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August 31, 2010

Conjoined Tin - Make a Tin Backsplash from Ceiling Tiles


Although I’m under-endowed as a decorator-y person, sometimes my lame decor ideas actually work.  And by ‘work’, I mean that the concept has to pass the ToolGirl 3-way Test; Cheap, fast, easy.  Notice I didn’t mention ‘good’ – that’s where denial kicks in.

And let me qualify the ‘easy’ part.  You need the right tools. 

For example, the Conjoined Tin Backsplash described below is easy IF you own a pair of offset tin snips (also called aviation snips).  Any other kind of tin snips will torture your soul beyond the gut-sucking spasms of unrequited love, albeit for a shorter length of time.

2010 Tin Backsplash  305

Offset tin snips cut through sheet metal easily, in a straight line, without inducing cramps, swearing or  early-onset dementia. 

The offset handles create an angle between your hands and the blade so that your knuckles don’t get shredded by the edges of the freshly cut metal. 

Picture 7

Here’s another modern tin snip tip:  The colour of the handle is significant!  Right-cutting snips are usually green (starboard) and left-cutting snips are red (port).  Yellow-handled snips cut straight AND left/right, although not with great aplomb in my experience.  You can force any type of tin snips to cut in a straight line but you won’t enjoy it.  In any case, wear gloves to  minimize accidental carnage.

Here’s what you need to create your tin backsplash:

Tin panels and edging (order many gorgeous patterns from Canadian tinsmith Brian Greer)
Shellac-based primer (really sticks to the glossy metal)
Paint – latex or alkyd
Offset tin snips
Measuring tape
Carpenter’s square
Panel adhesive

First, prime and paint the shiny tin pieces, which will rust like crazy in a humid kitchen environment unless they're coated.  If you like the effect of bare metal then just clear-coat the pieces.

Picture 1

(Please excuse the time code in the photo - we're making a video about this upgrade - it'll air on Real Life this season)

Measure the wall, taking into account any jogs in the trim below cabinets.  Make a diagram for the layout of your tin pieces.  Be sure to include existing electrical outlets or switches. 

Lay out the pieces of tin with correct overlaps.  Measure and draw the cut lines from your diagram onto the tin.  It’s easiest to measure up from the bottom to transfer accurate measurements from  your diagram.
Picture 8

Cut out the pieces using offset tin snips. 

Picture 3

Test-fit the pieces.  Trim as necessary. Cut out holes for switch plates by using an old chisel to open a slice that you can then lengthen with your offset tin snips.

Apply panel adhesive or construction adhesive (it’s sold in caulking tubes) in a generous ripple pattern on the wall. 

Picture 5

Press the tin pieces in place, overlapping the edges.  Caulk the edges and seams to fill gaps. 

Picture 6

P.S.  Another application option is to first screw down quarter-inch plywood on the backsplash surface, and then nail the tin to the plywood using small-gauge nails (the panels are soft so nails pierce the metal easily).  I didn’t want the extra thickness in my installation so panel adhesive was a better solution, and frankly, way faster and easier.

There.  Now your kitchen has a groovy new backsplash.  How hard was that?  Total cost: about $50


Metal Ceiling Tiles

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