3. Demolish Current BacksplashDepending on your current backsplash, this can go pretty quickly or not. Just be sure to cut the caulking along the perimeter of the current backsplash with a box cutter or similar knife to prevent the paint from peeling away your drywall.
Try not to dig into the drywall as you do this, though. Also make sure you wear thick-soled shoes, or better yet, boots. Stepping on a loose shard of old tile is just as bad as a rusty nail.
4. Repair Drywall and PaintPatch any holes with a bit of joint compound and drywall tape. Do not confuse joint compound with Spackle, a lighter-weight material good only for extremely minor repairs. Joint compound is fluid, easy to work with, and more durable.
Give this at least the manufacturer's suggest cure time, which would be 24 hours on most days.
To repair the drywall, be sure to use the bare minimum of joint compound. Simply make the minimal repairs to ensure you have a smooth surface free of holes and divets your glass tiles may want to conform to. It doesn't have to be pretty, but be sure you keep your joint compound within the area your new backsplash will cover if you don't plan to paint. If you will be painting a new color, however, now is the time to do it. Don't wait until you have to cut-in along your new glass tile backsplash. You'll make your life that much easier.
5. Install Tile
- Mix your thinset mortar. If you fill more than about half of a gallon-sized bucket, you may be just wasting a bunch of thinset. Mix it until it's about the consistency of peanut butter, and the "slump" is just right. In other words, make sure it sticks on the wall and doesn't slide down it. If you want to simplify even further, buy pre-mixed thinset mortar. It comes in gallon-size buckets.
- Dry-fit some of the tile on the wall. You may need another pair of hands to do this, but just be sure you have a game-plan for transitions. For instance, if your glass tile backsplash is going to be making any changes in height, or going around an outlet, or making corners, then plan ahead.
- Make your cuts now after double-checking, and proceed one sheet at a time. You really should float the first course (or row) of tiles on spacers of some sort to keep your backsplash about 1/8" off your counter. The reason for this is that there will be some movement between your counter and your glass tile backsplash. This can result in cracks later. If you "float" it just a bit, you'll alleviate some of those problems.
- You should consider buying a grout-colored caulk for the seam between the countertop and your backsplash, as it will stretch (grout will crack over time).
- As for the paper facing on your tile, follow the manufacturer's direction. Important: Do not be anxious to remove that paper. Wait 24 hours before you do anything with that paper. What you don't want to do is to wait an hour and in haste try to remove the paper by wetting it. The result will be that your tile shifts, and your good work is ruined. It's not worth rushing; just wait.
6. Grout Your TileWith the paper off, the tile saw is returned to your rental center or best friend, and you're ready to grout. If you choose a lighter shade of grout, you should be aware that you will need to keep pace with cleaning it on a regular basis. The earth-tones and darker grout colors hide the dirt better.
Before grouting, the tile must be cured about 24 hours from the last tile being set. Then you want to have two single-gallon buckets of water (a third for the grout) and two tiling sponges.
Mix the grout in with a margin trowel according to the directions and scoop some out with your grout float. Make sure you spread diagonally across the tiles, corner-to-corner. Make two passes and keep moving.
Once the grouting is done, let it set about 10 minutes or so and then start wiping the excess with a pretty well wrung-out, but damp, sponge. You have two of these set up because you want to keep moving. Have an assistant empty out your soiled bucket and grab fresh water as he cleans out your sponges really well.
Just like with the thinset stage, you don't want to get too ambitious. Grout only that which you feel you can handle comfortably before it dries too much. If it's too wet and you keep digging your sponge into the grout, no worries. Keeping your grout bucket nearby will help ensure you repair those mistakes as you go along.