Tiling a Countertop Backsplash - Installation Tutorial
In this tutorial, learn how to install a tile backsplash which coordinates with an existing black granite countertop system, using a backerboard.
What You'll Need for this Tile Installation Project
- Tape and heavy duty paper
- 1-1/4” backerboard screws (depending on thickness of the backerboard, this may vary)
- Alkali resistant backerboard tape
- Drill motor
- 15lb roofing felt
How to Tile a Countertop Backsplash
The first step is to carefully measure the spaces for backerboard and tile. In this kitchen installation there were dry and wet areas. The wet area was behind and adjacent to the kitchen sink. In both cases, you'll want to protect the existing granite countertop with tape and heavy duty paper.
Then, cut the backerboard to fit the backsplash area.
For the dry areas, you can install the backerboard directly against the existing wood framing.
During this process, you'll want to cut holes for the electrical box and intercom system box. These holes will need to be closely fit.
The backerboard is fastened with (minimum) 1-1/4” backerboard screws at 6” on-center throughout the field and all edges.
You'll notice that there's a joint in the backerboard above and below the intercom box. This joint is a minimum of 1/8” and will be filled with thinset, taped with alkali resistant backerboard tape, and will be skim coated with thinset as flat as possible.
Note the appropriate drill motor and screws used to fasten the panels. This photo details the proper grid pattern to fasten the panels. Be careful not to overdrive the screws into the panel. The installer should drive the screw flush with the surface of the panel if possible.
(Had this been a drywall installation, these fasteners would only follow the studs behind the drywall. It would be necessary, therefore, to measure and mark the location of the studs prior to the installation of the panels. Also, a longer screw would be necessary as you would need to penetrate the board and drywall and the stud behind a minimum of ¾”. Remember that the maximum spacing of studs for a backerboard installation is 16” on-center. In the case of 1/4” backerboard, a 1-5/8” backerboard screw would be sufficient. If the chosen backerboard was ½”, the screw would need to be a minimum of 1-3/4”.)
In the case of the wet areas, place 15lb roofing felt against the framing lumber as a vapor barrier behind the backerboard panels. You'll install the panels in the same manner as the others. Note that the panels are held up off the decks 1/8”-1/4”.
Once the joints have cured, you can lay out the tile and make cuts if possible. This tile will be set with mastic, although modified thinset would be fine too. The mastic is applied in a way very similar to thinset. The principle difference is the thickness of the setting bed. Follow the manufacturers recommendations for the size tile chosen.
You'll want to "key in" the mastic to the surface with the flat side of the trowel. Then establish an even setting bed with the notched side of the trowel held at a consistent angle.
The tile is then applied using the countertop as the lower course support. The tile is pressed into the fresh mastic or beaten in then aligned and spaced appropriately.
After the rest of the tile is set, you'll be ready to grout the tile installation.
The steps consist of:
- Mixing the grout per the manufacturers instructions,
- Forcing a maximum amount of grout into the joints with a grout float,
- Cutting off the excess with the float at an extreme angle,
- Waiting the prescribed amount of initial cure time,
- Tooling the joints with a nearly dry sponge so that the joints are smooth and uniform, and
- Finally completing a final wipe with a nearly dry sponge.
For the novice, it would be best to review the many photographic details within the other tile installation tutorials.