We have now hit Stage 3 on our big DIY Kitchen Remodel – installing the tile!
Installing tile yourself is a great way to save money on a kitchen update. And I have a few tips to help you learn how to install tile.
If you remember, this is where we left my parents’ kitchen remodel last time. At this point we had completed a few days of Stage 1 – Demolition, and Stage 2 – Texturing and Painting the walls and ceiling.
Removing the old vinyl flooring wasn’t easy and we weren’t really happy with the state of the subflooring when we were done. We decided to replace the top layer of subfloor with cement board – which is usually something they recommend you put down before installing tile.
Look what we found when we pulled up the old subfloor. The original parquet vinyl tiles – ha! I had completely forgotten that was what the floor looked like when I was little.
We opted to cover it right back up again with the new cement board.
In case I haven’t mentioned it before – you do have a set or two of good work gloves, don’t you?
You’ll thank me for this one, especially when moving large sheets of wood or cement board. That cement board is not fun on your bare hands. And if you’re lucky you can find some girlie ones like THESE! 😉 I have purple work gloves and they make me happy.
#2 on the list of useful tools of the day – a handheld drill. I don’t know how many screws we installed in that cement board but it was a LOT. And don’t forget a spare battery! You don’t want to have to stop in the middle of a project just to wait for your battery to charge.
While we’re on the subject – grab yourself a pair of knee pads too. If you’re installing tile you’re gonna spend hours on those poor knees. We used construction knee pads, which worked just fine. Though I did find myself wondering if a more flexible pair like THIS might have been an even better option.
So. Cement board installed. Time to get down to business with the tile.
I have been very interested in the wood look tile that is gaining in popularity lately. We decided to try it out on this project.
I think it was a good choice. Looks realistic, doesn’t it?
I wanted a random look, but I’m too much of a perfectionist to just grab the pieces as I go. So we laid out the tile pattern ahead of time to make sure everything looked good.
The last decision we had to make before beginning to install the tile was where to start. Our goal is to eventually continue the tile through the adjoining living room since my parents have dogs and tile is a lot easier to clean than carpet. We decided to start with a clean line of tile in the archway between the two rooms.
As this was our first big tile project, I will leave the step-by-step installation instructions to the experts (just check Google or Pinterest – you’ll find a lot of great ones). I do, however, have a few tips that you may want to keep in mind.
–See those little spacers? Buy a lot of them. Like, twice as many as you think you will need. They’re cheap so it’s not a big deal. We used 1/8″ size like THESE.
–This would be a good time to send the kids (and dogs!) to Grandma’s for the weekend. It was really, really hard to keep everyone (even the adults!) off the floors until they were completely dry. Adequate, undisturbed drying time is a must. (Any time I have to wait on a project is torture, but we have to do it right?)
–Pay very close attention to keeping the edges of all the tiles level with each other. We thought we were doing a good job of this, but later discovered a couple of places where one tile rode a little higher than its neighbors. This may have been due to someone stepping on them wet. Maybe not.
–It’s super important that the subfloor is level and free of debris. Double check all the edges where each piece meets the next one. We found a couple of spots where the seams formed bumps. We took care of this with a knife or the hammer. In one case near the stairs, we missed a high spot and a couple of tile pieces came loose. It was a pain-in-the-you-know-what to gouge out the dried mortar and replace those. Save yourself the trouble.
–Have a partner help with the install. Unless you’re a pro, it’s always nice to have some extra help with the big projects. You really do have to work in small sections at a time in order to get it done before the mortar starts to set. It’s useful to have another set of hands for all kinds of reasons.
Back to the actual install photos. 😉
By the time we had laid a whole line of 3-4 rows the husband who had once been skeptical about my insistance that we could handle this tile project was heard saying that we would have no problem tiling the living room when the time came. (It’s nice to have my optimism proven right!)
And there we go. We were very pleased with ourselves when we got to this point. (And our knees and backs were so glad to get a break!)
I think I’m in love with this wood look tile. Pretty sure I want to do something similar in the entire main living areas of our new house – whenever that may be.
All in all, the tile took a grand total of three days to install. One day to replace the subfloor. One day to install the tile. Skip a day for the mortar to cure (which happened to be the first day of school for the kids). And one day for grout.
I don’t feel like we went any faster or slower than the average person would, so I think that’s a fairly reasonable estimate to expect if you tackle your own tile project. And if you do – I’d love to see photos! Always feel free to drop me a comment on here or Facebook.
Want to see the first couple of phases of the remodel? You can check out the Before photos and the first couple days of demolition HERE or the wall treatment and paint HERE. Or get a sneak peak into the final result when you check out the Farmhouse Barnwood Sign I made to decorate the wall above the kitchen sink.
Until next time – let’s go make something great!
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