Author Topic: Backsplash - double-sided adhesive for larger subway tiles and other questions..  (Read 980 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey all,

Was curious but is it recommended to use double-sided adhesive for larger subway tile installation? Or better to stick with mortar for this? It seems like the adhesive stuff is intended more for the smaller mosaic tiles. We're considering installing larger subway tiles for backsplash so are trying to see what would work best.

Also, when you install in between a granite ledge and cabinet bottom, do you always start from the bottom up?

And how do you deal with the power outlets and light switches? 

craiglepaige

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I would only use mortar.

I have done a few backsplash jobs and always start from the bottom up. The tiles under the cabinets are mainly hidden so better to cut/trim those. Also, gravity will try to push down the tiles if you start from the top.

What exactly do you mean by outlets/switches?

jeromedawg

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I would only use mortar.

I have done a few backsplash jobs and always start from the bottom up. The tiles under the cabinets are mainly hidden so better to cut/trim those. Also, gravity will try to push down the tiles if you start from the top.

What exactly do you mean by outlets/switches?


Thanks!

For outlets switches what's the best way to go about cutting the to account for the outlets and light switches (and also for cutting tiles in general for borders or edges)? Do you have to get a wet tile saw, tile scorer/cutter and nippers? Could you just use a straight edge, blade and mallot to score the tile or do you really 'need' those tile-cutting specific tools? A

lthenderson

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For outlets switches what's the best way to go about cutting the to account for the outlets and light switches (and also for cutting tiles in general for borders or edges)? Do you have to get a wet tile saw, tile scorer/cutter and nippers? Could you just use a straight edge, blade and mallot to score the tile or do you really 'need' those tile-cutting specific tools?

I too wouldn't rely on any sort of self adhesive in any situation. I always use mortar. It is so cheap and simple to use and will hold for the life of the tile. Like the other poster said, start with the counter and work up. That is where everyone looks and sees. Nobody looks up underneath the cabinet unless they are looking their for a reason.

For smaller DIY projects, I highly recommend the linked wet tile saw. While it doesn't have all the creature comforts of a larger more expensive saw, this has seen me through two houses full of tiling projects. To use it to trim around an outlet, I cut the straight edges first, angle the tile so I can cut away the bulk of the waste in-between and then just use the front edge of the blade to gently nibble back to the cut line that is perpendicular to the blade. Hard to explain. The other reason I like this saw is its compact size. It resides on a top shelf of my garage when not in use and takes up very little space.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003HIWR08

HipGnosis

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Mastic, not mortar.
You work around outlets and switches by renting a tile cutter (and expect to make some mistakes).

lthenderson

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Mastic, not mortar.
You work around outlets and switches by renting a tile cutter (and expect to make some mistakes).

Actually I prefer thinset mortar over mastic on tile back splashes in kitchen because of the potential wetness factor which can degrade the organics in mastics with time and is a harbor for mold.

Here is a good article comparing the two and when you should use them.

https://www.thespruce.com/tile-mastic-vs-thinset-mortar-1822590

meghan88

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As others have said, start from the bottom up when tiling.  You'll also need to use spacers between the rows so that you can get some grout in there.  Use the spacers as temporary inserts by placing them perpendicular to the wall (i.e., with only one nib between the tiles) and then removing them once the mortar has dried. 

Then you'll need to choose sanded or unsanded grout depending on the size of the space between the tiles; you would never want to use sanded grout if the spaces are less than 1/8". 

Use a tile saw (wet saw) and not a tile cutter.  Well worth the rental fee for a professional look.  You might also find a used one on craigslist for not very much $.  We bought one used for $40 and it owed us nothing after a number of projects.  Still managed to sell it for close to that afterwards.

Head over to the John Bridge forums if you want help from the pros for free.  You can post pictures of your project, materials etc., and ask questions.  http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=1

mavendrill

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I rather enjoy using snappers and nippers instead of a saw.  I also see lots of bad saw work, though it can be better for certain hard cuts (making u's in a tile with snips is rough).

Don't tile all the way to any surface - and especially not your countertop. It doesn't have to be far off, but at least a line of spacers is absolutely necessary (you will caulk this and it will look great while giving flex room).

I have heard a recommendation to use a mortar that is a different color from your grout so you can easily see if you made a gap in the grout.  Never found this super helpful, but all things else equal it probably won't hurt.

