Introduction

fully installed tile backsplash
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Greasy splatters and messy spills present no challenge to a backsplash made of tile, one of the easiest-to-clean materials for the stain-prone spot behind a range or sink. And the subtle color variations of translucent glass mosaic tile offer a rich look that makes this area a real eye-catcher in your kitchen. Mounted on 12x12 sheets of paper, the 3/4-inch tiles are simple to install and will fit around cabinets and counters with few cuts. Even better, grouting the tile with a new urethane-based, nonporous product means you won't need to apply sealant to keep your backsplash looking spiffy. Read on to see how This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers turned a bland wall into a brand new showpiece.

Tile: 3/4-inch straight-profile mosaic in Clay by Ann Sacks, from $35 per square foot

Grout: TruColor premixed grout in Alabaster by Bostik, about $76 per 9-pound bucket
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    Tools List

    • drill
      drill/driver
    • notched trowel
      trowel with 3/16-by-¼-inch V-notch
    • utility knife
      utility knife
    • hammer
      hammer
    • Glass Nippers
      two-wheeled glass nippers
    • rubber float
      epoxy grout float
    • drywall bucket
      5-gallon flat-bottomed mud bucket
    • bucket with sponge
      small bucket
    • grout sponge
      grout sponge
    • scrub brush
      nylon scrub brush
    • caulk gun
      caulk gun

    Shopping List

    Paper-faced translucent glass mosaic sheet tile. The facing is peeled off once the tiles are set on the wall

    Kraft paper to protect your counters

    Painter's tape

    Scrap 1x lumber for a temporary ledger

    1½-inch drywall screws

    80-grit sanding sponge for roughing painted drywallSealer-primer paint

    Thinset mortar. Choose a quality white latex-fortified portland cement thinset.

    Scrap cardboard to use as a spacer

    Grout Make sure it's a flexible grout approved by the tile maker. We chose a colorized, premixed urethane water-based grout that "gives" when the glass expands and requires no sealant

    Acrylic caulk that matches the grout