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...


  1. What an incredible change! WOW! I have under cabinet lightening now, installed shortly after we moved in, and absolutely love it! Go for it Carson, you won't regret it.

  2. Impressive & beautiful!

  3. Wow. Always inspirational. Great job!

  4. It looks absolutely fantastic! (Love your work shirt).
    Under cabinet lighting is wonderful, and I can imagine it would be even more wonderful in your kitchen because it would reflect off the backsplash. WOW on YOU!

  5. I have to say the silver was the perfect choice, it truly made the new look Gorgeous. wow on all that work

  6. It's beautiful! I love the whole thing and would happily move in and cook there for the next 20 years. You're a woman after my own heart and I admire your willingness to tackle just about anything. Yay you!

  7. What a great tutorial. What a lovely job you and Ethel did. Great DIYers as always. And yes, there are always more "little" things to add to the look. xoxo Oma Linda

  8. YOur kitchen looks awesome! Nice job, you guys!! KarenTX

  9. Absolutely fabulous! Beautiful new kitchen, great teamwork.

  10. Wow - I'm impressed! It looks fabulous with your stainless steel appliances. I'm glad your cabinets were VERY securely attached to the wall so you could anchor against them to get that adhesive sealed. Well done! And how great is it to have a pal like Ethel to work with?!

  11. It all looks fantastic, Carson. Now, for the under-cabinet lighting. You will find the market consists mainly of LED light fixtures. Please look only at that LED lighting. I installed (and removed) Xenon "puck" (round like a hockey puck) lights and they burned so hot I melted the top of a TV we had on the kitchen counter. The Xenon lights required 110-volt wiring too. LED lights are available as "strip lights" that run on low voltages. Some have the disadvantage that a "brick" transformer is in the power cord and must be hidden someplace, but there is low-voltage wiring from there on and many styles can be daisy-chained from one fixture to another without more "bricks." Others have the transformer in the fixture and again require 110-volt wires to each fixture. But all LED lights burn cool to the touch and thus don't have the chance of melting appliances below them, AND they use very little electricity if you want to leave them on as night lights.

  12. Under cabinet lighting is awesome - I got mine at HOme Depot a decade ago. However, your new look certainly brightens up the place! ~ Linda

  13. Who else would think of using the feet when another pair of appendages is needed! Caulking guns make me either cry or curse -- or both, depending on the day; they're tough indeed. Anyway, your kitchen looks slick, nice indeed!

  14. you make it seem so simple. :) I think under the cabinet lighting would be great to show off your beautiful kitchen...beautiful work. :)
    you inspire me,
    Marie :)

  15. Nice work, ladies!

    ps -- sometimes you have to lie down on the job in order to DO the job. :-)

  16. That looks awesome. You are an inspiration!

    Anna G

  17. An American in Tokyo3/27/17, 9:15 PM

    You are Superwoman! And Ethel is also! =O

  18. Your house is a work of art!