Cool Tools: The Hassle-Free Way to Tile a Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash instantly upgrades a kitchen or bathroom, and with these user-friendly products, even a novice DIYer can achieve stunning results.

By Glenda Taylor | Published Dec 13, 2021 11:38 AM

Photo: istockphoto.com

Few design elements make as much visual difference in a room as the addition of a tile backsplash. Installing glass, ceramic, or stone tiles gives ordinary countertops and bathroom vanities a finished look and adds instant appeal, but having one professionally installed is a pricey prospect.

Even enthusiastic DIYers tend to shy away from installing traditional tile backsplashes due to the mess involved with mixing and applying adhesive and grout. Using conventional tile-setting methods can also be labor-intensive. Fortunately, now there’s an easier way to install real tile without the hassle. By using two innovative products from Custom Building ProductsSimpleMat and SimpleGrout—installing a tile backsplash doesn’t have to be messy or time-consuming. Ahead, learn how these tile-setting products can help you create a backsplash that will transform your countertop from drab to dramatic.

Simple Surface Prep

SimpleMat, a double-sided adhesive mat, comes in 9-inch by 18-inch sheets and can be cut to fit any size backsplash with scissors. The double-sided sheets come 10 to a box, and a single box will cover 10 square feet of wall. The only requirement is that the area must be clean, dry, and flat before positioning the mat in place. Wipe away dust or debris, use an all-purpose household cleaner to remove splashed-on spots, and then let the wall dry. If necessary, fill any holes with putty and sand smooth before using SimpleMat.

SimpleMat

Photo: homedepot.com

Axe the Adhesive

Many DIYers don’t take on tiling projects due to the hassle of mixing thinset mortar. Mixing thinset requires waiting until the product reaches a specific consistency before using. Both thinset and mastic (another type of adhesive) require application with a notched trowel, and correct notch size varies based on the specific tile, so it gets complicated. With SimpleMat, there’s no mixing, no spreading, and no mess. Just measure the wall, cut the mat to fit, peel off the back lining, and stick the mat in place. Unlike using typical tile adhesive, you won’t have to cover the countertop and floor to protect them from spills.

Install at Your Pace

Installing a tile backsplash with thinset or adhesive involves spreading the mixture on the wall and then installing the tiles soon after—if the phone rings or the dog jumps the fence and you have to take a break—you might come back to a wall with hard mortar that has to be scraped off. SimpleMat provides a no-pressure solution for those who need to break the project into shorter periods. You can cut and fit the mat at your leisure—just leave the clear exterior plastic lining in place until you’re ready to start setting the tiles.

Eliminate Wait Time

With standard tile-setting adhesive (thinset or mastic), users must wait 24 to 48 hours before they can start grouting. With SimpleMat, you can begin grouting as soon as the tiles are in place on the mat, but always within 24 hours. This means rather than spreading out a tiling project over a couple of weekends, you can finish it in a single weekend—or even a day.

SimpleGrout

Photo: homedepot.com

Avoid Messy Grout Mixing

Adding too much water to powdered grout can result in a runny mess that won’t set properly, and not adding enough water can lead to dry powdery grout that’s ineffective. With SimpleGrout, the mixing is already done. You only need to stir the product and apply it as you would other types of grout—with a grout float. Simple grout resists cracks and shrinkage, and it’s also resistant to stains, making it among the best choices for kitchen backsplashes. It’s available in a range of colors to complement the new tile and décor.

Make Cleanup a Breeze

Like other types of grout, it’s a good idea to remove as much excess grout as possible during the grouting process, using the edge of the grout float to skim it off the tiles. While the grout is still moist, use a clean, lightly damp grout sponge to wipe the surface of the tiles clean. After 4 hours, you can buff away any remaining dry grout haze with a soft dry cloth. Using SimpleMat and SimpleGrout instead of following old-fashioned tile-setting techniques, you can install a real tile backsplash in record time and achieve professional-looking results.

This content has been brought to you by Custom Building Products. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.