Motor Home Improvement – Part 3: Kitchen Backsplash Upgrade

KitchenBeforeAfterIn Part 2 of our Motor Home Improvement series, we installed a new shower fixture.  In this installment we will change the kitchen backsplash from drab to fab!  Was this a necessary upgrade? No, not really.  But if your RV kitchen is suffering from a case of the blahs like ours was, this upgrade can add a breath of fresh air into a stale old kitchen and improve the resale value of your RV.

We used a product called Aspect Metal tiles.  They are a plastic tile with a stainless steel overlay and an adhesive backing.  They come in several colors and styles, and are available at home improvement centers like Home Depot or Menards.

Depending on your installation, there are two methods that can be used to apply this product.  The tiles are self stick, but this installation method is only recommended for walls that are smooth and perfectly flat.  The walls in our RV were neither smooth, nor perfectly flat, so we opted to use method 2, which involves adding a few dabs of construction adhesive to each tile before pressing them into place.  Since our kitchen will also be subject to bouncing and shifting while travelling down the road, we thought the extra adhesive would also ensure that we didn’t end up with our stainless steel backsplash on the floor after a long trip on bad roads.

We planned our layout carefully to minimize cuts, drew some layout lines on the walls and then started laying the tiles.  You should leave a 1/8 inch gap between the countertop and the first row of tiles.  We used spare tiles or discarded pieces from cuts for this, as they were the perfect size.  This gap will be filled with caulk once the tiles are all applied.
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Applying the field tiles is straightforward.  Life gets a bit more interesting when cutting the tiles to go around obstacles such as outlets, fixtures and windows.  For straight cuts, a chop saw or miter box and saw with a metal blade can be used.  For the rest of the cuts, we used a coping saw with a metal blade.  We removed the outlet covers and tiled behind those, replacing the covers when we were through.  Working around the range cover was a bit more challenging.  The most difficult part of this project was making the cuts around the window.  Make careful measurements and use a template for the complex cuts.  A metal file can also be used to do a bit of fine tuning to make the tiles fit.  We also used a bit of caulk to fill in areas where our cuts were less than perfect.
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Once we got past the window it was smooth sailing, with a minimal number of cuts.
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We finished up with by adding the matching trim around the cut edges and then we caulked along the back edge of the countertop and to fill in any tiny gaps around the window and range hood.  We also added new mini-blinds to complete the look.  We are very pleased with the finished product.
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In all, this project took about a week’s worth of evenings to complete.  Depending on your installation location and the obstacles you have to work around, this project could either be extremely easy, or moderately difficult.  On a scale of 1 to 5 with five being the hardest, I would rate our installation a 4.  It was a challenge to work around the window, but we love the result.  The stainless steel is easy to clean and it really gives the kitchen an updated look.  I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is looking to give their RV kitchen a bit of a facelift.

Next up…  The bathroom gets a facelift…