Kitchen Backsplash Tutorial – From ‘Ick’ to Awesome

Jennifer — when she’s not teaching Shakespeare, dangling participles and poetic devices in her small town — tackles the real estate world “one dated, ugly home at a time.” She successfully bought, flipped and sold her first project, and recently began her second project. She details the ups and downs of DIY house flipping in her delightful blog, The Bachelorette Pad Flip.

We learned about her adventures in a recent blog post where she described the trials and tribulations of renovating her kitchen. “I know that vintage is in, but this kitchen was just BAD vintage. I did all of the demo myself, which was quite fun,” she says.

Upgrades included replacing the countertops, adding new tile flooring and new stainless steel appliances, replacing the vintage sink, installing new light fixtures, painting the walls and adding new cabinet hardware. She also added a spiffy new Fasade backsplash in our Ripple style, Argent Silver finish. You can read all about her kitchen backsplash tutorial in this post.

Update: Jennifer is currently completing her third flip, which was her grandparents’ house. She retired from teaching, is a full-time Realtor and says she’s flipping houses with one singular goal: to pay off student loan debts. We love following her DIY flipping adventures and think you will, too, so be sure to check out her site.

How to Install Backsplash Tile

There’s no doubt an attractive backsplash increases the beauty and value of your kitchen. But if you don’t know how to install backsplash tile that requires grout, it can be a challenge. In addition to the level of expertise required, your time and material costs are also factors. After you’ve chosen your tiles, you’ll need to stock up on materials and tools (see below).

Once you’ve assembled your materials and tools, the work begins. First, “dry fit” the tile on the floor or table to get an idea of the design and make sure it works in the space. Prepare the wall by removing switch plates and outlet covers and sand it to rough up the surface. Next, measure and mark the center of the visual focal point. Using the lever, draw a plumb starting line through the center mark.

Next, apply the mastic or thinset to the wall with the v-notched trowel, covering enough area for about 6-8 tiles. Place the first tile on the edge of the line you marked, pressing firmly. Be sure to leave room at the bottom where it will abut the countertop edge. You’ll be filling in that space with caulk at the end. Continue going outward on each side of that tile with the same technique. When you encounter a cabinet or other edge, you’ll need to cut tiles to fit the space. Using a full tile, place it in the space and mark where to cut using a tile cutter, snips or wet saw.

When all the tiles have been applied to the wall, allow the mastic to dry overnight. The following day, mix up a batch of grout, following the directions on the packaging. With a rubber grout float, pack the grout into the spaces between the tiles. Afterwards, clean the tiles with a sponge soaked with water, rinsing the sponge repeatedly. Wait for the grout to set, about 30-45 minutes. A thin, hazy film will develop. Wipe that off with a dry cloth until the tiles shine. Finally squeeze a thin bead of tub and tile caulk between the bottom edge of the tile and the built-in backsplash or countertop lip, in the corners and where tile meets cabinets.

Now, if you have the time, ambition and wherewithal to undertake installing a backsplash, go for it. But if you want to install a backsplash that’s less labor intensive, and less expensive, consider one of the many backsplash products offered at

Fasade decorative thermoplastic panels are quick and easy to install and don’t require grout. You get a designer look for a fraction of the price of a traditional tile installation project. Aspect Peel & Stick metal, stone and glass tiles also require no grout and easily stick to any surface. They’re both projects the DIY’er can easily do in a weekend, adding value and beauty to your home with their striking elegance.

Tools Needed:

  • Sandpaper
  • A level
  • Tape measure
  • Rubber grout float
  • Notched trowel
  • Caulking gun
  • Sponge and bucket
  • Tile cutter or motorized wet saw

Materials needed:

  • Tile mastic or thinset
  • Caulk
  • Tile grout
  • Tile spacers

Have you completed a backsplash project? Let us know how that went and share in the comments!

Kitchen Design on a Small Budget

Unless you’re a trained professional, kitchen design on a small budget can seem daunting. Even if you know what you like (and have a defined style), going from concept to completion while keeping stress to a minimum can be a huge challenge.

Before you get started with your remodeling project, do your homework. Get a big picture view of your options and limitations, preferences and “need to haves” vs. “nice to haves.” Once you have some of those ideas figured out, you can narrow down the scope of the project and your plan of attack.

Lifestyle, Budget and Space Considerations


Do you eat out a lot? Do you like to prepare meals and entertain family and friends? Do you prefer an eat-in kitchen or is a more formal dining room appealing? Your lifestyle will help you determine the features you want in your kitchen design.


The average cost for an upscale remodel is about $80,000 so be honest about what you can afford and what you want to spend. For example, do you intend to replace your kitchen cabinets or could you get by with refacing or painting them? How long do you plan to stay in your home? Think about the items you want to change or add that can give you the most return on your investment once you go to sell. Consider splurging on things that significantly add resale value and be budget-minded on cosmetic items. Don’t forget unexpected costs. It’s a good idea to set aside 20 percent of your budget for items that pop up along the way.

Shape and amount of space

Are you OK with the general size of your kitchen? If so then you won’t need to move walls, which adds significantly to your costs, especially if it affects mechanical and plumping systems. If you have the room, consider adding an island. It will give you an extra surface for meal prep and serving, as well as valuable storage space and seating.

Inexpensive Updates in Kitchen Design

Open shelving

You don’t have to spend a fortune for some easy upgrades. Removing the upper cabinets and switching to open shelving saves money and the room will look bigger.


A new backsplash goes a long way in transforming the room as well. Consider Fasade decorative vinyl or Aspect peel and stick metal, stone or glass backsplash. With peel and stick application, or a few swipes of construction adhesive, you can easily install either product over a weekend without having to spend money on a contractor.

Replace light fixtures

If your lights are outdated or you simply need more to really see the tasks at hand, new light fixtures will do the trick without breaking the bank. Consider adding pendants over an island.

Paint and accessories

A fresh coat of paint does wonders to enliven the space and really makes a big impact for very little. Another small touch is switching out your cabinet hardware and drawer pulls. Finally, switch out your accessories to put the finishing touch on your project.

For more ideas on how to complete a budget-minded makeover, visit a kitchen design center for tips and see the right countertops, cabinets, flooring and more for your lifestyle and budget.

What are your thoughts on kitchen design on small budget? Let me know in the comments!