Backsplash Tiling 101

I’ve been inspired recently to add a nice backspash to my kitchen — of course, in between the bottom of the cabinets and counter tops. When we first renovated our kitchen, it was in dire shape and with limited funds, we just upgraded the basics. Nearly 9 years later, looking at things now with a critical eye, there are a few smaller things we can add to the kitchen area to improve its appearance. The first piece is to add a backsplash.



I’m a Home Depot loyalist although I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone from time to time, so I first visit Lowe’s. It’s about 4 pm on Thursday, almost dinner time.. Leaving work early, I decide to fir visit their garden center.  A number of perennials catch my eye, including hostas and coneflowers, and even though I really enjoy gardening, that focus of digging in the dirt and getting my fingernails filled with soil and grit is for another day.  Because Lowe’s is somewhat unfamiliar to me, I wander around to get a feel for the location of things. I see very few associates in the back of the store or middle portion. However, there are three associates near the customer service area talking, conversing about a customer is another question.

I locate the area that will help me better understand my tiling project,  I look around at the different tiles, prices and tile designs. Because of my lack of expertise with tiling, it’s a little too much. Once done surveying the materials and requirements, I survey for assistance. Indeed, YouTube or other audio/video channels can be leveraged perhaps at some point but I first want to get a professional’s opinion. I casually deviate from the area in hopes of finding someone who can assist. It takes me a few hundred steps, according to my Fit Bit. I enjoy getting a hardware professional’s expertise on various home projects. the associate gives me bad news, the tiling professional is not available.  He typically works from 8 am until 3 pm. I guess it sucks if I want his assistance to realize I will have to take time off of work to fit his work schedule into mine. I nod and slightly roll my eyes receiving the news as I then gently glide my body to the garden center where my car is parked. I love the bright lights of Lowe’s but most try their competitor down the road.

Again, I park near their garden center as I survey what they have left of this slowly dwindling planting season. Living in the Midwest, your growing season sometimes is not much longer than how long the local community pool is available. At this point, it’s half past 4 and I note there are very few Home Depot associates available. Even though their brand is much different from Lowe’s, the absence of associates has me thinking it’s eerily familiar. As I survey the more recognizable landscape, I search for a professional who can assist. Talking with another HD associate, the tiling professional is busy with a customer. Somewhat encouraging?

I continue to casually around the tile supplies until he’s available. It’s taken him a good 5 minutes to finish with his interaction which is a reasonable expectation.  A handsome black man assists. I explain my situation and newness to this project. Do I rent or buy a wet saw? How long will it take? Are there any “gotchas” to consider before I start? Should I map out a tile arrangement in a template form before beginning? He’s knowledgeable, patient and professional. He helps me with my questions, gives me some tips and insights into such a project. As he mentions his experience, I’m assured this is something I can do with a certain amount of planning, patience and time. As he shows me the various types of stone I can use, I note his large hands. It reminds me of the hands of Julius Erving, the famous basketball player who later starred for the 76ers in the NBA. Those hands are close to a foot in length — I’m too preoccupied with all the notes and considerations to mention that fact and think to myself, with those hands, dunking a basketball would have been less a challenge in my earlier years.

As we finish, I’m glad the patience gods were with me as I waited for him to finish with the previous customer. In fact, he gave me more time and information as his previous customer, and I could tell he was all about “Let’s Do This” mentality. Customer centric. Indeed, I’m not ready to rent the wet saw and begin. However, I’m much more equipped to begin the project once I decide on the type of tile, design and the fact I will rent the wet saw for the day which means I can have it for 24 hours. Being a newbie on this project, I can take more time to complete this project and focus on quality and design and not the cost of renting materials.

One more thing, where will I go when I’m ready to start my tiling project? Probably the same big box retailer I used when doing my kitchen remodeling project. Having positive experiences over time with the orange and white logo has kept me coming back.