5 Things to Know Before Installing a Faux Brick Backsplash
Written by Milan Jara on 27th Apr 2022
Installing a faux brick backsplash is a worthwhile project. Here’s what you need to know to save you both time and money.
Installing a faux brick backsplash is not only an efficient way to protect your kitchen from spills and stains but also a highly decorative feature your guests will marvel at. Even though most people don’t use real brick for their backsplashes these days, faux brick looks nearly identical to the real thing. Going the faux brick route will not diminish the look of your backsplash in any way.
What will ruin your backsplash is failing to adequately prepare for your faux brick backsplash install. There are a few important tidbits of information in this article that will help you avoid problems and ensure the process goes off without a hitch. Keep reading, especially if you’re doing the installation for the first time.
1. Faux Brick
We begin our list of the top 5 need-to-know bits of information about installing faux brick backsplashes by establishing what materials and tools you need and what type of faux brick you should use.
One of the first things to know before installing a faux brick backsplash is what type of wall tile you're going to use. Though this may seem like common sense, this is where many people make mistakes. These hiccups usually stem from the fact there are a few different types of faux brick tiles.
Faux brick could refer to several things, including thin brick, half brick, vinyl brick, and brick veneer. These are all imitation bricks, but they're constructed of different materials and have different installation processes. Therefore, you need to know the difference between these types so you know that you're getting the right product for your backsplash. To clear up any confusion, here is a quick explanation of these different types of faux brick.
- Thin and Half Brick Veneer – Most often, faux brick is confused with thin or half brick veneer, which is made from natural clay and shale. Some thin bricks are also made from cement, ceramic, fiberglass, or a combination of these materials. They all feel, look, and sometimes even smell just like bricks. The difference is that thin brick veneer is much thinner, which is why they are sometimes referred to as half-brick. They have the look and feel of brick without the heaviness or structural stability you get when using solid whole brick, and you can use them in a wider range of locations. Though some variations of thin bricks are too porous for use outdoors, others are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. You can install thin bricks using mortar similar to traditional ceramic tile installation methods, making thin brick an ideal veneer material.
- Vinyl, Polyurethane, and PVC Brick – Brick siding, vinyl brick, or faux brick is a lighter, less expensive alternative to using real brick. When people use this type of faux brick for backsplashes, they usually opt for the glue-up variety, which is installed using an adhesive. This installation method is the easiest and most cost-effective one and is the method we use and refer to in this article.
2. Why Polyurethane?
We like using polyurethane faux brick wall tiles for backsplashes or similar types of new construction and renovation work for many reasons, including:
- They have an easier, shorter, and less complex installation process.
- They easily attach to metal, concrete, wood, and drywall work surfaces.
- They have a reasonable price tag and save you money when compared to other options.
- They attach to walls with just adhesive and a few screws or nails.
- You can accurately recreate the look of old, new, and painted brick.
- They are gorgeous to look at.
- These products are very durable.
- They are lightweight, flexible, and easily cut to size with a regular hand saw.
- This product comes in a variety of styles and finishes, ranging from traditional to ultra-modern, so finding just the right design is pretty easy.
- The panels will not rust or corrode.
- They are hypoallergenic and mold- and bacteria-resistant.
- They are easy to clean and maintain.
- They have additional moisture-resistant insulation that prevents indoor heat from getting out and moisture from getting in.
- Most have matching trim available for purchase.
- Faux brick wall tiles
- Measuring tape
- Table, circular, or miter saw
- Flathead screwdriver
3. Check Your Tools, Measure Materials
By far the two most common mistakes people make before installing a faux brick backsplash are taking inaccurate measurements and getting the wrong number of panels. These two issues go hand-in-hand, but both are easily preventable by simply taking accurate measurements of your walls or work area so you know exactly how many panels you need. You'll also need to determine if and where any cuts are necessary and cut using your saw of choice before beginning your installation.
Before installing a faux brick backsplash, you need to make sure all of your tools are in good working order and outfitted appropriately. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, we've seen plenty of folks botch their backsplash because of preventable tool-related issues. Trying to mount faux brick tiles using an ill-fitting drill bit or popping holes through the other side of the wall because the nails or screws you have are too big are a few examples of why it's important to double-check your tools and possibly expand or upgrade them.
