How to Install a Stone-Tile Backsplash
Installing a stone-tile backsplash requires basic to intermediate-level skills, and because the project is limited to a small area, the difficulty and cost is also low for a medium-sized kitchen.
Give a room an interesting look by installing brick pavers (image 1) as flooring. Pavers are thinner than construction bricks, but they're made the same way. Installing pavers is very much like installing tile. The main difference is how you trim the pavers to fit. Because pavers are very hard, rent a wet saw to cut them. Pavers can be laid out in a variety of patterns, including a running bond (image 2), a jack-on-jack pattern (image 3), a ladder weave (image 4), a herringbone pattern (image 5) and a basket weave (image 6).
Before beginning to lay the pavers, make sure that the subfloor is level and clean as well as sturdy enough to bear the weight of the bricks. Projects involving bricks can take a long time, so plan ahead to avoid the temptation to rush as you get near the end.
To find the center of the room measure the longest part of the room, and mark the center. Then measure the room's width, and mark the center. Run a chalk line across both center marks. The center is the point at which the lines cross.
Mix a batch of thin-set mortar to the consistency of toothpaste. Don't mix more than you can apply in 20 minutes. Use latex-modified mortar for a stronger bond. Mortar can be very dusty (image 1) so mix it outside or in a garage. Make sure the ventilation is adequate. To speed up the mixing process, use a mixing attachment on your drill (image 2).
Use the trowel recommended by the mortar manufacturer to start spreading your mortar. Hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle to produce a level bed of mortar with grooves that help hold the bricks in place.
Begin laying bricks in the center of the room, pressing firmly and twisting slightly to set them securely in the mortar. If you're using a basket weave or other pattern that can easily be broken into sections, use a chalk line to set reference lines on the floor. Follow these closely: if your first bricks are out of alignment, the rest of the floor will be too. Use plastic spacers to ensure proper spacing.
When cutting the brick, use a wet saw, which features a diamond-impregnated blade cooled by water and provides a very smooth edge on each cut (image 1). Should you need to cut out a corner notch to accommodate an obstacle, raise the brick as you push it toward the corner cut for a precise square notch (image 2).
To prevent the bricks from absorbing too much moisture from the grout, apply a coat of brick sealer with a short-nap roller, a paintbrush or a sprayer. After applying sealer, allow the bricks to cure for 24 hours.
Apply grout in the same manner as you would for a tile floor. Use a rubber grout float to force as much grout as possible into the joints holding the float at a 45 degree angle to the grout lines.
After applying a section of grout, allow it to cure for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with a clean sponge. After cleaning most of the grout off the bricks, rinse the sponge. Then wipe a small section of bricks with one straight stroke. Turn the sponge over, and wipe the same area again to remove most of the residue. When the grout begins to dry, buff off any haze that forms on the bricks. Follow the grout manufacturer's instructions for proper curing of the grout.