Installing a Kitchen Backsplash with Bedrosians Cloé in White
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
Choosing tile is hard. Like really really pull-your-hair-out-from-anxiety hard. It's so much more permanent than a coat of paint or a piece of furniture, and it's no small investment. So when it was time to pick my tile for the kitchen backsplash, I tried to find something that was:
Easy to clean
Fairly easy to install
Not too expensive
Timeless - I didn't want anything that screamed, "This house was renovated in 2020, people!"
I knew I wanted something that felt a little more organic - stark, clean grid lines are not great when nothing in your house is level or straight. And I instantly fell in love with Zellige tile, but unfortunately it really didn't check any of my boxes. I've heard it's tough to clean, you need a professional installer to make it look good, it's wildly expensive, and it's super trendy. As much as I loved the look, it just didn't seem like a logical choice.
Enter Bedrosians Cloé tile 5x5 in white. This tile gave me the same rough, organic feel that made me love the Zellige but it was:
High Gloss - super easy to clean
Way more uniform than Zellige - making it easier to install
Half the price!
Definitely popular, but less Pinterest-saturated than Zellige
I was in love. I ordered a sample, just to be safe, but I already knew I had a winner.
Next, I needed to measure the backsplash area to figure out how much tile I needed to order. A good rule of thumb is to order at least 10% extra to account for cuts, broken tiles, and other unfortunate events.
Once my tile arrived, it was ready for install. I've broken down each step into materials needed, a quick how-to, and lessons + tips.
Step 1: Tile
Tile of your choice
Mortar (this is also often called thinset)
Tile saw or tile cutter
Ledger (if tiling on a wall without counter support - like behind a stove)
Start in the center and work your way out. I knew that I was going to be staring at my sink every day, so I used that as my focal point. I placed the first tile centered behind the faucet and worked my way out and then up.
There are a lot of different methods out there for how to best install tile, but the method I used was to trowel the wall (the substrate), back trowel the tile, and then line up the trowel lines.
Basically the way you do this is scoop some mortar onto your trowel. Using the notched side, spread the mortar onto the wall, leaving notched ridges in one direction. (Don't apply it in circles). Then do the same thing to the back of the tile. Spread mortar onto the entire back of the tile leaving notched ridges going in one direction. Then apply the tile to the wall so the ridges on the tile match the ridges on the wall. Press firmly on the tile.
Then repeat that process until all of your tiles are installed.
If you're tiling a wall with no countertop support, screw a ledger into the wall to extend the surface of the countertop. I just used a scrap piece of wood that I had in lying around. This gives your tile support so it won't slide down while you work. Work from the ledger to the ceiling (or however high you plan to go), then let that cure for a day. Remove the ledger and then work down to the floor.
Lessons + Tips:
Buy pre-mixed mortar if possible. Pre-mixed mortar is more expensive, but because I'm new to tiling, and so many of the tiling mistakes I read about had to do with mixing mortar, I decided to splurge and go for the pre-mixed stuff. It only cost me about $12 more in total. It also is way easier to store and come back to later, so I was able to take breaks more easily and pack up for the night without worrying about wasting mortar.
Buy/Rent a tile saw. I was able to borrow a tile saw from family and it made cuts go so much faster. Those manual tile snappers are great for simple straight lines, but if you have a ton of weird cuts around outlets and windows, I highly recommend getting your hands on a tile saw.
Measure 400 times. Cut once. Measure measure measure! I cannot stress it enough. Measure it again even when you're sure you got it right. To speed up cuts, I would also label spots on the wall and then label corresponding tiles, so I could make several cuts at once.
And with that in mind, if your tiles are glossy, mark your tiles with Sharpie. The Sharpie comes off with a little water and a towel. It also makes it way easier to keep track of which cuts go where.
Work in small areas. Don't apply the mortar to too large of a section of the wall at a time. You don't want it to dry without the tile on there. Working in small sections allowed me to take breaks and come back without issue.
