Ceramic Tile Backsplash

A good friend of mine asked me if I could tile her kitchen back splash that never got done when she renovated her kitchen a few years ago.  I said yes!

The back splash was left painted the same colour as the walls in the kitchen and dining area.  Having tiles means better clean up and also the back of her counter top did not have any caulking, so any splashes could run water down between the sink and the half wall.

The home owner and I decided to go to a local home improvement store to look for tiles.  She decided that black would look good with her black sink and other black decor she had so we chose a small black tile that came on a sheet of 36 tiles.  Each tile is about 1 7/8″ square with a 1/8″ space between each one.

I had a helper, Brady, who would keep an eye on me and make sure I did things correctly.

The tiles we bought came on a sheet of 6 tiles x 6 tiles which included glue spacers between them that left room for the grout.  The tiles can be cut apart with scissors or a knife.  I needed 2 1/2 tiles for the height of the back splash.

The tiles need to be cut with a tile cutter, I used one like this:

You place the tile under the cutting system and it scores and then cuts the tile.

Basically you glue the tile to the wall with a tile adhesive that comes in a tub.  It’s the consistency of peanut butter and you just butter the tile with it.  In different circumstances you can apply it to the wall, but because this was such a small area, it would be hard to get into the space so buttering the tile was easier.  Using a notched trowel spreads the adhesive evenly on the back.

My trowel looked like this:

You can see the adhesive applied on the back of this set of tiles (sorry for the blurred photo)

The bottom row of tiles were set onto the counter and pressed firmly to attach to the wall. Although I don’t show it in these photos, this was an L-shaped back splash and I just worked my way around, leaving a space between the tiles that were not pre-joined.

This shows the tiles glued on but not grouted yet:

Let your tile set and harden.  I left these a few days because I don’t live in the same town as this kitchen, but 24 hours would be best just to make sure the tiles are well stuck.

The next step is to grout. Years ago grout used to come in white only but now you can pick from many different colours, my friend chose a grey. The grout I was recommended is unsanded and comes in a powder form.  You need to follow the directions on the bag and mix with water to get a toothpaste-like consistency.

Grout is spread over the tiles and pushed into the spaces between. I use a flexible spreader, like a spatula without a handle. Try to fill in the grout as even as possible, but you can neaten it in the next step.
(NOTE:  I did not grout where the tile meets the counter top, that needs to have a flexible caulk later)

The tiling will look messy because the grout is over the tile as well as between it, but that will be cleaned up:

Let this dry just a little and then get a damp sponge and go over the whole section you have tiled. This removes the grout on the tiles and cleans up any unevenness. Keep washing out your sponge and going back to remove extra grout.  I run my finger over the grout lines to even it out and so that there is a slight concave appearance.  If necessary you can wet your finger a little to smooth things out.

Here is what the tiling looks like after the last step:

There are still some uneven areas where grout is on the edge of the tiles, I remove that with my fingernail after the whole thing is dried.

Let everything dry for a day and try not to splash anything on the grouting.  Then get some grout sealer and “paint” it all over the grout lines.  It is a watery product that protects the grout from future splashes of food or liquids.  I did one coat and then the home owner put 2 more coats over top.  This is a preventative measure to keep your grout looking good.

Because the tile meets the counter top and the counter may slightly move with weight from things put on it or people leaning against it, you need a flexible caulk.  Use a caulking gun with a tube of kitchen/bathroom caulk that is mildew resistant.  Run it along the edge where the tile meets the counter top and smooth with your wet finger.

The black tile added a little extra elegance to the kitchen and both my friend and I were very pleased with the finished look.

I’ve done a few kitchen and bathroom back splashes and this is a job anyone could tackle!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Showing this at the following great blogs:
Funky Junk Interiors
{aka} design
My Repurposed Life
Sew Woodsy
The Brambleberry Cottage
Sisters of the Wild West
Savvy Southern Style

Framing tiles

 I’m trying to find time to make some barnwood frames, but since one of my favorite blogs, Funky Junk Interiors is putting a call out for frames I am blogging about two older ones I’ve made. 

For the first one, I had bought 4 Currier and Ives tiles on ebay that match the blue and white china I love.  I decided to frame the tiles with the same wood (knotty pine) that I used for my kitchen cupboard doors and drawers.  It hangs on the wall in the kitchen.

The frame is about 1 1/2″ wide and 3/4″ thick and the inner edge is routered the same as the kitchen doors.

The corners are mitred and then they are put in a (homemade) spline jig on the tablesaw to cut the slots that hold glued in 1/8″ thick hardwood splines. The frame sits upright in the jig so that the saw cuts a blade’s width out of the corner.

Here’s one online that’s similar to mine from Sawdust Making 101

This is how the corners look when finished:

I used hardboard on the back to set the tiles on and a sawtooth hanger for hanging.

The frame is sized to leave enough around all the edges for grout, it turned out to be about 21″ x 7 1/2″.

The second set of framed tiles are made into a square trivet.  These tiles match my kitchen backsplash.  This is used on my table, but I really need a bigger one because it doesn’t hold too much even though it is 12″ x 12″ square. 

The 1 5/8″ wide mitred frame slants down from the tiles to the outer edge so that the hot dishes sit just on the tiles.

A piece of hardboard sits recessed from the bottom, and the tiles are glued and grouted onto that.  Small rubber feet keep the whole thing elevated off the table a bit.

Linking to parties at the following blogs:

Funky Junk Interiors 
Blue Cricket Design
The Shabby Chic Cottage
Under the Table and Dreaming
Cottage Instincts

Everything I make is for sale, so if you see something you like, please contact me. I enjoy doing custom orders, so if you have some tiles you need framing, let me know!

