Hello beautiful friends! Today I’m sharing how I tiled the backsplash in our kitchen.
I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.
I installed this gorgeous mother-of-pearl tile:
I was searching for options on Amazon and found this one HERE.
It is sold in packs of six 12 x 12″ squares like this:
Because it is genuine mother-of-pearl, it is very thin. (Strong, but thin.) I did a few things differently than I might have if the tiles were regular thickness.
You can absolutely adhere this tile right to your existing wall if it is in great condition. In our case, after removing the 4″ granite backsplash we had originally, there was a small gap between the counter and the wall, and hanging the tile right on the wall would have left too big of a gap to caulk in my opinion. I opted to add a layer of 1/4″ thick HardieBacker cement board to the walls to bring it out enough to cover that gap. It is sold in 3′ x 5′ sheets at the Home Depot. The added bonus of adding the cement board is that it is designed to be mold resistant, which definitely doesn’t hurt.
I started by cutting the cement board as needed to cover my walls. It can be pretty easily cut using a utility knife to score it and then breaking it along the score line. I was also able to cut the outlets the same way, by scoring where I wanted to cut it and using a hammer to knock it out:
I hung it by screwing it right into the studs:
To find the studs, you can use a stud finder, or look at the underside of your cabinets to see where the cabinets have been screwed into the wall. That should be a stud. Then measure 16″ from that point and you should find another stud and so on.
Since the screws wouldn’t lay flat enough if I used them where there was not a stud, I opted to secure the cement board in those areas using my nailgun.
I taped the seams with fiberglass tape. It also calls for mudding those seams with mortar, but since I wasn’t planning to use mortar to attach my tile, I skipped that step.
If you’re lucky, you can skip right to this step!
I chose not to use mortar because the tiles were so thin that I imagined it to be a big mess if I used mortar to attach them to the cement board. Instead, I opted for this product:
This was super easy to use and saved a lot of mess! It is adhesive on both sides and basically you stick it to the wall, peel off the backing, and stick your tiles on it.
Here it is going in:
It comes in a roll or in small sheets. I used a little of both. The roll made it really easy to hang these long pieces. I continued butting the pieces together until all the walls were covered.
I peeled off the backing as I was ready to hang each section of tile. Then the tile just sticks right to it:
I started here and worked my way to the right, using my level to be sure it was straight. I used two methods to cut the tiles. The first is our tile saw. Because the tiles are so small, I used two pieces of scrap wood to help guide the tile through the saw:
I also used glass tile nippers:
These worked great. You could probably install this tile using only these if you needed to, as long as you wear gloves to protect your hands. If a piece is cut wonky, just pull it off the mesh and replace it with a better piece.
The nippers worked great for the pieces around the window detail as well. (See next photo.)
There is no need to let it cure like there is with mortar, but I did find that the longer the tile was attached to the Simple Mat adhesive, the harder it was to pull off, so I let it sit overnight.
Then I gathered my supplies for grouting:
I used non-sanded grout for this tile as sanded grout would scratch my beautiful tile. (Non-sanded grout can be used in joints under 1/8″.) It is available in a 10 lb bag or these 1 lb tubs. I found mine at The Home Depot. The 10 lb bag is much cheaper, but I started with a couple of these so I stayed with them. I ended up using four total. If I were to do it all over, I would buy the larger bag and mix it in a five-gallon bucket with a mixing paddle for my drill.
I followed the mixing instructions on the container, letting it sit for 10 minutes after mixing, then mixing one more time before using. Then I spread it on the tile and into the joints with my float:
It is suggested not to apply more grout than can be cleaned within 30 minutes of firming. I let each section set up for about 10 minutes or so before going back over it with my damp sponge. Use as little water as possible as too much water can weaken the joints. Again, follow the instructions on the grout label.
Let it sit for two hours and then use cheesecloth to remove any haze.
The tile took on a whole new look after grouting:
The next step is to caulk any seams. Here is what you’ll need:
The same company that makes the grout I used also makes a tile caulk to in colors to match. For the seams where the tile meets the walls and where the tile meets the counters, I chose to use the caulk. It is less susceptible to cracking in those areas.
To do this I started by taping off my tile and the counter so that I would get a nice straight line of caulk along my seam:
Then I added a bead of caulk:
TIP: To stop the caulk from continuing to ooze out after you release the trigger, pull the release as if you were going to remove the caulk from the gun. It will release the pressure and stop the oozing right away.
I used my handy caulk tool to remove the excess…
Then I immediately pulled back my tape and voila! A beautiful straight line:
This was especially important since my grout is bright white and our counters are black. This would be a real mess had I not taped it off first.
I also used this method along the wall trim for a nice neat edge:
To finish off the edge on the open shelf wall, and to cover the backer board, I chose to run a row of tiles lengthwise along that edge:
The final step is to seal the grout, which I have not done yet. For now, I am enjoying our beautiful new backsplash!
I have done a few tiling projects in the past and this tile was pretty easy to work with in comparison. If a piece didn’t cut right, I could just pull it off and replace it. Very user-friendly!
If you missed any of my other kitchen makeover-related posts, you can find them here:
Would you believe me if I told you I had already started another house project?? I’ll be back on Tuesday to share the details! 🙂
UPDATE: Check out what big project we’ve taken on this time HERE!
Have a great weekend!
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