excess with the float at a 90 degree angle. Use a sponge to clean up any excess left behind, but be careful not to remove any of the grout from the joint.  

 Uptown Glass in Exotic Black 1 x 1 mosaic

2.    Allow the Grout to Dry

It can take grout anywhere from 24 hours to three days to dry. You’ll want to stay away from it while it is drying so don’t put everything back just yet. Once it is dry, you can apply a grout sealer, tile sealer, and caulk (where the countertop meets the backsplash).

Hopefully the long weekend is enough time to let things dry sufficiently, but if you need to wait a few extra days or even until next weekend, that’s just fine. Once done, return your appliances and replace the outlet covers. Turn the power back on and enjoy your new backsplash.

Keep it looking great by cleaning it with a neutral household cleaner.
Use this long weekend productively and make an improvement to your home that makes a big difference. If you’re still shopping for the perfect backsplash tile, take a look at the selection at Daltile.


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Topics: Remodel, Redesign, Bathroom Tile Ideas, Kitchen Tile Ideas, Mosaic

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