Monday, December 7, 2015

Hey hey hey, we have backsplash!  Holy cats and dogs people, look out!  The kitchen is rolling fast and furious!  Yay!

For the record let it be known that, after emailing about eight or so options to peruse and getting a snarky two word response in return ("Holy hell."), Mike selected the tile.  He wanted to make sure everyone was clear on that.  That he chose it.  Mike's pick.  He's very proud.

So when he choses, I get.

And I did.  It's the uh, hang on...Merola Prism Glossy in white,* porcelain mosaic tile.  Yes white.  Are you shocked?  Yeah me too.  White.  Who woulda thunk.  I never opt white.

testing backsplash tile
Yeah ya know, I splurged (for me).  It makes me squirmy and all and of course I tried to online-shop a better price but it's kinda difficult to do that when you can only get the thing in one single place.

So it was.  Sometimes splurging is not a bad thing, like when whatever you're splurging on is going in a high visibility area or high traffic area or an area of major import such as a kitchen.

Still.  Squirmy.  What can I say?  Budget Queen.

Things we liked about this particular tile?  It has a funky shape and it's dimensional.  The pictures are a smidge of an exaggeration on its dimensional-ness in that Home Depot link above, but know planar it is not nonetheless.  And white purposefully, yes, to tie together with the wallpaper.  Trying not to go toooo deep off the edge of sanity.  It's hard.  It really is.

After receiving the order with nine sheets chipped then returning those and ordering more then waiting for those, the day came and it was time to get a move on.

kitchen backsplash before
The before.
Mike likes to be a cutie rabble-rouser at times, "hey, wouldn't be it be cool if you got that done before xyz?" with a little eyebrow raise.  Xyz in this case was Thanksgiving.

Mmm hm.  Mmk babe, I'll do my best.

I was tweaky about this project as, even though I've installed mosaics before, I have not worked with one like this, with dimension, with a tile saw.  Last time I used a table saw, I broke a finger.  So uh, a wee cagey about tools in the table-top-spinning-circular-blade category.

As it turns out, the part that wasn't scary or hard at all was using the itty tile saw* (the linked one there is very similar to what I bought).  Granted mine is not the sturdiest contraption out there, the guide was a tad fussy, I was constantly being sprayed with water but it worked and worked well.

The hardest part was getting the darn tiles on the wall.  Which should be the easier part, right?!  Ugh.  It must be me.

Smartly I purchased a tester sheet of squares to analyze lots o' aspects of this project.  First was cutting and that went smooth as all get out.  Big sigh of relief, heh.

tile saw test cutting tiles
Go Becky!  Go Becky!  My first cut ever on a tile saw.  All ten fingers still intact!
I tried to plan the install layout as best I could but my brain was half in, half out.  Mmmm, I'll start there, the corner.

testing look of new backsplash mosaic wall tile
Good a' place to start as any, right?
First sheet up...was awful.  Outta the gate I had to make cuts so I was right nervous to cut the real tile.  The mortar mix, mixed it way too thin.  Doh.

mortar troubles with tile installation
What a freakin' train wreck.
On went the sheet to the wall, I smushed it, tiles slid every which way but where I wanted them, mortar oozing out everywhere, it was a freakin' disaster.  I peeled it off, cleaned everything up, restarted.  Even then I still had to babysit that first piece.  Tape and spacers and ugh, I must've spent over an hour with just this darn first sheet.

After it finally set up enough that I could back away for a minute, I looked was like a murder scene up in here but with water and mortar everywhere -- the counters, the cabinets, the stove, the microwave, me, the kitchen floor, the hardwood floor, the stairs, the basement floor.  Probably Finn.  A hot grisly mess.

That ordeal forced me into not following directions, as I'm wont to do.  Added more mortar powder to the mix to make it thick and dry.  Put splops of mortar on each tile.  Smushed on wall.  Bingo.
wrong way to apply tile mortar
Do.Not.Care if this is wrong.  Don't.Care.  Sorry.  (Not sorry)
Sorry 'boutcha directions, this insurrection worked for me.  I was able to cruise right along after that.

At one point I stopped then realized all right, I may be tired (again, started at like 4 pm) but I need to get all the way across.  Eventually I made it.

new backsplash tile in progress

Next day or day later or sometime I wrapped up all the tiling.  Which yeah, I know, I should've done it all in one shot as I had an issue here and there but I got it all to work.  (Don't ever move the coffee maker.)  I became Master Tile Saw Trimmer Girl, getting all the bitty pieces cut shockingly just right.

new backsplash mosaic tile installed
Woot!!  Heh, coffee maker.  The one goof is behind the stove mostly and not that bad.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh....heh, tile!  Can't believe it!  Lookie at me!  Roar!

