Preparing the Kitchen Walls for the Backsplash

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post where Douglas made his own comments at the bottom of each paragraph. We received a lot of feedback telling us that this was a popular feature, and so whenever there is a project that Douglas was heavily involved with, or did on his own, he will be adding his own two cents… or more.

Last weekend we FINALLY tiled the backsplash! This is a project that I was sure would be complete by March. Here we are halfway through July, and it is finally happening. I am thrilled that progress has at last been made in the kitchen. The backsplash has not been completed, but the end is in sight. Today, I will share with you the prep we undertook to have everything ready to go. (The end in sight? Never is the end in sight these projects, I just sometimes get lucky and get there…)

These are the little tasks that rarely get explained on blogs. Prior to any big project there are always a million little tasks that need to be performed before the “real” work can begin. If you are planning to tile your own backsplash, it is unlikely that you will have to do these same things, but I am certain there are other jobs that you will have to do before commencing. (A million tasks like marrying a guy stupid enough to do them…)

For us, the first task was to move the outlet over the stove that was driving me crazy. I hated that the plug for the stove came up in plain view. It looked terrible. Of course, if you have been following this blog for a while, you know that when trying to relocate that outlet in March, we discovered that the entire kitchen needed to be rewired. If you have not been following the blog, you can read about that disappointing discovery here.

Ugly outlet in the kitchen

That realization led to the postponement of the project for much longer than we would have liked. Finally, in June the electricians came to update our wiring and $3,750 later, we were ready to go. (The actual kitchen rewiring was cheaper than that, but unfortunately our electrical panel was maxed out and we desperately needed to upgrade our service).

New electrical lines to the kitchen

Only a hole remained where the ugly outlet had once been, and so Alex received his first lesson in patching drywall. Douglas is a believer that every young man needs to learn this skill. He himself has earned many a beer patching walls after drunken friends had put various body parts through the wall. Alex did a commendable job for his first time.

Patching drywallPatching drywallPatching drywall

In the meantime, Douglas needed to level this cabinet to close the gap that was driving me crazy. We discovered that it had not been built correctly during the installation of the counters, but it took us a while to get around to rectifying the problem. (I think the gap was driving me more crazy than her, but I was afraid what may happen when I tried to fix it).

Gap under uneven cabinets

It took Douglas quite a while to free the cabinet from the self-leveling concrete that we used when tiling the kitchen floor. There was much cursing, but he finally got the cabinet straightened out. I feel much better now that there is no longer a gap. It was only visible while sitting on the far side of the dining room table, but it really bothered me just knowing that it was there. (And I was correct, it took several hours of frustration to resolve).

Level cabinet and counter

Next, some of the trim on the windows needed to be removed. We debated about removing the trim from the sides of the window as well, but in the end, we decided to leave it and only remove the piece on the bottom.

Removing trim under the windowRemoving trim under the window

He then trimmed various little bumps and imperfections from the wall. This was particularly necessary where the old counters had come up the wall.

Trimming old paint chips off the wall

Next, Douglas was thrilled to be able to take the sink back out for the hundredth time since January when the kitchen renovation commenced. Hopefully, this will be the last time that we have to remove it. (Last time on the sink? Yeah, right! Have to remove it again to caulk below the backsplash, and possibly to put on window trim and seal the grout).

Removing the sinkRemoving the sink

The last step was to remove the outlet covers. These outlets were installed by the electricians last month. We originally had two, but those were changed out and two more were installed. Here is Crème in front of one of the outlets wondering what happened to her sink.

Cat in kitchen construction

Finally, after several hours of preparation… after two years and several hours of preparation, we were finally ready to tile. Check back next week to see how it went. Most of you are well aware by now that few of our projects go according to plan! Will this be another saga?

Post script: If you are wondering what I was doing while this work was occurring, I was in the basement preparing for the yard sale we are planning to have on August 23.

Happy Homemaking!

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About

I am a teacher, traveler, artist, writer, homemaker and a whole lot more. In January 2009, I bought the Cape of Dreams. It was the second house that I had ever owned, but it was the first that I bought by myself. I now live in the house with my husband Douglas, our dog Kahlua, and Crème de Menthe, the cat. Because, what life is complete without a little Kahlua and Cream? I love arts and crafts of all kinds, and I refinish furniture as well. We are slowly redoing our entire house. You can read about my projects on my blog www.CapeofDreams.com

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10 comments on “Preparing the Kitchen Walls for the Backsplash
  1. You’re right about the minutiae of prep. Sometimes I live with undone things for years just so I won’t have to do the same thing twice. Every task has its order of steps and I don’t really care for the demolition nor preparation work that it entails. Just want to work on the fun part. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    • Jessica says:

      It is so hard to wait sometimes, but it really is better when you can do things in the right order. It makes everything easier in the long run. Sometimes I think that the fun part is going to be when we get to live in our finished house (a hundred years from now), but I have to remind myself that the renovation can be fun as well… occasionally. 😉

  2. Oh, it’s so exciting when things progress, even if they are not finished, isn’t it? I was over the moon last week when my kitchen clock finally got hung after two months where nothing in the kitchen was done! I can’t wait to see your backsplash!

    • Jessica says:

      It is wonderful when you can celebrate the little things like putting in a clock or prepping the kitchen for a backsplash. Even baby steps are better than nothing! That is why I keep looking at old pictures, so that I can remember what it used to look like and feel that it is even minutely better. I cannot wait to show you the backsplash!

  3. D'Arcy H says:

    I HATE prep work!!! I guess that’s why my box of backsplash tiles is still sitting where Eric put it down. It’s right in front of the backsplash, though, so that means it’s close to done, right?? I will feel better when the tiling is complete at last.

    • Jessica says:

      I would say that prep work is the worst, but it isn’t. The worst for me are the trillion little things that need to be done at the end of a project before you can call it truly finished. It is so much easier to call it “good enough.” I hope that you can find the motivation to do your tiling soon. It really does feel good to have it done.

  4. Jan Dear says:

    I’m considering replacing my blue laminate backsplash with some sort of glass/brighter tile. I’m anxious to see how yours turns out.

    • Jessica says:

      There are so many wonderful choices. I am happy with the tiles that we chose in the end. Hopefully you will like them too, but whatever you choose don’t be afraid to go for it. It makes such a difference to have a beautiful backsplash.

  5. I like the Douglas comments in italics. I might have to get my hubby to chime in on some of my future blogs. He hardly ever assists [mostly because I don’t let him and he’s fine with that – he’s not a naturally handy person] but when he does it’s been fun 🙂 I can’t wait to see your backsplash!

    • Jessica says:

      Douglas actually had a blog before I did, but he does not post very frequently. I had a lot more DIY experience in some things, but he knows the plumbing and electrical and has been gaining expertise in everything else.

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