It might only cover a narrow strip of your kitchen walls, but your backsplash can have a really big effect on the overall feel and character of your kitchen.
If you’re getting tired of plain old drywall, then there are a lot of great stone tile options that can really spruce up the feel of your kitchen. Plus, the installation might be easier than you think!
- Planning the Layout – Before you start sealing anything in place, you should plan how the stone tiles will be laid out. Depending on the size and shape of the stone tiles you chose, you might want to take extra care in ensuring level and symmetrical rows. This step envisages the need of good kitchen planning beforehand.
This is more important with broad square tiles because any unevenness or asymmetry will be more noticeable. If your stone tiles are much smaller or don’t have uniform shape, then you probably don’t need to worry as much about maintaining strict symmetry.
Start by holding one tile on the top of the counter against the wall. Using a level, trace a straight horizontal line from that point all along the wall above the counter. Some counters might not be completely level. If this is the case with yours, start at the lowest point.
From that starting point, each successive tile will need to be trimmed on the bottom to maintain the level line on top.
For finding symmetry, measure the lengths of the counters and mark the middle points on the wall. Test out different ways of arranging the tiles from this midpoint. You can either line up a seam on the middle or centre a tile on that point. It is a good idea to choose the arrangement that leaves you with larger or complete tiles on the ends, instead of narrowly cut ones.
- Applying the stone tiles – Roughen the surface of the wall with medium grit sandpaper. This will help the adhesive and stone tiles stick better. Start by applying stone tile adhesive to the wall with a notched trowel. Work from the centre outwards and work in sections. Each section should take about 10 minutes to finish tiling, so adjust the size as necessary.
As you start placing the tiles, don’t forget to use spacers in between them. If there are any electrical outlets in the area that will be tiled, you will need to cut out spaces in the corresponding tiles.
Once in a while, take a step back or use your level to make sure that the rows and columns are staying level.
- Applying the grout – Wait for the adhesive to set before beginning the grout. If you are using a particularly porous or absorbent variety of stone, you should pre-wet the tiles before applying the grout. Otherwise, the stone will suck the moisture from the grout mixture too quickly and some grout may get stuck to the surfaces.
Take out the spacers and carefully apply the grout along every seam, making sure that all the gaps are filled. Use a rubber grout float.
After a few minutes, it is time to remove any excess grout. With a slightly damp sponge, wipe across the seams at a 45 degree angle. Wipe again about 20 minutes later to make sure no grout haze remains.
Once everything has dried, you can apply your stone sealant. Some very porous stone varieties need repeat applications of sealant in the future to protect against stains.
Margaret Perron is an appliance repair do-it-yourselfer, home solutions enthusiast and a home maker. With over 10 years experience in the home improvement business she is well suited to advise you on the best solution for identifying and locating the best home services in your area. You can follow her at Google+.