There are a lot of tutorials online about how to install a kitchen backsplash, but based on our experience, this is one seemingly simple project that is best left to a professional installer.
For most homeowners today, their kitchen backsplash is much more than just a utilitarian splashguard. It’s a statement-making, focal point of their kitchen — even a work of art.
In our showroom, we have an entire room dedicated to backsplash materials. There is more variety in this application than anything else and thus why when asked the question of how to install a kitchen backsplash, we aren’t even sure where to begin with answering it.
Marble, travertine, metals, glass, porcelain and ceramic tile are just the beginning of the types of materials you can use. There are remarkable materials being used today including salvaged and reclaimed wood, mirrored and reflective tiles and copper and other metals.
Depending on the type of material you choose for your backsplash, there are different adhesives required to bond the materials to the surface, as well as different techniques for applying the bonding materials correctly. It’s critical that you read the recommendations and specifications from the manufacturer and distributor.
One of the keys to a show-stopping backsplash is the initial surface preparation. It must be perfectly clean, flat and smooth to make sure the adhesive bonds correctly and securely. The tiles must be mounted flat regardless of the final look you are going for. There are different sized trowels and beds needed to apply the adhesive depending on the type of tile you are using. And many backsplashes today use more than one type of material, as well as tiles and patterns that run in varying directions.
Keeping the tiles even and laid out in a visually pleasing manner is another major part of installing a backsplash. You have a finite amount of space to work with and you must carefully plan around light switches and electrical outlets, not to mention ensure the backsplash is balanced correctly in terms of where it terminates on the sidewalls and return walls, and where cuts will need to be made so they are least visible.
Cutting is a challenge on a backsplash project because it is one of the least forgiving areas you can work in. It is small to begin with and you are working with small, delicate pieces of material that frequently need to be cut around unusual shapes and sizes. Your cuts must be exact, and you must use the correct type of tool for the material you are working with.
Grouting is another area in which variety has become the spice of life for homeowners. There is an enormous variety of grouts to choose from today and they are each specific to the type of backsplash material that is chosen. Some grouts have glass or other types of materials embedded into them to provide different types of finishes. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Technique is incredibly important when grouting to make sure your backsplash has a tailored, built-in look. It’s something that comes from repetition and practice.
Before you decide to DIY on your backsplash, take all these things into consideration. With a backsplash, if you don’t like the outcome, it is typically the result of poor planning on the front end of the project.