DIY Tile Backsplash

When the kitchen cabinets were built at Better Farm in the 1980s, the sink backsplash was constructed out of some kind of composite board. Over time, water damaged the faux wood and rotted; creating a gross-looking backsplash that was also a health risk because of mildew and mold.

Using discarded tiles from another project, some trim boards we found in the wood shed, a little grout, caulk, and double-sided tile tape, we were able to create a tile backsplash for less than $30 that reinvented our kitchen space.
We started by taking measurements and determined we'd be covering a six-inch wide, eight-foot-long area.

Next, we removed the old backsplash and sprayed bleach onto the mold we found:

Then we screwed on leftover pieces of cement board from another project to use as our base and laid out the tiles we'd be using:

Then it was time to lay the tile. Here's Greg applying Simple Mat, a double-sided tape you mount your tiles on (truly the simplest way we're aware of for laying wall tiles):

Then it was just a matter of mounting the tiles:

Mixing up some grout:
Applying the grout over the tiles:
Then, we let the grout set before wiping the tiles clean and replacing our trim pieces:
We found an old piece of oak to use as top trim:
We used a vinyl edge for the bottom of the backsplash and set it with finishing nails and caulk. This should give us a totally water-tight seal and prevent future mildew and mold issues. The white trim can also be painted:

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.