Making a (back)splash

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Dark Days of my Kitchen’s past

My kitchen is tiny, dark, and kiiiiinda gross. The people that lived here before me were, by my account, filthy animals and no cleaning was done before I moved in. The cabinets were absolutely littered with cockroaches, the countertops were splotchy and stained, the caulking between the cabinets and the wall was nauseating. If I was ever going to use this space, it had to be completely unlike its former self. But, since it’s a rental, I had to go about things with a delicate touch.

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So, I thank ConTact paper for my countertops (it is remarkably durable. No scratching or stains in the last year and a half). I painted the cabinets white (oil based paint— takes the longest to dry, like up to 3 days! But is very wipe-downable and has a nice gloss to it), took the top cabinet doors off to make things feel less like if I reached in there I might pull my hand out covered in roaches. After cleaning everything with the fervor of a panicked murderer, I lined the back of the cabinets with this orange-on-black floral paper from Rifle. The only project I hadn’t tackled was putting in a back splash, which was very badly needed because the walls are flat white (read: easily stained and not at all cleanable, a winning combo for kitchen and bath!)

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So, after some intense research I bought some of these copper backsplash tiles on a whim, because inexpensive, self-adhesive backsplash is a major area of opportunity* for retailers. These tiles are actually plastic with a metal coating, and according to the manufacturer, install with glue (I recommend LocTite).

I started by gluing down some border rails to make the wall-to-backsplash transition nicer (don’t worry, I straightened my lines up.) They cut easily with scissors, but if you need to cut a hole for outlets (like I did, terribly) you should probably spring for some tinsnips or a very sharp crafting knife. If the outlet will just be covered by appliances, like mine is, full steam ahead! Ha ha!

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Ultimately, I recommend reinforcing the glue job with tiny little furniture tack nails. They are nearly imperceptible and just make for a sturdier finish. Now, sunlight flashes onto these babies and makes my kitchen about 1,000x prettier and more cleanable. All told, it cost me less than $150 to do, and less than 2 hours! I would highly recommend this as an upgrade to any kitchen, even a rental (in which case I would skip the glue and use just the nails to put it up… spackle is cheap and easy to use when you leave, and honestly, as someone who also manages property, most landlords would see this as an upgrade and potentially reimburse you the cost of materials.)

*You can find a million options for vinyl self-adhesive backsplash tiles on Etsy, but I ultimately didn’t purchase them because this is the type of thing that I want to know how it feels before I buy.

 

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