The subway tile backsplash can make any area look chic and modern. That is why many people like to install it. If you want to install a subway tile backsplash then you are in the right place. You can know about the steps from a beginner’s perspective here. Some people try to tackle the project themselves because it is expensive to hire a professional. It can lead to other unnecessary costs too. Within one weekend you can transform a plain white wall into a farmhouse style subway tile backsplash. So continue reading to know about the tips of installing a tile subway backsplash.
Table of Contents
- How to install subway tile backsplash?
- Important things to Keep in Mind
How to install subway tile backsplash?
1. Measure the wall
Measuring the square footage is important to know how much time is required for tiling a backsplash. Therefore proper measurements help in keeping the expenses down.
- Measure the wall to know the number of tiles you need. If you only have one section to cover then multiply the width and height of the wall to receive the square footage.
- You also have to be careful about the outlets and switches when tiling.
- You can include an extra 10 percent of tile to fill any small gaps. You can also use the extras as replacements for the damaged pieces.
- There are tile calculators available so you can know the number of tiles you need.
2. Prepare the work area
- For installing subway tile backsplash you have to remove all the appliances and cookware from the countertop. Then only you can place tiles. For added safety disconnect the stove.
- You can place a layer of cardboard or heavy-duty craft paper over the countertop to cover the countertop. It protects the surface from debris. You can tape off the existing countertop or backsplash for extra protection.
- Shut off the power of any nearby electrical outlets and remove the cover plates.
3. Keep the wall ready
- Try patching the holes with spackling paste. You can also use sandpaper to lightly smooth the wall.
- Use mild soap and water to clean the walls. Then allow the surface to dry. You can check the wall behind the stove for any stains. Clean them using the degreaser or primer as it will remove tough stains.
- The paint in the walls can be removed using tri-sodium phosphate and sandpaper.
- The glossy surfaces are sanded and de-glossed. You can wipe the wall with a soft cloth or damp sponge to make the surface clean and dry.
4. Pre-lay the time and check
- You can place the tiles on the wall and mark the start and endpoints.
- Then work your way from outward and upward. Keep the tiles even using a straightedge.
- Cut the tiles properly to fill up the backsplash area. You can make use of the tiler cutter for the porcelain or ceramic tile. Plus, use a tile nipper for the circular incisions. For cutting natural stone, use a wet tile saw as it prevents chipping or breaking.
5. Make the mortar
- To make the powdered thin-set mortar for placing natural stone and mosaic tile, fill up a bucket with water first. The amount of water will be listed in the package. Then gradually add the thin-set powder and mix it thoroughly.
- You have to allow the mixture to stand for five to ten minutes. Then mix it again without mixing water.
- After finishing the mixing you will only have a specific time limit. The flex-type mortar can be used for up to four hours.
- If you want to save time get a tile setting mat. The tile setting mats are suitable for walls and help you to tile the wall immediately. Also, you can move on to grouting.
6. Applying the mortar
- Start with a 2-foot section. Apply the mortar to the wall by spreading a thin layer using the flat side of the trowel.
- Then press at a 45-degree angle and it ensures that the mortar completely sticks to the wall.
- Use a notched edge and add extra mortar on the trowel. Then comb the even ridges in one direction. Check if the notch trowel corresponds to the subway tile backsplash you are fixing. The natural stone tile works well with the notch trowel.
7. Laying the tile
You have to place the mosaic sheets or tiles on the wall. Then add the tiles spacers which will help to inline the tiles neatly. Follow the lines you created when dry fixing the tiles on the wall. Rock the sheet up and down to collapse the ridges. Then help the tile to settle in place. You can flatten the tile with a grout too.
If the area between the top row of tiles and cabinetry is larger than an inch then cut the extra tile pieces and fit in the place. On the other hand, if the gap is smaller you can install a piece of molding for concealing it.
8. Pre-sealing the subway tile backsplash
- You can allow the mortar and tile to dry completely. Follow the instructions of the manufacturers to install the subway tile backsplash perfectly. It takes around twenty-four hours for the mortar and tiles to dry.
- You can make use of a pre-sealer for the natural stone three hours before applying the grout. The pre-sealer prevents staining of the stones.
9. Make grout
- You can use a poly-blend sanded grout. It is a cement-based product used in the process of fixing subway tile backsplash. The sanded grout is good for joints 1/8-inch or greater. For the joints smaller than 1/8-inch you can use poly-blend unsanded grout.
- Then wipe the tiles clean with water. Remove water before applying the poly-blend sanded grout to natural stone. You also have to follow the instructions on the package.
- Fill buckets with the required quantity of water. Gradually add the grout powder and then mix it properly.
