This tiled kitchen splashback is a great starter tutorial to create a waterproof and modern space. I’ll also show you some tips and tricks if doing alone, especially my Blu Tack hack for planning your tile trim!
Tiling a kitchen splashback is so much easier than you may think. That is, providing you take the time to plan in advance. Otherwise, you may find you have to make some sacrifices.
Generally, I find you have to work with what you’ve got in order to make it aesthetically pleasing. For example, in retrospect, I now think maybe I should have done my half tile along the bottom instead.
But you know what? It’s just a utility. And I know later that I could always buy another boxed edge windowsill to extend the lip over my cut tiles.
BLU TACK SAVED THE DAY!
To help me plan my kitchen splashback, I realised that mid-project Blu Tack was my only answer. Although three rows of tiles looks pretty straight forward, I found it’s actually trickier.
The reason being is the tiles below end before the wall stops. So you’ll need to blu tack some tiles, including edging trim to gauge where to cut both.
Also, I cut my edging trim with mitre cuts. And although cut to precision, I found Bostik’s Fix & Flash perfect to clamp it closed in seconds.
THINGS I USED FOR MY KITCHEN SPLASHBACK
- Metro white ceramic tiles
- Tile adhesive (I used Mapei Ultimate Showerproof)
- Tile adhesive trowel
- Spirit level
- 2mm tile spaces
- PVA glue solution (PVA mixed with water) & clean paintbrush
- Manual tile cutter
- Wet tile cutter like this with diamond blade if you need to cut L-shape tiles (or more than just one straight cut)
- 10mm straight edge trim from Tile Easy note, the 2mm extra will cover raw edges
- Polythene with masking tape on roll
- Tape measure
- Mini mitre block
- Junior hacksaw like this
- Grout (this one but in Silver Grey)
- Squeegee for grout
- Blu tack *gifted
- Bostik Fix & Flash *gifted
- Grouting sponge
- White silicone sealant
- Spray bottle with watered down washing up liquid
- Credit card
- Silicone gun
- Impregnating tile sealer
- Microfibre or lint free cloth
PREPPING & PLANNING YOUR KITCHEN SPLASHBACK
The very first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your walls are sound, level and no loose bits. If there are large holes etc, then my guide on plastering before tiling will be useful. Also, I double checked my worktops were level.
If yours aren’t, you may need to fix a batten to the wall further up and use that as your starting point. Also, because I will be tiling my kitchen splashback directly on to plasterboard and wood, I brushed everywhere with two coats of PVA solution and left to dry.
Then, this is the most important part and and that is planning where you want your tiles to go. And see where your tiles end up around windows, sockets, where your worktop ends (doh!). Why? You don’t want to be left with any silly 5mm cuts for example that you can work with. So, if doing a running bond = a bricklaying effect, test both rows!
HOW TO PREVENT MESS ON YOUR KITCHEN SPLASHBACK
You’ll find tile adhesive can get everywhere. So it’s a good idea to protect your surfaces, such as worktop and sink.
It can be scrubbed off, but it’s very very tough. So here I used a plastic sheet with masking tape on a roll. Also, don’t forget that stainless steel sinks still scratch.
And my final tip on tile adhesive is that it’s best to clean up as you go with a sponge of cloth. Also, try to clear the 2mm gaps as it takes AGES to remove carefully once dry. So where possible, why not two of you work on it at the same time? *Note I work alone as there’s less arguments(!)
SPREADING TILE ADHESIVE
You can see above that I’m using a tile adhesive trowel. It should have teeth on it which looks quite notchy. Here, I’m starting where my centre line is, but making sure I only work with enough as I go. Mine probably had about 30 minutes working time before it set.
If you do spread too much, you’ll need to scrape it off. And right or wrong, this happened to me once, so I prepped it again with a pva solution then left to dry before continuing on the next day.
Also, I never applied it to the back of the tile itself as there’s grooves on the rear for the notchy adhesive to spread in to. However, you may need to do this in reverse if you’re working on really tight areas, such as near the window. If so, I’ll make scratch marks in the adhesive with a trowel.
