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Unread 07-08-2015, 09:17 AM   #1
vvesper
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Kitchen Backsplash Questions

I am in the planning stages of a new kitchen backsplash. The new countertops are installed, and I'm now making final decisions as to tile color, etc.

However, before I can begin tiling, I have to fix the drywall. We had an absurd number of electrical outlets in the kitchen, including two that were over either end of the sink. Had those removed. (Who plugs something in right over the sink?!) Had some other outlets relocated so as to be less visually obvious. Now I'm left with the empty electrical boxes. My plan is to first fill them with spray foam insulation (exterior wall). Then I need to put a rigid patch of some sort over them to tile onto. I also have cuts in the drywall where the electrician removed sections of drywall to work on the outlets and then screwed it back to the studs.

So---what is recommended to cover the empty electrical boxes? Do I need to put something over the seams of these "covers" and the drywall cuts? I assume those seams need to be stabilized. Wasn't sure if I should use mesh drywall tape and joint compound or something different.

I don't want movement in the wall to cause the tiles or grout to crack later. Best to do it right from the beginning.

Thanks!
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Unread 07-08-2015, 09:57 AM   #2
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I'd remove the boxes, Valerie. Too easy not to do. Usually with just a reciprocating saw to cut the fasteners.

Then patch the holes with drywall. We can 'splain you the easy way to do the patches.

Maybe show us a photo or two of what you've got?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-08-2015, 10:37 AM   #3
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Thanks, CX. I don't have a reciprocating saw but can borrow one. I originally left the boxes because the electrician said it would be alot of extra time and labor to remove them. Guess he didn't have a reciprocating saw, either!

I've done drywall patches before; not a problem. I assume then just use the same mesh tape and joint compound on all the drywall cuts?

Not a very closeup view, but you can see (most of) the backsplash area in the picture below.
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Unread 07-08-2015, 10:46 AM   #4
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couple other questions...

Two questions about the tile install itself (when I get there):

1) I plan to use a relief tile (tile molding) along the bottom plus some accent relief tiles. I believe I read on here that I should back-butter those pieces so that any hollowed out parts are filled with thinset?

2) You can't quite see the edges in the photo below, but I'm trying to figure out where to end the backsplash by the fridge. The top cabinets stop about an inch farther to the right than the base cabinets. If they were lined up, I'd stop the backsplash there as well, with bullnose tiles. But they don't. Not sure what to do with that....
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Unread 07-08-2015, 11:13 AM   #5
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Before I went to the trouble of getting a saw, I might try wedging a pry bar between the box and the stud. You may be able to just pry the box loose without tearing up any more sheetrock. If it falls loose in the wall, it's not a problem.

Patching those holes is pretty easy. You just need a piece of 1x2 about 8" long. I would recommend putting a screw in the middle of it, but drive it in just enough to hold the screw in place. That will be a little "handle" for you to hold on to the piece. Wedge the 1x2 into the hole, holding on to the handle, then drive a screw through the sheetrock and into the 1x2, one above the hole and one below. Try to keep away from the very end of the 1x so you don't split it. Now you have a backing piece to put in your patch.

When the patch is in, you can use some mesh tape over the seams. You can do that ahead of time if you want, or you can just do it as you tile over it.
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Unread 07-08-2015, 11:37 AM   #6
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Thanks, Kevin! Yes, I do have a prybar. Makes sense to try that first. I'm with you on the 1x2 - have to have support behind the drywall. I've done a number of those before.

What about the relief tiles and where to stop by the fridge? Thoughts, anyone?
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Unread 07-08-2015, 10:46 PM   #7
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1. I'm not sure what you mean by "relief tiles".

2. You can either stop the tile at a vertical line even with the cabinets or the counter, or if there's enough of a difference in the two you could go up vertically from the end of the counter and 90 over to the cabinet.
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Unread 07-09-2015, 06:53 AM   #8
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Thanks, Kevin! By relief tiles, I mean a tile with a high relief (raised) pattern, which has corresponding hollowed out places in the back. Like a molding trim or some decorative tiles. Like the examples below of a trim molding profile and a handmade art tile (note that the handmade tiles I'll be using will be square and will NOT be glazed on the back, but I didn't have a photo of one without the back glaze to show the shape).

