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Unread 04-09-2020, 09:24 PM   #1
patrick_here
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Kitchen Backsplash project

I'm going to be doing a backsplash in my kitchen. I'll be using 6" high x 24" wide "Dekora Porcelain" Ledger panels from MSI (corrected link). The substrate is just painted drywall (and the countertop is granite). The drywall is textured drywall (light stipple texture). Though I was a construction tradesman many years ago, I am a newbie to tile. There are three aspects of the job that I feel slightly uncertain on:
  • The paint on the drywall is adhering well; it isn't chipping or anything ...I suppose I could just use mastic/adhesive right over the paint . Nevertheless, I'm planning to rough-up the wall by running narrow strips of 40-grit sandpaper over it so that I have 1" roughed-up bands with relatively undisturbed 2" stripes of wall between them all the way up. The 40-grit sandpaper leaves scratches going right down to the drywall paper (or texture).
  • I'm thinking that it would be okay to use Mastic instead of Thinset. Part of the reason I'm leaning toward mastic instead of thinset is because if panels (or tiles) are adhered to drywall with thinset and later have to be removed (unlikely but it could happen), the drywall is almost guaranteed to be destroyed in the process whereas in a mastic installation they might be more removable (ie: without destroying the drywall). The countertop is granite and the backsplash doesn't even go near the sink area so there's no reason to believe that the backsplash installation would be subjected to moisture.
  • There are many outlets in this kitchen. I'm thinking that the only way to cut the outlets would be with a diamond blade in a hand grinder... right? Problem is that right now I don't have a respirator and with the pandemic going on it's nearly impossible to buy a respirator good enough to give me the necessary protection.

Any advice/comments on the three issues mentioned above? Thanks in advance.
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Unread 04-09-2020, 10:52 PM   #2
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Welcome, Patrick.

I hope the link I added is actually the product you intend to use. If not, we can fix that.

[Edit] Original link replaced.

I find absolutely nothing on that site to indicate what the product is (other than the name saying "porcelain." But I find no technical information at all, nor any hint at the recommended installation method.

1. I'd rough up the entire area to be tiled, were it mine.

2. Kitchen backsplashes are one of the only installations we (TYW) normally advise folks that are suitable for the use of organic adhesives (mastic) instead of thinset mortar, but not having even a clue as to what the back of those tiles/panels/products might be, I don't know how well that might work. Do you have the product in hand?

If you're planning to remove and replace this installation, I'd recommend some other method of installation. If you do a good job with either an organic adhesive or a thinset mortar, your chances of removal without damage to the substrate are poor. And if you install over roughed up paint, you're bonding to paint and not drywall and the chances of removal with either bonding material would be about the same.

3. I'd likely want to cut them wet, but, again, without knowing what you'll be dealing with it's difficult to say what might be your best approach. Are these single panels or small pieces on a backing material?

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-09-2020, 11:01 PM   #3
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Welcome Patrick. You’ll find you’re not alone here in asking questions. We’ve all been there at one time.
1- I’m not sure what the textured drywall is. Is it the usual paper faced stuff, but the paper is textured, or is there some texture stuff applied, like popcorn ceilings? If the former and the paint is well adhered you should be fine. If the later, it’s got to be cleaned up.
2- taking the tile off at a later date, with either mastic or mortar, will most likely tear up the drywall. Not a mastic fan myself.
3- you can use a standard dust mask, doesn’t have to be a respirator. Working outdoors let’s you use a shopvac as a blower and move most of the dust away from you.
I did a very similar project a while back. You might garner a few ideas from the thread. https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin...d.php?t=126223
Suggestions from fellow forum members steered me in a different direction than I had planned, and was glad they did.
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Unread 04-09-2020, 11:10 PM   #4
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Cx beat me to the response - it’s my fat fingers pecking at the phone screen that slows me down.
I just looked at the link you posted. Not really much info on the tile there. Do you have these in hand? How smooth/rough are they? Being in a kitchen; have you thought about how these are going to be to clean? Looks like they may be a bit of a challenge.
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Unread 04-09-2020, 11:30 PM   #5
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Patric emailed me a better link to what he's using and I've corrected the product link in the original post. Check it again, Jeff.

So we're just talking about a 6x24-inch glazed porcelain tile here. And though they do list some specifications, there's no indication that the product meets the requirements of ANSI A137.1 for ceramic tile. And while they specify a mortar coverage requirement for floor installations, they recommend the product only for wall use. And I note that they give a PEI rating, which no longer exists, for the glaze. A bit curious for sure.

Given that you'll be installing 3/8ths" thick tiles for which the manufacturer recommends no offset greater than 33 percent, you gotta expect some warpage and I'd strongly recommend a thinset mortar rather than an organic adhesive for your installation.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-09-2020, 11:37 PM   #6
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Jeff: By "textured drywall" I mean drywall that has been textured after being taped and sanded. The texture is a subtle orange peel or stipple texture (and, of course, not soft like ceiling popcorn).

Yes, the panels are 24" wide by 6" high. From a distance they look like stacked stone but it's really one solid 24x6 slab engraved to look like many individual "stacked" stones (not small pieces on a backing material). They are intended to be installed with a 1/8" grout space.

Regarding the cutouts for the electrical outlets, some of them will be in the middle of one of these 6"x24" panels so I'm assuming that a wet saw can't do that. If it's possible, please post a link to a youtube video showing how to do it ...or a web page (unless you are talking about a 7" wet table saw). I am assuming I would have to use a hand grinder with a diamond blade and cut the rectangular hole from the back of the panel ...but let me know if there's a more practical way to do it.

CX, please clarify what you mean by "warpage" ...I don't understand what might be prone to warp.

