How to tile a splashback

John
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How to tile a splashback

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Project Overview

A splashback is not only a colourful addition to your kitchen but it will also make cleaning your walls much easier. And being able to do it yourself will save you money. We’ll teach you what you need to do before you lay your tiles on the wall, how to keep them straight, how to grout and how to apply silicon.

 

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man measuring tiles
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How to measure tiles for cutting

To work out the width of the last tile in a row, lay one tile in position at the start of the row. Then move it down the row one tile-width at a time, plus the width of a spacer, until you reach the end of the row. If the final tile needs to be short, you can pre-trim one for each row before you start tiling.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Install a piece of timber to support the tiles
2 Protect kitchen benchtops before you start tiling
3 Apply the tile mastic to the wall
4 Lay the first row of tiles
5 Cut a tile
6 Lay the other rows of tiles
7 Grout the tiles
8 Clean the Tiles
9 Apply the silicon
  • Step 1. Install a piece of timber to support the tiles

    If you have a gap between the areas where you’re going to install your tile splashback, such as space between two cupboards, you’ll need to create something to support the tiles. Use a stud finder to locate a stud wall or a noggin behind the wall and mark its location. Use your long spirit level and lay it across the gap, this gives you the straight line you need, so that you can butt your timber up against it. Hold the timber against the wall and flush with the spirit level, then drill it into place.

  • Step 2. Protect kitchen benchtops before you start tiling

    Put drop sheets over the benchtops and floor to protect them from any grout or tile mastic. To make the tile mastic that will glue the tiles to the wall, add a little water to your mixing bucket then add the mastic powder. Put on your dust mask and mix this until it is the consistency of toothpaste. If it’s too runny, add more mastic powder, if it’s too thick, add a little more water. 

  • Step 3. Apply the tile mastic to the wall

    After you’ve mixed your mastic, use your 8mm notch trowel to apply it to the wall. Make sure that the wall is clean and dry before you start. Starting from near your benchtops, apply enough mastic so that you can lay your first row of tiles.

  • Step 4. Lay the first row of tiles

    Laying the first row of tiles gives you the foundation to lay the next rows, so it’s important to make sure that its level and evenly spaced. Starting at the end away from the corner, lay the first tile, about 1mm above the benchtop but flush to the end. Lay more tiles next to the first, putting yellow spacers under them to make sure they’re the same height above the benchtop and spacers between them so that they’re evenly spaced apart. One you’ve laid about half a dozen tiles, use your spirit level to check that they’re straight. Repeat this process as you continue to lay more tiles. 

  • Step 5. Cut a tile

    You might find that once you’ve reached the end of your first row of tiles you might need to cut one, so it fits into the space near the corner. To do this turn the tile upside down and lay it next to the space where it will be laid. Mark the width of the tile you need, remembering to take into account the gap that is needed between the tiles and also the tile and the corner wall. Place the tile into the tile cutter, making sure it’s square, run the cutting blade along the tile and apply pressure to break it. When you lay this tile, put the cut edge closest to the corner.
  • Step 6. Lay the other rows of tiles

    Use your trowel to apply more mastic for the next row of tiles. Starting at the end furthest away from the wall, lay the first tile of the second row, using spacers to make sure it’s evenly spaced. Work your way along, laying more tiles and use the spirit level to check that they’re straight. Continue doing this until you’ve laid all your tiles. After about 12 hours, when the mastic has set, remove all of the spacers. Use a paint scraper to clean between the tiles to get rid of any excess mastic and brush the tiles down.
  • Step 7. Grout the tiles

    Put masking tape on the top of the benchtops to protect them while you’re grouting your tiles. To make the grout, add water to the mixing bucket and then the grout powder. Mix it until it’s the consistency of toothpaste. Use your rubber grout trowel to apply the grout onto the tiles at a 45 degree angle so that it fills the gaps between all of the tiles. Remove as much excess grout as possible as you go, this will make cleaning up much easier.
  • Step 8. Clean the Tiles

    After about 30 minutes when the grout has dried, it’s time to clean the tiles. Dip your sponge into a bucket of clean water and wring it out, so it’s as dry as possible. Wipe this over the tiles at a 45 degree angle to get rid of the grout on them. Rinse your sponge regularly. Now’s also a good time to run a finger through the grout to make sure it’s evenly applied between the tiles.
  • Step 9. Apply the silicon

    Before you apply the silicon, remove the masking tape from the benchtops and unscrew the piece of supporting wood from the wall. Use your paint scraper to scrape off any tile mastic on the tiles just above where the piece of supporting wood was. Apply your sanitary grade, mould resistant silicon at a 45 degree angle in the gaps between the tiles and the benchtop, the tiles and the walls and under the bottom row of tiles, where the supporting wood was. To remove the excess silicon, spray water onto it and run a popstick along it to make it smooth and even. 

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Angle grinder
  • Caulking gun
  • Drill
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Mixer
  • Mixing bucket
  • Notch trowel
  • Pencil
  • Rubber grouting trowel
  • Safety glasses
  • Spirit level
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Tile cutter

Materials

  • Drop sheets
  • Flat piece of wood
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • Popsticks
  • Screws
  • Silicone
  • Spacers
  • Tile grout mix
  • Tile mastic
  • Tiles
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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.
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