Project: Bathroom backsplash

One aspect to RV design that I loathe, is the seemingly dedicated style of making everything “match.”  Wood color, accent colors…all seem to go into a monotone color palette.  I’m not a fan of that approach and relying on wallpaper borders or accent metal (gold and bronze, overused!) is quite bad, in my humble opinion.  Not to worry!  A quick remodel job is what is needed!

Backsplash backlash

20180501_164522.jpgThe backsplash in our RV is a perfect example.  Our internal color scheme is tan carpet and tile, natural maple wood, light tan Corian and “basket weave” inlays in a lot of trim and in cabinet panels.  All very monotone.  At least it is a light color scheme.  As seen in my project to provide ventilation to the electronics cabinet, the waffle cone feel of the decor is in need of help.  And the help is needed ALL over the RV.

BathroomIn the bathroom, there is a coppery decorative backsplash applique that has some of that basket weave.  It turns out this is a formed foam product of some sort.  Here, you can see the before on the right and what the after will be on the left.  We found a lovely blue subway tile at Home Depot and luckily, the Corian slot is exactly the right size for the tile, pure providence.

Bathrrom1Surprisingly, it is quite durable, I have to really hammer on it to get it to break.  So, when a hammer doesn’t work, you go for a screwdriver!  I pried off the left and right sides waffle foam, which wasn’t too hard to get off the wall.  Though, once off, the remaining glue was a tad tough.  I spent a lot of time with a very sharp scraper trying to remove most of it and smooth it out.  What you can’t really see hear is that some of the glue is still white, the rest is tan and rock hard.  I even got 60 grit sandpaper to trying and sand it off.  Glue 1, Brian 0.

Once I really worked to get the back portion off, which was much more difficult, since that corner is tight and the screwdriver I was using doesn’t do angles, I had to improvise.  I used the screwdriver to “dig” a line of holes (similar to how one might use a drill bit to create a mortise).  I could then get the screwdriver in at an angle and pry it up.  Then, I used a simple tool to give me the leverage I needed.  The result was that I could finally get it all of and it looked pretty clean just without the foam board!

Bathroom1a

Next, following good protocol, I took measurements to assure tiles will fit.  The left and right are the perfect size for two full tiles.  This pleased me, as I don’t have a tile cutter, nor do I want a tile cutter.  Then I got to measuring the back…and bingo!  It fits three full tiles with a leftover of two inches per side.  Well, guess that means having it cut at the box store.  Got my parts list, figured out the adhesive I needed to use and the caulking and off I went!

bathroom2So, after an hour wandering Depot de Maison for an hour, I got back and did some dry fitting to assure it was all going to work as the plan in my head and to assure I had enough materials.  I calculated I had enough for a 1/8″ spacing and got wedges that were purpose designed for getting your spacing right.  They also did a great job of wedging the tiles in so I could put them all up for effect.  This is when it got exciting!  Such a huge improvement over the old, nasty foam weave things.

I was still concerned about the amount of elbow grease would be needed to get the remaining bits of the old glue out.  Julie popped in to see my progress and asked about just leaving it.  I shuddered…mostly because I am a perfectionist on these kinds of projects.  Turns out that that adhesive I chose (Iron Grip from GE) is silicone based and thus, would form around the glue remnants, so, I opted to go with Julie’s plan.  Still shuddering.  The whole time.

Turns out she was right (don’t tell her I said that) and the glue formed over quite nicely.  I got the tiles up and attached with the Iron Grip on the left and right first.  Those tiles when up nice and quick.  I then turned my attention to the back.  Well, I had mismeasured a but (about a quarter of an inch on either end).  I could live that that, it didn’t look bad.  I installed the tiles from middle to left to right (with the cut tile first and last to get better balance) and the spacing looked good.  I centered the middle tile on the faucet, because, balance.  and worked outward.  Unfortunately, the faucet isn’t centered in the sink area in relation to the backsplash.  UGH!  OCD moment kicks in and I make sure the center tile is centered on the faucet.

Personal note: I have a few OCD things.  Balance is one, level is another.  I’m the guy that will walk through your house and level all of your pictures.  No, you didn’t ask me, and yes, I did it.  You’re welcome.

This, unfortunately then left a huge gap on the right and an ever so slight overhang on the left.  Time to call in the job fore(wo)man to review the placement.  Julie mentioned that it would drive her crazy every time she stared at it and that it might affect resale.  So, this seriously worried because this adhesive sets quick (yes, I should have asked before I glued).  Fortunately for me, the Iron Grip has a 5 minute window for adjustments.  WHEW!  So, I get it all slid to the right to balance against the wall (all the time ignoring the screaming imbalance in relation to the faucet) in time and then let it set overnight.

The next morning, I removed all the wedges and found that my adhesive work was good.  The tiles didn’t come off or move.  SWEET SUCCESS!  Even without the caulking, it looked great.  I was pleased with the result.

Later in the day, I got around to adding the caulk. This caulk was in a little tube, so, should be easy to work with.  Turns out, a little TOO easy, since it was fairly thin.  I was squeezing it enough (I thought) to get the caulking deep in between the tiles to add additional cushion/flex between the tiles and along the bottoms.  The left set went well, nice smooth application and it looked nice.  The right was a bit more problematic, probably because I had to go off-hand to apply it.  I managed to get it after a couple of frustrating tries.  Then it came time to do the back…even harder than imagined, because the faucet was not in a good place for nice even application.  That took even LONGER (frustratingly so) to get it all smooth and even.  Always remember to persevere!

With that, the project was complete except for the curing time.  I think it came out beautifully and I am excited to do the same on our kitchen counter backsplash.

Bathroom3

This was a fun little project.  I like it when a plan comes together and this one really pops in that tiny space.  Next up will be the kitchen backsplash, then, wallpaper in the bathroom.  Eventually, the brass will be replaced as well, but that is a project for another time.

 

One thought on “Project: Bathroom backsplash

  1. Hi, Brian,
    Regarding the project overall, two tried and true remarks: “well done!” and, “better you than me.”
    Regarding “level”, and specifically, straightening pictures, as one who has hung up literally thousands of pictures in a 50 plus year career in art, I too will straighten pictures unasked in your home. Once I straightened two paintings on a museum wall, not MY museum wall, and seriously upset the guard who was watching from the next room. Never thought a fat man could come at me that fast.
    Uncle A.

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