The kitchen renovation here at the Farmhouse has been a pretty long one. And it is definitely far from done. Last weekend, we decided to tackle the backsplash, which was something that we had left more or less undone since the bones of the kitchen went in several years ago.
You may recall that we had put a faux tin tile backsplash up along the sink wall of the kitchen:
Cute and functional as it was, these ‘tins’ were just a temporary fix.
We put this up, mainly, so that the view from across the great room looked ‘finished’. I didn’t want to be staring at unfinished drywall, and I certainly didn’t want to be splashing it with any overzealous sink usage.
This temporary backsplash gave us a nice view from across the house, but of course, when you actually walked into the kitchen and looked at the opposite wall (the stove and fridge wall), it was still unfinished drywall. Strangely, I never took any photos of this. Sorry.
I do love the look of the ‘tin’ (but kind of hate that it’s actually plastic), but as much as it was a reflective surface, it really made the kitchen feel dark.
However, the tin bought me time: time to ponder what I actually wanted as a backsplash. And trust me, I took my sweet, sweet time. Tile is the obvious answer, but I could never seem to find a tile that I was crazy enough about to justify the expense and the effort of putting it in.
After awhile, I started contemplating a beadboard backsplash, which is intrinsically ‘farmhousey’, easy to install, and pretty darned inexpensive. The problem? It was almost too easy. And ‘done’. I’ve seen it too many times before. So I began to think about how I could put a different spin on it. Literally.
In a moment of divine inspiration (read: cocktail-infused inspiration), I realized that if we could cut it at a 45 degree angle and piece it together, it would create a pretty nifty zigzag.
The math was a pretty daunting hurdle–not gonna lie. When we headed down from the house to our workspace, we were both doing the despondent Charlie Brown walk (please refer to these clips from Arrested Development for an accurate visual).
After much debate, and me repeating the phrase, “Stop over-thinking it!” about 657 times, we figured it out.
What you’ll need:
-Figure out how many square feet of backsplash you need to cover, then buy that amount of beadboard paneling. But you’re going to have wasted square footage on each panel, so buy a few more. Our total square feet of backsplash roughly equaled two 4×8 panels, but we wound up needing about one and a half more. It’s an inexact science…so we bought exactly twice the amount of panels needed for our square footage–it was enough for the project, as well as enough to have a bit extra for the inevitable missteps.
-An angle square is a must (like this).
-A super-long straight-edge is also kind of important. We have one like this.
-A skill saw
-A measuring tape
-A pencil, with a good eraser (trust me)
-Liquid Nails (to adhere the paneling to the wall–if your walls are as uneven as ours are, you may need to tack the corners with a nail gun, as well)
-Your semi-gloss or gloss paint of choice
Here’s what we did:
With the 4×8 beadboard panel laid out horizontally (and though it is shown beadboard side up in this image, be sure to make your marks and cut on the BACKSIDE of the panel, as this will give you clean edges on the front side).
Now prepare yourself, because I am about to drop some math on you: the ‘triangle’ that this first cut forms is a 45-45-90 Isosceles triangle. There’s probably an app for this, but basically, if we want the cut line (the hypotenuse of the triangle) to be 19″, then we have to find the ‘legs’ of the triangle with this handy little equation straight out of the bowels of Hell: Hypotenuse divided by the square root of 2. Which gives us 13.4350288425. Isn’t that a nice, sweet number? Meh. Round up to 14, make a mark along each leg of the triangle at 14, and connect those two points with a straightedge. Mark the line with a pencil. This will give you a cut line that is a little over 19″ long, but that works–you can trim it to fit later.
Sorry about the math. Seriously. I’m really sorry.
Now, you’ve got to continue marking all your cut lines across the whole board before doing any actual cutting. Here’s where you want to figure out how big of a ‘repeat’ you want your pattern to have. I decided that 12″ sounded good (so basically, each section of herringbone will be a foot wide–you may decide you want yours narrower or wider–do what feels right), so measuring out at a perpendicular angle to your first line, you want to make a couple of marks 12″ (or whatever length you decide) from that first line.
Once you’ve made a couple of marks 12″ from the first line, connect them with a straightedge (and check that the angles are 45s with your trusty angle square), and mark your next line.
Repeat this process until you run out of board:
Go ahead and carefully make your cuts, and set your newly-made strips of beadboard aside in a tidy pile. Before we can start glueing these into place, you’ve got to cut your next board. Why? Because you need to do exactly the same thing, only on the opposite angle:
You need an equal amount of opposite beadboard sections.
Measure these out as you did on the first board, and cut these strips. Place them into their own pile, so that you have one pile of strips with the bead running way, and another pile with the bead running the opposite way. Don’t let the two piles mingle, for the love of all that is holy.
The skeptic makes some careful measurements while I am entertained by his sawdust dandruff.
Now you are ready to cut and fit your first piece of backsplash. It’s your choice which pile it comes from, but measure your backsplash area and cut the first piece to fit. Before you glue it into place, you want to measure and cut your second piece *from the opposite pile*–this is a little tricky, as you need to cut it so that the pattern of the beads lines up like a chevron:
Make sure you line the beads up as closely as possible, then measure and cut your #2 piece from there.
Once your #2 piece is cut, you can go ahead and glue your #1 piece to the wall (if you are only glueing, hold it in place with painter’s tape while it is drying. If you are glueing and nailing, hit it with some nails right after you glue it to the wall).
Using your #2 piece, now select a piece of paneling from the first pile, line it up, mark, and cut your #3 piece. And so on a million times until your backsplash is done. I’m not gonna lie: it’s a time-consuming process. But even the ever-dubious Texan believed it was well worth the final product.
And, guess what? Once your beadboard pieces are all adhered? You’re still not done. Now you need to caulk the seams and paint. Caulking beadboard is a tricky business. The caulk wants to smear into the bead lines and look pretty generally messy. But here’s a few tips: tape along your countertop to get a really clean edge there. Lay your tape about an eighth of an inch away from where the beadboard meets the countertop. Once it’s taped, run your line of caulk, and then, working quickly, go ahead and schmear it with a damp finger, wiping the excess onto a damp paper towel. Once, you’ve flattened it out, go along and wipe it down excessively with a damp paper towel; the water will thin it out, which will make it blend into the beadboard beads better. As soon as you’ve done this, before the caulk has a chance to dry at all, carefully pull the tape up off your counter. It should leave you a nice clean line. If your vertical seams between beadboard sections are a little gappy and you want to fill them, run a very thin line of caulk, wipe it with a damp finger, and then wipe it down with a wet cloth. Thinning the caulk like this helps it not get stuck in the wrong grooves.
Once your caulk has dried, paint everything with a good couple of coats of paint; this helps seal things against water and food splashes. BTW, painting beadboard isn’t the simplest either–I use a paint brush and paint in the direction of the zig or the zag.
It’s amazing how much more light and bright this backsplash makes the kitchen. Gotta coordinate with the white dog.
And now I am going to do something unprecedented: I am going to show you the stove wall. That is missing our 48″ range, hood, and pot filler. I have never shown this wall in the history of this blog.
Here you go:
You are jealous of our awkward little temporary range and the accompanying 18″ counter gap, known as ‘The Crevasse’.
Despite its obvious missing links, this wall is pretty great with its extra-tall upper cabinets and schmancy new backsplash.
Someday, I will have my gleaming 48″ gas range, decorative hood, and long pined-for pot-filler. Until then, we have The Crevasse. It is what it is.