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Solutions to 2 Common DIY Backsplash Installation Problems

Nothing brings new life to a kitchen or bathroom like a new backsplash. It’s not only a design element that adds colour and character to your space, but a backsplash is also a practical addition that provides the best protection against water damage from the sink…hence, the name.

For many homeowners, the trouble with tiling a backsplash is that it can be an intimidating project to DIY. Thin set application, spacing, cutting, and grouting probably aren’t things that most people have a lot of experience with. However, there are 2 products that can help turn tiling your backsplash into a simple and successful weekend project for even a first-time DIYer.

Cutting Backsplash Tiles

One of the most intimidating aspects of tiling your own backsplash is the prospect of having to cut the tiles to fit. If you’re using individual tiles, you’ll need to cut them to fit the space or use nippers to round the corners. If you’re using a mesh mosaic, you not only need to fit the tiles to the area, but you’ll also need to cut the staggered edges of at each end of the wall.

Since most homeowners don’t own a tile cutter, tile nipper, or wet saw, this means either buying or renting these tools from your local home improvement store.

Simple Solution: Use Small Square Mesh Mosaic Tiles

Small, square mesh mosaic tiles require fewer cuts than rectangular, hex, or penny tiles do. They’re straight all around and oftentimes (not always), the only thing you’ll need to cut is the mesh backing to fit them into the space.


Sticking the Tile to the Wall

When it comes to adhering tiles to the backsplash area, thin set mortar is generally the most popular option.  It tends to be less expensive than mastic and is usually a better option for wet spaces.

Thin set can be found either pre-mixed or dry. When using dry thin set, you’ll need to set up a big bucket to mix it in with the water. You will find that most people use a drill mixing paddle to properly incorporate the water into the dry mix till is the approximate consistence of peanut butter. See package direction for the right water to thin set ratio.

Once the thin set is properly mixed, you’ll be able to apply it to your cleaned and prepped wall, then rake ridges in with a notched trowel. Just be sure to apply quickly, before the thin set has time to skin over.

However, one of the problems with using thin set for your backsplash is that it can be challenging for inexperienced homeowners to use. It’s messy, can skin over if you don’t work quickly enough, and may result in sagging. Sagging is when your perfectly set tiles begin sliding down the wall. Add to that the time it can take for the adhesive to properly set, sometimes up 2 to 3 days, unless you buy a speed dry formula.


Simple Solution: Tile Setting Mats

Tile setting mats can be a timesaving solution for homeowners looking for a quick and easy way to install a tile backsplash. Adhesive tile setting mats are essentially double-sided tape for your walls. The mats are sticky on both sides, with a protective paper layer that you remove before applying.

Tile setting mats eliminate the mixing, waiting, and the stress of racing to beat the skinning over of your thin set. You also don’t have to worry about tile sagging.

However, tile mats have their shortcoming as well. Most notably, they can be relatively expensive when compared to dry mortar. Additionally, some users have mentioned adhesion failures where tiles have fallen off within days. This may be an issue of incorrect installation or a failure to clean the tile backs prior to installation.


Don’t DIY

If the prospect of tiling your own backsplash still sounds like too much of a challenge, perhaps the best solution is to pass the task along to a professional. Browse the listings here on to find local tile experts, general contractors, and handyman services near you.


Looking for more inspiration and information about renovating your kitchen or bathroom? Explore our extensive library of home improvement articles, today!


Featured Image Source: Unsplash

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