Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.
Everyone who is finished tiling the kitchen, take one step forward. Not so fast, Sarah…
Today’s Dueling DIY update is all about the prep for my tile backsplash. As you may have noticed from Instagram, the good news there is that yes, I have my tile! In my possession. Finally. And it’s going to be awesome. Just look at these beauties:
Classic. Will let the star (my walnut butcher block countertops) shine. And even better, they come with built-in spacers on each side of the tile (called “lugs” by the pros). In case you’re wondering, I picked these up for just 21 cents per tile at one of my favorite flooring/tile suppliers, Floor and Decor. But more on that later.
Since I want these guys to stick around for the long haul, I wanted to make sure I had a clear plan of execution & didn’t miss a step… which means getting the walls nice and smooth (the lugs provide a 1/16″ spacing, and I’ve read that because this tile has such a narrow grout line built in, it can be relatively unforgiving if the wall surface is uneven… so best to just do the job right and avoid problems later).
You’ve already seen me remove the wallpaper around the kitchen (the parts that will have tile on them, at least). Ripping off the wallpaper caused a few gouges, so I needed to first repair those spots with some joint compound (similar to how I repaired the pantry wall).
I also pried the bottom trim off of the window (it was original to the house & I want to re-install it on top of the tile… otherwise it will look like the tile is eating the bottom piece of molding).
And next comes the skim coat to patch lumpy and bumpy areas…
Followed by some sanding. In previous rooms, I’ve done this step using a simple hand sander (and you can see a full tutorial in detail on how I skim coated my bathroom walls right here). But this time around, I planned ahead and snagged a new tool for the job (I’ll use it again when I finish a few other rooms in the house like the dining room… #slackerprojects):
This is a Hyde drywall hand sanding kit. It comes with a 6ft long hose and two access points for pole and hose attachment (there are several brands available, but I’m a sucker for great reviews, and this one had them in spades). The genius is that it can attach to my new shop vac (a Christmas gift from Dad; like all of my tool gifts, I hugged it like it was a pony), which means that all of the messy drywall dust that I normally get covered in is sucked up into the vac instead. Nearly 100% dust-free, which means less cleanup later and healthier air to breathe after the fact.
Tip: Normally, the standard shop vac is fine for most dust and debris, but for fine drywall dust, it’s best to use a HEPA filter that specifies it’s meant for drywall sanding and a collection bag that says the same. These will cost you another $15 bucks or so each at the hardware store, but it’s worth it not to have the dust blowing back out of the vac & floating around in the air.
And what a quick job it made of the sanding step! As in, less than a half hour for the entire bottom half of the kitchen walls (from the bottom of the upper cabinets to the floor). The suction of the vac helped the sanding screen snugly slide along the wall (I highly recommend sanding screens even if you don’t use a sander like this one; they knock down any textures in drywall much faster than regular sandpaper & last much longer). For harder-to-reach areas around the sink, I used a low-grit sanding sponge.
After the wall was smooth, it was time to seal the wall (a step my handy uncle recommended that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise, but made more sense as I didn’t want to have anything re-wet the joint compound and cause any type of slippage once I applied the tile). A simple sealer-primer did the trick (I had plenty left over from cabinet painting).
And then, I mapped out the tile placement again to double check my thoughts. Since the kitchen wraps around in an L shape, it seemed best to start the brick pattern in the corner (tiny slivers of tile would be very noticeable there).
Nothing left to do now but take the leap & get it done. Cross your fingers that it’s all completed by next week’s update!
As for Carrie, I’m clearly kicking her ass at this point. But then again, she’s actually building her cabinets, which I never even did (so technically, it would be inaccurate to say I’m beating her when she’s doing more work. Nevertheless, this competition is supposed to involve as much smack talk as it includes actual progress, so what the heck, “kicking her butt” it is.). And also, your link up to your kitchen updates! Show me show me…