DIY – Update Your Kitchen With a New Tile Backsplash

If you want to give your kitchen a facelift, consider replacing or adding a new tile backsplash. This can give your kitchen a bright modern appearance without a lot of effort. The nice thing about adding a new backsplash is that it is not very hard to do.

If your existing backsplash is painted drywall, it’s quite straightforward. Even if you have an old tile backsplash, it is still not difficult – just messier in the beginning.

Planning the Project

If your existing backsplash is painted drywall, you can install your new tiles right over the top. Just sand the area to rough up the surface and get ready to install. If you have an existing tile backsplash, your best bet is to remove it totally. This will involve actually cutting the existing backer (usually drywall) and getting rid of both it and the attached tiles.

For the best results consult with a professional to determine if you need to replace the drywall before installing the new tile. Handyman Matters can help answer all of your questions.

Determine the length of your backsplash, and then measure the distance from the top of the counter to the bottom of the wall cabinet to calculate the area you’ll need to cover with your tiles (length x width = area). Now that you know how much space you have, figure out your tile pattern. Use graph paper and draw a scale outline. The most common tiles used for backsplashes are 4 x 4, 6 x 6 or 3 x 4 subway tiles. You could also use 1 x 1 tiles attached to a back mesh if you like the appearance better–the choice is yours.  Find the one that best fits your style. Just be sure that the tiles are glazed when you get them; this will help prevent stains, moisture and grease from ruining your tile. When you calculate your tile quantities, don’t forget to add about 10 percent for cutting and waste.

Installing the Backsplash

  1. Remove the stove and range hood and anything else that will be in your way when you are working on the backsplash. Shut off the power to any outlets or switches and remove the cover plates.
  2. If your tiles are going to be running over any gaps (like where the range will be), install a temporary ledger board along the base of your tile line to help hold them in place during installation.
  3. Mark the visual focal point of your layout and use a level to draw a starting line through it. You’ll use this to line up your tiles vertically. Now, lay out your tiles on the countertop or the kitchen floor so you can follow the pattern.
  4. Starting at the center, begin the bottom row by applying tile mastic (a ready to use tile adhesive) or thinset mortar to a small section of the wall using a grooved trowel. Put the edge of the first tile on the vertical line leaving a gap of about 1/8″ on the bottom – this leaves space for a bead of caulk later in the process. Press and wiggle the first tile into place, then put in a temporary 1/8″ spacer (vertically for easy removal when the mastic dries).
  5. Install the second tile using the same process. Continue installing tiles working away from the centerline, wiggling them into place and putting spacers between each. Follow your pattern and install any decorative/highlight tiles as part of the field.
  6. When you get to a place where you need to cut or trim a tile (under a countertop, end of a row, around an electrical outlet), cut the tile as part of the installation – don’t leave an opening and plan to come back.

Cutting a Tile

Cutting tile can be a hard task; the easiest way to cut a tile is using a tool called a scoring cutter. Using one is a two-step process – mark the tile where you want to cut it, then place the tile in the tool and score a mark in the tile surface. Then, using a sharp motion of the tool handle, the cutter will break the tile along the scored line.

Cutting openings for an electrical outlet can be more challenging. Depending on where an electrical outlet fits into your pattern, you may be need to cut two tiles using the scoring cutter, and then use tile nippers to cut out the opening and put them on each side of the outlet.

Grouting

After the tiles are installed and the mastic has been allowed to set up overnight, it’s time to grout. Use a sandless grout (to avoid scratching the tile surface) and mix it according to manufacturer’s directions. Apply the grout using a rubber float. Push it well down into the gaps between the tiles, then holding the float at a 45-degree angle remove the excess.

Finishing Up

Allow the grout to set up for about an hour and then clean off the hazy surface on the tiles. Use wet sponges, rinsing them often in clean water to wipe away the film. Buff the tiles with a clean dry cloth to bring out their natural beauty. You will likely need to install box extenders to your electrical outlets before you can reattach the cover plates.  Finally, apply a bead of tub and tile caulk (the same color as the grout) all along the bottom seam where the backsplash meets the countertop.

Following the steps above will help you install a new backsplash into your kitchen. Make sure you pay attention to details and follow each step, but if you happen to come across a problem, the professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters can finish the project for you, or help you along the way. Click Here to find a location near you.

Eco-friendly Bath Updates on a Budget

Bathroom on a BudgetGreen remodeling is more popular today than ever before. But creating an environmentally friendly home isn’t the only reason homeowners are undertaking green remodels. Green renovations and upgrades can be a daunting task for most homeowners and with the growing popularity in these upgrades Handyman Matters is available to support all of your needs, whether it is a small home improvement to a full remodel in some rooms in your house. According to the Wall Street Journal, certified green homes garner a higher resale value and are on the market a quarter-less time.

