Thursday, September 20, 2012

Laundry Room Update: Glass Mosaic Backsplash

Final Phase:  Installing Glass Mosaic Tile Backsplash
This post discusses phase five, the final phase (finally!) of our laundry room update:  How to Tile a Glass Mosaic Backsplash.  Previously, we completed the following updates to the laundry room:
I got my first real dose of installing tile this spring, when we tiled the backsplash of our basement bar.  As soon as we decided to install a new countertop in the laundry room, I suggested that we use tile as a backsplash material.  Why?  I gave my husband the following reasons:
  • Tile is a decorative way to disguise drywall surface flaws left after the countertop installation.
  • A tiling project would be inexpensive - we already had  the majority of tools and supplies needed.
  • I wanted to practice my tiling skills.
He agreed!  So, while at the home improvement store picking out the countertop, we also selected a coordinating tile and aluminum tile edge protector.  The tile we selected is called Luxor Valley Brick:
Tile selection coordinates well with counter and wall color
Not only does this glass and stone mosaic tile coordinate well with what we've already done, but the gray color and edge protector also tie in the stainless steel and works with the misty gray unsanded grout I already had on hand (from our bathroom tile project last month).  Perfect.

We originally agreed to tile only the backsplash.  But, later that evening, I took a really good look at the wall behind my washer and dryer.  The space between the cabinet and  over-washer/dryer shelf was almost exactly 12-inches - the same height as one sheet of tile.  Hmm...
Why not tile this wall  also?
I wedged the three sheets of tile in the space and discussed it with my husband.  He agreed that it looked really good.  So, back to the home improvement store I went.  Again!

It was the icing on the cake.  The tile turns an otherwise boring, utilitarian room into a room I do not mind other people seeing when the door is open!  I spent a total of three hours, split over the course of one day, to lay the glass mosaic tile and an additional hour to grout.  Keep reading to see how we did it!

But first, a few more thoughts on adhesive tile setting mats:
In my post from July, I explained how we tiled a backsplash using travertine tiles and an adhesive tile setting mat.  This laundry room project marks our fourth time using the product.  I am still a fan - for small projects!  The biggest advantage I have, as a mother to younger kids, is that I am able to lay tile while still taking parenting breaks (after-school activities, homework breaks, etc).  Mortar is not so flexible!  Or mess-free.

This time around, we also used a tile edge protector, which revealed a big disadvantage to using the adhesive tile setting mat.  Because the edge protector is installed behind the tile, using the edge protector with the mat meant that one row of tile projects forward ever-so-slightly more than the rest:
Before Grout: top row of tile rests slightly higher than other rows.
This bugs the perfectionist in me.  Had we used mortar, rather than the mat, we could have built up the surface to a consistent, level depth.  Bummer.
After Grout:  top row still slightly higher to the touch.
Next time, I'll know to use mortar if I am using uneven tile surfaces or the edge protector.  However, while I know this is a flaw, others do not really sense it.  And, it's the laundry room, after all.  I am O.K. with it being perfectly imperfect.  The room looks a million times better now than it did two weeks ago and functions wonderfully.  Nothing to complain about!  

If you opt to use the tile setting mat, please be sure to do the following:
  • Properly clean the wall and backsplash before use.
  • If you are applying the mat to a wooden surface, or a surface previously painted using high gloss paint, sand the surface lightly before cleaning.
  • Remove all air bubbles after applying the mat and press the mat firmly with the grout float to adhere it to the surface before you remove the plastic covering.
  • Make sure the backs of the tile are clean and free of dust before applying it to the mat.
  • Trim mosaic webbing material as close to the tile as possible.  And, press all the tiles in firmly with a grout float to adhere.
  • Grout within 24 hours of install.
Tiling a Backsplash Using Glass Mosaic Tile:

