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Old 10-07-2018, 12:27 PM   #1
Gozo
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Gozo’s kitchen backsplash project

Started tearing out the tile from the kitchen backsplash today. (Yeah, yeah, I know, what a fun way to spend the weekend.)
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They appear to have been attached with mastic and with meh coverage at that. They did stay attached for 30 years. It’s not a wet area, the sink is on a peninsula, the most water they got was a wipe down with cleaning up. (Why is it a wipe down, but a cleaning up?)

We are thinking of maybe a glass tile (she more so than me). My plan is to probably use a mastic again and tear off the loose paper facing shreds. None of the core of the drywall is exposed, just looks like the face paper and compound came off. Should I put a primer over the paper? Maybe a burned in coat of setting type compound? Any specific things I should be on the lookout for?

I know the best option would be to remove the countertops and cabinets and replace the drywall, but that ain’t gonna happen. Once I start, it’s going to be like the bathroom project with a full gut job. The kitchen is small and has a crappy layout, but we’ve had 2 designers look and make great sounding suggestions, that wound up not doable as all the walls in the room are load bearing or outside walls. So it’s just going to get a refresh (backsplash, cabinet refacing, paint, lights, etc.).

Thanks, all suggestions welcome.
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Old 10-07-2018, 01:02 PM   #2
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I would use a white highly modified thinset if you go with the glass tile. But then, I've never used mastic.

Regarding the designers, I have yet to read a success story where one of those was actually able to give both pragmatic and innovative advice to a homeowner. Most of them do not know the technical side of things well or even at all. Without that, it's just a design idea that might or might not work out in reality.

I've found that when you live and have lived in a house, you know best what you want and what is useful while increasing the visual appeal. You might not know it instantaneously but with some curiosity you will cultivate your vision and it will result in something being fleshed out. At least, that's how it has been with my projects. I kind of grew into them and the design evolved as opposed to everything being spelled out from the beginning.

Given your knowledge of tiling, I trust that your choice and your design will turn out great. And I agree, if there is no tangible perception of need or possibly high satisfaction, I would also avoid a complete teardown/tearout. Just not worth all the travails and the pain.

As someone on here once remarked: "You, sir, are a glutton for punishment. But I will be watching your progress, being glad it's not me."

Having said that, a backsplash is not too bad and the satisfaction from finishing it will be high. You'll probably look at it more than at your shower. If it's any satisfaction, my kitchen, too, feels crappy. The fate of the great unwashed.
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Old 10-07-2018, 04:36 PM   #3
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Read the fine print on any mastic you want to try on your glass tiles...some will allow it, some won't. Some of it depends on the size of the tile.

There are a couple of bright white, glass specific, cement-based thinsets that might work better. Some of them are available in smaller boxes verses having to buy a 50# bag that you won't use more than a bit of. Keep in mind that the mastic stays useable in the bucket for probably a year or so because it doesn't dry out...glass won't let that moisture out the front, but will go into the wall (primer would slow that down). Cement based products use the water which chemically combines with the cement to literally change its chemical composition during the curing process...most don't need to actually dry to form the bond.

Depending on the thickness of your tile, you may want to pick up some box extenders. They come in various thicknesses, and code wants the front of the box within a pretty small variation of the finished wall. They're cheap.
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:24 PM   #4
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I agree, mastic is not the best adhesive for glass tiles. I would remove all the old tiles and mastic along with any loose paper. Not knowing if your glass is transparent, I would skim coat the whole back splash with white thinset. Home Depot has the Custom Prolite that is non sag. It'll help the tiles stay put with less sliding than other thinsets. Use it for the skim coat too.
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:11 PM   #5
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I’m going to pile on and suggest that you completely avoid mastic with any glass tile.

No, don’t waste your time with a primer. It can do nothing to improve adhesion. And if done improperly, will serve as a bond breaker. Mortar will stick extremely well to the drywall paper that is left. You can use a 4” wallpaper scraper if you need to.

Definitely use a white mortar meant specifically for glass. There are multiple choices. And there are relatively small packages of them at Home Depot. That keeps you from having to buy 50# bags if you’d otherwise waste the excess.

