We are almost done with our mini kitchen makeover! We say "mini" because we did not want to re-do the entire kitchen, as we don't intend to stay in this house forever. So, instead of investing extra money & time into painting or replacing the cabinets, we decided to simply give the kitchen a mini face lift with a new backsplash & quartz counter-tops instead.
If you haven't been following along, you can check out the previous 'Kitchen Makeover' posts here: ordered countertops, picked out a sink & faucet, demoed our existing backsplash & counters, installed Frosty Carrina quartz & sink, & installed our faucet & drywall. Phew.
Now, it's time to tile the backsplash!
First thing we had to do was pick out our tile. We knew we wanted white subway tile, but we weren't sure which size to go with. We bought a few individual 3" x 6" subway tiles & a 12" x 12" mosaic sheet of smaller 1.5" x 3" subway tiles (both were plain white ceramic finishes) & took them home to test them out. We taped the tiles onto a scrap piece of wood to get an idea of what each option would look like:
Initially, we liked the smaller tiles better. However, when we looked @ Mel's Pinterest Kitchen Board we realized that most of those inspiration photos had the larger 3" x 6" tiles.
We also took installation, price, & edge pieces into consideration. The larger 3" x 6" tiles were lower in price ($1.76 sq/ft vs. $2.65 sq/ft) & had coordinating bullnose options (more on that later). We also felt it might be easier for us to install & make cuts with the individual tiles as opposed to the sheets. Based on these considerations & our original inspiration photos, we decided to go with the Snow White 3" x 6" Ceramic Wall Tiles. Once we had our tile, we had to figure some things out & create a game plan.
END OF BACKSPLASH
Our old counters & tile were in line the upper cabinets, but we had an extra 6" added on to our new quartz peninsula. After some discussion, we decided to continue the tile backsplash to the end of the quartz as opposed to ending at the upper cabinet:
BACKSPLASH EDGE OPTIONS
We weren't exactly sure how we should finish off the backsplash on each end, so we looked online to try to find some inspiration. We saw some people finished off the edges by running thinner 2" x 6" bullnose tiles vertically, like this. We also saw edges like this & metal edges like this. While they were all good options, we were looking for something even more simple, so we decided to play around in the aisle @ Home Depot.
We found coordinating 6" x 6" single edge bullnose tile and 6" x 6" corner bullnose tile. They weren't the exact size we needed, but we figured we could cut the bullnose tiles in half & use them for the corners & sides, like this:
In the end, our plan worked out & gave us a finished look that we really liked. However, we wanted to mention something regarding the tile cuts - when we took the 6" x 6" tiles & cut them in half we were left with two tiles that were a hair under 3" tall because the blade itself cut away about 1/16". It's barely noticeable & grouting helped to disguise this, but we thought it was worth mentioning (if you look hard, you might notice the spacing is slightly bigger between the bullnose tiles). The finished backsplash still looks great - but moral of the story is to take the width of the blade into account when using a wet saw.
Initially, we wanted the smallest grout line & bought 1/16" tile spacers. Once we got home & started messing around with the tile & spacing, we realized that our tile already had built-in 'nubs' on the sides (called lugged tiles). The self-spacing tiles gave us 1/16" spacing, but once we saw what 1/16" spacing actually looked like, we were nervous that the grout lines would look too thin (aesthetically speaking):
Our solution was to use the 1/16" spacers that we already had & position them on the nubs - giving us 1/8" grout lines in the end. Looking back, we probably would have liked the 1/16" grout lines just as much. Oh well.
Another question we had was regarding the spacing between the tile & countertops. After reading some online articles & forums, we felt it would be better to add a spacer & caulk the gap as opposed to just resting the tile on the counters. We just cut off one end of the spacer like this:
DRY FIT BEFORE TILING
Before we actually started tiling, we thought it would be a good idea to do a dry fit first. This way, we could make sure we were not left with any super tiny slivers of tile in the corners. We cut it really close on the sink wall (no pun intended) since we wanted full 6" tiles on the end - In doing so, we were left with some 1/2" pieces in the corner:
Close, right? Any smaller & we don't know if it would have worked. Once we had a plan in place, we began tiling.
Before we applied the tile adhesive, we drew a level vertical & horizontal pencil line right onto the wall where we wanted the tile to end (forgot to take a picture). Then we just tiled away - slowly working our way around the kitchen:
For the area behind the oven, we screwed in a temporary ledger board in line with the countertops so the tile would have something to rest on:
To be honest, it was more difficult than we thought it would be. Many of the spacers would fall out as we worked. Not to mention, Mel is OCD & spent way too much time trying to make sure the tiles looked perfect. Eventually though, we got a rhythm/method down & the spacers stopped falling out. Had we not used the extra spacers, it would have been much easier & faster.
The tiling alone took us a couple of days to finish - working a few hours each day. It was not a terribly difficult project, but it was definitely not super easy. We don't know how the pros do this on a day to day basis - our backs & necks were killing us. Of course now that it's done, we can say we're glad we did it ourselves - but it was tiring & we were living in a disaster zone for awhile:
Even though we are not quite finished, we think it looks much better. The light quartz counters & white subway tile reflect more light & make it feel so much brighter now. We are so happy that we were able to update our kitchen without painting the cabinets!
We still need to grout & seal the tile, touch-up paint, re-install the window sill, & update the light above the sink....
Up next, grouting!
Mel & Nader