Caution: Move Slowly, Crooked Lines Ahead

The work on the back splash continues, though my portion of the work, up until yesterday, really wasn’t that involved.  Then, we started laying the tiles and the job became a two man operation.

If you’ve never laid tiles before, it can be pretty intimidating.  Once the mastic (the mud that adheres the tiles to the wall) goes up, you really don’t have that much room for error.  My husband, under my dad’s tutelage, had previously tiled the kitchen and laundry room in our first house, and he still felt intimidated.  Not only had he never tiled a back splash, but we don’t have all the cool (and necessary) tools that my dad does.

So, after multiple Lowe’s runs for supplies, we started slow, but strong, working together to ensure good tile placement.  Lining up tiny subway tiles, even if they are on a mesh screen, is tedious work.  You need straight lines (and yes, I know about, and we did use spacers, but that’s no guarantee, either).  You would think that the backing would ensure straight lines and straight tiles within the sheet, but that wasn’t always the case with the tile we chose (more on this later).

Unfortunately, we had a previous commitment, yesterday.  At six o’clock, we had to go to McDonald’s to meet First Son’s team for an end of the season get together and trophy handout.  That left us with a definite stop time.  So, our goal was to finish laying, at least one wall, before wrapping it up for the day.

As we became crunched for time, and a little more confident, we started to work faster. That’s when things started to go downhill, and I mean that literally.


This is where all the trouble began, you see how the one is slightly higher than the other?We left for McDonald’s, very proud of our handy work.  When we returned, I hurried into the kitchen, eager to have another look at our new and improved back splash, but the only thing my eye could focus on was the last section we had completed, crooked and sloping slightly downward, from the corner in.  I was crushed.

It’s not so obvious when you’re on top of it, but at any other vantage point, the downward slope is noticeable enough to warrant being torn down, re-drywalled, and laid out again. Here’s the long view (ignore the breakfast dishes, I was crunched for time).  Can you see it now?  Look closely.

Ok, enough of the pity party, let’s focus on the positive.  For the price point we wanted to be in, which was under six dollars a square foot, I am absolutely thrilled with the tile. Could we have done some things differently (like not tiled a crooked line)?  Definitely. I’m pretty sure that if we had went with a more expensive, wire meshed backed tile, our tiling job would have been much easier because there would have been much less movement within the individual tile sheets.  But, then, we would have spent more than we wanted.  Just for the record, the mesh holding our tiles together is some sort of super strong plastic.  We also could have bought individual tiles and laid each one separately. This could have saved us money, but our thought, at the start of this project, was that the mesh backing would make the job easier.  I’m not so sure if that was the case, but you live and learn.

However, there is one thing that I would have definitely done differently, and would have done, had someone claimed it was not necessary (I’ll let you guess who), and that would have been to snap a chalk line prior to laying the tiles.  Then, no matter where the counter was dipping, or what the tile was doing, we would have maintained a straight line.

Whatever our mistakes, what I do know, is that right now, not counting the crooked part, I couldn’t be happier with the results.

One quarter down, one eighth to be redone, and three quarters to go, not counting grouting, which I’m praying will be easier than any of the steps involved so far.

3 thoughts on “Caution: Move Slowly, Crooked Lines Ahead

  1. I could see the crookedness on the closeup but not on the far away shot. It does look so much better than what you had before. We need to replace our backsplash too but I think it might be too big of a job for us to do.

  2. Is that a travertine tile? It really does update the kitchen. We have 3×5 travertine tile laid in a herringbone pattern for our backsplash.

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