Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tiles Teetering on the Brink

It's quite possible we bit off a bit more than we could chew on our first real house project. We are not in love with the oak cabinets or countertops, or linoleum floor for that matter, in our kitchen. Because we don't have the funds to do a complete kitchen tear out at this time, we thought maybe a tile backsplash would help bring things together a bit. Here is the kitchen prior to tiling. In case you're wondering, the paint color is Sherwin Williams' Reynard.

I watch a alot of HGTV and also looked up many videos on tiling online so I considered myself somewhat of an expert. We selected a neutral 1" tile tumbled travertine from Lowe's and went to town. Although it was only about 15 square feet of tiling, it still took us approx. 4 hours to put the tile up with mastic. Mastic is sticky people, word of warning. Also, cutting tiles with nippers is difficult. Especially if they are small. Also, a cute word like nipper doesn't make the job any easier. But we forged on. After the tile was on the wall we treated ourselves to a birthday dinner for me at the Melting Pot. A deliciously caloric reward for a hard day of labor.

Here is what it looked like pre-grout but not quite finished with the mastic/sticking stage. Pretty good, right?

After the first stage was out of the way, we were high on home improvement. Yes, parts of the day were difficult but we got it on the wall and it hadn't fallen to the ground by the time we woke up the next morning. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Then........things went a little south. A lot south. WAAAAAAy South. I read multiple differing opinions on when to wipe off the grout. Something said 15-30 minutes, something else said 4 hours. The box of grout was no help as there were no written instructions, only hand drawn pictures. So, we grouted all the tile, which took 90 minutes. By this point, little did we know we were already totally screwed.

After grouting we said, "OK, let's go for a run, and then shower and eat, and then we'll wipe off the grout." WARNING TO THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER TILED: Do not plan a couple hours worth of activities at this stage of tiling. You will be SO sorry.

We started to wipe off the grout only, it wasn't coming off. It had completely hardened on. The more we scrubbed, the more discouraged we got. This was a disaster. There were heated words (from John), and 20 minutes of heavy sobbing on the kitchen floor (also John --- just kidding, that was all me). There was stomping around (that really was John). There were idle threats of hiring out every single house project in the future and never again attempting things on our own (also John). And finally I was cried out and we went to bed, defeated. I didn't take a picture of this stage because I was too distraught. Just picture tiles with grout so thick you can barely see the lines.

The next day, John headed back to Lowe's for advice. Grout haze remover and heavy brushes in hand, we got down to business. It became quickly apparent that my old toothbrush was the most useful tool possible.....until we discovered sand paper. Thank God we bought tumbled travertine and not glazed tile because it enabled us to sand for 2 straight hours. We sanded off every last bit of grout. I have never sweat so much from physical labor in my life! The sanding counted as our workout that night. Boy, did it ever. But, by the end of those 2 hours we had gone from, "We're going to have to hire someone to rip this down and re-drywall" to "I think we can work with this." What a difference a day makes!

We worked each night that week touching up the sanding and trying to make it look decent. And I think we did a darn good job.

And here is part of it all finished! We're still looking for some nicer edge pieces but for now, it's fine by me! Really, it was all worth it. I didn't total the receipts but I'm guessing these 15 SF cost us about $250.

1 comment:

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