A tile backsplash can change the look of a kitchen. It can provide sleek lines, contrast with cabinets, or a splash of color. It also makes messy food preparation areas much easier to wipe down and keep clean.
The options on the market are endless and there is a tile to suit everyone’s unique style and budget. However, regardless of which type of tile you choose, the quality of the installation is the most important factor in achieving a beautiful and long-lasting appearance. After a drywall contractor doing the work is the best option. Just like your home, the foundation you install your tiles on is fundamental to its durability.
It is essential that your drywall is prepared and ready for tile installation. You want to provide a strong and even backing for your tiles. It will make installation easier and the finished product more consistent. There are different methods to properly prepare your wall depending on the existing material.
1. Creating a strong foundation
Tiles and grout can put a lot of weight and pressure on your wall. Carefully inspect your wall for any structural damage or abnormalities. Rigid tiles need a flat surface to adhere to. Make sure that your drywall boards are not bowed or bent in any areas. Make sure the boards are not loosely attached to the studs and reinforce any wiggly boards if necessary.
Inspect the area for any drywall damage or mold. You must remedy this before starting the basic preparation steps. Keep in mind that your backsplash will likely be there for years to come so it’s worth taking the time to address any problems before installing.
2. Ideal surfaces for backsplash installation
Tile is best installed on clean, flat drywall. You can also install it on painted surfaces and wallpaper as long as they are sufficiently prepared. Tiles can even be installed on top of other tiles if the foundation wall is structurally sound.
You must add a layer of drywall if your wall surface is made of untreated wood material. You also want to avoid installing tiles on high-gloss painted surfaces because it can lead to adhesion issues. Fortunately, these two can be primed to create ideal faces.
Be sure to test your walls for lead if they were previously painted, especially before 1978. An inspector can test your area to make sure it is safe and home testing kits are also available. It is better to check your paint and remove it rather than hiding it behind a tile wall.
3. Preparing rough drywall
Fresh, new drywall is an ideal surface for installing a backsplash. It requires little preparation and the surface is ideal for adhesion. You probably won’t have to remove switch plates or outlet covers.
You must inspect the installation points of the drywall to ensure that it is properly attached to the joists. If you like, you can tape and seal the seams with compound. Sand to smooth the seams and clean the dust. This is optional as it is not a necessary step before installing the tile.
It is a good idea to prime the surface to create a thin barrier between the drywall and the backsplash. If not, the drywall boards can potentially draw moisture from your mortar and compromise your adhesion. A skimmed coat is ideal to seal the walls effectively.
Once dry, use medium grit sandpaper to create a slightly textured surface. The surface should be flat and smooth but have enough structure for the mounting material to adhere well. Wipe your walls and surfaces with a damp cloth and make sure it is completely free of dust before proceeding with the installation.
4. Preparation of painted drywall surface
If your wall has previously been treated with drywall, there are a few extra steps to prepare your space for installation. Depending on the existing wall treatment, extra care may need to be taken. Even the thinnest wall finish can compromise your backsplash installation if the glue is unable to adhere to it.
If your face is simply painted with a lower gloss finish, preparation is simple. You will need to remove the switch plates and outlet cover, being careful to hold on to the screws. Then, gently scrape off any loose or peeling paint from the surface.
Your kitchen walls may contain grease that can prevent the tiles from sticking correctly. Wiping the walls with a mixture of vinegar or an ammonia-based cleaner can remove any film that is layered. Allow the wall to dry and inspect it for necessary repairs.
Make sure your drywall is a flat, seamless surface. Patch any large holes or dents that are visible. Allow to dry and sand the entire installation surface to create a textured foundation for your tile installation. Wipe thoroughly to remove all dust and vacuum the area thoroughly.
5. Preparation of wallpapered wall
In order to install a backsplash on a tile wall, you will first need to remove the wallpaper. Carefully pull the wallpaper in as large pieces as possible to minimize damage to the drywall. Steam can be helpful in releasing the glue from the surface.
Once all the wallpaper is removed, carefully drain the wall to make it as level as possible. Patch any dents or holes that remain and sand again. Remove all dust and paper strips thoroughly to ensure a clean surface to stick the tiles on. If the wall is not painted under the wallpaper, a primer or sealant can be applied for the best adhesion.
6. Preparing a tile wall before
Installing a backsplash on a previously tiled wall gives you two options. You can remove the existing tiles and prepare the drywall. Some people choose to tile over existing tiles but this may not be an option if your wall structure is not stable enough to withstand the added weight.
Removing tiles can be a tough job. To be careful and take it slow it will pay off in the long run with reduced damage to your drywall. Once the tile is completely removed, scrape off any remaining glue.
After the wall is cleared of the old installation materials, inspect the drywall carefully for any damage or issues. Patch any holes and cracks and make sure the drywall is even to create a solid backing for your new tile. After it dries, sand it to create a smooth surface and carefully remove all dust from the area by wiping the walls or mopping thoroughly.
You can remove the tile to find that the wall is damaged beyond repair. New drywall can be installed over the existing wall area. Look for a thinner board to reduce the expansion on the countertop. After making sure it is securely attached, follow the steps to prepare the rough drywall.
As with all projects, be sure to follow safety rules and procedures. Wear masks when necessary and protect your eyes from debris. Work carefully and patiently and you will create a perfectly prepared wall, no matter what the existing material is.
You’ll be thankful you took the time to properly prepare your wall when your tile job goes smoothly. Knowing that you have created a strong support for your tiles to adhere to will give you peace of mind. Your beautiful backsplash will look fresh and new for years to come thanks to your due diligence.