After our first kitchen backsplash experience, my mom wanted to do something similar. Our first project was very involved and required special tools, etc. She wanted to do something simpler. We stumbled on a solution that requires no special tools. The only tools we used were a pair of ordinary scissors.
While roaming the big box hardware stores, we found some neat peel and stick vinyl backsplash tiles. These were perfect for the job at hand! They have faux glass relief over printed stones which looks so much like a piece of glass that you can’t tell the difference until you touch it. They only come in two patterns of the same colors.
Tip 1: Get as much variety as you can in the sheets. We only had two options so we got half with the first pattern and half with the second.
We also grabbed a few faux pressed tin sheets along with the plastic edging and a corner piece. We used this behind our stove in our house. It is really easy to install and looks great. It’s also fairly easy to clean as well. We didn’t realize how useful the edging pieces would be. We ended up edging the entire top and bottom of the backsplash with them. We also grabbed some silicone and spray adhesive to stick things to the wall.
The first step was to match the tiles with the granite my mom has in her kitchen. This was easy since these big box stores carry a variety of granite. We just held up the tile to the samples of granite and picked what we liked best. The tiles we chose look like a better match in person, for some reason the white balance on my camera ended up making the tiles look more blue than they really are.
When we got back to the house, we started right away with the stove area. My mom wanted to cover the side wall as well as the back with the faux pressed tin. This worked out well because the side wall was exactly as wide as one of the tin sheets. We used the remainder of the Simple Mat, but could have just as easily used the silicone to stick this to the wall. We cut some of the edging with scissors (no special tools required, yay!) and glues that with silicone to the top and front edges of the tin. In the back corner, we used a corner piece made specially for this material. It makes a smooth transition in a 90 degree bend. The back wall was a little wider, so we ended up using more than one sheet of the tin. We used some more edging on the right-hand side to clean up all the edges. Here you can see the finished product. It looks really nice!
We then placed a few sheets temporarily on the wall to see which direction we liked the tiles to run. I thought vertical tiles gave the illusion of more space.
Then came the hard part. The tile sheets only come in two different patterns. In order to make the wall look random, we had to do some cutting. I’m not sure if vertical tiles made this part easier or harder. I remember at our house, this was the most time consuming portion. We spent just about the same amount of time randomizing the pattern in both cases, but installation of these tiles was WAY faster.
Since the tile sheets come in a specific pattern of a row of thick tiles, then two rows of thinner ones, we split each sheet into 4 pieces. This allowed us to mix and match not with only the two options we were given, but now we had 8 options to mix and match.
Tip 2: When cutting these sheets, be sure to cut in the center of the grout area to allow yourself the ability to cover overlap and make the grout look seamless.
Tip 3: Before you press the sheets to the wall, spray the wall with adhesive.
Since the sheet didn’t cover the whole wall, we had to add a portion of another sheet on top of the bottom row. The pattern of stone lengths on the sheets forced us to arrange the in a certain way. We ended up using more sheets than we would have liked because of this. We also ended up replacing a single row of stones, and even in some cases individual stones to keep the pattern random.
To keep all the grout looking seamless, we used metallic sharpies in some of the gaps between the stones before pressing the stones to the wall. Since the grout on the sheets is a silver color, we used the silver Sharpie, but we also ended up using both the gold and bronze in certain areas as well. Hence:
Tip 4: Use Sharpies to hide where the grout doesn’t overlap.
After we finished both walls, we wanted to hide the cut stones at the top and the edges. For this we simple bought a lot of extra plastic edging pieces for the faux pressed tin. Being the same as what we used by the stove, it really tied everything together well. We simply used silicone adhesive to glue these in place.
Tip 5: Use the plastic edging to tie together the whole look.
The makers of these tiles did a good job. When you press the grout from one tile to another, the seam disappears almost completely. Also, the stones are made of a flexible rubbery material which is easy to cut with scissors. This was really easy to work with when we did our second row of these sheets because we had to cut some stones in half. It took no time at all. I would liked to have seen a little more variety in the stone patterns, but overall it worked out well for us.
I have to say that while it took us a while to do this job, it was nowhere near as tough as the when we used actual tile and grout. I wish I had come across these sheets earlier! Randomizing the pattern still took just as long, but once you stick the tile on the wall you are done. There’s no grouting to deal with which means no mess or extra work. We also don’t have to seal this material which is usually done after grouting to prevent staining. This stuff is waterproof since it is on a vinyl sheet so it protects the wall just as much as real tile.
Overall, I enjoyed this project MUCH more than real tile. It was cheaper, cleaner, and took fewer steps. The end result looks great. I would argue that for a novice, this is better than using real tile because the grout lines and stones are perfectly straight. Even using the stones attached to mesh sheets on our first kitchen makeover left room for the stones to wiggle and inconsistent grout widths. This product wins in almost every category so far. If I remember, I’ll post an update in a few months to a year to let you know the long-term results.