Monday, December 27, 2010

Ask DC Rowhouse: kitchen backsplash

About two to three times a week I receive e-mail inquiring about the renovations we have done, products we have used, advice on their projects, or anything else that might pop up. I've decided to start posting them,  a la "Ask DC Rowhouse". If you want to write in, feel free to contact me as always at

Here's an e-mail that came in today from Andy, asking about the tile backsplash we used:

Hi, my partner and I are planning a renovation of our kitchen and our internet research has led us to your blog (isn't the internet a wonderful thing?).  We have noted that the trend in kitchen design is to have the tile backsplash go all the way down to the granite countertop these days - eliminating that little flipped up part of the countertop in the back.  My question to you is this:  have you found that the grout line along the bottom of the backsplash - where it meets the countertop - is staying clean and white?  (Especially behind the cooktop?)  As the "cleaner" in our relationship, I have to deal with spaghetti sauce spills and splashes - and would be the one doing any re-sealing of the countertop necessary.  I fear that the grout along the back of the countertop/bottom of backsplash would get discolored over time.  Do you have any words of advice on this concern - did you have it when you made your design decisions, do you have it now, etc.

Thank you so much for your counsel - and your inspirational blog!  We just finished an exterior renovation and landscaping on our "twin" here in Philly, so it is always nice to read about what is happening with others.


Thanks for reading the blog! I too had those same concerns when designing the kitchen. Which is one of the reasons I choose to use a darker gray grout with out bright white subway tile. The previous owners had installed a tile counter with white grout and the wine/tomato/water stains were so annoying to scrub out. I can say we don't have any problems with the area of grout that meets the for one exception. The area behind the faucet can get a little grimy, as water splashes back there as we do the dishes. It's a hard reach with a sponge. But, it's an easy fix with some scrub and a toothbrush. Since we have a slide-in gas range, there have been no problems with the grout line behind the cook top. If anything, I would be more concerned with splatters higher on the backsplash.

If you choose to use the same method of running the tile down the counter, I would recommend properly sealing the grout in the tile. There are several products out there if you are doing the tile work yourself, or you can talk to your tile installer about it.

Good luck with your kitchen renovation!


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