Backsplash With Style

Don’t date your kitchen!

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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.

Another general tip for any backsplash install is DO NOT USE PLAIN PAINTER’s CAULK OR GENERIC SILICONE CAULK FOR THE TILE TO COUNTERTOP JOINT! You cannot pack pack the backsplash/counter seam with grout since this will cause the grout joint to crack and chip out over time. Grout doesn’t work for 90deg inside seams where tile meets a tub or countertop. So, some hack tile installers will use just plain ‘ol construction caulk to cover this seam, which inevitably looks terrible.

Instead, use color-matched sanded grout caulk. This type of siliconized epoxy caulk will not only match the grout color but also resist discoloration and dirt over time. It’s specifically formulated for this job, so use it!

And if you want the grout caulk line to look extra straight and spiffy, then take the time to carefully mask the joints with tape. If you just use a finger and a prayer, you won’t get a perfect result. Like anything, prep time is time well spent.

The Result?

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