WHAT SIZE TILE SPACERS SHOULD I USE?
Firstly, always use tile spacers when tiling. They allow you to continue ensuring your tiling is level and even throughout.
For my kitchen splashback, I used 2mm with metro tiles. However, I’ve generally found, the bigger the tile, the bigger the spacers. Or, as my father in law once told me, floor tiles are usually bigger such as 3mm.
I personally think it’s a good idea to ask in your local tile shop if in doubt. Also, another great thing I love about spacers is you can snap the arms off to create a T. This is particularly great when going with a running bond.
LAYING YOUR FIRST KITCHEN SPLASHBACK TILES
From doing tile research, I noticed some tile directly on to their worktop and others don’t. I’ve done it both ways now. However, because I had a corner joint on my worktop that protrudes ever so slightly, I opted for spacers along the bottom.
I lined my first tile up with my centre pencil line, ensuring I left a slight gap for the spacer and pressed firmly on the wall.
Then continued laying the rest in a straight line as above. However, note I didn’t go to the very end of the far left as I knew I needed to add trim behind it.
BUILDING A RUNNING BOND
By now, you should have already planned where you want to go with a running bond and stacked. As mentioned before, I went with a running bond (brick layer effect).
So, to get started, I needed to measure where half way was on my 1st tile above my first row.
Then line it up with the pencil mark and continue as normal.
HOW TO CUT TILES WITH A MANUAL CUTTER
First, I measured the gap left under my window sill and deducted a 2mm tile spacer gap. *Note, I could curse whoever installed this window sill as really, it isn’t deep enough to hide the edges. So, I do plan to build the sill up later with a deeper lip.
Then, after transferring your measurement to the tile, line the mark to the top of the tile cutter. And, starting from the bottom, gently push the handle down while moving forward to score the tile. And once you’ve got to the top, make sure the metal pressure piece is resting on the top edge of the tile. Then gently push down the handle until is cuts in half.
These metro tiles are only £6 for 25. So, if you make a cut you’re not happy with, then just have another go. Cheap as…. tiles!
HOW TO CUT A MITRED CORNER FOR TILE TRIM
If your tiles will stop at the end of a worktop that isn’t between a wall, then it’s best to cut your mitre section first. For this, I placed my trim in the mitre block and cut towards the end with a hacksaw. Then gently sanded the raw edge with 240 grit sandpaper.
Then I cut my trim roughly down to size, leaving a cm or two extra. And with the remaining trim, I laid my new cut on top as below and drew along it for a visual.
Then took the newly marked trim to the block, lined it up with the correct angle and sawed again. TIP: mitre blocks don’t last very long, so I wedged some protective wood on the bottom.
DOING A DRY LAY WITH BLU TACK
Now, I must declare I was gifted blu tack this month as I asked if I could be a Bostik craft blogger for 2019. But I was completely stumped when asked to create a Blu Tack hack.
However, when faced with planning this awkward section of trim, I was relieved that this was the perfect solution. It was imperative I worked out exactly where to cut my length down
So what I did was blu tack the last few tiles to my wall, including the trim and spacers. Then mark on my tiles were to cut them down (and the same goes for the trim). Note, it’s ok with three rows, but if you’re going taller, you may want to lay them on the floor to work out.
CUTTING DOWN THE HORIZONTAL TILE TRIM
Once I’d worked out the far left of my kitchen splashback, I was then able to mark and cut my top bit of trim.
For this, I used a straight cut and blu tacked all together to check I was happy before dismantling and reaching for my tile adhesive.
Another tip is to mark with masking tape of which cut tile is which in case your cut was ever so slightly different.
TILE AS USUAL
Once carefully dismantled, I ensured all blu tack was removed before finally tiling as usual.
While tiling, it’s important to add your adhesive first, then place to trim on top, then continue tiling as normal.
CLAMPING THE MITRE CORNER
However, no matter how perfect my mitre cut was, it wouldn’t sit closed on its own. Now, maybe I have OCD, but I found last month’s Bostik Fix & Flash resin glue perfect too. (This post honestly isn’t sponsored in any way).
