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Backsplash FAQ

''Tile is Jewelry for your home" and kitchen backsplashes are just one of the many great places to accessorize.

DESIGN

1. I am thinking of redoing my kitchen and want to look at backsplash tiles, what should I do first?


If you are starting from scratch, it usually makes sense to select your cabinets first, counter top second, then floor and last but not least, your backsplash.  The backsplash is a great way to pull all of your selections together, much the way jewelry finalizes an outfit.  That said, nothing is "set in stone".  Your selections can be made in any order. We encourage you to order samples, thereby "trying on" your options in your lighting, with your other elements.  It is very important to us that your selections look as great in your kitchen.  Lastly, today's technology is a backsplash designer's friend.  Take a snapshot of your kitchen and email it to us. Chances are we will see something that has us suggest tile you might not have considered.

2. Should my backsplash match my countertop or my cabinets?

To answer this question, you should ask yourself what you want to be the 'star' of your kitchen?   Do you have a unique stone countertop that you want to accentuate?  Do you have beautiful, ornate cabinetry with lots of architectural detail?   In both these instances, a nice solution would be for the backsplash to quietly compliment rather than become another focal point.    A backsplash that  'matches' or blends in with the countertop or cabinets also provides a beautiful backdrop for other items such as china, accessories, fabrics, etc.    

Do you want the backsplash itself to be the excitement in the room?   In this case, tile that either contrasts with the cabinets and/or incorporates many decorative elements such as glass, shine, metal, intricate patterns or designs will result in a backsplash that is beautiful, unique and creates drama on its own.

3. Will you help me design my backsplash?

Absolutely, that's what I'm here for!   If possible, send us your kitchen layout & backsplash dimensions and give us an idea of what you are looking for.  Photos of the kitchen are also helpful.  This makes it much easier for us to help you coordinate all the different elements and come up with a design that is unique to you and your kitchen.

4.  My countertop extends past my upper cabinets. Where should I stop the tile?

It would be great to have a picture of the space as a point of reference. There are many different ways to deal with each unique space. Just keep in mind that if we extend the tile further than the cabinets that we will need to find an appropriate trim piece to finish off the exposed edges.

5.  How do we deal with our switch plates so that they match our tile?

In the event that we are dealing with stone or fairly neutral porcelain we have options available through Dorset collection. This line even has a checklist we can send you so that you know exactly what you will need. These are pre-sealed stone products that are maintenance free. However, if we are dealing with a rather unique color of glass or porcelain you may want to look into raw wood covers and paint them to match the surrounding tile

6. How can I get an idea of what my backsplash will look like?

This is a very difficult issue for most people that are in need of assistance for their backsplash.. It is useful to order samples of the product you like to see if it works well in your lighting.

7. Do I mount the tile flush to the countertop and cabinet? Or should I use grout?

Neither, some tile installers may use grout when the tile meets the countertop or cabinet.  But over time the grout will fall out do to the adjusting of the cabinets or countertop.  You can use caulk in these spots.   Most grouts have matching caulks.

8.  Do I have room above my stove to do a specific design? Frame out, inserts, change direction etc.  
                 
There is no direct answer to this question because it really depends on the material being used.    Usually an area above the stove around 30"-36" is ideal for this look.

 


PRODUCTS

1. What size tile is best for a backsplash?

Many tile lines contain 4x4, 3x6, 6x6 and similar sizes that work well in a backsplash.   In more contemporary kitchens larger format tiles can also be used very successfully. Glass, stone and metal mosaics in 1x1, 2x2 and linear formats can be incorporated into traditional or contemporary settings, and combine well with any size tile.

2. If my countertop is shiny  (e.g. polished granite) should the backsplash tile be shiny or matte?

Truthfully, either type of finish will work with a polished stone countertop.  The real question is "what appeals to you more?"   We have examples of both scenarios in our photo gallery and they all look great!

