Wherein I Lose My Shit Over a Backsplash

You want to know why I’m a firm believer in DIY? This is why. I have been working my butt off at the house. Plastering, painting, cutting 164 tiny slices of tile myself because the contractor told me it “couldn’t be done” and using the “c” word around me (aka “can’t”) is the very quickest way to get to watch me prove you wrong. All of this on top of a crazy amount of work, and watching my uncles 2 dogs which required an hour of my time, four times a day, for the last week. Inhale.

And then I get the call.

Contractor: “I hung the range hood.”

Me: blink

Me: I don’t… uh, how could you have hung the hood if I hadn’t finished the backsplash?

Contractor: Oh, we finished the tile.


Oh, here’s how. They just grabbed my extra blue countertop tile and used that. Which was not the tile I was going to use for the backsplash there, so that’s… infuriating.

It’s not that it looks bad (it doesn’t) it’s that I had a whole plan in my head for how I wanted it to look (a pattern of 2″ blue tiles and 4″ slate tiles to tie into the other rooms) and it wasn’t this. And, yes, I did sit on my front porch and cry about it for a minute (much to the bewilderment of my boyfriend who came over and found me that way. Not usually a crier.)


The bigger issue here is that I’d already laid the tile on the countertop, and when he laid the tile under the range hood, he worked from the top down instead of from the countertop up. If you’ve never done a backsplash before you may say, eh, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that the grout lines on the countertop don’t match the ones on the backsplash, and that is the kind of thing that will drive me up the effing wall.

This is what the backsplash was supposed to look like:

planned out backsplash tile

This is what the contractor did:

backsplash fuckup

And this is my creative solution:

backsplash tile fix

I will grudgingly admit that this forced me to be creative, and the result is better than expected. But a better result would have been talk to me before you make kind of permanent design decisions in my house, damnit.

EDIT: This post (and all of my subsequent adventures in homebuilding) have now been on the internet for well over a decade. While I’m committed to preserving an authentic story about my journey, I have updated some of the language and general storytelling from the original 2005 post. For the sake of posterity I will say that I was VERY FRUSTRATED with this particular contractor, and with “learning as I go” through the renovation process.  This happens in these type of projects. A LOT. Particularly if you don’t set very clear communication expectations with contractors or subs up front, which I didn’t because I was 24. Not an excuse, and I have a lot of empathy for that 24 year old girl who took on big projects with almost no experience, and no one who took her seriously. I built a lot of grit through frustrating experiences like this, but I’ve also grown enough in the last 14 years not to resort to name-calling on the internet when I’m mad these days. Mostly. (Also time and date stamps on digital photos?? 2005 was a miraculous time, wasn’t it?)

2 Responses

  1. I know this is several years later – but I just read your horror novel. Your experience (?) begs the question : “What the H*** happened to common sense and courtesy?”.
    BTW – I bought a townhouse once, the water heater was installed backwards! The installer was so proud of their work that they put company logos on the heater! Guess who paid the bill to correct it, 5 years after installation? Ha! [;-))

  2. I bought a modular home for retirement. After getting sevrl bids n a whole house AC, I decided to get room units for now. After two years, I had enough of the constant humming of the various units and each room being a different temp. I had a “professional” install a whole house unit and it was a dream ill the middle of the night.Beng older, I freqently get up to relieve myself during the night. Imagine my horror when I stepped out of bed to a soaking wet floor. The problem was the drain for the condensor ran into a hole punched ito a drain lne under the house. The “Pro” had stuffed the hose all the way into the line and when the toilet was flushed, paper,etc caught on the hose. When the water softener cycles at 2 a.m., the amount of waterwas too strong for the clogged drain to handle so it backed up and overflowed the walk in shower, flooded the carpeted bathroom,duh, who does that. It is all a ditant memory/nightmare now as yesterday I completed a total bathroom overhaul. If you have ever seen a modular home master bath, you will know most have a large soaker tub with matching color plastic sinks and toilet,not platic. I installed a double size walk in shower, DIY vanity and linen closet, designer sink and a killer wardrobe/closet. I am so proud of my new skills.

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