Lamp Table – make your own

 How about we start with a lamp table.  (Not a table lamp, which is a completely different thing.)  A lamp table is a small table that you can put a lamp on.

I use pine because I like it and it’s nice to work with and you can either stain or paint it.  I like the knots.  If you are going to paint, you can use poplar which is very smooth and doesn’t have knots.
My wood starts like this, it’s called rough and comes from my local lumber warehouse which is not anything like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Before photo:

I have to run the wood through a jointer and planer and table saw to get it to the size I need.  You may be able to find wood already planed and ready to go, which eliminates a lot of steps but means you have to get the sizes that are available. My rough pine is dried to about 8% MC, which is really important for furniture that will be in your house, but that topic is another blog post for the future.

Here’s a basic drawing
of the parts needed:

The four legs are about 1 5/8″ square and then tapered after.  They are about 24 1/2″ long.  You may wish to use dowels to join them to the aprons, or you could alternatively use tenons. If you are using dowels as joinery, you put two dowel holes in each leg and two dowel holes correspondingly in each apron.I prefer the traditional way, which is sliding dovetails. When you use sliding dovetails everything slips together like puzzle pieces and is very sturdy.   For sliding dovetails, you make the dovetail groove in two adjoining sides of the legs from the top of the leg for a length of about 3 1/2″. This is called a stopped groove and is done with a dovetail bit in a router.  I find it much easier to first use a straight bit and make a straight groove where the dovetail groove will be. This leaves far less wood for the dovetail bit to hog out.  Do your dovetail groove before you put the dovetails on the end of the side pieces.

This photo shows eight legs with
their dovetail grooves:

My table has tapered legs.  The tapering starts 5″ from the top of the leg on the two inside leg faces, which are the same faces that have the dovetail grooves in them, and they head down the leg leaving a 1″ square leg at the very bottom.  I use the table saw and a tapering jig that I bought.  Some make their own jig, but I found one for only about $15 and it was worth it, considering the time I would have spent making it.  When you taper, the wood is being pushed into the saw blade at an angle so that the leg is not parallel to the saw’s fence.  The jig holds it that way, which is the only safe way to do it.

A leg on the table saw ready to be tapered:
(saw blade, leg, tapering jig, fence)

The four side pieces are aprons (or skirts) and are about 4″wide x 9 1/4″ long x 3/4″ thick.   Use the width of the previously made dovetail groove as a sample for your dovetail width that you will put on each end of the aprons.  I purposely make my dovetails too large to start and ‘sneak up’ on the correct size.  You don’t want it to be too loose in the dovetail groove on the leg, nor too tight. The ends of the bottoms of the dovetails need to be cut off so that when you slide it into the groove it covers the end of the groove.  This is why your groove is shorter than the full 4″ width of the aprons.

Here is an apron (upside down) with the dovetail end trimmed:
Here are two of the aprons sitting in a leg:

On the inside of  the apron 3/8″ down from the top edge, you need to make a kerf on the table saw to hold the Z table fasteners that will hold the top on.  I get mine at Lee Valley, you can see them here:

If you want, you can put a beadboard edge at the bottom of the aprons.  This makes it look a lot nicer than a straight piece, but it’s not necessary.  The beading is done with a router bit in a router hanging in a table with a fence that you run the apron upright (vertically) against. After a good sanding of all pieces you can slide the aprons into the legs with a little glue.  If you put too much it will just come out the top of the groove and make a mess.  You really don’t need a lot because the dovetail does all the work, it really can’t pull out.

This shows the beaded apron in the leg:

The top is square, 16″ x 16″ and about 1″ thick.  I use widths of pine glued together edge to edge to make up the wider piece I need.  Usually about 4″-5″ widths are okay.  If you have them too much wider they can warp. Make sure the edges are completely smooth and perpendicular to the faces before gluing to get the flattest top you can.  Use clamps to hold this for a few hours.  Bessey clamps are nice.  I love clamps, all kinds of clamps except those spring clamp things which I find don’t have any holding power.  Always make this piece a bit larger than you need and then trim to final size and sand smooth.

This table has painted and distressed legs and aprons, the top is stained and distressed.  I painted the legs and aprons with black exterior acrylic paint and then distressed it by rubbing with sandpaper along the edges.  At the places where the wood showed through I rubbed on the same stain that was going on the top.  The top is stained with gel stain.  Other stains go blotchy on pine and some other woods. I have had great success with gel stain and the brand I use is Flecto Varathane which comes in many shades and is also mixable, so you can make your own colour. (Don’t ask me how I know this, but it’s best to make sure you make enough of your own colour, just in case you run out and need more.)  After staining the top, I beat it a bit with a screwdriver and some other things I found in the shop.  Then I took some of the paint and painted it into the distressed depressions with a small paintbrush.  Everything got at least five coats of wipe-on polyurethane.  It goes on nicely, but is very thin so it needs a few more coats than the brush-on poly. *Always test your poly over your paint first.  I have had interior acrylic paints which are not compatible with the poly, and I found out the hard way.*

When everything is dry, turn the table upside down and attach two clamps to each apron with screws. You cannot glue the top to the apron and legs, this is why you need these.  Wood moves with the seasons, if you just glue it or screw the top on, it will crack. The clamps allow the top to expand and contract with the seasons.  Now that is really another blog topic…. wood moves and many people do not realize that.

Underneath the table:
Finished table:

Another lamp table I made has stained legs and aprons and a tiled top in a wood frame.  The possibilities are endless.  And who says the top has to be square?  How about shaped like a flower or any other shape and painted?

Hmmmm… so many ideas, so little time!