A weekend project that will add value to your home…

This weekend with my new found burst of energy, I decided to tackle a project I’ve been wanting to do since we bought the house.

I finally did the backsplash in my kitchen!

I have to say – I now strongly believe every single person should have a tile backsplash in their kitchen. 🙂 It ups the elegance and adds value to your home. And it was easy to do!!  When we had our granite installed we asked about the backsplash. It would have added another $300 to the price to have them install it. I love to consider the cost of having someone else do things when I DIY- it. Makes me even more proud of my accomplishments when I think about not only how I’ve made our house look better, but that I saved money!

If you remember from previous posts, I wanted to wait to do the backsplash until we got granite… I had purchased a beautiful backsplash a year or so ago before I had picked out the granite. Unfortunately, once the granite was installed it really didn’t match. It was just too busy.

This is what I originally bought:

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Obviously I didn’t go with that granite sample, so it just didn’t jive.

I returned the 18 sheets I bought and went on the hunt to … you guessed it…. Home Depot!!

I wanted something light and not too busy. Oh… and nothing against anyone with subway tiles… but I didn’t want them. They look too “bathroom” to me and I didn’t want a bathroom vibe in my kitchen!

Here is what I picked. There is a hint of this tan in the granite and it compliments it nicely.

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I already had most of my tools I needed since we bought it all when we bought the tiles for the bathroom.

The hardest, most time consuming part is laying out how you want the tiles to go. This took me probably an hour an a half. Just measuring, and picturing the layout in my head. You want to think about what will be on the ends of your rows, how you will transition around a corner, and how to get around those pesky electrical outlets. Which reminds me! Before you can start take the outlets and light switches out of the wall. I let them hang there but I made hubby turn off that breaker… you’d be shocked at how easy it is to shock yourself!

My first vision was to go with a brickwork pattern, but Leon suggested I lay the tiles at an angle.

I liked his idea so I started to measure them out and draw lines for cutting.

Make sure you use a wax pencil so the lines wipe off.

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My super awesome amazing hubby made my cuts for me. It helped so I didn’t have to stop tiling to do it. We had a good assembly line going.

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This is where we ran into our first (and only) snag.

The tiles kept chipping on the ends. We tried everything: going slower, going faster, switching sides (cutting half way – backing the tile out and cutting the other way)… We even used a diamond blade. We read online that cutting tiles corner to corner like that tends to chip the tiles. We wasted 10 or 15 tiles trying to get it right:

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Eventually I decided to default to my original plan to lay the tiles in a brick pattern.

Once this decision was made, the project progressed much quicker!

I whipped up the mortar (thinset)…

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And I prepared my workspace. I wiped down the walls to make sure I had a clean surface to adhere to.

You can see what I meant about the outlets in this picture…

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You’ll want to use a level to determine if your countertops are level. If they are not, you would have extra work to make sure you keep the tiles level. I was lucky because my countertops were level so I didn’t have to try to keep my tiles level.

Here are a few more action shots:

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Always make sure you have a wet cloth handy because it can get messy and it dries fairly quickly so you want to wipe up any spilled, dripped or glopped mortar right away.

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You want to use spacers so that the tile doesn’t sit directly on your countertops.

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Once I got to the outlets the cuts got a little more fun. Here is Leon, after handing him a fun one.

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Once I got to the other wall, behind the stove, I had to get creative. The tiles I laid behind the stove didn’t have the counter top for support and they wanted to slide down the wall. So I used tape to hold them in place while they set. Once they were dry I was able to remove the tape and continue to tile.

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I finished laying the tile this morning so I have not been able to grout yet. You have to let the mortar dry at least 24 hours before grouting. I will do a fantastic before and after post once the grout is done (tomorrow or later this week) but here is a sneak peak.

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I can’t wait to show you the finished product! Now that this is done I think it’s time for a true before and after… as in.. before I did anything to the kitchen and after. 🙂 The difference is really stunning. I’m so proud of our house. We’ve made so many improvements, once the bathroom is done we are going to get it re-appraised. We’re confident we now have 20% equity and can get rid of the mortgage insurance.

Speaking of the bathroom… we’ve had a little change in plans. Remember how I said I was going to tile the shower? Well… we learned this weekend our tile saw is good… but it’s not great. The tiles we chose are granite so I’m not confident in our ability to cut them well. Plus the guy we hired to hang the Hardie Backer (the drywall that is water resistant) really messed it up so it needs to be redone by a professional. So we called the guy who did our granite countertops to see if he knew someone he could refer us to (since he was awesome). Turns out his first talent/skill is tiling so he offered to come take a look at it. Initially we told him we just wanted him to fix what the other guy messed up… because I still wanted to do the tiling.

After he looked at it, and me, he said “You’re NOT going to do this while you’re pregnant!”

So Leon and I asked him how much he’d charge to do it for us… after a little conversation we agreed on a price… and he’ll be doing more than just the tile in the shower…

Remember our guest bathroom?

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Well.. see the part of the countertop that extends over the back of the toilet? It’s super close to the toilet (like we can barely lift the top of the toilet tank). And we’ve been talking about getting a new vanity for in here because we just don’t love this bathroom. Turns out, the guy who did our granite can get us a great deal on black granite for in here! It will match the shower tiles PERFECTLY and tie the whole thing together. (Holy cow we are getting granite in the bathroom!!!)

I’m also going to refinish the cabinets in here just like I did the kitchen ones.

Aaaannndddd… remember me complaining about that mirror? I mentioned how much I hate it in this post.

Well, he’s looking at the shower and the countertop and the mirror with concern, and I say, “What’s wrong?” He says, “I’m concerned that the mirror is in the way, but I see it’s glued to the wall, so I can’t take it down.” I start smiling and say, “If it makes your life easier, you’re welcome to take it down… I hate it!” He seems pretty happy with that solution.

All of this is going to be VERY affordable. He is giving us a great deal. And it will be beautiful. He’s supposed to do it at the end of the month so I’m counting down the days when I can take a bath again!!!

Stay tuned for more!!

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