After tiling the kitchen, we have a floor again!

A couple of weekends ago, we tackled tiling the kitchen {and bathroom} floor. We definitely did not think it would take as long as it did, but are very happy with the outcome! The original flooring was so worn and old, it was horrible to look at and no one enjoyed walking on it. After a lot of deliberation, we decided it was time to renovate the floors and make them exactly what we wanted. When we first starting looking at materials, we were overwhelmed by the number of options there were. We even found sites like www.londonunderfloorheatingsuppliers.com which offer underfloor heating services! I had never even heard of underfloor heating before this renovation but I am thankful I have now. We ended up choosing tiles as it was most cost-effective and gave us the look we were going for. We did not go for the underfloor heating in the kitchen, however, we did choose to get it in the bathroom which is a pretty nice touch. Now that it’s all tiled and perfect, we just need to take a look at these steam mop reviews in our endeavour to keep it sparkling clean!

When we first thought about how, and when, we would actually tile the floor, we decided it would be best to tile under the cabinets {before they were installed}. One of our neighbours recently got their kitchen re-tiled using the unique basketweave tile company and they absolutely loved it! We didn’t want to copy them though so we had to get something different. To tile under the cabinets or not; there are a lot of arguments for both sides. The main reasons that we chose to tile under the cabinets included:

1. Much less cutting. Not only did this lead to MUCH LESS stress, the cuts on the ceramic tile edges were not exactly “smooth”:

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2. If we ever want to move the layout around in the kitchen, we do not have to worry about not having flooring in any given area {but who am I kidding, we will NEVER move things around, so this mainly benefits the next owner}.

3. It was actually a quicker process to tile the entire floor. The reason being is related to reason #1 {measuring and cutting a tile took much more time than just plopping down a full sized tile}. Given that we spent 18 hours laying tile, I cannot imagine how much longer it would have taken to add cutting, measuring, and cutting into the process.

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The main thing we did have to keep in mind, even with fewer cuts, and even with being able to utilize more full-sized tiles, was that you MUST measure twice as you only get to cut the tile once.

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It took us quite a bit of time planning before we actually laid our first tile on the floor. Why? Well, it stemmed from being given the advice to base the first row off the straightest wall {which is the correct advice}. The problem we had was that NONE of our walls are straight {thank you, 100-year old home}. So, we finally settled on what we will call the “West Street Way” to start laying your floor tiles.

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The first thing that we did was create a chalk line that was approximately two tile widths away from what appeared to be the straightest out of the crooked walls.

What we figured was that this chalk line was straight, so we could just base the bottom of the tiles on this chalk line {rather than the tops of the tiles along the wall}. Since we are putting down baseboard trim {or cabinets}, any gaps, or uneven edges, between the tiles and the walls would be covered.

Please take note that there were a couple reasons to put the chalk line two tile widths away from the wall {rather than just line the bottom of the tile directly on the chalk line}. For one, once you spread the mortar on the floor, you no longer had a chalk line to use. Secondly, we did not use a permanent chalk, so the chalk line easily rubbed off the floor as we tried to steady ourselves in order to lay the tile.

Our solution, therefore, was to use a ruler to line up the bottom of the tiles along the chalk line.

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Since I was in charge of actually laying the tiles {Graham spread the mortar}, I would check that the ruler was aligned on the chalk line at both edges and in the middle as well. I then placed my spacers and we moved on to the next tiles.

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We used 1/4″ spacers. Also, while we went along placing the tiles and spacers, we tried our best to go back and wipe out any excess mortar that was in-between the tiles {like in the picture above}. If you do not do this, you will need to dig the hardened mortar out before grouting, or the white mortar will show through your dark grout…luckily I just watched an episode of “Rehab Addict” on DIY network where she had to do this. After grouting, we did have a couple of spots where the mortar showed {even with taking this precaution}, so we just dug it out and added a bit more grout.

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After all the tiles were laid, we had to wait 24 hours to walk on the floor and grout. Yes, we stayed at the Super 8 for a couple of nights {I wasn’t comfortable being without a toilet or shower}.

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Graham originally thought it would be a good idea for me to grout the tiles, since I am a perfectionist. However, I had no clue what I was doing. He cautioned me {twice} to “go at a diagonal” while floating the grout over the tiles. I just shook my head “okay” thinking I would just figure it out along the way {but in reality I was really nervous to mess things up given the amount of time we had just spent trying to lay the tiles}.

Not even before I could smear my first bit of grout in between the tiles, Graham bursts out with “What are you doing?”……trust me, if I could add an audio here, I would. Graham doesn’t normally have “outbursts”, so you can only imagine how quickly I jumped back and said “okay, you do it.”

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Graham did a great job of going “at a diagonal” as you can see above.

We did finally get everything grouted {or Graham did}. After a couple of hours, we went back and buffed the tiles with smooth, cotton rags {think old t-shirts} to remove some of the grout haze. But, just to be safe, a couple days later we did use some grout haze remove to “clean” the rest of the grout off. We also applied a grout sealer to finish things off.

So here it is, the big “before and after” on the floors. Feast your eyes on this transformation process:

The Process…

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From Before {a stained, cigarette burned linoleum floor}…

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To After…

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Until next time!