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Old 10-07-2018, 07:46 PM   #6
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Thanks Tonto for the input on dealing with the paper. I’m really trying to steer the “decider of all decor” away from glass tile from all I’ve read on many threads. I’ve never worked with mastic, but was thinking along the lines of “it ain’t a wet area and they’re stuck on there pretty darn good with maybe 50% coverage at most”. If a modified mortar will stick to the paper without the moisture being pulled out too fast or softening the facing, I’ll go that route. I’ve had pretty good luck with the few hundred sq ft of tile in the bathroom that I’ve used cement based thinset on so far, so I’ve got some level of comfort on how to play well with it. It’s only about 20 sq ft or so, but she’s taking so long to pick something. Then again, with the bathroom; she took so long I picked, ordered, and installed before she could complain (which she did).
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:12 PM   #7
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Wink

Why not cut out the drywall and install new stuff? Don't think you'd have to remove cabinets to do that. Not advocating one method over the other but cutting and putting up new drywall is pretty easy.

As an aside, are you keeping the 3-4" piece? Can't remember the name of that piece.
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:27 PM   #8
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Hi, Ali. Do you see a tangible benefit from replacing the drywall?

And nothing wrong with mastic in this application if you’re using ceramic/porcelain tile.

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Old 10-07-2018, 08:37 PM   #9
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Damn it Ali, now you’ve got me thinking in a different direction. Not so much about the drywall (my OCD would grind at me know there’s untaped seams at the edge of the counter and cabinets), but why not remove the granite backsplash piece. I just checked and it’s siliconed to the counter top and looks like regular caulk to the wall. Hmmmmm.....
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:40 PM   #10
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We've replaced the sheetrock many times but only when removing the old tile leaves big holes. From the pic he posted I think it's worth leaving the old sheetrock and skim coating any small bad spots.
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:52 PM   #11
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Tangible benefit to removing drywall? Just depends how much material is left behind when removing tile and what tile is going up. I read glass tile and was thinking it'd be small where irregularities in the wall might project through. Like I said, not advocating one way or the other.

The 3-4" granite, to me anyway, always looks like the sign of a remodel and just busy but some folks like it. 100% personal preference though.
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:36 PM   #12
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I see, Ali. But the picture shows that the wall isn’t missing chunks. I’d leave the drywall as is. Just scrape away anything that’s peeling with a wallpaper scraper and it’ll be ready to go.




As far as the backsplash....I wouldn’t be too quick to remove that....

Be aware that if you remove the backsplash, it’s very possible that you’ll be unpleasantly greeted with a gap between the countertop and wall that is too large to be covered by the thickness of the tile.

Granite countertop installers have to deal with wavy walls. And “scribe cutting” a stone top on-site to a wavy wall is extremely messy and labor intensive. So many installers will intentionally make most of the countertop shallower and leave what sometimes amounts to a large wavy gap at the back side where top countertop meets the wall. This gap is covered by a thick backsplash. And the end of the top that might be visible will be cut to the full depth of the countertop. This little full depth area looks like a little tab. So, some fabricators refer this whole process as “tab” or “tab cutting”. Once the backsplash is in place, you don’t see any gap.

So if you remove the backsplash, you might not like what you see. And if you break the backsplash in the process, you might not be able to put it back.

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Old 10-07-2018, 10:37 PM   #13
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Yeh, if it's not too damaged that makes sense. Wasn't sure what the rest of the wall looked like or whether there was just divets/recesses or mounds of material that protruded.

Tough call on the granite strip. If it's builder grade I'm guessing 4-5 dots of liquid nails
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Old 10-08-2018, 04:32 PM   #14
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Removed the backsplash without breaking it. The granite top edge is pretty much right up to the wall; about 1/16” gap, so the tile will cover it. The spacing from the countertop to the bottom of the cabinet where it mounts to the wall is 18 1/4”. I’m thinking of a large tile 18x36. Will take 6 for the full length. I’ve thought out how to measure, template, and cut the holes for the electrical boxes. Will stop by the tile store and see what they have in that size with the patterns and colors I’m thinking of. Ideally, I’d like to find a rectified tile so I can go with a narrow grout space. Without the dark granite strip, the space under there looks bigger even though it’s raw drywall. Did an abrupt about face from the initial thoughts of glass mosaic. Best laid plans and all that.
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:37 PM   #15
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Glad you weren’t met with an unpleasant surprise. Cool!

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