Backsplash With Style

Don’t date your kitchen!

The before — not too hard to beat

Instead, make sure that your design and materials choices will compliment future upgrades. One way to ensure this is to choose materials to complement the original age and style of the rest of the house. For this project, that meant working with something that would have been right at home in an original 1960s mod home.

The stainless appliances and neutral granite countertop were a great start. For a custom backsplash, the client chose a natural stone mosaic to really match the midcentury future-modern and tie the whole design together.

The Challenge?

Stone tile outside cornerThe main install challenge for using natural stone mosaics for backsplashes is that they usually don’t come with matching bullnose finish pieces. This makes uncovered edges and outside corners difficult to install with a finished look.

For example, the client wanted to extend the backsplash into the windowsash above the sink. This required getting creative with the tile placement, as you can see from the pic.

Although difficult, installing uncovered stone mosaic outside corners is definitely not impossible. Tile experts did this all the time in the 1950s and 60s, after all. Just takes a bit more time and patience.

The Tips!

Another challenge for natural stone mosaics is grouting. Most stone tile pieces have surface pits that can really grab and hold onto grout. So, before installation, make certain you triple-seal the tile surface with a good penetrating stone tile sealant. You’ll thank yourself once you get to the grouting step.

A definite general tip for any backsplash install is to skip the caulk. An average installer will put a caulk line along the backsplash/counter seam. This is (literally) the most flexible sealant for covering this joint, but it’s also often the ugliest. Even if it matches the grout color, caulk will darken and collect grime over time that’s really difficult to clean.

An alternative is to pack the backsplash/counter seam and any exposed outside edges with a 50/50 mix of sanded/unsanded grout. Then, cover the grout seam with a very thin layer of clear 100% silicone. This provides enough strength to prevent spider cracking or chipping over time, and it also results in a grouted seam that both perfectly matches the rest of the tile and is easy to keep clean.

The only downside to this approach? It takes a little longer, and requires more attention to detail to do right. But again, if your installer is a pro then that’s not a problem.

The Result?

Judge for yourself. The most important result was a happy client!