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Everyday I’m Tiling, Tiling…

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It has been almost two weeks since my last post. You must be thinking – “Maibe is getting really behind on this blog.” But alas, we have been working on the same project this entire time. Jim and I did not anticipate how long tiling the kitchen floor would take.

On Friday (the 20th) we prepped the floors for tiling.  We sweep and organized. Also, Jim laid out “self-leveling cement” on the spots of the floor that needed some extra help.  Self-leveling cement is pretty cool.  You pour it out and it moves until it is level.  There were only three small spots we needed to use the cement.

The self-leveling cement isn't really pretty

The other spot

We picked up the tiles Saturday morning. We had hoped to start first thing that morning, but the tile place closed early on Friday and then did not open until 10am the next day.  After we had all the tiles (300 sq ft) back at our place, Jim whipped up a batch of mortar (this type is called thin set).  We used mortar when laying down the cement board, so you may remember that it can be difficult and time-consuming to get the right consistency.  Once the thin set was ready, Jim used a trowel to spread the thin set.  I would then place the tiles in place. We used 1/8 inch spacers between each tile. We also started in the middle of the room and worked out (not the corner this time)! This ensured the tile would be centered with the room. After the tiles were in place, I had to check to make sure they were level.  On the first day of tiling, this took forever. It was hard to move the tile once it was on the thin set. There was a lot of standing on the tile or lifting it with a screwdriver.  The more we laid tile, the more we realized the level for each tile didn’t have to be perfect – just “good enough.” Also, it was more important to have a row leveled than an individual tile.  We worked until a lunch break – here are some pictures from the morning:

The floor right before we started

The tiles! The small ones on the right are the "mosaic" tiles - we put those on the edge

Jim spreading out the thin set

Looking pretty good

You can see the mosaic in this picture - also those white things are the spacers

We continued until early evening.  After day one:

More done here!

One hallway between the cabinets complete

Over at the other end we got some done too!

Trying to get as much as possible in one picture

We woke up Sunday morning and got working.  We first wiped clean any tiles that had thin set on it. We also cleaned between the joints of the tiles (where the tiles meet). We had to make sure the thin set was low enough between the joints that it would not show when we grouted. Grout is the sand-like material between tiles. If you aren’t sure what I am talking about – go to your bathroom and look at the tiles. See that stuff between your tiles?  That is grout. More on that later.

After cleaning up the tiles, we had a quick bowling break. (That’s right, I said bowling – we’re doing a bowling league with some friends) Instead of going to the bar after the bowling match – we headed home to continue the tiles. After working the rest of the day/night – we finished the full tiles. Since our kitchen is not shaped in a perfect square (that can be broken into 13 by 13 squares), we had a lot of tiles that needed to be cut in order to fit into place. Jim bought a tile cutter that cut of few inches of tile in straight lines. We were able to use this for some tiles that needed to be cut during those first two days – but the majority required use of a wet saw.

Other hallway complete

View of the full tiles done!

Monday night, we laid out the tiles that had not been cut yet. We measured each section and marked each tile. We planned to finish this in one night – I mean, how long could it take?  The answer is hours. During our dinner break on Monday, we decided to stop for the night and finish up Tuesday. It took us just as long Tuesday night.

Wednesday was wet saw time. If you watch any DIY shows on TV (we happen to be big fans) – you probably have seen a wet saw. It is like a regular table saw, except there is a little hose that spits water out on whatever you are cutting. Something about the water allows the tile to be cut without breaking.  We rented the saw around 5:30pm. We got to work as soon as we got home. We finished at 11:30pm. There was a pizza break in there too. That gives you an idea of how many tiles we had to cut. Luckily, we planned ahead and had all the tiles pre-marked. I would bring a tile to Jim, he would cut, and then I would dry the tile and make sure it fit in place.  There were a few tiles we had to re-cut for it to fit perfectly but overall, the tiles fit into place on the first try.  One tile took four tries to cut correctly. It had a U shape type hole that needed to be cut. The first two lines, Jim could cut on the saw. The connecting bottom line (to form the U) had to be cut using the tile cutter we had. Every time Jim did this, the tile would break. On the fourth try, Jim started cutting in the middle of the line, and luckily the tile stayed together.  After 5 + hours, we fell into bed.

Measured tiles ready to be cut

The whole kitchen looked like this

Jim using the wet saw

Thursday we had a break (Jim was at the station and I went to happy hour – yeah, my husband is better than me). Friday, we planned to start attaching the cut tiles. Jim got stuck in a late meeting at work. By the time he got home, we planned to take another night off.

Saturday (the 28th – we’ve hit a week now), we finished placing the last of the tiles.  This still took longer than expected. We had no plans Saturday (other than my 9 mile run) – so at least we were able to collapse onto the couch and rest before completing the LAST step of tiling.

Some mosaic and perfectly cut tiles

Close up of tile joints before the grout

We woke up early Sunday so we could get as much as possible done before our bowling match. We needed to clean the joints and tiles as we did last Sunday (and Monday – which I never mentioned). Once the joints were set, we were ready for grout!  Grout ensures nothing will get between your tiles. It also helps even out how tiles look. We bought “grout booster” that makes our grout water-proof and stain-proof. So no red wine spills will stain our grout!

Grout is made in a similar fashion as mortar. It then needs to be applied between the joints of the tiles. Once the grout is in, you take a sponge to smooth out the grout. After the grout looks smooth, you use the sponge to wipe away any excess grout on the tile. The sponge needs to be wringed dry between each use. If left over grout is on the sponge – you will spread it along the tiles and the little sand in the grout could scratch them. Surprisingly, hours after hours of wringing a sponge can be very painful.  Not only did my hands look like prunes, but they were scattered with cuts from chaffing. Jim’s hands were cramped from mixing and applying the grout. Plus we both were on our knees every day we were working on the tiles

Jim spreading the grout

Jim and I again were surprised by how time-consuming this was. We did not make it to our bowling match at 4:45pm but we did finish Sunday night.

Tiles with grout!


Do you see those bloody prunes? Those are my hands - this doesn't capture my many cuts, but at least it gives you a good idea of the wrinkles

Around 7pm, we were officially done with the tile.  We were exhausted by thrilled.  We have a real floor again!


13 responses »

  1. Looks fabulous!

  2. Pretty cool. I never thought I would hear Kerry using words like motar and grout!

    Nice Job….


  3. Not sure if I’m more impressed with the wet saw and how you had to measure all those tiles to be cut, or the fact that the grout won’t stain when red wine is spilled on it!! 🙂

  4. Looks awesome, guys! Can’t believe how talented you both are. i could never do all of that!

    • Thanks Beth! You’d be surprised what you can do when you put your mind to it! Can’t wait for you to see it in person!

  5. Loving the post titles!

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