- You have to allow the mixture to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. After that remix it with additional water. Also periodically remix the grout for it to retain consistency.
10. Add grout on the walls
- After the grout powder is mixed you will only have limited time to apply it. So work in sections so you can finish the area in thirty minutes.
- Then apply the grout with the grout float at a 45-degree angle. Plan to work diagonally. Try to wipe off the excess grout using the grout float by holding it at a 90-degree angle.
- Use a damp sponge and remove the excess grout from the tiles. Also do not forget to rinse the sponge thoroughly with clean water.
- You have to repeat the process many times.
- Then after 3 hours remove the last haze of grout. Thoroughly wipe the surface face of the tiles.
11. Seal the tiles
- After the grout is completely dry you can apply the grout sealer. It protects the subway tile backsplash from staining.
- After the sealer dries add a small amount of latex caulk to the base of the subway tile backsplash.
- Now replace all your appliances and cookware.
- To maintain the tile subway backsplash you can wipe it down with a non-acidic kitchen or glass cleaner.
Important things to Keep in Mind
1. Select the right tile cutting tools
Many people pick the glass subway tile to install it in the house. So the first tool required for this is a glass cutting blade. It is an important tool as using a normal blade can lead to many problems such as chipping and ragged cuts. The glass-specific blade will offer a good result. Choose your tools wisely.
2. Measuring the kitchen backsplash
Before adding the tile you have to plan and measure where you are going to install the tiles. The best tool to use is the Schluter strip. This strip offers a good look at the end of the tile run. Further, the strips are aluminum and you can cut easily with an ordinary Schluter saw. You can pre-cut and tape it temporarily to the wall. Then start tiling the end of the run with the mosaic cut in half. It works because you have to just lay out the tile in SketchUp which is 3D modeling software.
Eventhough you are not modeling the kitchen in 3D you can spend some time measuring the width of the wall. You can also know how to start and end the run.
3. Know about the Backer Board
Before starting the tiling you can check out the existing surface which you are working on. If you require back splashing behind the sink or other moisture-prone areas, make sure you work on water-resistant drywall. You can also consider installing a tile backer board.
4. Select a good mosaic tile
Many people love the look of a real subway tile. But installing each of the tiles separately can be hard. But there are mosaic sheets of mini-subway tile available. These are easy to separate into different configurations by using the box cutter. By choosing this you can save lots of time and effort. The smaller the size of the tile the easier it is to make the cuts. You can fit it easily around the outlets and cabinets.
5. Avoid high contrast grout color
If you want to match the black kitchen appliances many may choose a near-black grout color which contrasts heavily with white subway tile. It can offer a striking look but actually, the best option is a lighter color. Opting for the grout that contrasted highly with tiles can make every imperfection visible to the eyes. So if you are a first-time tiler it is best to go for a light option.
6. Rent or get a wet saw
The important tool is a wet saw that can be a lifesaver when you are working in the outlets. You can use an inexpensive tile cutter and the nipper combination which can help you to handle many straight cuts. On the other hand, if you have tile larger than 1 inch in diameter you can make U-shape notch and corner cuts. It is suitable for outlets and cabinet edges. For these, the wet saw is the best tool. You can find one in the hardware stores.
7. Do not just fill with grout
For larger kitchen areas the precision-cut fatigue can set in. There may be uneven gutter which we may think to fill with grout or caulk. But the gaps may become thick and require more caulk. That is why it is a good idea to fill the areas with tiles and a good amount of grout. It saves you a lot of headaches.
8. Replacing the outlet covers
After the hard work of tiling is over you may need to do the finishing touches. It is an expensive upgrade to replace the outlet covers. But this process can help you hide the unflattering tile cuts. So it is the best time to replace actual outlet receptacles with electronic-friendly USB outlets.
It is important to learn how to install a subway tile backsplash. It helps you to improve the look of your home. In just a day or two, you can have a remodeled kitchen or room. Installing a good subway tile backsplash may seem like a difficult job. But if you follow all the points given here then it will be easy for you. Fixing tile subway backsplash is a good DIY project too. It is suitable for homeowners who prefer to get their hands dirty to remodel their homes. You can learn new skills around the house which you can be proud of. Browse through different trends on the internet related to subway tile backsplash and enjoy. You will get more ideas to install the tiles.
You can shop the latest natural stone tiles, glass, or ceramic tiles in online stores. Many shops offer discounts on tiles. Also if you need tools to cut the tiles then some stores offer the materials at reasonable costs. So do not delay, start the process of subway tile backsplash now.
Also read: The Many Advantages of Modern Home Design