Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Greetings from Beyond......

Welcome to my world. The world of all things tile, and just about anything else that tickles my (and hopefully your) fancy.

As homeowners, we must often navigate the treacherous waters of *GASP* home improvements. This can be a very long, and sometimes dangerous journey. When I say dangerous, I mean figuratively, and, more importantly, literally.

When we, as consumers, decide to improve upon our dwelling, we have but two choices. Hire a qualified contractor (if you can find one), or do it ourselves. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Anyone with a modicum of ability can successfully perform most basic home improvement projects. There are, of course certain tasks that should ONLY be performed by a qualified professional. Electrical and plumbing, come to mind. Both of which often come into play during many tiling projects.

The best tool for any home improvement project, is knowledge. Never rush headlong into any project without first researching it thoroughly. That is where I come in. With regular visits to this blog, you will gain the knowledge, and confidence, to tackle any tile job. Even if you decide to go the route of hiring a professional, you will still need a basic understanding of what your job entails, so as not to get ripped off, or misled.

So, onward and upward people. And just remember, YOU CAN DO IT!

Good night, and God Bless.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kitchen Backsplash (cont)

Hello my friends. Let us continue our kitchen backsplash project while we're still young enough to enjoy it, eh?

Once you have figured out where your cuts will go, make a mark on the wall where the factory edge of the first cut tile will be. Stretch your tape measure from that mark and make a mark at each graduation of your layout sheet. Then take your 12" speed square, or a framing square and mark a vertical line at each layout mark. Don't worry that the square doesn't go all the way to the cabinets, a 12 or 16 inch line will be close enough, you should be able to "eyeball" the tile the rest of the way up to the cabinets.

Another consideration I believe I failed to mention was the bottom row of tile. In general, and in particular with the 6x6 tile referenced for this project, you can start with a full tile on the bottom row, against your counter top. This will usually leave a small cut at the top, under the cabinets, which is a good place for the small cut, since it won't be conspicuously out in the open and will be somewhat hidden under the cabinets. If this is something that bothers you, then calculate equal cuts top and bottom, just bear in mind this will produce more waste.

Okay, we're ready to start setting tile, almost. You're going to need something to stick those puppies to the wall. Most tile pros prefer to use a product known as thinset mortar, this is a powder that needs to be mixed with water, or latex admixture. If you choose to use thinset, make sure the thinset you buy is rated to adhere to your particular tile. For example, if you're using porcelain tile (as in this project), buy a thinset which is specified for that use. In general, you want a good quality "polymer modified" thinset.

Another option for this project would be a premixed adhesive known as "mastic". Mastic is a little more user friendly, since it is premixed, and has anti sag properties, meaning your tile won't slip down the wall. Mastic does come with a caveat. It is only suitable for use on walls in non wet locations, and with tile 8" and smaller. Also, since mastic takes longer to dry it can only be used in a very thin layer. Some tile has deep "lugs" on the underside, which may not be suitable for mastic.

Once you have decided on which setting material to use, you will need a notched trowel to apply it. Follow the guidelines on the package as to which notch size to use.

For this project we will be using mastic, and a 1/4" x 3/16" square notched trowel. I prefer a product made by Custom Building Products called T1-60, it can be found at Home Depot.

An inexpensive square notch trowel like the one shown, is all you will need for this project.

Another handy tool for tile setting is a margin trowel. It has a variety of uses, from scooping, to scraping, to prying, etc.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Friends, I'm sure this is getting old, but please accept my most sincere apologies.
I have not abandoned this blog, if you'll just bear with me a bit longer it will be greatly appreciated.
As I have said, my Mom is having some health issues, and this is weighing heavily on me. It is difficult for me to motivate myself to write at this time.
I will continue the Kitchen Backsplash project this weekend, no matter what.
If you are a person of faith, I would appreciate it if you would say a little prayer for my Mom.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kitchen Backsplash (cont)

Hello friends, I am finally back. My Mother is alive, but not necessarily well. My apologies for the delay in getting back to this blog.

Let's begin hanging some tile on that backsplash, while we're still young enough to enjoy it.

For this example, we will use 6x6 inch porcelain tile with an 1/8" grout joint. Also, in the interest of simplicity, this will be a straight installation, with no fancy decorative tile, or borders. We will cover more intricate installations in future installments. Depending upon your tile selection, you may need to adjust to suit your needs. As always, if you have a specific question, or comment, feel free to post it.

