Do it: Install a backsplash
New product makes this DIY project more affordable

The kitchen backsplash started as a functional element to protect walls from water and food splashes that can cause damage. It has evolved into an important design element, adding a distinctive finishing touch to one of the most important rooms in the house. If your backsplash doesn’t look so hot, the good news is that installing a new one is a very doable DIY project.

When you consider that glazed ceramic or glass tile costs an average of $2 to $10 per square foot, with designer tiles priced at two to three times that or more, a less expensive alternative might make more sense. We found one.

This week we’re featuring a relatively affordable backsplash application that doesn’t involve tile at all. It’s the Fasade backsplash kit (approximately $149) with decorative thermoplastic panels. These 18-by-24 inch panels are much larger than traditional backsplash tiles and are installed with double-sided tape or tube adhesive.

The panels come in a wide variety of styles and finishes to fit any kind of decor. The kit comes with enough panels, trims, double-sided tape and outlet covers to complete an 18-square-foot installation.

You’ll have to prepare your walls, and then measure and cut the panels to fit, but we’re told it’s not hard to do.

“Just remember the old adage, measure twice, cut once. Our customers send us pictures and comments, and universally they say, ‘I can’t believe how easy this is. I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago,’” said Jennifer Owen, spokeswoman for Acoustic Ceiling Products, the manufacturer of the Fasade backsplash line, from her office in Neenah, Wis.

Fasade is available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards stores around the United States, or it may be ordered online (www.backsplashideas.com and www.fasadeideas.com. Not all of the styles are available in the $149 kits).

We also checked in with Tom Perri, owner of Generations Tile Installation in Bend (541-508-9386 and on Facebook) for some tiling tips and advice. Perri has 25 years of residential and commercial tile installation experience in Deschutes County. He told us the hardest part of this kind of project is picking out a backsplash that looks timeless. “A lot of people have trouble picking out the right colors and style. The best thing is to call a design center and ask them to help you pick out your tile. They’ll help you decide on something that will last and go with everything,” Perri said.

Time:

One day, or a one-weekend project

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: $149 to $250

Supplies:

• Fasade kit (www.fasadeideas.com): $149 (includes panels, trim, double-sided tape, outlet covers)

• Measuring tape ($10)

• Steel straight edge ($12) to use with utility knife

• Pencil

• Scissors, utility knife or tin snips

Step 1: Plan and prep

Decide on your backsplash panel style and color. Measure your backsplash areas to compute how many square feet you have (go to www.backsplashideas.com for a computing tool), so you can be sure to have the right number of panels. Remove old tile or wallpaper from walls. Repair holes or defects, and lightly sand walls to remove any shiny surfaces. Walls must be clean, dry and smooth. “If you have some fresh drywall, I suggest you prime the wall before you install the backsplash. It’ll help the adhesive stick better,” Perri said.

Step 2: Measure twice, cut once

Remeasure the areas that will be covered with backsplash panels. Mark the panels with a pencil or other nonpermanent market. (View the instructional videos about how to install Fasade backsplashes, trim and outlet covers at www.fasadeideas.com. The site has details about how to lay out panels that are centered behind a sink or stove, for example.) Cut the panels with a utility knife, using a steel straight edge as a guide, or use scissors or tin snips, if you prefer. Carefully measure and mark the placement of electrical outlets, and then score the panel and cut out the outlet hole.

Step 3: Tape and stick

Apply tape to the top, middle and bottom of the back side of the panel. Before taking the paper off the top of the double-sided tape, hold the panel on the wall, rechecking to see that it fits perfectly, and then remove the paper from the tape and press the panel firmly to the wall. The kit also comes with laminate to cover outlet covers and match the backsplash (see instructional video at www.fasadeideas.com on how to wrap each outlet cover like a package, and then use a utility knife to cut out each outlet opening).

If this DIY job sounds too complicated, consider hiring a tile contractor to install the backsplash kit for you. Perri told us that he’d charge about $6 to $9 per square foot, and, depending on how detailed the kitchen cabinets are, his labor cost for installation would run about $200.

— Reporter: ahighberger@mac.com

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