Project: Install A Backsplash

Recently, I spent a day on a do-it-yourself project that reminded me how much satisfaction comes from doing it yourself.

My cottage was built by family members and furnished 25+ years ago by my parents. I’ve been restoring and upgrading it, adding a bit of my taste and sensibilities to my Mum’s tastes. Honouring her preference for colours and patterns, and because this is a cottage, choices open up which I would never make in my home… like the addition of a bold patterned kitchen backsplash.

While sourcing rugs at Kent for a client, a stick-on backsplash tile grabbed my attention. I wasn’t planning to install a backsplash at the cottage, instead thinking maybe I’d put in a new kitchen in a few years. The colours, however, and patterns, were a perfect match. Best of all, I could do this myself!

After buying a sample package and taking it on my next cottage weekend to make sure I liked it, I calculated how many packages I’d need, and the project was on.

The product was Smart Tiles, made in Canada, cost $46.99 per package of 6. Each tile was a random assortment of 4 squares. Not necessarily less expensive than ceramic tiles, however these are peel and stick, and easy to cut. The edges are designed to overlap while resembling a grout line. The adhesive seems really good.

On the day of install, I laid out what I might need: a level, painter’s tape, a pencil to mark a straight line, a cutter, a T ruler for drawing right angles, the tiles, a cutting board and a utility knife. The walls were painted last summer, so I just made sure they were clean and removed the switch plates.

The first step was to plan the layout of tiles. With such a busy tile, I determined I would only cover the back walls and not the side wall. Where to start and where to stop? I had the top of the countertop, bottom of the upper cupboards, and a window to work around. Nothing was level. Also, the spacing on either side of the window was not even. Remember the family built. Happily, perfection is highly overrated, especially for a cottage. In the end, I used my trusty eye and balanced off the levelling. Someone else might prefer to draw a straight horizontal line for at least the first row.

Start position: middle, low. Working from the bottom up (because the bottom is where you see it the most) and from the centre of the window (because in this kitchen that’s the focal point), the tiles went on to the right, then to the left, then the next row up. Most tiles had to be cut to fit. I tried the T bar and the cutter, but preferred using a ruler, pen, and utility knife on a cutting board. Because of the 4 square pattern of this tile, drawing straight lines on the tiles was easier by sight. Cutting around jogs and cutting out for plug plates was a little trickier. Measuring twice and careful cutting kept it to just one wasted tile.

Stop position: how high to go around the window? Dictated by the size of the tiles, I chose two full tiles up.

A half days’ effort with an easy-to-work-with product and the right tools, brought great satisfaction in a job well done. No mess, no major tools needed, quick and easy, and the bonus: now I kind of like my Mum’s blue countertop.

The extreme Bay of Fundy tides change about every 6 and a quarter hours. With an hour’s break that’s about how long I spent on this project, from high tide early morning to low tide early afternoon. Nice backdrop for a summer’s project, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, Lucky amused himself…

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