Monday, March 1, 2010

DIY project: Kitchen backsplash step 2

Saturday was a big day over here in our world. Not only did we make our tile purchase for our backsplash -- a purchase that has been nearly two years in the making -- but we also got ourselves educated about tile installation.

If you read yesterday's post, you'll recall that we: 1) want our total backsplash budget, all materials and labor included, to come in under $500; 2) went with some high-ish-end tile that cost $350, and we still need to buy some more materials and 3) we already got an estimate for tile installation from a contractor, and that cost alone was $600. So, DIY it is!

Now here's the problem. Neither Matt nor I come from handy families, nor are we particularly handy people. Yes, I can craft a mean organization system or a handmade greeting card, and Matt can cook something up from scratch with no recipe, but neither of us know much about tools or household projects. If we succeed in our backsplash endeavor, we will give hope to millions of other un-handy people across the globe, so check back here for updates (and hopefully inspiration!).

When they found out about our DIY backsplash intentions, Matt's parents advised us to check out free classes offered at Home Depot. So, when we were there the other week we found out that, conveniently enough, Jim at our local Home Depot was offering a class called "Tiling with Jim" FOR FREE. This past Saturday. At 11 a.m. We were all over it. 

There's a tip: see if your local Home Depot offers any free classes that could be of any benefit to you. The Web site has a link to sign up for classes, but in our experience you can just walk right in.

The class took place at the end of an aisle in the tiling section of the store. The class is essentially portable. Jim had a cart on which he had all his supplies. Our class, composed of Matt and me and three other couples (of which we were by far the youngest), watched Jim lay floor tile, but he helped by modifying all the instructions for those of us who wanted to install wall tile for bathrooms and kitchens. The good news for us doing our backsplash is that it's easier to install wall tile than floor tile. When installing floor tile there are a lot more variables to consider, namely the fact that people will be walking on your product daily so it needs to be precisely level. No one, except maybe the occasional ant, will be walking on our backsplash.

Jim possessed the outstanding teacher quality of patience, always ready to answer any of his students' questions and repeat all necessary information. Jim could have organized his information a little better (you knew I would go there, right?) and a handout would have really enhanced the lesson, but all in all I learned a ton and took copious notes. Most importantly, Jim gave Matt and me the confidence, skills and knowledge of materials to at least get us started on this task. And he worked with all of us for more than an hour. And he never had to break out a teacher voice.

If we decide that we need to revert back to remedial tiling after trying out moderate tiling in the next couple weeks, we can always try this handy new product. It's essentially heavy-duty double-sided tape you put on your wall and then stick tiles to (downside: it most likely does not last as long as traditional adhesive, and it costs more money at $25.97 for every 10 square feet).

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