This weekend was spent prepping the back splash in our kitchen for tile. Due to the massive destruction of the plaster walls when taking down the old tile, it was recommended by experts at Lowes and The Tile Shop that I put up cement backer board to have a smooth, even surface to tile on.
Last weekend I bought three sheets of 3’x5’ quarter inch thick cement backer board, screws specifically designed to drill into cement board and a scoring knife designed to cut cement board. All of these items totaled less than $40.
Before going at the 3’x5’ sheets with the scoring knife I watched this video I found on YouTube about cutting cement backer board.
Saturday we started in around 12:00. The cement board was fairly easy to cut once you got the hang of it. Along with the scoring knife I used our utility knife to help cut the cross-threads embedded in the cement. A straight edge, measuring tape, sharpie and a sanding block are also a must for this project. Also, this is another very dusty task! This time we were able to keep most of the dust in the garage.
For each section of the back splash I measured the section, traced lines on the cement board with a straight edge, scored the line about a dozen times with the knife, broke the board along the seam, cut the remaining cross-threads with the knife, then sanded the edges smooth. I did one section at a time and installed each piece before measuring the next section; otherwise my segments would have been off ¼ inch on the corners.
Rather than trying to cut into the middle of a board for the outlets I cut a vertical seam through where the outlet would be and then notched out a rectangle. This worked fairly well and made it easier to slip the pieces around the outlets.
My husband the drill master helped me with the installation of each piece. He understands torque and other settings on the drill that I do not, so it’s a lot easier and faster when he does it.
Winston also helped by standing on the cement board while I tried to cut it and stealing my sanding block from the garage (I think someone was begging for attention).
The process was long, we spent about 3 hours on Saturday and got this far.
The rest of the kitchen seemed to go more quickly today as I started to get the hang of it. After hanging all of the cement board I went back through with some spackle and a putty knife to fill in the cracks and over the screws that sunk in too far.
After 4 hours of work today this is what we are left with, a nice even surface to put our tile on.
This step was not a fun one, but I know that it was necessary in order to get the results we want in the end. It is very satisfying being able to do this ourselves and hopefully save a lot of money in the long run. Stay tuned next weekend for some fresh tile updates!