Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tackling Tile

Some of you may have seen some Instagram photos recently where you could see I attempted back splash in the kitchen.  For some crazy reason I thought it would be a great idea to tackle tiling the back splash in the kitchen this past weekend by myself.  Eli was going to be staying with his Nana all day so I thought it would be a perfect time to try and get it done.  Well knowing what I know now, I would have waited for a time where Mark and I could try this together.  It was extremely stressful trying to make sure everything was lined up AND learning how to do it at the same time.  Don't get me wrong....I had tried to watch several tutorials and blogs of other DIYers that did amazing jobs tiling their kitchen.  I knew the basics of what needed to be done but had no "on the job" training.  It really is not a difficult task...it is just probably much easier if you don't feel that you need to get it all done in one day AND you aren't doing it by yourself.

*Note the lighting in these pictures is not an accurate depiction- it was past 8pm when I took these pictures...I will get better more accurate pictures after grouting*

 I did some prep work the night before and taped and covered our new granite counter tops with brown paper to protect them.   

 All I have done is lay the tile...the grout is the next step but I needed a break before attempting that. 

 See those 2 different cabinet door handles...we have been trying to decide what we want to go with and I am about 99.9% sure we are going with the nickel hardware.  I think it will tie our stainless steel fridge and sink hardware together nicely. 

So now I have a confession.  I did something really stupid while tiling that I have wished a million times over that I could go back in time and change.  I watched a ton of tutorials and no one mentioned this as a potential problem so I didn't even think of it as I was going along.  I don't have any pictures of it at its worst because I was so upset that I made such a stupid mistake I didn't want to document it.  I did take this picture today which gives you an idea.

See those white balls of thin set between the tiles?  Well imagine that everywhere and all smeared on top of the tiles as well.  Apparently I am an extremely messy tiler.  I thought I was duplicating what I had seen over and over in those tutorials....smear on thin set, rake with trowel, place tile.  I was following the steps but I was applying the thin set too thick.  You would think that I would have known when the stuff is called "thin" set!  Reading up on this after the fact, it appears that this is something that is common but I should have cleaned the grout lines and the face of the tile before moving on and BEFORE IT DRIED!!!!  What is even worse is I distinctly remember thinking to myself "man, i am going to have to go back and clean this up before grouting...".  I guess I just assumed it wouldn't be that bad??  I have no idea...I think the stress of putting the tile up in general got the best of me...that is the only excuse I have.

So now imagine Mark and I slaving over the tile with a wash rag, razor blade, plastic putty knife and finger nails scraping this stuff off without scratching the tile.....thousands of tiles!  Yes, my love of the 3/4 inch square marble tile is biting me in the butt!!  All I can hope for is that after we finish grouting, caulking, and sealing...the look of the beautiful small tile will be worth it.  I hope that sharing my misfortune will some how save someone else from making my same mistake.  And if you do happen to get messy with your thin set because you simply can't manage to do ANYTHING without wearing it all over your hands, clothes, etc. like me, well then I have some tips for getting the thin set off. 

After attempting several techniques the best I have found is a damp wash cloth.  Not a soaking wet one....if the tile gets too wet and seeps behind the tile, then they become loose and fall off.  Yep, I learned that the hard way too!  You will need plenty of elbow grease but a lot of the thin set will rub off and the stuff that doesn't can easily be scraped off with a plastic utility knife.  I highly recommend plastic because metal could scratch your tile.  Yep, I learned that the hard way too!!!  Oh and the last step is to get out your vacuum with brush attachment and sweep it over the tile to suck up any loose thin set that may be resting between the tiles.  I have never loved my Dyson more....

Mark and I plan to spend the next 2 days painstakingly picking out thin set and then try grouting.  I am hearing mixed reviews about the process....so it should be interesting. As for now, I am still thinking that the tile looks pretty darn good and am getting excited that the kitchen is starting to shape up.  Now that the tile is in though it does make it even more apparent that the cabinets need a fresh coat of paint.  They are 18 years old and the gloss they had on them has yellowed a bit with age. 

This before picture (taken in the middle of the day as compared to the picture above taken this evening)shows a glimpse of the progress made....but it really is an awful before and after shot since the after is still mid construction phase.