A big part of my kitchen revival this time around was to update our existing backsplash. In the upfate a year, I opted for painting the old tiles (from the 80’s mind) and adding a custom stencil pattern. This time around however, I new I wanted a fresh new look. The tiled look, but with an uncoventional pattern – you know something you don’t see every day, preferably in green, to match the pink cupboards and wooden rattan uppers (see my DIY for those here).
Easier said than done! I did not realize, until I started looking, how difficult it would be to find the tile I really wanted in our lifes. I know it sounds dramatic, but oh boy you wouldn’t believe how many tabs I had open at any given point and how many different patterns I inserted in my 3D design plan.
I mean, you see what I am talking about right? They are pretty gorgeous looking! And I was even more thrilled when the people over at Marrakech Design decided to sponsor me with their amazing product for this kitchen project!
But you actually should check out all their tiles! Once I found their shop & selection, I sure did have a hard time nailing down my favourite. But ulitmatelym, the colour & seemingly random pattern & size nailed it down for me.
After all this eye candy above, we are now coming to the gritty nitty bit! Since we already had tiles in the place of the backsplash, the most logical solution would have been to take them down and start on a fresh canvas. But since those tiles, have been up since the early 80’s, my husband was afraid we’d take down half of the wall in the process. So we opted for a slightly unconventional method of tiling over existing tile.
The only things to consider in this instance is:
Can my wall take the extra weight? Our answer was yes, since it is only a small portion that is tiled.
It will decrease space in depth since you have to add on an extra centimeter or so from your existing underground. Again ok for us since we have a wooden ledge above the tiles for knives and kitchen utensils (see the picture further down).
Will the tile grout stick to the tiled underground? Usually it does, however since I painted the old tiles and added a protective PU coating, we used an Epoxy glue to make sure it really does stick!
Here are some pictures, to remind you of the before and inbetween:
Let’s get down to business! What did we need?
Tools & materials to have at hand
Tile Cutter/ Saw – note that for cement tiles, you need special diamond blades/ circle cutters
Tile Adhesive/ Cement Mortar (remember we used an epoxy glue, since my husband was afraid it would not hold up otherwise, since I painted the old tiles)
Mixing Bucket & Swirl
Step #1 – Lay out the tiles to find your preferred pattern (if there is one)
I played about with the tiles on the table for a while to find a pattern that made me all around happy. I tried from random to not so random, until I got to a nice middle path between the two. But seriously, always lay out a patch before and take a picture so you know what to do down the line, when you’re knee deep in adhesive, tile dust and grout.
Step #2 – Find a husband, who will help you out here, since you never set tiles before + get your tools out
Kidding, but not so much! We tried to find a time to do it together, from start to finish, but beeing both incredibly busy with work and kids around, it meant this was a weekend job. To make it easier on all participants, I took the kiddo out for a playdate while the husband got down to business.
Step #3 – Remove all electrical outlet covers to determine the size & placement of the cut outs needed in the tiles
You can see below that the old tiles had a square cut out for the electrical outlet, but since we worked with cement tiles, it’s much easier using a circular tool. We also set the first row of tiles first, to determine the exact location of the cut out needed.
Side note: make sure to have a more tiles than needed for your space, 2% more is suggested by professionals, to cover eventual breakage that can occure during the process.
Step #4 – Lay out & Set the tiles
To start it all of, make sure to have your adhesive & tile spacer (we used string – much easier) at the ready. First you lay out the tiles in order they should go up on the wall (or floor) to have a good and organised overview. To keep space on the bottom for where you later set the silicon grout/ sealer, place the string for spacing a long the top of the worktop. Make sure to not glue it on the wall, since you do want to be able to remove it later easily.
Then begin to work your grout evenly along the surface with your trowel. The bigger the comb lines, the easier to adjust the level of the tile.
Once your first row of tiles is set, or as how many you need to get to the electrical outlet part – move back up to step #3 and cut out the circles/ squares needed to accomodate your wall plugs/ light switches etc.
After a little waiting period, to make sure everythins looking good and sticking the way it should, you can go right ahead and set the next row. Oh yeah, incase I didn’t mention it before – it is a bit of a messy business.
Step #5 – Remove the spacing string & add the grout
Something you should keep in mind, when adding the grout inbetween the tiles is that these cement tiles come unglazed, so I would say it is fairly important that you plan enough time to clean the residue of the grout. When you apply grout to regular ceramic or glazed tiles, it is common to just wipe the grout of the whole area. On those however, I would refrain from doing so, as it makes your clean up job so much bigger. Make sure the grout is in the gaps, filled well andgood, and then after a few minutes wait, clean the surround areas on the tiles with clean water. We cleaned the sponge that we used, after each tile, to avoid spreading the residue over the tiles. Overall we cleaned the surface about four times, to make sure all grout residue & eventual cement dust was removed.
Step #6 – Seal & glaze the tiles
After said cleaning, above, it is time to seal & glaze the tiles, to protect them against any dirt, oils & cooking residue, as well as to give them their shiny look. When ordering products from Marrakech Design, you will receive together with your tiles, a tile care-package that contains a cleaning, sealing & glazing product. Simply follow the instructions on the bag of the product bottle for the best outcome.
Step #7 – Add the silicon groute to the bottom & re-attach the electrical outlet covers
Now that everything is sealed and glazed, you can add the silicon grout to the bottom of the tiled backsplash to avoid water getting behind, as well as re-attach the electrical outlet covers.
After this you are basically done! Hurray to your (and our) new backsplash!