Kitchen Backsplash Day 2: Applying Grout & Finishing Touches

Hi friends! Hope you’ve had a great weekend so far! Today we’re going to finish up the backsplash. And, it’s going to be so much quicker than yesterday. Today you just have to grout and clean up! Ready to dive in? Here we go!

(If this is the first post you’ve found–welcome! Check out our backsplash supplies and the first day of installing a backsplash posts too!

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Oooo, one more thing before you start–if you cleaned up everything yesterday, make sure you recover your counters and use painter’s tape to protect any countertops, cabinets, or walls you don’t want to get grout on.

Step 11: Mix your Grout

This is going to go just like yesterday with the mortar, so you’re basically an expert already. Add the grout mix to a bucket and then add water until you get the famous peanut butter consistency. We found we used a lot less water for the grout than we did the mortar, but yours may be different. Focus on the consistency instead of actual measurements.

Steve is so excited for more power tools

Step 12: Apply your Grout

Here’s the part where you really see your backsplash come to life! Using your grout float, you’re going to apply the grout to the tile in the same manner you did the mortar–in a diagonal or upside down/backwards J fashion. (Basically, you don’t want to apply it vertically or horizontally because it will pull the grout out of the grout lines.)

You need to make sure you get grout into every nook and cranny. Our grout float was pretty good, so I ended up using a paper towel and even my fingers for some of the super small spots (pretty sure that’s not the proper way to do it but it worked!).

Don’t worry about getting grout all over the tiles themselves–that’s totally normal (even if it doesn’t look normal). We’ll handle that problem in the next step.

It does look scary, but I promise it’s ok!

And, don’t worry about getting grout between the cabinets and the tile or the tile and the countertops. This is where your caulk will come in handy tomorrow.

Cleaning Tip

Once you’re done applying the grout, it’s time to clean up your grout bucket and your tools while you wait for the grout to dry for an hour or so. Just like with the mortar, DO NOT put the grout down your drain. You will ruin your pipes and spend all the money you saved installing your own backsplash (and then some). I read a great tip online–let your grout bucket sit for 12-24 hours. The water will settle at the top and the grout at the bottom. Then you can dump your water out and then dump the more solid grout in the trash.

Step 13: Clean off the Grout

After you let your grout dry for about an hour, now’s the time to clean off those tiles. Taking your big sponge and a bucket of warm clean water, wet your sponge and then wring it out a few times. The sponge should be barely damp. Why? Because if it’s really wet, you’re going to be adding water to the pretty grout you just put up, and it will lose its integrity.

Remember this picture, it’s about to be a thing of the past!

Use the same diagonal motion again to try and wipe the grout off the tile surface that you did when applying the grout. If you see water drips on the tile, your sponge is too wet! Wring it out more in your bucket and try again. Once you’ve wiped up some grout, rinse the sponge in a second bucket of clean water. Repeat until you have finished the whole backsplash.

After one round of wiping the grout off.

I had to repeat this step twice more, each an hour apart, to get all the grout off the tile. But, it only takes 5 minutes each time, so it wasn’t any real added work.

Step 14: Clean Up & Let Dry

And, that’s it! You’re 95% done with your backsplash. By now, you can see how pretty your backsplash is going to be, and I’m sure you’re just as in love with yours as I am mine!

Clean up all your mess and relax! You need to let the grout dry for at least 24 hours prior to caulking.

Step 15 (at least 24 hours later): Caulk

When you have 30 minutes in the upcoming days, take the time to caulk your new backsplash to make it look finished. You’ll want to caulk between the cabinets and tile and the countertops and tile. If you’ve never caulked before, it’s super easy. You can use a big can of caulk and a caulk gun, but I find it a lot easier to control the small squeezy tubes like this caulk from DAP, since I have little hands.

How to Caulk

Cut the tip of the caulk container off in a 45 degree angle (this makes it easier to apply). Have a lot of paper towels on hand, and if you don’t like getting your hands messy, have a pair of skin tight gloves to wear.

I also like to line the area with painter’s tape, because I am not good at making clean caulk lines.

Then, gently squeezing the caulk tube, squeeze a medium sized bead of caulk out along the seam you want to caulk.

Next, using your finger, smooth the bead of caulk so it forms a nice even line connecting the tile and the other surface.

If you applied too much and it’s gloopy, wipe it off with your finger and onto a paper towel. If you applied too little, just add a little more!

Continue on until you’ve caulked every service you need to. If you applied painter’s tape, pull it off to reveal your nice pretty lines. Once you’re done, it needs to dry for 24 hours before getting wet.

Step 16 (at least 24 hours later): Put Your Kitchen Back Together & Admire Your Hard Work!

Now’s the time you can remove your ledgerboard, push your appliances back into place, put your outlet covers back on, and love your new kitchen!

Note on Reinstalling Outlets & Switches

If you have any outlets or switches in your backsplash (we have 3), you’ll need to put them back on after the backsplash is completely dry. And, you may find that the old screws are new too short to hold the switch or outlet flush to your new backsplash.

There’s an easy fix–go to your hardware store and buy longer screws! Bring your old screws so you can make sure you get the same width screw that just has a little extra length. Then once your switches and outlets are screwed back into their boxes, you can put your outlet and switch covers back on!

And, if your outlet covers are now too small for the hole you have because of the way your tile fell, also easy fix! Buy an XL outlet cover and you’re all set!

See the gap at the top? Easily fixed with an XL outlet cover!

And, that’s it!

I’m so in love with our backsplash! I feel like it completely pulled out kitchen together with the new kitchen cabinets. And, now I can’t wait for our new appliances to come in a few weeks–they’ll be the icing on the cake for our brand new kitchen!

Look how pretty!

Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have any other tips to offer on putting up a backsplash!

~Lauren

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