3. What about the 4" granite/laminate backsplash that I see in some kitchens?    Does the tile go right on top of this?

If you are installing a new countertop and are also planning on installing a tile backsplash, a more custom look may be achieved if you do not include the standard 4" granite/laminate backsplash.  This provides more height for the tile and allows for greater design flexibility.   However if you are keeping your existing countertop, tile may be installed directly on top of this granite/laminate

4. Can I use the same tile I have on the floor for the backsplash?

Yes, if you are using porcelain or ceramic tile on your kitchen floor, there are often smaller sizes in that same line that could be used as the backsplash tile. For some people, this is a comfortable solution as is takes the guess-work out of the equation. You can still add accents to that tile such as glass or metal if you desire to add more detail and interest to the design.

5. I see glass tile everywhere….  Isn't that a trend that will look dated in a few years?

If the style of your backsplash fits the style of your home it will have more longevity, no matter what type of tile you choose.   If for example you live in an a hundred year old cottage, consider a hand-clipped stained glass tile that fits the period of the home.   If your house is contemporary, choose a larger smooth glass tile.   Glass is a great way to add color and/or shimmer to a kitchen and need not look trendy.    It has great depth & translucence and can be used alone, or as an accent with stone, porcelain or ceramic tile.

6. Are all grouts created equal for backsplash use?

Ever since  Hydroment developed  Hydroment Trucolor Urethane Grout I explain the importance of these products in a backsplash area. Technically all grout should be sealed, and in an area where water and food particles can meet the surface of the grout going with an Epoxy or Urethane that requires no sealing or maintenance is a huge bonus. These products are a little harder to work with, should be cleaned from the surface of the tile very thoroughly, given proper time to cure, and are more expensive but the stain resistance, color fastness, and mold and mildew barrier they provide in a kitchen setting are very important elements. It is a one time expense for a long lasting maintenance free backsplash.

7. What is bull nose and will I need it in my space?

Does your backsplash run wall to wall or into cabinetry, wood work, etc? You will need bull nose where you need to see a finishing piece. .  Bullnose is used to finish off your field tile when it comes to an end.  Bullnose has a rounded finished edge so you're not looking at the raw porcelain or unfinished edge of a tile.

8. What if the tile I picked out doesn't have a bullnose?


Some tiles do not have bullnose, such as natural stones.  In this case you can use a pencil molding to finish off your backsplash.  There are also metal strips with a finished edge that come in several different colors.

9. What kind of accents/inserts can I use?


If you want to add some color to your backsplash there are numerous options out there.  You can use glass as a border or as inserts.  It's nice to pick a color you like out of your granite or whatever countertop you have, and find a glass with that same color.  You can use metal, which comes in several different finishes.  Normally, you would match the finish to the hardware on your cabinets or the appliances in your kitchen.  If you want a more subtle look, you can use stone or cast stone deco's that will blend in a little more with your field tile.  These options are just the most popular types of accents; there are many new and innovative ideas out there


MAINTENANCE/CARE

1. What type of tile is best for cleaning?

The most easy-care type of tile will be either a glazed porcelain or ceramic tile, which has a smooth surface and does not require any type of sealer.  Natural stone such as travertine, marble, onyx and slate must all be sealed periodically and cleaned with a stone cleaner.  This is not a hard process, and once sealed these stones are easy to clean, it's just another step that is required to keep your backsplash looking good and performing well.

2. What about all those pits in tumbled marble and travertine – aren't they hard to clean?

These pits will be filled with grout during installation so you will not end up with the deep crevices that you see in the raw stone.   While these may not be quite as easy to clean as a smooth porcelain or ceramic tile, it's still fairly simple to clean.

3. How hard is it to take care of a backsplash?

 
Today's products make backsplashes virtually maintenance free.  Inquire about TruColor Grout, it is not only anti-microbial, it never needs to be sealed.  Pair that with one of our beautiful porcelain tiles, and you are all set!  Should you choose a natural stone tile, we offer an excellent line of penetrating sealers and natural stone cleaners.  An additional maintenance-free choice would be glass tile.  Almost any of our products can be thoughtfully mixed and matched to best compliment your kitchen


COST

1. How much will a tile backsplash cost?

Because a lot of kitchens are now open plan and can be seen from living areas, dining rooms, and family room, backsplashes have become a very important element in the overall design of the kitchen and the home.   A tile backsplash may run from a couple hundred dollars for a simple 4x4 tile to several thousand for a very elaborate design that incorporates glass, metal and custom decorative elements.    

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