DIY Install and Care Metal Tile Backsplash
A metal tile backsplash is both a functional and stylish addition to your kitchen. It could really jazz up a dated kitchen and give it a more modern look. In years gone by metal, and most commonly stainless steel, was mainly used in commercial kitchens, however designers are now using metal to create a sleek, clean, shiny and contemporary look. There is a large range of metals and designs to choose from if you want to renovate your kitchen, such as tin or soft metal, stainless steel, aluminum and copper.
The purpose of a backsplash is to protect your kitchen wall from water, and grease, and to make the surface easy to clean. Wet walls increase humidity levels and cause mildew growth. A metal tile backsplash is installed between the counter and any overhead cabinets, or if you don’t have overhead cabinets it just sits above the countertop.
How to install a metal tile backsplash
Prepare the surface
- Ensure your wall is flat with no bumps, holes or ridges for an even result. Fill any cracks with wall board compound or spackle, and sand when dry. Sand any protruding bumps or ridges. If your wall is particularly uneven you may need to attach a plywood sheet first to give a smooth surface.
Measure the area
- Measure the area on the wall where you will install the metal tile backsplash.
- It is best to cut out a template using paper or cardboard and to then check your measurements by placing the template on the wall where the tiles are to go. This will ensure you have accurately measured the space. Mark any powerpoints, switches etc on the template so that you will be able to cut the tiles to accurately fit around these.
- Place your template on the floor and lay the tiles over the template to work out how many tiles you will need and if you need to cut any. When placing tiles you normally start from the bottom (i. e along the countertop) and work your way up the wall. Leave a small gap of about 1/8” along the bottom. You will fill this with caulk once the tiles are on the wall. You can also use this method if you are using tile sheets.
- Also when laying out the tiles think about where it might be best to place cut tiles. For example if your splashback is between a countertop and overhead cupboards then it makes sense to have any cuts along the top of the tiles under the cupboards as this will be less obvious. If the side of the backsplash is against a wall, or another cupboard on one side then place cut tiles along this side. If the tiles have particular design features you can also lay them out and rearrange them on the template until you have a pattern you are happy with.
Cutting the tiles
- It is best to practice some cuts on spare tiles first to work out the best method. Most manufacturers include instructions that are specific to their particular tile, so make sure you read and follow their instructions carefully.
- Wear good quality gloves when cutting metal as it can be very sharp.
- You can use tin snips if the metal is easy to cut, otherwise you might need to use a saw. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
- With some tiles you can use a very sharp knife to score along a straight edge a couple of times and then bend the tile back and forth until it snaps.
- If you need to cut a round a powerpoint or a pipe make a cardboard template and trace the hole on the tile before cutting.
- If you are cutting stainless steel you will need a saw with a metal blade. If using a circular saw cut the tile with the face up. Use some sandpaper to buff any sharp edges.
Attaching the tiles
- Turn off power when working around powerpoints.
- Clean your tin surface using an alcohol cleaner and a soft cloth, especially on the surface that will be attached to the wall. Generally dirt from tin is residual chemical component from the factory. You need an alcohol based cleaner to remove this dirt. However you should check the tile manufacturer’s instructions for recommendations.
- Use specific adhesive designed to attach metal to wall surfaces. The backsplash tile manufacturer will most likely include recommendations on the correct adhesive to use. Apply the adhesive to the back of the tile and press firmly against the wall. Press until the tile is firmly in place. Repeat until all the surface is covered.
- Depending on the tile you can either place them side by side like you would a normal tile or slightly overlap the tiles or tile sheets so there are no gaps. If possible have the overlap away from the side where it would be viewed.
- If you are using stainless steel tiles you can place them like you would a normal tile with grout lines, or place them next to each other without any grout lines.
- Caulk can be used in place of grout if you have left grout lines between tiles, as grout may scratch a shiny surface when you wipe it off.
- You will also need to run some caulk along the gap between the tiles and the countertop. This will provide a waterproof seal and also give a clean professional finish. Caulk also helps to stop dirt becoming trapped under the bottom edge of the tiles, and is easy to clean with a damp cloth.
Steps to care for your metal tile backsplash
- You need a soft cloth, warm water and soap.
- Pour soap into warm water and mix them.
- Dip soft cloth into water and clean up all metal backsplash surface. Rub all dirt until clean. Repeat, dip cloth in water and rub again if needed
- Use dry cloth to clean up water and residual soap. A microfiber cloth is best for polishing the surface after it is cleaned.