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Installing a Mosaic Tile Backsplash

May 2, 2017

I have always thought my mother’s kitchen is gorgeous.  But guys, we just took it to a whole new level this weekend.  She now has a beautiful backsplash – that we installed by ourselves! In ONE day.  So if your excuse for not having a backsplash in your kitchen is that it’s too hard – I’m not letting you get away with that anymore!

Tools you need: 

TileQu!ck Wall Tile Adhesive Mat – from Menards (a must!)

Pre-Mixed Grout

Tile (12×12 mosaic tiles squares is what we used)

Wet Tile Saw

Outlet extenders

Grouting float



To start, make sure the area you are tiling is clean and smooth (or as smooth as possible).  We tiled over an area that was already textured and it seemed to work fine!


Next, turn off the power to the outlets, and unscrew outlets from the wall.  You will need to pull them out slightly to install the extenders.

The outlet extenders should slip over the outlets.  Our preference was the blue extenders because they are more shallow.  They did the trick, and were much easier to slip over the outlets.  Keep the long screws that come with the extenders and let the outlets hang out until you are done tiling.  Screwing the outlets, extenders, and outlet covers in over the tile will be the last thing you do.

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Next, measure and cut the TileQu!ck to cover the area you are tiling.  We cut this using a linoleum knife and T-square.  It comes in a roll 18″ x 10′ long, which perfectly did the entire kitchen for us.

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**Honestly, I wouldn’t have attempted this project without TileQu!ck.  It saved so much time and mess!  If you are going to be using mortar to attach your tile, then this is not the tutorial for that!

Peel off the backing on the TileQu!ck mat, and apply to the wall.  We rolled over the mat with a small rolling pin to make sure it was really stuck.


Now for the fun part.  The kitchen changes so quickly!

The tiles come in 12×12 squares with uneven sides.


This makes it easy to place them next to each other without seams, but you will need to cut the first square down to create a straight edge.


To cut the tiles, use a wet saw.  Basically, this a saw that cools the diamond blade with water underneath to prevent chipping the glass tile too badly.

We bought the QEP 4″ Torque Master XT Portable Tile Wet Saw for $30 at Menards.


If you are planning on doing a larger project, this may not be the most durable option.  But it did the job for us!  Make sure you create a drip loop in the power cord and add water to the bottom of the saw according to the directions – do not let the saw run dry.  

Now for the tricky part- the outlets.

To cut around outlets, we made cuts with the linoleum knife in between the tile rows closest to the top and bottom of the outlet.

**We found that our mosaic tile was pretty much made for outlets.  The measurements for the top and bottom of the outlets almost always fell between two rows of tile. Super nice!

This is marking off the top and bottom of the outlet. See how it falls neatly between the rows!


This doesn’t have to be an exact science either, because outlet covers and grout fill a lot of these spaces.  If you are not using the same small mosaic tile we used, then you may end up cutting your tiles length wise to fit.

**We found that our mosaic tile was pretty much made for outlets.  The measurements for the top and bottom of the outlets almost always fell between two rows of tile. Super nice!

Such cute hands. 🙂

Once you have cut in between the rows, it is easy to peel back the tile and only make a cut along the side of the outlet.


Your tile square will end up being stuck to the wall in two pieces around the outlet, but this seemed like the easiest way to do it!

You may need to fill in small gaps with leftover glass tile pieces, so save the outlet cutouts because they will come in handy.

Also, our backsplash area was 13.5 inches high, so to cover the top inch and a half, we cut off individual rows of tile to fill in as needed.

When you have finished covering the entire area with tile, grout immediately.  We used TEC Ready to Use Pre-Mixed Grout in the Coffee color from Menards.  Place a fair amount grout on the edge of the float.

These pictures got a little blurry. She was moving too quickly for me!

Apply by wiping top to bottom along the tile to start.  This pushes the grout into the cracks!  Then, wipe the grout side to side and thoroughly over entire area.

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When you are done grouting, use a damp sponge to scrub off any excess.  Finally, run a damp cloth over tile to remove any remaining grout.

This is the tiles after the sponge scrubbing, but before the final wipe with a damp cloth. Not quite shiny yet!

Let dry, and screw outlets, extenders, and outlet covers into the wall over the tile.



Stand back, have a glass or two of wine, and admire your work – you’re done!

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If you want to check out another idea for an easy backsplash, check out my Faux Brick Backsplash post.





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Project Gallery

How to Safely Stain Butcher Block

April 25, 2017


Whether you like the lighter look of a butcher-block or a darker, stained look, there’s no question a butcher-block slab requires a little more TLC than other wood.


Because I’m a sucker for rich, dark-stained wood, I opted to stain the slab of butcher-block that tops my island.


There is a couple extra steps compared to staining trim or something like that – but it is still easy, I promise!

Here are a few before pictures!

Now, on to the fun stuff.

1.  Sand the surface.

Always sand with the grain of the wood. And as much as I love a good power tool, I would recommend sanding this by hand. I’ve found that power sanders leave little circular or side-to-side scratches that really show up on tabletops or counters!

**If your butcher block has been used (like mine was), this step is SO important. Sanding removes imperfections or stains that you may not see until you apply the stain – then its too late!

2.   Apply a wood conditioner. Make sure it has the same base as your stain – either water or oil. The conditioner I used was oil-based. Please don’t skip this step – it really helps your stain to absorb and have a nice, rich look.

I brushed this on and wiped off the excess.

Isn’t that difference just crazy? Please condition!


3.   Apply your choice of stain.

Everything in my house (from trim to dining table) was done in Minwax Dark Walnut, so that is what I stuck with. If you’re having trouble deciding on what color, I would check out Pinterest for some great side-by-side comparisons!

Try to apply the stain in long sections (with the butcher-blocks pattern). The streaks where the stain overlaps will be in the same direction as the wood then!


Wipe stain off immediately or after 5-10 minutes, depending on how dark you would like your color to be. Then let dry about 6 hours.


4.  Finally, seal with a finishing oil and sealer that is specific to butcher blocks. The key here is to make sure that whatever you choose seals the stain and is safe to prepare food on!

I used Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish.

There you have it – all done!

If you want to check out the DIY for the island that I put this slab on – stay tuned!

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