The Backsplash

Backsplash.  Since we are all about themes (Down with Brown!), I will venture to say an appropriate theme from this weekend would be “Backlash of the Backsplash”.  As you can infer, we had a rough go this weekend and we’re pretty exhausted to say the least.

We took a vacation day on Friday to get some painting done, but the way our painting schedule worked out, Friday ended up having to be a “dry” day.

Most normal people would have actually taken a break, maybe mowed the yard, rented a couple movies.  No, not us.  We decided to get ahead of the game by installing our 30 square foot backsplash.

Here is where we last left you:


Our glorious counters had been installed and we were still coming off our oil paint fume high. However, we still had to do something about our backsplash since it’s just wood back there.  Before that, we removed the laminate that had matched the old counters, and under that was yet ANOTHER, older, laminate backsplash.  How did we get so lucky?!

A few months ago we had fallen in love with a marble-esque, natural stone, subway tile that fit our budget quite nicely:

We’ve done some tile work in the past, but nothing along this scale.  We also had some reservations on installation methods since we would be covering a little bit of paneling and some plywood that had residual, 30-year-old glue permanently adhered. That stuff wasn’t coming off!

After doing some online research, we had three options for installation:

1. Install a 1/4″ cement Backerboard to the wood.  This would have to be “glued and screwed” to the current wood.
2. Rip out all the wood and paneling and install 1/2″ Backerboard to the wall studs. (This seemed a little excessive and I would have put up beadboard before EVER doing this)
3. Just mortar right over the wood and stick the tiles up.

Of course Option #3 sounded the most ideal, but I’m never quite convinced after reading online.  I always feel like I need to talk to a real person. So, we decided to head to Lowe’s and see what they had to say.

The lady working the stone/flooring/backsplash area definitely was all about Option #1. I couldn’t tell you how many times she said, “You’ve just gotta glue and screw it!” in reference to the backerboard. However, there was this guy browsing in the aisle and when the Lowe’s helper lady left he comes over to us and says, “Hey, I’m no professional, but you guys can just mortar over your existing wood.  You’ll be fine.  I’ve done plenty of tile work and the mastic they have here is gonna be just fine for what you are trying to accomplish.”  Okaaay.  Thank you random guy.

After that encounter, Scott was convinced that we were secretly being filmed for some new DIY TV show where homeowners screw up a project but then these people come in and fix it.  Ha!  Definitely wishful thinking!

We ultimately decided to call my Uncle Tom who works in construction and has plenty of experience with all of this.  He said we’d be fine with Option #3.  This more or less sealed the deal for us.

After buying all our supplies (30 boxes of tile, rubber float, 1 bucket of mastic, 1 bucket of white grout, 2 bags of 1/8″ T-spacers and some wax pencils) we were off to rent the wet saw. By the time we started the project, it was about 2 p.m.  It took us a couple tries to get a good system going, but once we got around the first outlet, we were cruising!

At this point our spirits were high, Mumford & Son’s Pandora station was rocking, and we were in a good groove!

But this stuff just takes time.  We had to cut around 5 outlets and a window and the top row of tiles all had to be trimmed about and inch.

Also, I took about 4 tile boxes at a time and mixed them up to get a more random pattern since some boxes had almost all white tiles while others were really dark gray:

After doing this for a while and by a while I mean 8 hours (yes, you read that right!), we were EXHAUSTED.  Our backs were killing us from being hunkered under the cabinets the entire day. We were also mildly delirious and each time Scott made a perfect tile cut, he came back into the house and exclaimed, “BOOM SHAKALAKA!” True Story. It was like an NBA basketball game up in here.  By the time we got everything cleaned up it was almost 11:00 p.m.  We crashed.

The next morning we crept into the kitchen hoping that everything was still stuck in place.  It was!


So we took it a little easier and lounged for a bit, returned the wet saw and came back to the house for nap.  Then we decided to be productive and start with the grout.

For some reason we thought we could bust this out in a couple hours.  Wrong again!  We have grossly underestimated timing on some of our projects. It ended up taking about 4 hours and Scott’s poor arm was about to fall off.  But as always, he’s the man!

But we knocked it out once again.  Here’s the before and after:

2013 Kitchen RemodelThe only thing we have left to do is clean up some of the grout “haze” (that will not come off!), caulk between the counter and cabinets and install all the face plates on the switches.  Otherwise, we are in LOVE!  It makes such a difference.

On the painting front, we have one last coat to do on the cabinet door fronts, paint the shelves and bar back and then we are done!  After that, we can move to painting the walls and finally put down our hardwood floors.

Although we may be tired, we really couldn’t be more excited about all the progress that has been made.  Take a look for yourself:

2013 Kitchen Remodel1I can’t wait to get those new floors in!!!

– Allie



7 thoughts on “The Backsplash

  1. Allie, you’ve got to submit your adventures to one of the HGTV shows – you narration of the events is hilarious! 🙂 By the way, great job!

  2. Awesome job! You’ll appreciate your kitchen so much more since you’ve put in all the hard work yourselves. So proud of you and the great job you’ve done! Can’t wait to see it in person!

  3. You guys are so amazing! You two are really bonding. he!The transformation will be amazing and thanks for including your fan club. Love ya,

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