February 11, 2015

DIY Bathroom Backsplash


Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope everyone is having a great week thus far. On Monday I shared how I painted the bathroom vanity in our guest bathroom makeover, and today I'm sharing how we added the backsplash in our bathroom as well. When I originally was coming up with design plans for this makeover I wasn't going to add a backsplash, but Paul really wanted to add it and I'm glad that he did because it ended up looking great! That said, although I helped with picking out the tile and helped clean up the tile after it was set in the Thinset mortar, Paul did the rest of the project and therefore gets all the credit for this successful DIY  project! Best part about this project is that since we only tiled a small portion of it, all the tile combined cost $24!

The backsplash that we used in this project is the Smokey Topaz Mixed Material Wall Tile from Lowes. In the picture below it looks like it is very brown and tan, but in person it definitely is more taupe with a lot of gray undertones. These wall tiles also come in many different shades.  We bought two tiles because we were going to cut the tiles in half.  The other supplies needed in this project include: 


  • Tile Nippers
  • Utility Knife
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Rubber Grout Float
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Painters Tape
  • Notched Trowel
  • Caulk
The first step in this project was covering the sink and newly painted vanity cabinets, and using painters tape to create a guide for where the tile will go. The painters tape also helps to keep the access mortar or grout from getting on the wall. The size of the area that we tiled was 48"wide x 5.25" tall. 


The next thing to do is cut the large piece of tile with a utility knife. (There is a wire mesh behind the tiles that makes this easy to do). Since we didn't cut the large piece of tile exactly in half, I created a diagram so that I wouldn't confuse anyone. The large piece of tile has 24 total rows. With the two pieces of large tile that we bought we cut the tile at the 11th row and the 22nd row in order to have a total of (4) pieces of tile all with 11 rows of tile. The reason we didn't just cut them in half is because we needed the tile from those extra two rows to create ends to the backsplash, and also the pattern and size worked best for us to do it this way. This is just how we did it, but you could definitely do it other ways. 

After the four tile sections were cut, we laid them on the floor and configured how we wanted them to be placed on the wall. 

 Once we had configured the tile how we wanted, Paul used the extra tile and cut them to smaller pieces with tile nippers to create a straight edge for the backsplash. Make sure to practice on a couple tiles first to get a feel for how the tile nippers operate. Paul found it easiest to cut off small sections at a time until the tile was at the length he wanted.  

In this image, not all of the small tiles have been cut yet, but the second and third top tile from the right are small tiles that had been cut. Tile nippers don't create a perfect straight end, so we flipped the tile around so that the perfect straight end was at the end, and the side that we cut faced inwards towards the other tiles. The white tile second from the right at the top is a good example of that. 

 Once all the tiles have been cut for the ends, now it's time for the Thin-set mortar. We, meaning Paul, mixed the Thin-set Mortar in a bucket and followed the instructions on the packaging. Once it was ready to apply, he used the smooth part of the notched trowel to apply the mortar. He had a hard time getting the mortar to the way bottom and corner parts because he was afraid of getting it on the wall, so that's where I came in! I used my fingers to spread the mortar to in these hard to reach areas. Once the mortar was all spread, he went back through with the notched trowel and used the other side to create the tracks. 

Once the mortar is all in place, it's time to put the tile on the wall! I handed Paul the tile in order as he put in on the wall. We put the big sections in place first, and then went back after and put in the small tiles that we cut. 

 Once you have placed the tile on the wall, use a rubber groat float to push the tile into the mortar. This is where the project got a wee bit messy, and where I, along with my beauty tools,  got involved! In some areas the mortar was oozing through the tile cracks and we wanted to remove some of it so that there would be space for the grout to fill in. Since this backsplash consisted of small tiles, the cracks between them were tiny. The way I carefully dug out the "oozing-ness" was by using the small pointed tip of my small Tweezerman eyebrow scissors and some of my duck hair clips and I then wiped all of the excess mortar on some paper towel. My beauty tools wouldn't of needed to make an appearance in this DIY project had we had some toothpicks, but for some reason we don't own any. Probably should add those to this weeks shopping list! After I had dug the "oozing-ness"out, we carefully cleaned the rest of it up with some damp paper towel and Q-tips. We then removed the tape, and let it dry for 36 hours. How long you have to let it dry for depends on the mortar you use, the materials used in the tile, and the wall itself. That said, the waiting time can be anywhere from 24 to 72 hours depending on these factors. It's best to read the instructions on the mortar to determine the drying time. 

After the mortar had dried for 36 hours, Paul then grouted the tile. I choose to use white grout, but you can buy grout in a multitude of colors.   Before grouting the tile, he put painters tape on the wall again. He then applied the grout and let it sit about 30 minutes before washing the excess grout away with a sponge and bucket of water. Once it was all clean, we removed the tape and let the grout dry for a day. After that, the only step left is caulking the top part where the tile meets the wall, and the bottom part where the tile meets the white sink backsplash. 

And Voila, here is the finished backsplash! This was Paul and mine's first time ever working with backsplash, and we were very happily surprised with how well it turned out.  So well in fact, that I've already talked him into letting us backsplash a lot larger section of wall in our master bath! 

So what do you think, easy enough for you tackle? The project itself cost around $45, but $24 of that was the tile and the remaining $26 went the towards all the supplies, which could easily be used again including the extra grout and mortar that we were left with. For it being a lower costing project, it sure makes a large impact to a bathroom and is a great way to get that more custom feel! 

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