I squirted a drop of glue inside the cut, then cured within seconds with the attached UV light. You should find contact adhesive suitable for this job too if more accessible.
MAKING MORE AWKWARD CUTS
If you need to take a chunk out of a tile for whatever reason, then using a wet tile cutter with diamond blade is my favourite. In all honesty, I’ve never tried any other way because from watching YouTube videos, this looks the quickest.
Also, it’s an awful thought to take ages cutting a tile with hand tools, only to find you’ve measured it wrong in the first place.
So after marking a notch to cut around my upstand (far right), I poured water in the cutter and carefully cut. It’s scary on the first go, but I fell in love almost immediately. Then tiled as usual.
PREPPING FOR GROUTING
I’m not going to lie, I hate this part. Which is why it’s always best to clean your adhesive as you go. So after leaving my tiled kitchen splashback overnight, I removed my plastic sheet and all spacers. Note, sometimes you’ll need pliers as they can be VERY tough to remove.
And finally, using a damp plastic scourer, scrub all adhesive that may be stuck on the front of the tiles. Also, try to remove any excess in the 2mm gap where possible. If you don’t remove the tile adhesive, it will show up after grouting. Even more so if the grout is a contrasting colour. *This is another reason why some people use adhesive and grout in one.
Also, AVOID scraping off with a filling knife or window scraper. Speaking from experience, it’s far too easy to chip a tile, which you’ll then need to replace.
HOW DO I MIX GROUT?
Once I cleaned up all my tiles, it was time to mix the grout. For this, I’m absolutely wearing gloves and eye protection as there’s cement in it. And again, speaking from experience 2 years ago, CEMENT BURNS!
And in a clean bucket, I added 300ml water, then slowly stirred in 1kg of my grout. However, your grout may differ. This was enough for this 1m squared area, but you only have 30 minutes to work with it, so only mix in batches.
I then protected my worktop again with a rag and applied the grout with a hard rubber squeegee. I find it’s best to apply in a 45 degree angle to really press and pack it in to all of the 2mm gaps. And after leaving a section for 15 minutes, I removed with a damp grouting sponge, rubbing away from the gaps and not with them.
POLISHING YOUR KITCHEN SPLASHBACK
After removing all the excess grout, I left to dry for a few hours.
However, you’ll find a very thing film of grout left behind.
So, with a clean microfibre cloth, I was able to buff clean, leaving them super shiny.
SILICONING YOUR KITCHEN SPLASHBACK PERFECTLY
I used to dread working with silicone sealant because if applied wrong, it looks very messy and awful. But now I get asked how do I get it so neat! Well, here’s how!
I place a bit of masking tape or rag around my surface, but DON’T masking tape too close. This is solely to catch drips. Then I apply a bead of silicone, My best advice is try to be consistent – not too much, not too little. Now spray the silicone with watered down washing up liquid and smooth run along it with the corner of a credit card.
This also spreads any excess for you as you go. I find a washing up solution prevents it from sticking to things. ALSO, avoid contaminating it with your finger and pull the protective masking tape. *Your bead of silicone shouldn’t be on your masking tape., otherwise, it’ll form a lip and ruin your work.
SEALING YOUR KITCHEN SPLASHBACK’S GROUT
It’s not often when I hear about grout sealant. In fact, it’s only ever been from a handful of my followers who do this for a living. The idea of sealing grout it to doubly make sure it’s waterproof and prevent stains.
In fact, I wish I’d done this behind my hob two years ago. And instead of buying a grout impregnator, I found this free stone sealer sample from Eco Pro Tec perfect.
Luckily this was water based and VOC free, meaning I didn’t need to wear a mask. So after my silicone had sealed, I brushed this over my grout and left to dry. Then removed any excess with a clean cloth and repeated 3 times. Apparently, it’s best to top up every two years.
MY FINISHED KITCHEN SPLASHBACK
In total, my kitchen splashback cost about £30 already had the tools. Otherwise, it would have been about £80 for this space.
I’m particularly proud once again and now can’t wait to paint the wall above it.
If you have any questions, then feel free to drop me a comment below!