So when I asked Mike, "well babe, what color grout we should go with, I dunno, what, maybe gray?" he paused, turned, looked at me all sorts a' funny, paused and said, "well I dunno babe.  Gray?  Pffffft."

See, I was trying to exercise some variant of restraint, exhibit a modicum of modesty, reign in my whack-a-doodly-do crazy person-ness.  But nuh uh, Mike wasn't having it.

He busts out with, "what about yellow?"

Holy crap, listen to that guy.

*Blink blink.*

"Yellow?  Wow, like a big bright color?" I spurted, agog.

After I scooped my jaw up off the floor, eyeballs drooling on the insides over yellow, I named some color and he came back with blue.  Blue?  Ok, sweet!

I love that guy.

Ya know, heh......I am gettin' this goofy inkling that Mike super secretly likes my kooky taste but will never fess up, what with all the egging-on that he does.  Using me as a cover, a scapegoat, his implementor.  I'm onto that fella, yeah huh.

At some point in time, I had pinned this and this, thinking whoa dude, gah, that is soooo cool.  When can I do that?!  Well, that time is now.

Interwebbing was surprisingly futile as there was not much info out there on how to get a vibrant grout color.  I found one discussion where professional tilers Lit Up some poor person for inquiring about using latex paint.  Why do people have to be so mean?  Jeez.

Finally I fell upon a discussion on Houzz where folks mentioned Tints All* which are like the smaller crafters size version of Cal Tints* that we use in theater.  Folks also mentioned acrylic paint.  Coulda sworn I bookmarked that discussion to share with you but now I can't find it anywhere.  Darn it.

Shipping one tiny tube of the Tints All ran more than the tube itself so I opted to give acrylic paint a whirl.  Added bonus there, so I assumed, the paint will be similar enough to adding an acrylic additive.  Enough.  Ish.  Ahem.

Whatev's man, I love stretching limits.  I made a whole career of it doing props.  And it's damn fun trying.


A trip to Joann resulted in four two ounce bottles of a light blue.  Eh, turned out too light.

testing backsplash tile grout colors
First round of blue acrylic paint.  Much too light.  I think you can buy this color grout premixed actually.  
Those went back and I snagged an eight ounce bottle of Craft Essentials True Blue (here's Americana* which is close).  In this particular instance, crappy thin acrylic was helpful.

Here's a tip:  when mixed with white grout, acrylic paint will dry several shades lighter.  Keep that in mind if you try this.

So it was moment of truth time.  I dumped two and a half-ish pounds of white unsanded grout into a bucket and half the bottle of paint, trying to make repeatable enough measurements just in case.  More grout than I needed but I didn't want to be under and have to remix, leaving open the possibility of the color not matching.

Added water slowly, mixed, opted to dump entire bottle in for color strength, added water, mixed, let sit.  Bit nails.

mixing grout and acrylic paint for backsplash tile
The big mix!  White grout, blue acrylic paint.
I mean, it's a bit of a crap shoot really.  Heh.

colored grout mess
Ack!  Holy crap, what have I done?!
Well?  Grouting is a skill I must work on but regardless, I think it came out darn freakin' cool.

cleaned up paint colored blue grout
All done and all cleaned up.  Awesome!
All that's left -- bump out the outlets with spacers* and done!  Done done done!  Woo hooooo!

finished custom blue grout color for backsplash
Emptying the bottle helped color-wise.

custom blue grout in backsplash
Awesome!  Look at that blue grout!

kitchen backsplash mosaic tile with custom blue grout
What fun, right?!

finished grout backsplash using acrylic paint colorant

But yeah, in the end?  Great confidence booster.  Now I totally feel super duper hunky-dory about giving the first floor bath a tile redo.  Yesssss!

new kitchen decor items
Here are all four of the recent kitchen changes in one handy photo:  the tile, the wallpaper, the painted cabinets, and the new hardware.
listing photo before
ACK!!!  Ouch!!  Listing photo, what the...?!  Holy crap, harsh move, I know.  No one was expecting this egregiously painful photo at this juncture but let's just see how far we've come, shall we?  Why not?! 
updated kitchen with black cabinets and custom blue grout
 Omg.  What a huge huge difference.  Wow.
really must work out the wall opposite the cabinets though.  Must.  Like really Must.

