After wasting too much time, I carefully began to reassemble my kitchen backsplash, making many mistakes and learning some simple tricks...
Measure Twice & Cut Twenty Times
No matter how many times I measured, I would always have to make minor adjustments to my cuts to make sure everything fit properly. I would have to cut almost every piece two or 3 times. I didn't want to waste material so I would often cut under my mark... just in case. I'm overly cautious and this made for lots of extra work and for tons of really small marble shavings everywhere. My hands have never felt so splintery.
Planning Ahead Makes for Smarter Cuts
It seems to obvious, but for the chevron inlay framing over my stove, I didn't think about how the time would all fit, and because of that, it make for some really tiny, difficult cuts. It all turned out fine in the end, but had I researched a little more and planned ahead better, I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration. I never want to do chevron tile work again.
Use the Correct Grout
I have to believe that this would have saved me a lot of cleaning time. I didn't even know there were multiple types of grout. To me, the inexperienced DIYer, grout was that sandy-paste stuff. Wipe it over the tile into the spaces with a float, and then white it off with a sponge or clothe. Did you know you are only supposed non-sand grout for spaces under 1/8" and especially not for porous material like marble. Whoops.
Again, it turned out fine, and I like how it looks, but I sand initially left stains and markings that had to be scrubbed out.
Pay Extra for Your Tile
I am ALL about saving the monies. There is a reason why we waited for major sales when we bought our appliences from JC Pennies (of all places!) and got our kitchen cabinets from Bargain Outlet. It's also why we didn't the work on this project ourselves. But sometimes that old saying is true..
"You get what you pay for."
We had also purchased our tile from Bargain Outlet, and while the quality of the marble tile itself was more than satisfactory, the spacing between tiles on the mesh backing was horribly inconsistent. Some sheets had 1/4" spacers. Some had 1/8". Some 1/16". It was madness.
I ended up tearing them off the sheets and working through much of this task tile by tile instead.
People Won't Notice Your Mistakes
I'm a perfectionist and always have been. I was the only kid in Mrs. Bent's kindergarten class that had homework because I was frustratingly precise with my coloring. I can recall the times when I was left in that classroom by myself while the rest of the class went to the back room to have story-time with Klumpy the stuffed dinosaur.
That said, I tried really really hard to make this perfect. It's not. Like, not even close. How could it be? I had no real clue what I was doing. Yet, for every inconsistent gap between tiles, for every slightly chipped edge covered by the wrong grout... for every like triangle cut and poor placement... the only thing that anyone really notices is the full backsplash.
Unlike most backsplashes in a house our size, this one extends all the way up to the ceiling, creating the illusion of added height. Wood trim lays over the tile creating an appealing aesthetic for our iconic eyebrow window. It has a chevron tile inlay over the stove top, framed in by miter-cut bull-nosed edging. It has a pot filler that has no business being in a small kitchen of our size.
...but damn if Katelyn wasn't right.
"No one is going to notice the grout Frank, they're just going to see tile... tile, everywhere! That's all that matters."
She's always right.