Granite has become the material of choice for many indoor home decor applications. It is used for countertops, backsplashes, flooring, and as bathtub surrounds, just to name a few. Known for its beauty and durability, granite promises years of excellent service if installed properly. If you are in the market to install a granite backsplash, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Chances are good that before you install a granite backsplash, you will be storing the tiles at least for a day or two until you are ready to begin the job. Although granite is a very hard stone, until it is set in mortar, it can still become cracked, split, or chipped.
So until you are actually putting the tiles into the mortar, make sure you keep the tiles protected. Set tiles with polished surfaces facing each other to keep them from being scratched and, if necessary, separate with cardboard or scraps of wood.
Before you install a granite backsplash, always seal the tile beforehand. Hardened grout becomes almost impossible to remove from the porous surface of unsealed granite. Also, remember that a good-quality sealant must be applied periodically to remain effective.
Most professionals advise sealing granite once a year, minimum, to ensure protection against stains, scratching, and other damage. Sealing granite is not a difficult job; you simply wipe or brush on the sealant and allow it to dry.
Any time you work on projects involving caustic chemicals and/or with power tools, including when you install a granite backsplash, always protect yourself. Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to keep the grout you will be handling away from your skin.
Goggles also protect your eyes from grout or adhesive accidentally getting in your eyes, as well as providing a barrier between your eyes and flying bits of dust from the granite and any wood surfaces when using power tools.
And to keep from inhaling that dust and irritating your lungs, a facemask is also a good idea. Additionally, working in a well-ventilated area can prevent you from inhaling dangerous levels of dust and chemical fumes. If possible, open all windows and doors in your work area and use fans, as well.
To install a granite backsplash, always begin by using a grooved trowel to spread the thinset (adhesive) at the bottom, mid-wall and work your way upward and outward. Press granite tiles into the thinset using matchsticks or manufactured spacers to prevent them from becoming misaligned.
Use a wet saw to cut tiles to fit, if necessary, around fixtures, switch plates, etc. Allow to dry overnight and then apply grout, being careful to work it well into the joints between the tiles with your trowel.
Along the perimeter of the backsplash, apply silicone caulk the same color as the grout. Using a damp sponge and before the grout dries, go over the entire surface thoroughly, rinsing frequently. Allow the new surface to thoroughly dry before using, at least 24 hours.