Yes YOU Can… Replace Your Backsplash!

So, I’m assuming that all of you have just finished successfully painting your cabinets, and you’re returning now for the next step in your renovation process… replacing your backsplash!!

I’m just gonna go ahead and prepare you now… this project is going to take a bit more courage than the former. Things are about to start looking a whole lot worse before they eventually look absolutely awesome!!

I’m sure many of you have seen the YouTube videos of some chick gently tap, tap, tapping on the edge of her ceramic tiles with a putty knife while they all pop right off the wall for her… yeah right!!!  I can pretty much assure you that, unless something was done incorrectly the first time, that is wildly unrealistic!

Here’s the reality of the situation, those tiles are on there pretty tight… but never you fear… I know the trick!  You will need an ordinary hammer and a scraper or putty knife.

Pick up your hammer, take a deep breath, and just start tapping right on the surface of the tiles. You need to swing hard enough to crack the tiles, but not hard enough to damage your wall. The point is to crack the grout lines and loosen the existing tile. Once you have loosened up the tile, then you can use your scraper or putty knife and your hammer to start popping the tiles off the wall.   

(This is obviously not a picture of me or of my kitchen. It was impossible for me to take a picture of myself removing my own tile, but this is how you do it.)

Here are some pictures of my actual project in progress.  You can see the cracked tiles in the first picture…

Pretty scary looking, huh?!?!  Inevitably, you will end up with a few areas where you have damaged your drywall. You’re going to need to patch those areas with joint compound before you start putting up your new backsplash.

It’s no big deal. Just use your putty knife to spread some joint compound into the hole, let it dry, then smooth it out with a sanding block.

This is my favorite joint compound. It is $4 for a quart sized container at Walmart.

And this is a sanding block. It’s a lot easier to use than old-fashioned sand paper.  You can find them at any hardware store…

Once you’ve finally finished removing all the old tile and you’ve patched all your boo-boo’s, you get to start the fun part… putting up your beautiful new tile (or whatever material you have chosen)!  A word of advice from a beginner to a beginner… choose something that comes in a sheet instead of something you have to put up piece by piece. For example…

Choose this…

Not this…                

You will also need all of this stuff…

  • Tile adhesive
  • Spacers
  • Grout
  • Float
  • Sponge

Oh, and this too.  It’s a tile trowel. I looked everywhere in my garage and couldn’t find mine!  Ugh!

And as far as basic tools are concerned, you will need a tape measure, a level, a marker that will mark on your tile, and you will need to rent a wet saw. Remember, measure twice, cut once!  Take your time!

Use your trowel to spread your adhesive onto the wall, then go ahead and stick your sheets of tile up there. Some of them will need to be cut and some won’t. Take your time and be precise.

You will have to cut small pieces of tile to fill in the missing pieces at the edges, like you see here in the picture on the right end. As you begin adding more tiles, you will need to use spacers to keep your lines straight. Be sure to check yourself from time to time with your level.

After you’ve finished setting all your tile, let the adhesive dry over night. The next day, you can start grouting!  Use your float to apply your grout all over the surface of the tile, working it deep into the spaces between the tiles. (Again, the following pictures are not of my kitchen, but I want to show you a couple good examples of how the grout should be spread all over the tile.)

Work in about 2 foot sections. Apply the grout, then wipe the section clean with your sponge. Rinse your sponge often in a bucket of water.  It’s probably not a good idea to wash all the grout down your kitchen sink.

Once you have finished applying all your grout, give the whole thing another good wipe down!  Get it nice and clean and shiny!  Step back, take a good look at your beautiful new kitchen, and give yourself a great big pat on the back for a job well done!!

Thanks again for reading, and as always, please feel free to leave a comment or message me if you have any questions.  I would also LOVE to see photos of your before and after pictures!!  If you try any of these projects and have any pictures to share, please, please, please do post them for us!!

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