Monday, March 4, 2013

Bathroom Makeover, Part 3: Backsplash

Ladies and gentlemen! You totally can't tell that a few days ago, our upstairs bathroom looked like someone had ripped laminate straight off the walls, tearing up the paint and leaving glue all over the place.

Oh wait ... yeah, that happened. :)

But it's okay! Because since then we stained the cabinets and installed our brand-new DIY countertop. Everything was beautiful except the aforementioned walls.

The difficult part was figuring out what to do about the backsplash and sides, since the walls were clearly all torn up and just painting over it would look awful. I voted for tile, because after dealing with the counter, there was no way I was trying to put laminate back up on the wall. No sirree.

We went to Lowe's to look at tile options, and after repeatedly dashing back and forth between the tile and laminate departments, we finally decided on this nice stone-looking tile. It was thicker than most of the other small tiles available , and we needed the thickness to cover up the gap at the back of the counter that was originally covered by the curved laminate.

We caulked around the entire edge of the countertop first, so water couldn't get into the wood or under the tile once we installed it. We waited a bit for the caulk to dry, then we slapped (way too much) mortar on the wall and started frosting it like a cake. (We bought our mortar and grout pre-mixed because we are novices.)

But seriously, you only need enough for the tile to stick to. It doesn't need to be this thick.

We needed to cover approximately 4.5 inches of the wall, and our tiles were 1"x1" with netting to connect the tiles into 12"x12" sheets, so we trimmed the netting down to the right size, and stuck the tile to the mortar.

See what I mean about too much? The mortar isn't supposed to function like grout!

We made sure the tiles were stuck down down good, then lightly used a rubber mallet to tap them. We used 1/4" spacers in between the sheets of tile.

After we placed all the tiles and wiped the excess mortar off the countertop, walls and ourselves, we left it to dry overnight.

The next day, we removed the spacers and got to work on the grout. The color we chose was "Vintage White" by Tec Invision. Matt opened the container, went "Uhhh, this isn't white..." before I told him it was supposed to be beige, and then lauded myself for being such an excellent color-chooser.

We took turns smearing grout all over the place.

Once every tile was covered and filled, we used a wet sponge to clean the tiles and followed that up with a damp cloth to remove any excess grout still lurking on the tiles (and walls). LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE: Use a professional home-improvement-intended sponge, not a kitchen sponge when working on grout. The kitchen sponge may or may not have started disintegrating (it did) and there may or may not be tiny purple sponge specks in one corner of the tile (there is). Luckily I noticed this very early on, so we didn't get purple all over  everything.

And we have tile!

I'm so proud of the fact that we did this all by ourselves and it actually turned out how we intended. Now we just have to give the grout seven days to fully set, and we'll have a functioning master bath again!

Well, almost. There's just one more thing I want to do with this bathroom before I declare it done-skis. We're so close ya'll!


  1. Love the tile!! It looks so good!

  2. I love it! I'm so impressed! I want to buy tile and do a whole backsplash in our kitchen, but it's kind of scary to tackle something that has never been done before! You make it look easy though; I'll just have to remember not to use too much mortar. Now, just to save up $200 for tile ;-)

    1. Thank you! It really wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Go for it! Now that we're done, I kind of want to tile more things. :)

    2. Are you going to seal your tile at all? I've been draw to stone tile too, but thought that glass tile would be the way to go and I read somewhere that stone tile had to be sealed every 1-5 years (and who wants to add another step haha). Although, this may be a kitchen thing because they get all messy and stuff.

    3. We originally bought a spray sealant with the intent to, but we returned it because the grout tub said it didn't need to be sealed. I just double-checked, and the grout is "wear, crack and water resistant."

  3. It looks so good! Nice job you two :)!

  4. OMG! It turned out so, so great! Love it!

  5. Great job! We're currently in the process of redoing 2.5 baths--with the added fun of repairing water damage--so it's good to see someone who made it out the other side relatively unscathed :)