Monday, March 27, 2017

Lucy and Ethel install the backsplash

This post will seem like old news since I've already shown you the finished product,
but I thought a little backsplash tutorial might be helpful for those considering a kitchen makeover,
especially a makeover wherein the make-ee doesn't want to rip out her old tile backsplash 
for fear of ripping out the wallboard in the process.

 I used a product called Fasade decorative thermoplastic panels.
Fasade doesn't know me and hasn't asked me to write this, but
I'm so impressed with the stuff that I can't help myself from extolling its wonderfulness.
The panels come in three different styles and 18 different colors.
I ordered samples online and chose Traditional 1 in crosshatch silver,
then puchased all the materials through Home Depot.
When all was said and done, the total cost of the project
excluding labor, was about $400. 

If anyone (who does not read this blog) looks at my new backsplash,
they will swear it's real tin and that it was installed by a professional.
I'm not saying this to brag but to assure you that the stuff is amazing
and easy to install.

But before I did the installation, I had to fix a big mess I made
when I put in the ceramic tile backsplash in '05. Then, as now, 
I had no clue what I was doing and totally screwed up 
the way I tiled around the seven electrical outlets –
the surface of the outlets was recessed about a quarter inch behind the tile.
Long-time blog friend Dave G. read of my dilemma and sent detailed
instructions to resolve it, for which I am eternally grateful.
He suggested adding washers behind the outlet screws to bring them forward
to match the face of the tile/tin. Genius. 

 When I explained to the Home Depot man that I was looking for washers
to add behind my outlets, he pointed me to a bag of these plastic Lego-like things.

They're called outlet spacers. Who knew? 
Anyway, I put five of them behind each outlet screw
and successfully hid my amateur mistakes.

 No, I was not lying down on the job – I was fixing outlets...

 ...while Ethel cleaned the back of the new panels with rubbing alcohol
so that the adhesive would stick properly.
The single most important part of installing a Fasade backsplash is to follow
the simple instructions to the letter. Ethel and I did exactly that,
and there were no unrecoverable mistakes and only a limited amount of cursing. 

 There was, however, a lot of measuring. 
No, make that A LOT of measuring.

I used kraft paper to make templates for the complicated cuts, then transferred
the patterns to the panels. Each panel cost about $20 – too much to be making any mistakes.

 The measuring/templating/cutting process can be tedious, but it's not hard.
I used scissors and a box cutter to make most of the cuts.

 By the end of installation day one, most of the fitting/cutting was complete and
the panels and trim were taped in place, ready to be glued.

 The hardest part about the whole project? 
Using a caulking gun to squirt out the Loctite adhesive.
We're talking blisters-on-my-hand, break-a-sweat hard.
Whew. I'm glad that's over.

Slowly and methodically, Ethel and I applied the adhesive to each panel, then stuck it over the tile.
It was easy except when a piece of trim for the top edge extended across two or more panels,
at which point four hands were required.

 I found that my feet and a little leverage were the best tools for 
ensuring a good seal.

 Ethel followed along, removing any adhesive that squirted out the seams.

 Start to finish, the installation took about 12 hours over the course of two days.

 That does not include the time it took Saturday to re-paint the kitchen
and dining room because, yes, I am obsessed and don't know when to quit.

 So goodbye, old kitchen, with your white appliances, dated light fixtures, 
laminate counters and tired-looking backsplash with the funky outlets.

New kitchen, you are officially done.
Well, except for maybe a few decorative accessories and a colorful rug.
Then there's that under-cabinet lighting I've been thinking about...