Last week I shared the installation of my "live edge pebble tile" backsplash. This week I will continue that little tutorial...specifically the grouting and caulking!
Remove all your spacers and clean off any excess mastic that might have squished out or is on the face of the tile. Run a piece of tape along the counter, slipping it a tad under the tile.
It is important that you NOT get a lot (if any) grout in the space between your counter and the backsplash...again, you will run a small bead of caulk in that space when the grout is dry...caulk is flexible...grout is not. If you barely slip the tape under the tiles, it will pull out any grout that might slip in that gap when you pull up the tape.
Grouting is not hard! Quick tip...in general SANDED grout is for floors with larger grout lines...UNSANDED grout is for backsplashes and small tiles. Here is a good outline of the difference between the two...but as always I would suggest going with the manufacture recommendation for your specific tile or the advice of a PROFESSIONAL (not the kid at Lowes!)
In this case I used sanded grout. Why? Well, because that is what I had on hand and there are some pretty substantial gaps between the pebbles and it is in a wet area. But if you have small, uniform spaces between the backsplash tile or a tile that would scratch easily, I would go with unsanded grout.
Mix your grout the consistency of say, really thick peanut butter.
TIP: A little water goes a long way with grout so add a little water at a time and mix well. I used my shop spatula. I never dump ALL the grout in...save some in case you add too much water...otherwise you will have to go get more grout...trust me, been there, done that.
Use a grout float to mash the grout between the pebbles/tiles, then wipe off the excess with the float. Make sure you fill the gaps well. I even use my fingers to mash in the grout in hard to reach areas. Again, TRY to avoid getting grout in the gap between the tile and the counter! Fear not...if you get grout in this gap it will pull out when you pull the tape up while the grout is still wet!
After you have filled all the gaps well and removed the excess with your float, use a tile sponge to gently wipe the pebbles/tiles. DO NOT use a plain ole' kitchen sponge...they "shed" and you will get little flecks of sponge in your grout...from experience. Buy a sponge specifically for this purpose.
TIP: I set aside a "gloob" of wet grout just in case I need to go back and fill in little spots here and there...just smash it in the gap, then wipe it with the sponge.
On your first wipe, your goal is to get rid of the excess grout on the tiles...if you "gouge" the grout between the tiles just smash some more in and wipe.
After all the excess is removed, peal up the tape...it should remove any grout from the gap between the tile and counter. I take a utility knife or toothpick and "flick out" any that is still lurking. Then wipe again with your sponge!
I have found that using a "swirling" motion tends to "buff" the grout and give it a smother, more uniform finish.
Wipe well, let it sit for about 30 minutes, then go back and wipe again...keeping your sponge clean. You will want to do this repeatedly, every 30 minutes or so, until there is no more "grout film" on the pebbles/tile.
I personally think grouting is one of the things that sets a “professional look” install apart from a “DIY” job…so take your time with this process. You want the grout to be uniform, smooth and even with or just a hair below the edge of the pebbles/tiles. You don’t want it on the face of the tile. Again, it never hurts to go back and add wet grout, then wipe again. Once the grout is dried and set, it’s a little tough to make adjustments…so take your time and do it right!
TIP: Just from past experience...don't rise your sponge in the sink...not saying it WILL clog your sink, just saying. Use a bucket, changing the water often!
After you have finished removing all the excess grout and the pebbles/tiles are sparkling clean, and you are happy with the grout lines, let it dry overnight.
After the grout has dried, put down another fresh line of tape to protect the counters and coat everything with the "impregnator sealer" (if you have natural stone) Brush on, let it dry for about 5 minutes, then wipe with a clean cloth. That will seal both the stones and the grout. Or apply a grout sealer (per the directions) if your tile is ceramic or porcelain. Let that dry well.
Then caulk...here I give you a pretty decent tutorial on caulking! Super important so make sure you do this one final step!
Again, silicone caulk can be tricky for a novice and really not necessary in this area. I am a pretty proficient caulker, but if you are a novice I would suggest using this tape trick.
CAREFULLY tape both the tile and the counter...only leaving the "gap" exposed.
Apply the caulk, smooth away all the excess with your finger, pull the tape, and then smooth again with a clean, damp finger...you SHOULD get a nice smooth grout line.
I used white grout so I used white caulk. Most grouts have a matching caulk and you want your caulk to match your grout...worth the small investment.
And presto-bingo...a live edge pebble backsplash!
I LOVE it!
I know not everyone will love the "natural" look of a live edge backsplash...so many seem to prefer the structure of a "straight line" application. But as I look around my house I realize I really gravitate to a "natural" and random flow....
The dry stack fireplace tile....
The front flagstone...
The "randomness" of the tile kitchen backsplash...
Maybe it is all a part of my "go with the flow" attitude! I would like to think that in a world of structure and symmetry we all need a little randomness in our lives!
My son said it looks very "Coloradoish!" BINGO! That is exactly what it kind of reminds me of!
We leave next week for our annual fall trip out west! I finally get to check “a float trip down the Black Canyon" off my bucket list...we have a guided fishing trip scheduled! And then we will do our annual guided trip on the Colorado River with Cutthroat Anglers. This is a trip I look forward to every year!
I'll break out all the fall decor before we leave so I will be ready to kick back and enjoy the fall season when we get home! Hopefully the summer heat will have gone away and I will be able to pack up the shorts and flip flops for the year.