Replacing a Tile Backplash-Part ONE

Sounds fairly simple doesn’t it?  But sometimes the easiest of plans often go awry….

Awry…what an interesting word too, and the best one that describes our *minor* kitchen reno as the definition of Awry is: ‘Away from the appropriate, planned, or expected course’…clearly, that was happening here.

When we bought the Homestead a year ago, the previous owner ‘prettied’ up the place to sell.  We knew this going into it as it was obvious from the first look at it.  So we were going to live with the little odd things for the time being until we got the major stuff done and out of the way (like the ROOF)….

This was one of those ‘little’ things that has turned into an unexpected BIGGER project.

The tile the previous owner chose was a slate floor tile…for a backsplash (DUH!),  BIG, 12″ x 12″ pieces of gray-black, absorbant sponges slapped on the wall.  Literally that is what they must have done.  No spacing of tiles, no grout, just slap the thinset on and have at ‘er.  Oh, and let’s cut itty-bitty pieces in to fill in those annoying gaps when a row of 12″ tiles does not evenly space out on the wall.

Yay. Done. Stick a For Sale sign up and get the place SOLD!

Here is the tile before (looks WAY better in pictures than close up, trust me)…


After a year of trying to live with it, I had had enough.  Especially after trying to cook anything remotely fatty and it splatters from here to Alberta.  Remember I said absorbant sponge for wall tile? Well, if the bears could have gained access to the inside of my Homestead, they’d be licking the slate tile clean trying to get the bacon grease out of it.

Hammer, chisel and prybar in hand, we start trying to pop the tiles off the wall.  This is the point where I am hoping the previous work crew had done a LOUSY job and that the tiles would practically leap off the walls in fear of seeing the hammer and chisel.  Nope, stubborn things were so well secured to the wall that the drywall started coming off in hunks with the tiles….


So we abandoned the idea of being ‘careful and cautious’ and just started yanking and prying the tiles off leaving behind huge holes and a clear view of the not-so-well-done vapour-barriered walls…perfect, another job to add to the to-do list.  We may as well take the upper and lower cabinets out and pull the sink and coutertop to remove that drywall too, no sense doing a half-a$$ed job says hubby. 

Once all the drywall was down and cleared out, we surveyed the walls.  One wall was a short-width one, ceiling height by about 4′.  The other was the longer 8+’ expanse that housed all the cabinets and sink as well as the stove.  We zipped to the local lumber store and ordered drywall to be delivered the following week as my Impy certainly wouldn’t be able to hold 10′ x 4′ sheets of drywall.

Next up was taking the flimsy layers of vapour barrier down (3 pieces, as thin as plastic wrap and not a piece of Tuck tape to be found anywhere) and clearing out the mouse shredded insulation from another spot (that was disgusting) as well as a knot hole in one of the original 2×4’s that was an ant grave yard ?? Have no idea, your guess is as good as mine….Hubby rewired 2 electrical outlets (that were not even connected to anything when we bought the place, but they certainly looked nice!) and also put in new wire for an over-the-sink light and one for a stove hood fan (which was non-existent, who doesn’t put a hood fan in?!)

Preventative Measures to Keep Mice Out

With the electrical done and the new insulation packed in where it needed to be, we stapled AND Tuck taped the new vapour barrier up and were done for the weekend.  YAY!The drywall was being delivered next week, so it was time for a well deserved break…with a beer… or two…or three….

The following weekend, the drywall was delivered promptly at 9 am on Friday, by the end of the day, all 3 sheets were up and taped and the first coat of mud slapped on.  Perfect! moving along at breakneck speed we were.  Friday night was beautiful, no wind and mild temps, so we relaxed with a fire and watched the stars appear in the sky until we couldn’t keep our peepers open any longer…which was around 9 pm… animals we are.

We spent Saturday doing a second coat of mud, then I started painting primer where the cabinets and wall tile were going, leaving the rest open as hubby needed to still do a third coat of mud on the exposed wall areas.   As the paint and mud were drying, we got to work on installing the new countertop into the existing cabinets.  What fun!  ok, maybe not..there is a reason you hire people to do certain things…..but with minimal cursing, the job got done…and of course, hubby is an extremely quick learner when it comes to acquiring a new skill.  With the new counter top in and the sink back in action (have you ever tried to do dishes in an itty-bitty bathroom sink? there is another new skill learned there, trying to avoid breaking the mugs in a porcelain sink), we were able to have a somewhat normal dinner and thankfully a countertop to work on.

As luck would have it, I had to leave early Sunday morning to come back home and work (sorry sweetie), but hubby managed to finish the third coat of mud, finish priming the walls and got the 2 coats of finished paint done (he worked so hard, I may have to make his favourite dessert this week).

Next up, the upper cabinets get to be re-installed, THEN, we can actually start putting up the new wall tile….woo-hoo!

Update to come next week…..

4 thoughts on “Replacing a Tile Backplash-Part ONE

  1. Holy Crap, Deb. I feel for you, and great job hubster woot woot. I know who did your contract work on that cabin, he was hired to do the same stupid things in our house! Tuck tape is my friend, along with tie wire. They are life savers. I wish I had known about the reno, would have reminded you to place a bay leaf between each stud, keeps the little nasties from hibernating in the walls. I think the smell repels them. I have bay leaves in every part of our house after the inside reno from years ago. BTW, I felt the splatter when you were makin’ the bacon, it hurt my arm:P
    You will LOVE the new look and I am excited to see what colour you chose for paint

  2. I second Tina! Wow what a job and what a cute kitchen. I can’t wait for the next installment either. I just love that place and LOVE what you two have done to it thus far. I wished I had a get away place 🙁

    • Thank you Anne! You know you, Tina, Vick and Trishie have an open invitation anytime you are in my part of the world, just give me a call 🙂

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