In the mean time, if I missed any links on the kitchen, click on the "All the Changes" <--there or at the top.  Orrrrr, if you've got load of time to kill, click on "kitchen" under the "Things I Bather About Most" over on the right side.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever tried to subscribe by email, yeah, it wasn't working and I had no idea.  It's fixed now.

Mwah, catch ya soon!

*The tile saw, Tints All, Cal Tint, and outlet spacer links are Amazon affiliate links.  The Americana True Blue 8oz paint is a Joann affiliate link.  And the Merola tile is an affiliate link as well.   Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab above for more info.


  1. I'll be honest, when I scrolled down and the blue grout schmeared all over those tiles, I thought, "Uh,oh, it looks like painters tape melted." But, dang, if the final pic of the tiles isn't all nicely pretty, grouted and cleaned up like a drunk on a Sunday morning on his way to Sunday school. Very nicely done and I LOVE it!

    1. Ding ding ding, we have a winner for best response! Hahahaha! I love everything about your most hilarious comment! It did look mighty horribly scary there for a good hour plus but thank goodness for sponges and water. Thank you!

  2. Grey would have been sooooo boring. Mary is right about it being the same color as painter's tape but I absolutely love the result. Congrats!

    1. Gray would have been totally boring for sure so I'm glad to have my antagonizer. You guys are both right -- it was a nerve wracking melted painters tape moment but thank you very much!

  3. I already have a back splash up but they did a bad job of it. Some area's look good while others don't.
    Do you think I could do this to my already existing tile?
    Thank you!

    1. I had a typo in my previous reply....Sorry to hear that! Unfortunately if you go over existing grout with new grout, it would be a thin coat with the potential for flaking or peeling off. Your best bet would be to remove about 2/3 of the existing and then re-grout. If you don't want to or can't remove the existing, you could try a tinted grout sealer or a grout marker but the markers don't come in fun colors. Best wishes!

  4. I love the grout! It's gorgeous and different without being too much. Great way to get the color you want! I hadn't thought of it.

    1. Thank you so much! What a compliment! Yep, you can have any color under the sun. For cheap! Thank you!

  5. Wow you really did good girl, and it is absolutely, totally awesome. I loved your funny commentary too :)

    1. Aw thank you so much for your super nice compliments!

  6. Oh my love your articles, thanks for sharing your awesomeness with us!. Love the results but must say bright yellow would have work out great too.

    1. Thank you for such a fantastic comment and the compliments! Between you and me, yellow was my first choice as it's my all time favorite color but alas, I didn't want to make Mike loony. Thank you so much!

  7. You did a great job with the new part of the backsplash! I would have removed the 4" granite backsplash and repurposed it later. Of course if your's is it is laminate, no can do.

    For any DYIers future projects, if you can get rid of the 4-5" monster, they are a thing of the past, unless the material is raised to the cabinet base I would not use the same material ever.

    Kitchen Designer at a big box home improvement store.

    1. Thank you very much! It is granite indeed. That's a great idea and certainly would have helped visually. My hope is that one day it and its horizontal companion are replaced. Thanks for the fantastic idea!

  8. I just stumbled upon your post now as I'm looking to use gold grout for subway tiles in my shower and am in a country where it seems impossible to find. If I used acrylic gold to mix into white grout for my shower tiles, do you think it would be waterproof and mold-proof or would I have to seal it? Thoughts?

    1. That'll be an awesome look, great idea! Try testing it out first on some spare tiles stuck to a piece of wood, make sure the gold comes out the way you want. It should be fine in the shower but be sure to seal it and then seal it every so often. When cleaning, avoid scrubbing the grout. Have fun!

  9. great job on your beautiful backsplash. just my opinion, however, the backsplash makes your countertop look dull or a mismatch as the 2 seem to be an afterthought.

    1. Thanks! It does, I agree. The goal, when budget allows, is to replace the counters so at some point in time, it'll all make more sense. I know, I did it out of order but budgets are what they are sometimes, heh.

  10. when you change the granite, why not move that sink to an island, It looks like such a small area to prep veggies, etc.

    1. Boy, I wish we had room for an island! The total width of our kitchen is nine feet, including cabinet depth so sadly there isn't room for one. Indeed, we have practically zero working area. This is what happens when someone who doesn't use kitchens "designs" a kitchen!


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