Remember that good tile work requires precision in 3 dimensions, and that fixing a bad job takes vastly longer than doing it right the first time.  Go slow, take your time, and you will have something wonderful to be proud of.

And for a first timer use cheaper tiles, as you will make many cutting mistakes, regardless of method.

Others mentioned this, but I would never use adhesive.  It's less reliable, generally more expensive, and doesn't teach you an incredibly cool skill.  The advantage is that it's uniform depth makes it slightly easier to lay backsplash assuming your wall is already perfectly flat as you can ignore a dimension.  Of course if you find an imperfection in the wall half way through adhesive, your choices are bad looking tile or tearing it out and starting over , where as with most you can use creativity to fix the variance.

Radagast

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I may be too late for OP, but they make tile blades for jigsaws and that is what I used around my outlets. It worked crazy well. The edges weren't that great (partly I was in a hurry and partly I got a garbage jig saw from the pawnshop that didn't lock its upright position) but those are covered by the outlet plate anyhow.

Papa bear

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You can use mastic or thinset mortar. I prefer thinset due to it not having issues with water. Though, mastic is very easy to work with and gives you plenty of working time.  Thinset needs to be mixed and will set more quickly, so you have to work fast or mix smaller batches.

If you go with subway tile, you probably won't use spacers, they usually have built in tabs for 1/16 space for grout. Otherwise, look for spacers that match the tile width you want.

If you go with other tile, most cabinets are 18" above counter height (though definitely measure - I install mine at 19" for personal use) so if you have bigger tile, make sure you space it out so you don't have small cut offs at the top or bottom.

I like to cut most tile with a score and snap (not natural stone, wet saw all the way), but use a wet saw for multiple cuts, especially around outlets. If you need to cut out the middle portion for an outlet, to look like a "U", you make multiple cuts to the proper depth and the small thin strips of tile left will just snap off at the proper cut depth. If you are using bigger tile and need to cut only the middle out of a tile, you will probably need to buy some diamond tip hole saws (for your drill) or get tricky with trying to reverse plunge cut on your wet saw.

You can lay out your first row dry to make sure it looks good - you don't want to have 1/10 of a tile left on one end and a full piece to start, it can look poor.

Make sure you have plenty of sponges, water, rags, etc. to keep everything clean, and try to keep your tools clean of thinset or mastic.  Use a rag to clean the trowel, they can be sharp!  And if you get thinset on your handle, clean that up before you end up spreading it all over your kitchen.

Good luck!




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Adam Zapple

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Aside from what others have stated, when you tile around the outlets, you will need to extend the electrical box to the new depth of your backsplash.  You are going to want to take the cover plates off the outlets and cut your tile around the actual electrical box.  They sell the box extenders at home depot.  My store only has single gang plastic extenders (for a single outlet or switch), so for outlets that have two switches or outlets, I just double up the single gang extenders and cut the side off of one of them to fit.  If you have metal boxes you should use metal extenders (they should have single or double-gang), for plastic boxes you can use either metal or plastic extenders, but the plastic ones are cheaper. 

By "double sided adhesive" I assume you mean mastic.  Mastic is easier because you don't have to mix it with water and it has almost infinite working time (the time you have before it dries out on you) vs. mortar, which becomes hard to work with after about 1-2 hours.  As novices, go with the mastic because you will move slowly.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2018, 05:56:17 AM by Adam Zapple »

toganet

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I've used a product called Musselbound on two backsplashes now.  I've had good luck with both, though the oldest has been in place for just under a year, so time will tell.  It made getting the backsplashes up a bit faster and cleaner, but you have to be careful about how you position the tile or mosiac, as once it's in place it can be difficult to re-position.  Then you press it in and it won't come off without destroying the backing. Once it's grouted you can't tell how it was put up.

Pennycounter

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This thread is giving me motivation to finally re-do my backsplash. 

Question: I have and existing back splash that I need to demo.  I think it was installed with mortar.  Should I anticipate damage to the backer board when removing and the need to replace that as well? 

Adam Zapple

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This thread is giving me motivation to finally re-do my backsplash. 

Question: I have and existing back splash that I need to demo.  I think it was installed with mortar.  Should I anticipate damage to the backer board when removing and the need to replace that as well?

Just cut/smash the whole thing, including the sheetrock or plaster and reinstall that as well.

Pennycounter

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Thanks @Adam Zapple, I ended up doing some due diligence on the website linked above and basically came to the same conclusion.  I don't know why I was thinking that tiling would be easier than patching some drywall.