How to Build a Kitchen Backsplash From Wine Bottles

By Lee Carroll

Crafting a kitchen backsplash from empty wine bottles may be a tedious project, but the results can be stunning. A special bottle-cutting tool braces the bottle while it cuts off the bottom, and the resulting solid glass circles are installed as if they were round tiles. Wear safety glasses while you cut glass, and wear gloves during the installation. If you have access to a kiln, fire the circles to flatten and make them glossier.

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credit: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
Vary the color and size of the bottles for an interesting layout.

Cut the Bottles

Step 1

Soak the wine bottles in a sink filled with warm water until the labels are loose. Peel off the labels.

Step 2

Remove the bottles from the sink, and dry them with a towel.

Step 3

Place one bottle on the bottle-cutting tool platform, following the tool instructions. Adjust the platform until the bottle fits snugly. Some bottle cutters stand the bottle upright, while others require the bottle to lie horizontally.

Step 4

Slide the adjustable cutting wheel or bit 3/4 inch above the bottom edge of the bottle.

Step 5

Engage the wheel or bit, bracing it against the glass. Twist the bottle until the cutter creates a consistent scratch in the glass 360 degrees around the bottle. Remove the bottle from the cutter.

Step 6

Place a folded towel into the empty sink.

Step 7

Set a candle beside the sink, and light it.

Step 8

Hold the scratched line around the bottle above the candle flame. Turn the bottle to heat the scratch evenly.

Step 9

Turn on cold water at the sink, and immediately hold the bottle under the stream until the glass cracks and the bottom of the bottle falls onto the towel in the sink. Repeat to cut the bottom off every wine bottle.

Build the Backsplash

Step 10

Staple builder's felt over the backsplash area with a staple gun and staples, spacing them approximately 3 inches apart. Trim off excess felt around the perimeter with a utility knife.

Step 11

Fasten metal lathe over the builder's felt with 1 5/8-inch roofing nails and a hammer. Space the nails approximately 2 inches apart around the perimeter and throughout the material. Metal lathe is wire mesh that feels smooth in one direction and rough in the opposite direction. Hang the lathe so it feels rough when you run your hand down the wall from top to bottom. The rough texture holds mortar in place.

Step 12

Trim off excess mesh around the felt with metal shears.

Step 13

Mix veneer masonry mortar with water in a bucket according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 14

Scoop up mortar on the flat edge of a notched trowel. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of mortar over the lathe with the flat edge of the trowel.

Step 15

Let the mortar dry for approximately 20 minutes, then drag the notched edge of the trowel over the surface, creating ridges across the mortar. Let the wall dry overnight.

Step 16

Mix another batch of veneer mortar, and spread a 1/2-inch layer of mortar over a 2-foot-square area of the dry mortar with the flat edge of the trowel.

Step 17

Press the circular, cut edge of the bottle bottoms into the mortar with the smooth, rounded ends facing out. Arrange the bottle ends in the mortar using any pattern you like. Apply more mortar, and insert more bottle ends, working across the backsplash.

Step 18

Smooth the mortar between the bottle ends with a tuck-pointed trowel, which is a narrow trowel.