Think you need to be extreme to go green and make a lasting impact? Think again! There are small steps you can take to go green on a budget — and the bathroom is a great place to start. In a short timeframe and with a small investment, you can increase your home’s value and easily turn your bathroom into a healthier, eco-friendly environment.

Freshen Up

If you’re planning to add some color to your bathroom or freshen up the walls with a new coat of paint, be sure to use one with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce gaseous pollutants in your home. These non-toxic paints are not only healthier for you, your family and the environment, but they are vibrant and durable as well.

Eco-Fabulous Faucets

Bathroom faucets are the culprits of much water waste. Luckily, you can easily save water by investing a new lavatory faucet with a water-saving aerator. The professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters can install any faucet your choose specific for your bathroom.

Shower Savings

After toilets and washing machines, showers are next in line as residential water hogs. Today, flow-optimized showerheads are being produced and to help ensure they are installed properly, Handyman Matters can complete any projects you may have.

Not-So-Bright Ideas

Lighting is one of the largest uses of power in your home. Installing a dimmer in your bathroom will not only help you to set a serene mood after a long day, but also reduce energy and show green savings on your monthly electric bills. Finding the right lights can be tough and installation can be even more difficult, make sure all lights are installed correctly with Handyman Matters. Replacing incandescent light bulbs in your bathroom with compact fluorescent lighting is another small change that will make a big impact. Fluorescent lights use one-third the electricity of standard bulbs and also last up to 10 times longer.

Lean, Green and Clean

Now that you’ve finished some green updates in your bathroom, make sure to keep it clean with non-toxic organic soaps and cleaners. There are websites that list the latest lines of environmentally-friendly cleaning products. It’s a win-win situation for both your family and the environment.

Being green doesn’t mean going to extremes. With these lean bathroom updates, you’ll see the green benefits for the environment and your wallet. Handyman Matters can help you plan for upgrades and repairs that are eco-friendly. The professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters can execute all projects from repairs to remodels that suite your needs. Click Here to find a location near you.

Home Maintenance Tips

We all know the things we probably “should” be doing in our home to keep things running efficiently and helping to prevent potential large, costly problems. However… we all know that actually getting those little things done around the house is an entirely different story! Having been in the home repair industry for over 12 years now, I can attest to how incredibly valuable keeping up with regular home maintenance can be. We have experienced countless situations where a very expensive problem could have been fixed by something as small as checking for leaks. Do yourself, and your home, a favor this year and give your house the TLC it deserves.

We’ve put together a list of maintenance tips broken out by month to help keep that to-do list manageable. Check them out and stay tuned for February’s maintenance tips next month!

Home Maintenance Tips
By following these steps you’ll avoid expensive repairs later and keep your home safe & efficient.  See the “Home Maintenance” page for more details.

• Clear Out Your Dryer Vent Hose – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission studies show 15,600 home fires are caused each year by lint blocking dryer vent hoses, killing or injuring 390 people and causing over $75 Million in damage.  Of 26 home equipment based causes of home fires, this is # 3 out of 26.  (# 1 and # 2 are gas & electric stoves).  It’s easy to protect your family, just use a flexible brush long enough to go the entire length of the hose to clean it out.

• Check All Faucets and sinks for Leaks & Drainage – Leaks can damage the insides of walls, cause dangerous mold to build up and cost you.  Visually check for leaks and check drain speed by filling up sinks and watching how fast they drain.  If you’ve noticed water build up in the sink while using it, it’s at least partially clogged.  Use a natural product like Bio-Clean to unclog drainpipes.

• Inspect Tile, Grout and Caulking for Cracks – Grout is the material between tiles and caulk is between tiles and glass or in the corners.  Cracks can let water through causing unseen damage and providing a breeding ground for dangerous molds.  Remove existing caulk or grout and thoroughly clean before replacing.  An individual cracked tile can be removed by carefully using a ceramic drill to start a hole and then break it out.

• Change Furnace Air Filters – Filter out allergens and keep your furnace running efficiently by changing your air filters.  We recommend microbial type filters. Change monthly or as recommended by manufacturer.

• Test All Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Push the button on the unit to check it – a few minutes doing this each month could save your family’s life in a fire. Plan on changing the batteries twice a year.

• Check Doors for Squeaks, Bumpers, and Proper Closing – A door knob going through drywall can cost up to $200 to repair, so check and replace door bumpers as needed.  For squeaks, use WD-40 and for uneven closing, get longer hinge screws.  As you tighten the longer screws you can adjust the door up or down to make it close properly.