For starters, lets come up with a layout size. Lay four tile on a flat surface, with the grout joint size you want. In this case, approximately 1/8". Now, hook the end of your tape measure on the first tile, and measure to the edge of the fourth tile, as shown. In this case the measurement is 17 3/4". Take that number and multiply it until you have enough multiples of your layout to equal the longest length of your backsplash.

For example, let's say your longest length of backsplash is 9'-0" .
Your layout list would look something like this:
17 3/4
35 1/2
53 1/4
88 3/4
106 1/2
Since 9' is 108", 106 1/2" is close enough.

With your layout list in hand, measure the lengths of backsplash to be tiled, and determine where you want your cuts to land. Keep in mind that where ever tile will end on open wall space, i.e. not between two cabinets, you will need some sort of trim tile, or bull nose tile to finish such areas. Also keep in mind the width of the bull nose when calculating your measurements. Ideally, all tile should be centered, with at least 1/2 tile cuts on each end. Unfortunately, real world situations don't always allow for that. Bear in mind that tile almost always looks best when centered over the cook top, or stove. In the end it boils down to your personal preferences, after all, you will be the one that has to live with the end result.

Well folks, it's way past my bed time, and I'm getting pretty sleepy eyed. So in the interest of accuracy, I'll sign off for now, and return with the rest of this project very soon.

Until then, good night, and God Bless.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Life, and Death intervene

Dear Friends, contrary to popular belief, I have not been abducted by the Grays.

First off, let me apologize for not posting a new article sooner. The last couple of weeks have been some of the most difficult of my entire life.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my dog, Murphy, was ill. Well, yesterday we finally decided to put him down. The poor guy could barely get up anymore, and was suffering greatly.

As if that wasn't bad enough, my Mom is hospitalized in critical condition, and the prognosis isn't good. But she is a fighter, and I am not giving up hope.

I don't mean to get so personal, but if you're following this blog to complete a home improvement project, and counting on me to help you, I thought you had a right to know.

I will be flying home tomorrow, for a week, so I probably won't post again until I return. I will have access to email. If you have a specific question you need help with, leave your contact information, and I will do my best to help you.

I have no plan to let this keep me from continuing this blog, and I am committed to my pledge to help you with your tile projects, and equipping you with the knowledge you need if you decide to enlist professional help. It is my sincere hope that you will bear with me.

Please keep my Mother and I in your prayers. Thank you, and God Bless.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kitchen backsplash, wall prep

Hello again, and welcome!

Let's get started on preparing your backsplash wall to receive your tile.

Generally speaking, you are going to want a smooth, clean surface to apply the tile to.

Some backsplashes will have an existing wall covering on them. Such as, laminate, tile, or wall paper. These will need to be removed prior to installing your tile.

Removing laminate (Formica, or other): Please observe safe practices when removing laminate from your wall, as it is very sharp and can cut you. Wear safety glasses, and gloves.

Begin by carefully prying up a corner of the laminate, if you don't have access to a corner, pry up at an edge, or at an outlet or switch. Use great care not to damage areas of the wall which will not be covered by tile, but if you do it's not the end of the world, those areas will simply need to be repaired and repainted. After removing the laminate, scrape as much of the adhesive off of the wall as you can, using a 4" razor scraper. Don't worry if you damage the wall a little.

Removing existing tile from a backsplash is a little more challenging. Use a small pry bar or chisel to get under the edge of a tile, with a little luck and elbow grease, the tile will pry off somewhat easily. If, however, you are unlucky, the tile and drywall will come off together. If this happens, don't worry, you can replace the damaged drywall with new after you are done with the tear out. In fact, some pros prefer to gut to the walls and replace the drywall. That way, you have a clean flat surface to tile over. If you manage to get the tile off without taking the drywall with it, scrape the wall as clean as you can.

If your surface is painted, your job SHOULD be much easier. I say should, because homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead in the paint. If you are certain your paint does not contain lead, all that is needed to prepare the surface is to sand it with a medium grit sand paper, to remove any loose paint, and rough up the surface. If you do suspect that your paint contains lead, you will need to take special precautions. I should think gloves, a respirator, safety glasses, and wet sanding the wall should suffice.

Some homes will not contain drywall at all, but lath and plaster. The prep for these walls is similar. However, bear in mind, if you need to gut a wall of this type, it will be much more difficult to repair due to the nature and thickness of the material. If you need extra help in this regard, or have any questions for that matter, post your comments and I will answer them the best I can.

