How to tile a splashback

DIY specialist, renovator and professional furniture expert Natasha Dickins from Little Red Industries returns with a simple renovating project to spruce up your kitchen.

When planning my kitchen renovation I kept the tiling simple by designing the splashback behind the cooktop to suit  150mm-long rectangular tiles that didn’t require cutting.

TIP Choose your tile then work out how many you need, measuring the height and width, adding a few extra in case of breakages. For a similar look, try Decor8 Tiles 150mm x 75mm Devonshire ceramic wall tiles in Olive.

After selecting the tiles, I chose grout in a light grey that would complement the colour nicely. 

TIP Grout is porous and can discolour or chip over time – so ensure it’s finished to protect from water splashes and cooking residue. I love how Betta Tilecare Tile & Grout Sealer gives a clear, matt finish that seals perfectly without compromising the surface of the tiles. It also dries super fast and is easy to clean.

DIY TOOLS & MATERIALS

I marked the centre of the splashback as a guide to tile outwards from either side and worked out how many tiles I needed for each row. Then I taped along the bench and covered the surrounding surfaces.

TIP When working out your pattern, row of evenly numbered of tiles, position the grout line over the centre. For rows of odd numbers, position a tile over the centreline.

I used a pre-mixed adhesive, scooping it up with a small-notch spreader and applying it evenly onto the wall for the first row of tiles, then I positioning T-shaped spacers along the base between the tiles as I pushed them into position.

TIP The T spacers hold the tiles off the benchtop and can be left to dry embedded in the adhesive. The notches in the adhesive made by the spreader ensure an even application while letting the air escape when the tiles are pressed into the adhesive. 

Working in sections, I applied adhesive to lay the next row using X-shaped spacers between the tiles to line them up evenly. When finished I held a rubber squeegee at 45° to pull it over the tiles to push them in evenly.

TIP To cut tiles, mark the cut with a pen then use a tile cutter to score and snap, wearing safety glasses in case debris flicks up.

Having a bucket with clean water and a sponge nearby meant I could remove excess adhesive as the tiles were positioned. With tiling complete, I wiped over the tiles again with a clean sponge to remove any residue before leaving the adhesive to cure for 24 hours.

TIP Make sure the sponge is clean before reusing it. I had two on hand to save rinsing them out as often.

After removing any spacers that weren’t embedded, I made sure the surrounding area was covered as grouting can get messy.

I added a cup of powdered grout to the bucket and gradually poured in water, mixing it to a toothpaste-like consistency with a scraper. I scooped the grout onto the tiles with a rubber squeegee, then left it to dry for half an hour.

TIP To fill between the tiles, hold the squeegee at 45° while pulling the grout diagonally over them and into the gaps. Working in different directions ensures the gaps are filled evenly.

As the grout dries it forms a mist-like coverage that I wiped away with a slightly damp sponge, rising and wringing it out regularly. I left the tiles for another half hour before wiping over them again, then leaving to dry for a couple of hours.

TIP After the first wipe down, lightly run a corner of the sponge over the grout lines to ensure they’re smooth.

To seal around the edges of the splashback, I applied silicone with a calking gun. When it had dried, I used a clean cloth to wipe over the tiles with Betta Tilecare Tile & Grout Cleaner to remove any residue.

TIP If the silicone is applied too thick, dipped a finger into dishwashing detergent and run it over the silicone to remove the excess and smooth it down.

To finish, I applied Betta Tilecare Tile & Grout Sealer with a mini microfibre roller, beginning along the top row of tiles and lightly rolling downwards. Then I repeated to apply a second coat before the first had dried.

TIP Use the platform of the tray to press and remove excess sealer from the roller before applying to avoid drips.

Then I built some shelves either side of the splashback. See how to make similar ones for your kitchen.

Have you done some tiling at home? We’d love to see the results! Be sure to post your DIY project on Facebook or Instagram, tagging @littleredindustries and @bondall.au.