Renovating a kitchen can be expensive. One area that can make a big difference without putting too much of a dent into the hip-pocket is the splashback. It could be your kitchen doesn’t have one, or the existing splashback is starting to look outdated. The point is, installing a new splashback can make an entire kitchen look new and fresh, while ensuring things are easier to clean.
There are many options for splashbacks, from cut glass, to pressed tin, to the most popular option: tiles. Tiles are great because there are so many options to choose from and you can install them yourself if you’re willing to give it a try. If not, then a trip to your local tile supplier or kitchen and bathroom specialist will likely be the only thing you need to worry about.
If you’ve decided to go the self-install method, then there’s a few things to be mindful of. Firstly, measure the space you’re going to be tiling, then work out the area of one of your chosen tiles and determine how many tiles you’ll need to cover the space. Then add 10%. You need the extra tiles for any wastage, and if you end up with a few leftover that’s a good thing; it will leave if you in good stead if you ever need to replace a tile down the track. (Tiles come in batches, so this will ensure a replaced tile is A. available, and B. blends in seamlessly).
Secondly, lay some plastic or other protective sheeting over your benchtops and cooktops and tape it down. You don’t want to accidentally scratch either of these surfaces because touching them up could be more work than putting in the splashback. Thirdly, before you begin, lay out a few of the tiles on the floor in a few different patterns to help you decide which one to go for. Once you start gluing tiles to the wall, there’s no changing your mind.
When you’re ready to begin, set a level line. Getting that first row of tiles in perfectly straight is paramount because all your other tiles will follow suit. You can’t simply trust that your benchtops are level, especially in an older house that may have sagged over time. If your benchtop isn’t level, you’ll need to find the high spot and then fill in the gap with some sort of level guide, like a piece of wood or plastic packer. Marking the wall doesn’t work because you need to spread out the tile adhesive.
Starting with the bottom row, spread out your tile adhesive and press the tiles firmly against the wall, leaving a small gap between the benchtop and the bottom of the tile. Ensure the adhesive is applied for the entire row and then work your way across; be sure to smooth out any bulging adhesive around the tile edges because if you don’t it will fill in the gaps left for grouting, which you don’t want. To get your spacings uniform, use plastic tile spacers; these are best placed between each tile, one at the top and one at the bottom. Depending on your chosen pattern, you may need to start your second row with a half tile. It’s best to have an image of your intended pattern laid out somewhere so that you don’t make any mistakes. If at any point you need to cut around an object, such as a power point, line up your tile and mark on the tile the area that needs to be cut out. Tile cutting is best achieved with an angle grinder and a suitable blade.
When all the tiles are laid, give them at least twelve hours to dry. When you’re ready to grout, start by scraping off any excess adhesive left behind on the tiles. Mix your grout as per the instructions according to your chosen product. It’s very important to get the mixture correct, otherwise the grout will run, or dry out and crumble. Spread the grout into spacings with an appropriate trowel, before wiping off any excess grout to leave clear, smooth lines between the tiles. Give the grout time to set, then give the tiles another clean. Lastly, with a caulking gun, run a bead of silicone along the line between the bottom of the tiles and your benchtop.