If you damaged the wall while removing the existing covering you will need to repair the damage. Small holes that go all the way through the drywall, should be taped with an alkaline resistant mesh tape. Larger holes will need to be cut square, and patched with a piece of drywall, and the mesh tape. You can then go over the holes, dings, peeled paper, and small amounts of left over adhesive, with a good quality polymer modified thinset mortar. Do not use regular drywall joint compound or spackle, as the setting material you'll use to stick the tile to the wall will not adhere to these very well. The best way to fix a lot of imperfections is to apply a thin coat of thinset mortar, or skim coat, to the entire wall. Use the flat side of a notched trowel, or a drywall knife 6" or larger.

If you did tear out to the studs, you may want to consider replacing the drywall with 1/2" cement board. Although not necessary, it will provide a superior surface for tiling. Be sure to tape all seams and corners with the alkaline resistant mesh tape, and thinset mortar.

There you have it. You should now have a surface that is ready for tile!

Coming next, we will begin tiling the backsplash.

Thanks for listening, see you next time.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Project: Kitchen Backsplash

Hello again, TILEARTIST at your service.

Today we will begin the step by step process of installing a tiled kitchen backsplash.

Shown in the illustration is a simple, yet beautiful, glass tile backsplash, using a 3 x6 glass tile set in a running bond pattern.

Generally speaking, the time to install a tile backsplash is after upgrading your counter tops. Since the tile goes down over the counter top, you wouldn't want to install the tile over a counter top that you plan on removing at a later time. Naturally, if you have counter tops that you absolutely love, and plan on never changing, then it is perfectly fine to install the backsplash.

The first step is to determine the amount of tile you will need, and make your selections.

First, measure the length and height of the areas you wish to tile, in inches. Multiply the length by the height (again, in inches), and divide by 144. This will give you the square footage of your area.

You will then need to figure out how much bull nose, or trim tile you will need. Any area that will have an exposed tile edge, will either need bull nose tile, trim tile, or a polished stone tile edge.

Once you have your square footage, and the amount of bullnose, or trim you'll need, figure 10% extra for waste on a straight pattern, or 15% extra for waste on a diagonal, or specialized pattern, and order your tile accordingly.

The next step is to remove all outlet, switch plate, and phone jack covers. Next, locate the electrical breakers for the switches, and outlets, and turn them off. Usually there will be several circuits involved. You should purchase a small electrical voltage detector to confirm that a circuit is actually off. Sometimes there can be more than one power source from within one electrical box, so be certain all power is off. Here is a link to one such device.
A little trick you can use for the outlets is to plug a shop vac, radio, or some other loud device into the outlet. You'll need to be able to hear the device from the breaker box. Turn the device on. Proceed to turn breaker switches off and on, one by one, until you find the circuit you are looking for. Place a small piece of tape over the switch so you'll know not to turn it back on. Also inform other occupants of your household to leave it off.

When you are certain that all electrical devices are turned off at the breaker box, you can begin to unscrew them from their boxes. Once you have removed all the screws, and set them aside, gently pull each device out of it's box an inch or two. Even though you have killed all power to these devices, treat them as though they were electrically live. Now, would be a good time to double check them with your tester. Screws can be saved, but chances are you will need longer ones to reinstall your electrical devices.

Chances are, that some of the circuits you have killed, control some of the lighting. Either hook up an auxiliary light source (you'll need to see what you are doing), or carefully tape the switch contacts with electrical tape, and turn the lighting circuits back on. I don't mean place a small piece of tape over the contacts. You will want to wrap the tape around the switch contacts a couple of times, ensuring that ANY exposed wire, or contacts are covered. If you elect to do this, recheck all of the electrical devices again to be absolutely certain there are no exposed contacts, or bare wires. Sometimes, there can be outlets connected to the same circuit as the lighting. Double, triple, quadruple check everything to ensure that you do not come into contact with any live electrical wiring, or devices. Wet sponges and hands are great conductors of electricity, and you will have both during the course of your tile installation.

Use EXTREME caution when working around electrical circuitry. If you have ANY doubts whatsoever about your ability to perform this step, please contact a licensed electrician. I CANNOT stress this enough.

Thanks for listening.

In the next installment we will begin to prepare the wall to receive your tile.