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I have an over the range (OTR) microwave, and am about to tile a new back splash. I'm not sure which way to go:

  • Tile behind the microwave and then install the microwave
  • Install the microwave first and then tile up to the bottom of it

If I do the later I'm concerned that the additional ~7/16th of an inch lip of the tile will lock the microwave in place.

Anyone have experience with this particular scenario that can shed some light on the correct route?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I tile behind the ones I do. First this takes little time. The top couple inches don't have to be perfect. I try to make everything look nice but in the grand scheme of things this is a few minutes of work and you already have the tiles, thinset, grout, and tools going so just do it.

Some issues I have come across not tiling:

  1. The top row is almost always slightly slanted and the cuts can be hard to make look nice.
  2. If you switch microwaves (the new OTR micros don't last long) and it doesn't reach the tiles what do you do?
  3. If the microwave goes past the tile then your install can be slightly slanted back. When you have tile behind there it is easy to jam the microwave in knowing you have a flat surface.
  4. If you decide to take micro out and go with a hood you probably won't have enough leftovers to get all the way up.
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+1 on this. Your house may last 100 years. Your microwave, not so much. The new one won't be the same size. –  Bryce Oct 19 '13 at 18:04
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