I believe you'd want the hollowed out parts to be essentially filled with thinset, yes?
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Unread 07-09-2015, 07:20 AM   #9
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Yes. One of the other pros had a good idea about that: fill the space with thinset the day before, let's it dry overnight, then set the next day. Saves you having to deal with a large amount of wet thinset.
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Unread 07-09-2015, 07:52 AM   #10
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Aha! Excellent idea! Thanks! I can see where large amounts of thinset could get messy if you're not really careful.
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Unread 07-22-2015, 06:47 AM   #11
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Unhappy Layout issues

OK, so I've finally looked at enough tile samples (and found that what I originally planned on doesn't come in the colors I wanted, at least not remotely within my budget).

Now I have a new problem. The countertop or the window (one of the two) is off level. I haven't checked with a level yet to see which, and logistically, I'm not sure it makes much difference. I can't move the stone countertop. And after looking at the window frame, I don't think I can move it, either, without it becoming painfully obvious that it's off.

Now, I know that walls and stuff are rarely perfectly square or level. I can live with that. However - there is a full quarter inch of difference (from 8 7/16 to 8 3/16) in the space between counter and window frame from the right end of the window to the left. This is not a happy thing for my tile layout. The wall cabinet to the left of the sink is also about 1/2" closer to the counter than the wall cabinet to the right of the sink.

I am planning on a blue decorative mosaic border (3 1/2" wide) along the countertop, with white field tiles above it. I was originally planning on 3 x 6 subways in a brick pattern. I also planned to use 4 hand painted accent tiles (approx 4 1/8" square) spaced out in the area below the window, on either side of the sink.

So I figure that the subway tiles would probably be fine on the main backsplash. You wouldn't see enough of the top row of tiles to really notice the difference, right? But under the window.... well, there you'd notice. And you'd really notice when the accent tiles fit differently.

What do I do? I can adjust grout lines somewhat in the mosaic border, but not sure it will buy me 1/4" without looking strange. Would I be better off to go with a herringbone pattern? Or 4 x4 white tiles on the diagonal? Would that minimize the changes or no?

Thanks!
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Unread 07-27-2015, 11:57 AM   #12
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layout and change title?

Moderator, we might want to change the title of the thread to a more generic one. Maybe just "kitchen backsplash questions"? Could you please? Thanks!

Still struggling with a layout to minimize the difference in wall cabinet heights and the fact that the window is a bit off level. I think I'm going to put vertical subways between the accent tiles under the window, which should pretty much eliminate the window issue. I hope! Thought about a 4x4 diagonally set field, but then I also wondered if that would be harder for a beginner to do than a subway running bond pattern.

My biggest concern with layout is the narrow pieces of wall on either side of the window, between window and wall cabinet. I'm afraid that's where the difference in cabinet height will be most obvious.

On a related note, my handmade accent tiles will have a white background. Because of the issue of whites matching, I'm considering using three different whites from the same manufacturer in the field tile, in a random mixture. Has anyone ever done that? I'm expecting it to produce a slightly more antique look, like old tiles that sometimes vary in tone, but I wasn't sure if it would give that effect or just look wrong. Anyone?

Thanks!
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Unread 02-26-2016, 02:18 PM   #13
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grout color issues....

OK. So I've got my tiles installed. Went ok for a first time. However, now I'm having trouble with a grout color. I want to use Spectralock, based on the various reviews here--and my fear of splattering spaghetti sauce or red cabbage on a traditional light-colored grout.

Got some Siltstone Spectralock and put on a sample board. It's pinkish! The plastic sample sticks for other colors don't work for me next to my tiles (Almond is too yellow, Silver Shadow too blue, Sauterne too light, Marble Beige too dark...). Ugh.

I want just a little definition of the grout lines, but mostly blending (lighter than the shadows you see now) with the mix of white and off-white tiles. Has anyone used Sea Glass? I'm thinking a greenish grey would help to tone down the pink in the Siltstone if I mixed the part Cs together. I'm worried if I mixed in Silver Shadow it would just look lavender (pink plus blue) instead of a greyish beige.

Thoughts, anyone?

Thanks!
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