Also, regarding cleaning these panels; I am told that the porcelain is not porous like natural stone so for that reason I am assuming that they will not (for example) absorb splattered oil. Other than that we are willing to put up with any extra cleaning ...using a brush if needed but we're not worried about the uneven surface.
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Unread 04-10-2020, 07:53 AM   #7
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Warpage means those 6X26 porcelain slabs are not likely to be dead flat, maybe "bowed" is a better word. In other words, if you lay one of them on your granite counter top - which is likely to be dead flat, you may find there is a gap between the back of the slab and the granite. Another way to get an idea how flat they are is to place two of them back to back, long edges on the granite, and check for a gap between them.

Any gap means they are warped. Mastic is generally pretty thin so it may not be able to fill in the gap under the warpage. Thinset mortar can be applied thicker so the entire back of the tile and be embedded.

A plunge cutting wet saw could make the cut outs you need. An angle grinder with a diamond blade would also work. You could also use a diamond hole saw in a drill to cut a pilot hole, then use a porcelain cutting blade in a jig saw - which is what I did for some cut outs. Slow going, that, but works.
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Unread 04-10-2020, 08:12 AM   #8
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Dan,
Thanks for clarifying the warpage issue.

Regarding the cutouts:
I don't have a plunge cutting wetsaw and I doubt that I'd be able to rent one (this is a one-time need and the job is about 20 sq ft). I was wondering about the porcelain cutting blade in a jig saw option ...however there are nine outlets in this small kitchen ...do you think I should expect to go through several jigsaw blades for that many outlets? Also, my jigsaw is a high quality one (bosch) but I'm thinking that I'd probably be subjecting it to abnormal wear by using it in this way. I suppose that using a little 7" diameter wet table saw is still an option (ie: carefully drop the panel -face-up- down onto the blade). They can be purchased cheaply enough and I am a former finish carpenter so I would be able to position it properly and safely.

Patrick
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Unread 04-10-2020, 08:25 AM   #9
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Something that seems rather strange to me about these "Dekora Porcelain" panels is that the manufacturer says that they should be installed with a 1/8" space for grout but there are photos of sample installations of these panels on their website and after examining them under high magnification I feel sure that those sample installations do not have grout at all; they were installed with the tiles touching each other as in normal stacked stone.
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Unread 04-10-2020, 08:27 AM   #10
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I've had my Bosch jig saw for..., gosh, well over 20 years, it appears to be indestructible. I wouldn't, and didn't, blink an eye using it to make those cuts. Yeah, you'll go through a number of blades, spritzing with water as you cut is necessary.

But, given your finish carpentry background, the 7" wet table saw and careful measuring will do the trick. Just be sure you don't make the cut outs too large, ya wanna leave enough tile so the "ears" of the switches and outlets have something to bear against.
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Unread 04-10-2020, 09:56 AM   #11
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The manufacturer's photos are designed to encourage you to purchase the product; the installation recommendations are a more realistic indication of what it will take to actually install the product.

The ceramic tile industry standards recommend a grout joint width that is three times the difference in size between the largest and smallest tile in your layout with the absolute minimum being 1/16th of an inch. Even a very well rectified tile can be difficult to set successfully with such a narrow grout joint and your manufacturer is already telling you that his tiles are not rectified. I would consider the 1/8th-inch joint an absolute minimum and if you don't like the look of the product set with such a joint I'd recommend you continue shopping.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 04-10-2020, 10:05 AM   #12
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CX, thanks for the honest answer about the grout width issue.
[EDITED] ...and thanks for the recommendation to finalize the grout question.

Well I contacted the dealer and she contacted the mfr's rep and he came back with a photo showing the tiles installed with grout. The appearance is totally acceptable; I'm satisfied that these Porcelain Ledger fake stacked-stone will have the look that I want.

For cutting the electrical receptacles I am leaning toward buying one of the 4in Handheld Wet Tile Saws that are now available (they connect to a garden hose and squirt a continuous stream of water at the blade ...and are relatively inexpensive) - and just cutting the rectangular holes with the tile face-down.

Still thinking about the Mastic vs thinsetMortar question. It seems to me that there ought to be a way to securely adhere ledger tiles like this to drywall by some method that would allow them to be removed without totally ruining the drywall. But perhaps not. Of course it's extremely unlikely that we would want to remove them anyway.
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Unread 04-11-2020, 10:43 PM   #13
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This will be my first tile job...
...Any more comments (or more detailed comments) about why I should not use mastic for this kitchen backsplash project (or general advice about adhesive)?
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Unread 04-12-2020, 07:21 AM   #14
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You can keep asking about mastic, Patrick, and eventually someone will say "yes".

I would not, and just refer you back to my previous as to why not. But no reason you can't give it a shot. I mean, the mastic will probably keep those heavy tiles on the wall for an indefinite amount of time.

And the mastic might even give you a fighting change of removing the tile. But you'll then be left with a lot of mastic on the walls, which you cannot just apply more mastic (or mortar) over to stick on new tile. The old mastic isn't coming off that wall without a fight, either; it'll likely take bits of wall with it.

Bottom line (to me); if the tiles are nice and flat, go with the mastic. Just don't expect that you'll be able to pop off the old and slap on some new without pain.
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Unread 04-12-2020, 11:08 AM   #15
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The mastic will work fine in a dry location like a backsplash. Don't worry about trying to get the tiles off without damaging the drywall, ain't gonna happen. Once the mastic sets, pulling the tiles off will pull chunks of drywall with it. To me, that's a good thing. Replacing the drywall is faster than patching it up. I'd cross that bridge when you get to it.
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