If your backsplash in the kitchen looks kind of plain, you can add color and style to the kitchen by putting in decorative tile. For any area that you’re tiling you can really get creative because tile comes in all shapes, colors and textures. For our show, we always use American Marazzi tile because of its quality and versatility.
• Mixing bucket
• Tile adhesive
• Choice of tile
• Notched Trowel
• Drop cloth
• Tile Spacers
• Sandpaper (if you need to rough up the old surface)
• Eye protection
• Tile saw
• Measuring tape
• Pencil or marker
When you pick out tile, find which color you want and a nice touch is to add decorative border tiles to really upgrade the look of your project. American Marazzi tile offers a wonderful new option in border tile and that is matted tile.
For example, if you want small tiles in different shapes and colors, cutting them to fit is a lot of work. Marazzi has solved that problem by creating matted tiles. This is simply pre-cut border tiles held together by a rubber matte or webbing on the back which makes your job a lot easier by reducing cutting and speeding up installation.
If you’re installing tile over a laminate surface, you need to sand the area first to “rough it up” so the adhesive will bond better and hold your tiles in place. Once the area is sanded, turn off the power to all electrical outlets in the area and remove the cover plates. Now find the centerpoint of your area. For example, if the length of your countertop is 122 inches, the centerpoint would be 61 inches.
Now the correct way to lay tile is from the center point outward. That way when you get to the end and have to cut the tile, it will be the same on both ends giving you a uniform look. Before you put the adhesive on the walls it’s important to do a dry fit. Start at the center point and work outward. In our case, our small matted border tiles would have to be cut and that wouldn’t look good.
So make an adjustment. Move the tiles back a little bit towards the center point. We only had to move ours ½” and that’s OK because it won’t affect the overall uniformity of the look and we saved ourselves from making a small cut that wouldn’t look good anyway. Now it’s time to apply the adhesive. You can buy tile adhesive pre-mixed from your home center. Use a notched trowel to apply the adhesive. The notches on the trowel spread the adhesive and give it texture so the tiles bond better. Once the adhesive is applied, add spacers between the tiles to leave space for a grout line. The spacers come in different sizes depending on how big you want your grout line to be. These spacers will come out later when we grout.
One of the problem’s you’re going to run into is how to fit your tile around the electrical outlets. Start at the grout line of the previous tile you’ve laid. Measure from the grout line over to the first edge of the outlet. Now measure over to the other edge of the outlet farthest away from the grout line. Now measure the height of the outlet and mark these measurements on the tile. Use a wet saw (rent for $25 a day from a tool rental facility) to cut the tile. It’s called a wet saw because it uses a water reservoir to cool the carbide tipped blade of the saw and cut down on dust.
Once you’ve made your first two cuts, you still need to cut out the opening that will fit around the outlet. To do this take the wet saw and make numerous cuts in between the other two cuts you’ve made. This will slowly create the opening. If there are some rough edges when you’ve finished, use some tile nippers to clip away the small edges. Don’t worry if your cut looks ragged. The cover plate for the outlet will cover that. But it’s important you do have the right sized cut so it will fit correctly. Do another dry fit to make sure the tile fits the outlet, and then you can add adhesive to the tile and lay it in.
After you’ve let the adhesive dry for 24 hours, remove the spacers and you’re ready to grout. You have to buy grout mix and add water to mix it. It should be mixed about the consistency of toothpaste. Use a rubber float to apply the grout to the tiles. Use a generous dollop of grout and spread the grout down into the joints. Now you’re going to get grout all over the tops of your tiles during this process but that’s OK because it wipes away.
Use a sponge and a bucket of water to clean the tops of your tiles as you grout. You don’t want the grout to set up and get hard because it will be harder to clean. Wipe the sponge over the tile at a 45 degree angle to clean the tile tops. This way you’ll only wipe away the grout on tip and not wipe it out of the joints. You can tile a back splash over a weekend and that’s only because you have wait for the adhesive to dry. Cost varies depending on what type of tile you want to buy but the tools to do the job are inexpensive.