Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Re-Do A Backsplash

Hire someone.  Well, we did, but at the same time it isn't all that difficult.

Step 1: Plan to have your kitchen out of service for some time
This isn't going to be a weekend project and it'll create a big mess.  You'll also have to cut the power to areas of your kitchen, so you'll be ordering delivery while the kitchen is out of service.

The first real step once you decide you want a new backsplash is to pick the tile.  Home Depot has a good selection and there are a lot of good sites online where you can look at sample kitchens (just search Google for 'backsplash tile').

Pamela's mother was in town and found a Tile Shop nearby.  We went and were really impressed by all the samples as well as kitchen mock-ups.  I think it is important to be able to feel the tile and that's where internet searches fall short.

The tile seemed to run from maybe $5 per square foot all the way up to $25 and above.  The Tile Shop had

Step 2: Demolish your existing backsplash
There's a chance that you can use a pry bar and pop the individual tiles or sets of tiles off.  You'd hope to then be able to simply patch and smooth the existing drywall.  It didn't work this way for us.  If the tile is on correctly, the "mud" is like glue between the tile and the drywall.  When you pull off a tile, you will get big chunks of drywall.

This was really the point at which we decided to hire someone.  Before we had guys come in, we did save some money by taking down some lights that were mounted below the cabinets.  Thankfully, I took an Electronics class in high school which included house wiring.  The additional cost of an electrician would've been quite a burden.
Old Tile and Wires from Lights

We made such little progress after many hours of trying to remove the tile ourselves that we realized we'd never get done or we'd be unable to appropriately fix the drywall leading to an uneven new backsplash.

The guys we hired who had done this many times said that they rarely see situations where the tile comes off easily.  Instead, they plan on completely cutting out the old drywall and replacing it with fresh drywall.

New Drywall Up

New Drywall
 It's a pretty simple process - pry or break off some tile around the edges then use a cutting tool to take down the whole wall.  You then measure and cut new drywall and screw it into the studs.  Viola!  You don't need to prime or paint this, because it'll soon be covered.

Step 3:  Install new backsplash
Again, we outsourced this, but I will provide the quick run-down.

First, layout and measure the tile.  You'll then need a wet saw to cut the tile as you have to leave openings for the different switches and outlets.

Once everything was cut and tested for fit, they mixed the mortar ("mud") and smoothed with a trowel.  The mud dries quickly so you need to do smaller areas and work quickly.

After all the tile is up, don't worry if things don't look perfect - the imperfect spacing between tiles or groups of tile really disappear once you grout the tile.

Pick a grout color, mix it and apply.  It dries after 20 minutes or so, then you can remove the excess with a sponge and water.

Step 4: Re-install switches, outlets, and lights
Our old switches, outlets, and respective covers were a taupe color while the new tile and grout called for white.  Pamela and I worked together to replace all the fixtures.  Make sure you kill the power from the breaker in the basement!

Step 5: The Big Reveal!
Here's the old (picture is from the online listing when the home was for sale)
The Old

The New

Boom! Backsplash'd
And the lights work!
Lookin' Good!