Want to tackle an inexpensive home improvement that has an instant impact? Install a tile backsplash!
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Traditional backsplash installation takes more time and effort than many do-it-yourselfers would prefer. And the alternative — hiring a professional for the job — is too expensive.
Fortunately, there’s a third option, but I’ll get to that later!
Backsplash Installation: What You Should Know
The average backsplash costs about $1,000 to install, according to HomeAdvisor. You could pay more or less than that, depending on the materials, the job’s complexity, and even just transporting materials to your house.
But one thing’s for sure: labor isn’t cheap! You may have to pay $400 to $500 per day just for a tile installer to do the job. And keep in mind that a professional backsplash installation often takes two days!
The DIY route is attractive to many homeowners, but also has its share of issues.
You have to prep the walls, spread mortar, install the tile, wait for it to set — which could take 24 hours — and then you still have to grout everything.
Honestly, who has that kind of time? (Not this mother of three, that’s for sure!)
I love time-saving tools like SimpleMat from Custom Building Products. This double-sided adhesive mat is designed to bond tile to drywall and many other surfaces without the hassle.
SimpleMat comes in two options:
- Sheets: Nine sheets — each is 9 inches by 8 inches — that cover 10 square feet. (I used sheets to create this backsplash in a Palmdale, California, home!)
- Rolls: Each one covers 30 square feet and makes it easier and faster to install tiles.
Speaking of which, let’s install a DIY backsplash!
Backsplash Installation Materials:
- Fusion Pro, Polyblend Plus Sanded Grout, SimpleGrout or Prism Ultimate Performance Grout
- Tape Measure
- Grout Float
- Wet Saw
- Grout Sponge
1. Prep and Measure
Concrete, drywall, plywood and laminates are just some of the surfaces that you can tile over with SimpleMat. Regardless of the surface, it needs prepping.
For backsplash installations, apply a degreaser or diluted dish soap and wipe the walls clean. Then let them dry completely. For countertops, remove dust and debris, de-grease the area and wipe it down with a damp sponge.
Next, lay out the area, using full sheets of SimpleMat when possible. Then, cut the remaining sheets to size with regular household scissors.
Mark any cuts for obstacles such as electrical outlets, light switches and molding, and cut those out the same way or with a utility knife.
2. Apply Sheets and Prep Tiles
Remove SimpleMat’s paper backing and apply each sheet to the wall. Then use a grout float to flatten air bubbles and creases.
If your phone rings, feel free to answer it! SimpleMat is different from mortar in the best way because there’s no rush. Work at your own pace and set tiles on your timeline.
After you’ve applied the sheets to the wall, measure your tiles and make cuts with a wet saw. You can use SimpleMat with ceramic, porcelain, stone or glass tile that’s 1 inch by 1 inch or larger. Mosaic tile with an open mesh backing can also be used for backsplash installations. However, each tile shouldn’t be heavier than 7 pounds or larger than 8 inches by 8 inches.
Then clean the backs of the tiles or stones with a damp sponge and let dry.
3. Press in Tiles
Remove the clear plastic face of each SimpleMat sheet to expose the adhesive beads, and then lightly set tiles into place. I’m installing subway tiles, along with tile spacers to make sure all the gaps are consistent.
While you’re installing the tiles, it’s OK if you make a mistake — adjust as needed! When you are ready to commit to a position, use a grout float to press the tile firmly into place.
Keep in mind, we’ve just applied SimpleMat and pressed our tiles onto the sheets at this point — no thinset mortar to deal with, and no excessive drying times to juggle.
Can you feel how much time and energy we’ve saved so far? I sure can!
4. Grout the Tiles
Finally, it’s time to grout the backsplash. For the best results, do this immediately after setting the tile. If that’s not possible, just make sure you grout within 24 hours of setting the tile.
Carefully spread the grout into each joint, going over in multiple directions if necessary.
After you’re done with a small area, clean off the excess with a damp sponge using a circular motion.
5. Remove Haze and Residue
Wait for the grout to set and harden; the time it takes varies a lot, so always read the grout manufacturer’s instructions.
Then you can remove any haze or residue with a clean, dry microfiber towel.
And that’s it!
You now have a beautiful backsplash in a fraction of the time it would take to use traditional installation methods.
Try this project, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
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