  • 12" x 12" inch Mesh-mounted Mosaic Tile
  • Adhesive Tile Setting Mat
  • 1/2" Aluminum tile Edge protector
  • Non Sanded Grout
  • Pre-primed Quarter-Round Molding
  • Silicone Caulk
  • Ruler and Measuring Tape
  • Laser Level
  • Scissors
  • Exacto-knife and cutting surface
  • Grout Float and Sponge
  • Bucket or pail
  • Wet Saw
  • Hack Saw
General How To:
  • Calculate how much tile you will need to complete the job.
    Note: Our backsplash used about 2.5 sheets of the mosaic tile, and the wall behind the washer/dryer used up 6.5. 
  • Measure desired dimensions of tile installation and mark a level line on the wall surface(s) at the top of the backsplash.
    Note:  Cut around any electrical outlets, phone jacks, etc. Luckily, for this project, we had no obstacles!
  • Measure, cut and adhere adhesive tile mat to the wall surface(s) according to manufacturer's directions.
    Note:  The adhesive is very sticky.  Clean your cutting tools several time during the course of the project.
I drew a level line on both walls before adhering the mat.
  • While the plastic covering is still on the mat, dry fit the tile to determine how many rows of the meshed mosaic tile you need to adhere.  Trim excess rows using an exacto knife and a designated cutting surface.
Trim excess webbing as close to the tile as possible.
  • If using a tile edge protector, measure and cut it using a hack saw, miter saw, or snything else designed to cut metal.
    Note:  We cut it to create a 45-degree angle in the inside corner of the backspash.  For the other wall, we kept the straight edge.
  • Place all full tile sheets on adhesive and press firmly with the grout float to set.
    Note:  The tile edge protector is placed between the adhesive and the tile mesh.  Use an additional layer of adhesive between the edge protector and tile mesh to make sure the tiles stick.
All the full sheets of tile and edge protector are laid.
  • Measure and cut partial tiles as needed using the wet saw.
    Note:  For the most part, our cuts were half pieces.
    Result:  Tile is placed - time to grout!
One more cut to go!
  • Protect the area using paper, drop cloth, etc.
  • Prepare grout.
    Note:  We used a powdered, non sanded grout for this project, as recommended for use with glass tile.  The non sanded grout protects the glass surface.  The color we used was misty gray.
  • Apply grout with a grout float.  Work the grout completely into the joints.
    Note:  Use the float to gently scrape grout off the tile face as you go.  Be careful not to gouge the joints.
Wear gloves - grouting gets messy.
  • Allow grout to set up, or cure, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
    Note:  We waited about 3 hours for the grout to cure.
  • Dampen a sponge in clean water and gently wipe the tiles in a circular motion.
    Note:  Rinse the sponge and change the water often.  We were really happy to have our new sink for this process!
We initiated the new laundry sink!
  • Allow grout to completely cure.
    Note:  We left it for 24 hours.
  • Use a dry, soft cloth to buff the tiles and remove any residual haze.
    Note:  As with other projects, we will wait a few days and then seal the grout lines.
  • To seal the joints between the tile edge protector and drywall, apply a bead of clear silicone caulk.
    Note:  To pretty up the joint where the tile meets the over the washer/dryer shelf, we added a run of quarter-round molding.
    Result:  You're tile job is complete!
New backsplash - LOVE it!
What a transformation!
Phew.  Another successful tiling job completed.  I cannot even believe how much this small addition jazzes up the room.  And, I cannot believe I went most of my life without tiling.  I cannot wait for the next tile project.  It's quickly become my favorite DIY project.

Finishing Touches:
Artwork:  There is just one more wall in this room that I have not updated.  I really could not let it go untouched.  So, I switched out my sunset photos for clothespins photos and rehung the frame next to the door:
Before:  Sunsets from a Jamaica vacation
After:  Clothespins, of course!
Balls of Yarn:  When I was shopping for accessories (yes, even for the laundry room), I felt inspired by old bobbins, spools, knitting needles, and balls of yarn, etc.  I decided to make my own little bowl of yarn balls:
Before:  You say tennis balls...I say yarn balls
I picked up some pretty yarn at the craft store, pulled old tennis balls out of the garage, and got to work.  I was able to make five 'yarn balls' for under five dollars!  The yarn was on sale, and I used a coupon.  The bowl, a Wilton Armetale bowl, was only only one dollar at an estate sale.  Quick, easy, and pretty:
After:  Pretty little bowl of yarn balls
And they are functional, too.  Once I set the dye by washing them in hot water, I can use them in the dryer for quick-drying, static-free clothes!

Above-cabinet Storage:  The room has high (10 foot) ceilings.  I took the storage vertical by placing plastic bins above the cabinets.  These bins, which I normally store in a coat closet, hold winter scarves, mittens, etc.  I use identical bins to store swim gear.  Moving the bins into the laundry room, above the cabinets, freed up valuable real estate elsewhere and optimized otherwise dead space.  I plan to switch the bins each season as needed.
Vertical Storage Optimized
And with that, we are DONE!  What did that room ever look like before?
Funny to think the entire project began because we just wanted a deeper sink.  Based on our Before and After Shots, the added effort was well worth it:

Five phases, completed over two weeks, was all it took to complete this laundry room update.  All because we did not like the shallow sink. 
Football season started, we have more visitors arriving, and the weather is finally cooling off in Atlanta.  Perfect timing for us to take a break from the DIY projects.  Well, maybe one weekend, at least!


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