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Kitchen Backsplash DIY Tutorial

The minute I stepped foot in the kitchen of our new house, I started envisioning it with a backsplash; and before we'd even closed on our house, I had a Pinterest board full of inspiration pictures and ideas.
Hiring a professional to do our backsplash was definitely way out of our budget range. We ended up spending only around $300 on all of our materials to DIY it, instead of paying thousands of dollars to hire someone!
Time: 2 Days Cost: $300 Difficulty: Medium
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We started off by just laying out all of our tile, cleaning off the stone dust with a paintbrush and wiping clothes, then following the directions to brush on (and make sure to wipe off the excess) the first coat of porous stone sealant.
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The sealant WILL darken your tile quite a bit when you apply it; which believe me, made me extremely nervous. Have no fear, once dry, it pretty much goes back to the original color, maybe only a hair darker than it was.
Let the tile sit for at least 24 hours before starting to put the tile on your walls.
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Once you're ready to start laying the tile, make sure that the adhesive is evenly spread with your trowel, and just stick the tile on! Press the tile down to make sure that it is adhered well and there are no air bubbles or gapes behind the tile.
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As you are laying the tile, leave yourself some room and stop before you get to an outlet. Since our tile was interlocking (meaning that each 1 sq/ft piece was designed to interlock with the next piece), we got as close as we could to the outlet, then basically just measured and cut the pieces out to fit around the outlet with the Dremel, and kept on moving.
At the end, we did have to go back and use some small pieces of stone to fill in a couple of gaps on the outlets, so that the stone didn't have any visible gaps around the outlet covers. We used outlet spacers to raise them out so the outlet covers fit over the stones, which you can buy at any home improvement store. Because our stones were all different shapes and sizes, it looked natural for their to be smaller pieces in the gaps, but if you're doing a more uniform tile, you'd definitely want to measure and cut more precisely than we did!
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Here's where things got a little tricky....In problem corner #1 (the large inside L corner of the kitchen), we realized that because we'd cut the right side flush to the wall, if we simply cut the left side flush as well, that the stones wouldn't properly fit and it was all "gap-y" (that's a technical term) because of the variations in stone height. The weird, small problem corner #2 (an outside corner where the support beam for the bar top comes down) was a different story. It just looked odd to leave it without tile, not to mention whoever installed the granite counters before we bought the house, hadn't done a stellar job with it, hence all of the splattered, and uneven, white caulking around the edges.
I took a coffee break to mull things over and decided that I would take apart some of the mosaic pieces from the mesh backing (and use all of our small scrap pieces from where we'd cut around the outlets) to just individually stack each stone so that I could make sure it was flush.
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Success! It took me way longer than it probably should have, but it was kind of like putting together a giant puzzle, which I think I enjoyed a little too much.....
My husband was finishing up the other side of the wall while I was busily stacking stones, so there's a lack of photographs on the rest of the process, but once you get the hang of it, that's pretty much it.
On a side note, the mosaic tile we chose was a "splitface" style, so it eliminated the need for grout afterwards, which is a major time saver. We did use a very thin amount of light gray caulk around the edges of the top (underneath the counter) and along the bottom to fill in any gaps and seal it up.
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Pre-backsplash, I really wan't crazy about the black granite counters (don't get me wrong, they are really nice and I'm happy to have them, but I'm more of a gray marble or quartz kind of gal); however, with the backsplash I've actually decided that I like them now! The stone really adds a lot of visual interest to the space and ties together the SW Agreeable Gray paint color on the walls with the counters and cabinets for a way more cohesive look.
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That's it folks! You can check head over to my blog to see the full tutorial and a lot more detail on my website: http://www.alchemy-home.net

Materials I used for this project:

  • White Quarry Splitface Tile   (Home Depot)
  • Porous Stone Sealant   (Home Depot)
  • Ceramic Tile Adhesive   (Home Depot)
See all materials

To see more: http://bit.ly/25Vnrvs

Got a question about this project?

  • Lisa House
    Lisa House Vickery, OH

    I let my hubby talk me out of using this tile for my backsplash and I regretted it, had the salesman told us about sealing it I would have "argued" harder for it. The salesman didn't tell us about sealing any porous stone, I didn't research enough,

  • Weabra

    I think this is a really good idea and will keep in mind for future projects. Would this work in a bathroom I wonder, oh and by the way I think that using a steam cleaner would solve the cleaning problem.

    • Alchemy Home
      Alchemy Home Alexandria, VA

      Good idea about the steam cleaner, I may try that! I'm not sure about bathrooms...the particular tile we used wasn't rated for bathrooms, but I'm sure they make something similar that could be used!

  • Fhostetler

    If it wasn't rated for bathrooms I don't think I'd use a steam cleaner on it!

  • Jo s
    Jo s Lexington, KY

    I've looked at this same tile more than once at Lowe's but hesitated because they were porous so I'm now going to try it with the sealant. I have the same granite in my kitchen and yours looks fabulous. Thanks for the info! You should YouTube it

  • Sheila M Crew
    Sheila M Crew Gainesville, FL

    I wondered the same thing about cleaning it. But the sealant should ward off any grease or grime. Steaming the tile would work too. The tile is really nice and your tiles looks great against your counter tops.

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