The former color of our kitchen backsplash left a lot to be desired. It was literally the shade of straw, and as a result, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in our home! 🐫 Each and every surface in the kitchen was a shade of this color and it motivated me to take action. It was the project that started them ALL. I no longer could tolerate drowning in our sea of beige! Beige floor, beige walls, beige countertops, and beige backsplash…Aaaaah!
So, as a result, I went on a scanvenger hunt thoughout our home and gathered supplies that I hoped I could use to give our kitchen backsplash a facelift, at the very least.
Here are the supplies that I used:
- Degreaser, kitchen surface, cleaning product
- A few rolls of paper towels
- A assortment of different sized, fine art, bristle paint brushes.
- Dense, black foam, paint brushes in different sizes. (Paint/hardware store quality ones, not the cheap craft aisle ones, because they tend to breakdown fast and fall apart, leaving pieces of foam behind on your project).
- I used a very inexspensive jar of middle gray paint from the misstint shelf at the hardware store as my grout color. I also used Martha Stewart Muti-Surface Satin Acrylic Paint, in the following colors: white, light gray, and a dark gray. I also had a “pearlescent” white color that I added for some extra sheen on some of the tiles, as well. Each of these paints had a sheen of either an eggshell or a satin, none of them consisted of a flat finish.
- Martha Stewart Crafts Photo Transfer (for Light colored surfaces.) I used this as my final step, sealer.
- A couple of different sized rulers, a standard 12″ and a 6″.
- A pencil
- I made a small cardboard rectangular template. Mine was a little smaller than a business card
- Duck Quick Release Painter’s Tape (I used a 7/8″ width and a thin 1/4″ width tape to mask my template for the grout lines.
- A small level to help make the faux grout lines level.
- You may want to refer to my “Tips for making a big DIY project easier on your household!” post
- I cleaned the backsplash surface with a kitchen degreaser/cleaner product and paper towels.
- I didn’t sand or prime my surface, but it may have added to durability to do so. (So far my backsplash has held up great after a year, without sanding and priming).
- I taped off all of the perimeters with painter’s tape (where the counter met the walls, cabinets, etc.)
- I painted the entire surface with an acrylic white paint (Martha Stewart Brand). For the most part, I used deferent sized black, dense foam brushes and when I’d go to edge I’d sometimes alternate with a small, but firm fine artist brush. (Better for tight spaces and details). I applied two coats (and allowed overnight drying time, in between coats.)
This next step reminds me of the the Charles Dickens verse, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Because this project was about to become tedious to the tenth degree!
This step began with me using my small, almost business card-sized, rectangular template to outline the height of my first tile on the wall. I worked from the bottom of the wall up. I used a pencil to trace the outline of my template. Then I began methodically working my way across the wall with my ruler, level, template and pencil to make marks that I could use as my horizontal line grid for painter’s tape. I made my grout lines a little thicker than 1/8″. After I had a row of measurement pencil marks on the wall, I began placing painter’s tape on the wall. I continued this process until I had mapped all of my horizontal groutlines out in painter’s tape.
- I proceeded to paint the horizontal grout lines. I did two coats of a middle gray latex (super cheap sample from the misstint shelf at the hardware store. I let it dry atleast overnight.
- Next, I had to layout the vertical groutline template, following the same steps mentioned in step 7, only difference being I did a 50% staggered bond pattern. (For example, this is how bricks are typically stacked). Any other pattern would have just completely fried my brain too much! 😤
- After the blue paint template was up for the vertical lines (as depicted in the upper right image, of the above photo) I painted the vertical grout lines with two coats of the middle gray paint.
- Now that I had a background and grout lines, it was time to add some of the marble veining details. I used different sized smaller fine art bristle brushes and would work one tile at a time. I’d do some veining in one shade of the gray with a thin, firm brush and then blend it while it was wet with a softer brush so that some tiles would have muted veining and others would have more stark veining illusions, as would be the case with genuine marble tiles.
The key To achieving a convincing faux marble illusion is to vary the detail on each tile, organically. You don’t want to get too symetric and patternized with everyother tile being a darker shade of gray, for example. It should be pretty random. I had to take a few steps back often to glance at the overall wall to see if it looked right, or I needed to make some adjustments. I also used some of the pearlescent white paint, randomly on some of the tiles and it really helped with the marble illusion.
- Finally, after all of the touch-ups, when the paint had dried for awhile and when I was satisfied with the end result, I used Martha Stewart Crafts Photo Transfer (for Light colored surfaces) as a sealer. I had to work rather quickly with this product because it was thick and quickly became tacky. If I brushed one area too much, brushstrokes would appear, so I made a point of moving along as best I could. I applied 2 coats, letting a lot of time (a couple of days pass) between coats to be sure it would set right.
- Now, all that was left was to beam from ear at the joy of completing this project!
Tips for making all of the hard work last:
I rarely wipe the Faux painted tiles, but when I do, I use non-abrasive water and a little bit of gentle dishsoap on a wet paper towel. Or a little vinegar and water cleaning solution, to spot clean.