You should also ensure you have the right type of adhesive and know how to use it. We recommend the PL Premium or Enerfoam. Pay special attention to the adhesive drying and setting times and follow them exactly. You don’t want to rush or cut any corners when installing a faux brick backsplash.
Consider adding a clear polyurethane coating with silane or siloxane to seal your faux brick backsplash. This will keep out air and moisture and protect against stains. If you are installing a brick veneer backsplash that already has insulation behind it, you can forgo the sealer.
Safety gear can be a bit of a hassle to find and put on when you're working, but make sure you wear gloves and safety glasses every time you cut and apply adhesive. Sneezing, slipping, or being startled while operating a power tool can cause serious injury to even the most experienced professionals.
Perhaps the most overlooked thing to do before installing a faux brick backsplash is to read the instructions that came with your paneling. We know everyone wants to show that they can install their faux brick panels without using the instructions, but all it does is open the door for mistakes to occur.
Often the installation instructions contain other types of useful information to make the process go more smoothly. So even if you know how to go about installing these panels, it’s still worth reading the instructions for these tips.
If your faux brick tiles didn’t come with installation instructions, simply do a quick Google search using the manufacturers' names. The odds are that you can track them down.
Below are a few other tools and material-related bits of information you should know before installing a faux brick backsplash.
- If you are installing onto a concrete block wall, we recommend using TapCon screws.
- Before you begin, make sure the wall is free of any dust or debris that could hinder the attachment process. You don’t need to sand the wall unless its paint is oil-based.
- A flat, level base is required for installing imitation brick, so you’ll want to take a level to your floor before installation.
- If your floor isn't level, you'll need to use a straight scrap piece of wood as a guide. To do this, attach a wood piece at the bottom of the wall where it meets the floor, then straighten the piece of wood with your level and draw a straight line using the wood. You can also just leave the wood there as a guide to ensure the bottom row of panels is level when installing your imitation brick.
- You may also want to draw some horizontal lines every foot or so to ensure that the bricks are straight and level.
- Turn off the power to your kitchen outlets at the breaker box and remove all the outlet covers with your flathead screwdriver and set them aside.
- If you are using a circular saw to cut the paneling, use a blade with at least 80 teeth.
- You may need to expand your toolkit if you plan to DIY a solid brick or brick veneer backsplash.
- Decide whether you need or want accessories, such as matching ledge trim, inside and outside corners, and outlet covers to complete your backsplash.
- For screw or nail holes, miter joints, or other openings, fill them with wood filler or Bondo. Let the wood filler or Bondo completely dry before moving on to the next step.
- We advise a 24-hour acclimatization period before installing faux brick, but you can proceed with installation immediately if the faux brick was stored in a cool climate or at room temperature.
- To prevent bending and bowing, store faux brick panels flat. If the panels bow, simply place them flat and they will self-correct.
4. Cleaning Before Install
You will probably need to clean your faux brick panels before installing. If you have highly-textured panels, it complicates things somewhat. Wipe flat faux brick tiles clean with a damp rag and a spritz of bathroom cleaning solution. Scrubbing some types of panels with a soft-bristled brush can remove dirt without damaging them, but grease, dust, and dirt get into the little nooks and crannies of realistic faux panels. Cleaning them is a little more involved.
5. Cleaning After Install
Manufacturers use high-density polyurethane, which is resistant to staining, moisture, and discoloration. Polyurethane is a closed-cell plastic, so it's not soluble to mold and will only rarely get stained by anything splattered on it.
To adequately clean them, we propose the following:
- Wipe the panel down with a moderate-strength detergent or soap and water. Do not use chemical cleaners such as all-purpose sprays.
- Scrub the area using a soft bristle brush. You can use an ordinary brush for this, but make sure its bristles are thin enough to get into all the nooks and crannies of the panels without being too abrasive, as this can damage them.
- After cleansing, rinse with warm, clean water. A showerhead or spray attachment is the best way to get rid of the residue.
- We recommend drying with a damp cloth, but using a soft dry towel to pat dry also works.
With their affordability and ease of installation, faux brick provides the look and texture of real brick. When used on a kitchen backsplash, it adds a high-end touch to your home, and a problem-free install is possible for the average do-it-yourselfer.
By following the pre-install items listed here, you’ll likely end up with a result you’re happy with. Note that some panels and installation methods may differ slightly from what we outlined here, making some items on this list unnecessary for your particular installation process.