Lay out your tile before you install. When working with Bedrosians Cloé or any high variation tile where color and texture aren't consistent, I highly recommend laying out the pattern on the ground first, so you can puzzle piece it together before committing to it on the wall. I also found that taking a photo with my phone helped me to see the color differences better than just by the naked eye.
You don't have to use spacers. With Bedrosians Cloé and other high variation tiles, there is essentially a 1/16 space built into the tile itself, due to a rough/irregular edge. I didn't want much of a bigger space than that, so I chose not to use spacers. I wasn't sure if it would work because I couldn't find anything online about it, but it worked fine for me! I only used spacers between the countertop and the tile, or if I was trying to even out some grout lines.
Step 2: Grout
Grout in the color of your choice - here is a link to the color I used
Bucket of water
Here is a little video I put together for insta that walks you through the how-to!
Lessons + Tips:
Buy pre-mixed grout. As with the mortar, I decided to splurge for pre-mixed grout. I'm glad I did. It saved me time and energy and allowed me to work at my own pace. It also guaranteed consistency across the entire job.
Again, work in small areas! You definitely don't want to get too ahead of yourself with grout. Once it dries, it's very hard to get off. So don't work more than 5-10 minutes ahead of one area before you go back and clean off the excess grout with your sponge.
Take the time to shape your grout lines. Grout is annoying and tedious, but once it's dried it's there forever. So really dedicate time to shape clean grout lines. You'll thank yourself later.
Use a vinegar based cleaner to remove haze. I had read a ton about using muriatic acid to clean off the haze that is left on tile after you grout. But any cleaner that requires me to use gloves and isn't safe to inhale has me second-guessing. So I decided to try using a vinegar-based window cleaner, and it worked great. I cleaned the tile the next morning generously with the vinegar cleaner, and the tiles were sparkling clean in no time.
Step 3: Caulk
Waterproof caulk for kitchen + bath
Caulking tool (optional)
I used the waterproof caulk anywhere the countertop met the tile and anywhere near the sink. I used the paintable caulk anywhere the tile met the cabinetry, ceiling, or drywall.
Cut the top off of your tube of caulk. Using the skewer-like tool attached to the caulk gun, pierce through the foil in the tube of caulk. Place the tube in your caulk gun and slowly press the trigger until caulk begins to come out.
Run a smooth (as smooth as you can) bead of caulk along the joint.
Then take your caulking tool and run the tool along the line of caulk to smooth it out.
Repeat until all your joints are sealed!
Lessons + Tips:
Don't be afraid to ditch the caulking tool. I found that some angles (like the underside of the cabinet) were much easier to smooth with my finger. The caulking tool was particularly helpful on the tile to counter joints and vertical joints.
Bead the longest line you can at a time. The more times I started and stopped on one joint the worse it looked. So I tried to apply the longest line possible before smoothing out.
Release the pressure on the caulk gun when you're not using it. There should be a little release lever at the back of your caulk gun. Make sure you push that to release the pressure on the tube of caulk any time you put your gun down. Otherwise caulk will keep spilling out!
Prepare with lots of paper towels. Caulking is messy. Be ready with lots of paper towels. I also set up a broken down cardboard box to easily wipe off the caulking tool between applications.
Step 4: Trim + Hood
The very last steps were to rehang the range hood. I had to buy a diamond drill bit in order to drill through the tile, and let me just say that nothing was more stressful than drilling through newly installed tile!
And finally, I hung the last piece of trim on the top of the cabinet that I was waiting to install for months! But now that the wall is tiled, it was finally time!
And without further ado... a little before and after.
Materials, Links, + Cost Breakdown:
Bedrosians Cloé 5x5 in White (4 boxes): $368
Mapei Grout in White: $49
Waterproof Caulk: $7
Paintable Caulk: $3
Tools and Supplies: All borrowed!
Grand Total: $477