Kitchen Series: Tile Backsplash and Counter-tops

I recently started to share a little bit about my kitchen. My kitchen has some solid wood cabinets that were in pretty good shape, but they had previously been painted and desperately needed aface-lift. In this post, I talked about how I removed some really bad and really old wall-paper that had been placed in all of my cabinet shelves. I knew all of this old wall-paper had to go, because we were going to be repainting not just the face of my cabinets, but the inside of them as well. This re-painting our kitchen cabinets slowly turned into replacing old tile, replacing counter-tops, replacing cabinet hardware, and replacing some appliances.

Removing the old tile was one of the first things that we tackled. We had 2 different walls that we knew was going to be receiving new tile, so we focused on one side of the kitchen to the other. The tile back-splash around the kitchen sink and counter-tops had to be installed after the counter-top, so I had tile work to do on 2 separate days.

Ripping out the old tile.


Wall=prep— we hung new backer=board to make sure our new tile had something strong to be hung onto.


And hello new tile. This is only my second project with having to tackle tile-work. We re-tiled our shower about 2 years ago with this same white subway tile. The best decision that made this job, just a little easier was purchasing the thin-set already pre-mixed. When re re-tiled the shower, we had to mix all of the mortar in a large bucket—- all I remember is that it was such a pain and really messy. Having the thin-set pre-mixed, was so much easier and not as messy.


I waited about 24 hours before I added the grout.




I really didn’t take too many before photo’s (I’m sorry) But here is an image of what the previous counter-top and sink looked like. The sink was white, dull, and looked dirty and gross all the time. It didn’t matter how many times or how I often I cleaned it. Hate is a really strong word, and I really hated that old sink.DSC_0129

Goodbye old laminate counter top and goodbye grimy sink!! Ripping all of this out was actually pretty fun. I was happy to see it all go.


After painting all of the kitchen cabinet bases, and tiled the wall behind the stove (to the right in the picture below) and after all the cabinet base prep. It was time to start the prep work for our new butcher block counter top. I purchased the butcher block countertops online from Home Depot. It came in 2 slabs. The first thing we did was decide which side that was going to be the top. Once that was decided, I started to seal the underside with polyurethane. I made sure to apply about 4-5 coats. I had to make sure that all sides of my butcher block counters to protect the wood from moisture and climate changes. The picture below shows the underside—- since this wasn’t the side that wasn’t going to be seen, I didn’t bother staining it. I only worried with applying the polly. After the polly cured—- we measured, double checked those measurements, and triple checked our measurements for where we were going to cut the hole, for the sink and faucet. This was the most nerve-racking because we truly only had one chance to get it right. We made the cut with a jigsaw, followed by a palm sander to smooth the edges.. All edges had to be smooth for our new under-mount sink


The main slab was the most time consuming because we had to install the counter and under-mount sink at the same time. We attached the sink to the underside of the butcher block and flipped everything over into place. We secured our new counter top to the base cabinets with wood screws and heavy-duty glue. The next thing we did was measure the other slab and made another cut to fit the “L” shape of the counter.


After we secured the 2nd slab, I filled the seam with wood filler and sanded it smooth. Once everything was sanded, I followed up with stain and sealed everything with polyurethane.

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There was some debate on which product to use to seal everything. I read multiple posts where others used either Waterlox or polyurethane. All reviews and research that I found suggested that either one would do the job. The biggest question was if it would create a “food-safe” surface. I got multiple articles that said either sealer was never really going to be “food-safe”. And to be honest, I really don’t prep my food directly on the counter anyway. I usually place either a plate or cutting board in order to prep my food. I never had any experience dealing with Waterlox and had plenty experience with polyurethane, so Polly was picked in a satin finish. I probably applied at least 20 coats of the polly around the faucet hole and sink area because I knew that was going to be high exposure to water. I applied around 6-7 coats of polly over the rest of the counter tops. It was time-consuming but it was worth it in the end.

After the counters were installed, I made sure to cover and protect everything for me to finish tiling the back-splash. I stayed up way too late completing this. I think I took this picture somewhere around 1:30 am to finish my tile work. We had a limited amount of time to complete everything, so I didn’t waste any time.



Hello New Counter-top, Tile, Sink, and Faucet.


This Rug was snagged at home goods. It went very well with the new kitchen cabinet color.


Stay tuned for more Kitchen Series, where I will talk about how I organized my small kitchen and how I re-finished and painted a dresser to match my kitchen cabinets in order to add more storage space.





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