It only look me about two months* from start to finish, but I finished** the tiling in the kitchen!
*I took a lot of breaks on account of having work and life and class and being sick twice and The Biggest Loser was on.
**It’s actually not totally finished but that isn’t the point leave me alone.
Basically every person under the sun told me not to tile with black grout, but I love it. Like a ton. 3 different people at 3 different tile stores all told me to stay away from the black grout, and a couple friends also expressed concern at the extreme griddy pattern that would dominate my walls till the end of time, but I went for it. I mean, check how good black grout can look on square tiles and tell me I’m wrong. Black grout forever.
Once again, I have chosen to photograph my supplies after they got all mucked up because I am a classy ass blogger who knows what they’re doing.
- Polyblend Non-Sanded Grout in Charcoal. You want to use non-sanded grout when the grout lines are this small. Otherwise you will rue the day.
- A bucket. Fill this about halfway with water.
- A sponge.
- A float. I used a bigger float when I did the first part of laying the tile, but I thought it might be easier to use a smaller one for the grout.
- A small coping saw. (for special cuts!)
- A small-ish container (not pictured) to mix the grout in.
Grouting is honestly incredibly stressful and kind of messy and annoying, but SO satisfying when it’s done. I kind of got used to living with un-grouted tile and it wasn’t bothering me so much, but then I grouted and realized how totally miserable my entire life was because grout is the best.
The box that the grout came in had handy little instructions on the back, and the whole thing was fairly straightforward. I mixed small batches (using only about a cup of grout powder at a time and enough water to make a peanut butter-like consistency) to keep things feeling manageable, which was a good system. Basically I spread the grout on the tiles and then scraped off my excess, holding the float at a 45-degree angle, which is what you’re seeing in that first picture.
Then, after 20 minutes (which was about enough time to use my whole batch of mixed grout), I went back and started wiping everything down where I started. I found that the key was not to get overly-aggressive with the wiping, but enough so that there weren’t any big globs of grout left where there shouldn’t have been. At this point, everything looked totally nasty and horrible and like it would never be OK again.
You might remember that this part of the tile was already here when we moved into the apartment and was grouted with white grout (which had seen much better days). I bought a grout scraper (kind of like this one) and just went over all of the old grout lines. Not all of the old grout came out, but the point is to remove as much as you can to provide enough depth for the new grout adhere and fully cover it. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but it did take kind of forever just to scrape all those grout lines.
After letting the grout set for a couple hours, I just came back with more sponge action and a final paper towel wipe-down to reveal the full-on tile hotness. So fresh and so clean.
And oh hey, I moved the bubble clock! And oh hey, I put up the second half of the shelf! I had to trim about 6 inches off of the shelf in order to allow the cabinet door to open, so I used a blade for cutting metal on my miter saw and hung it up. It’s awesome having such a super long ledge, and I love that it allows us to get more things off the countertop. We don’t have that much counter-space, so it’s important to maximize what we do have.
Obviously the two bottom cabinets still need to be re-faced to match the rest of the white cabinets. It’s kind of ridiculous that it’s taken me this long to deal with that situation. Not cute. Also, I want a new faucet because that one is THE WORST. Also, we badly need door/drawer hardware. Also, maybe the walls need to be black? This dumb kitchen will never be done.
But the tile! I love it! Now that the grout is done and the shelf is in place, the old tile and the new tile really blend super well together, which I’m really happy about. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough for me not to care.
The hardest part of this whole tiling job was that one stupid tile that wraps around the power outlet.
I bought this little coping saw with a diamond-encrusted blade (like my teeth) online and just sawed away at it until it fit over the outlet. It took about 20 minutes, which felt like an eternity to deal with one stupid tile, but was totally worth it.
To bring the power outlet out to the new depth of the wall, I picked up these handy outlet extender do-hickeys at Home Depot, which worked perfectly. The pieces just sort of fold together until you get the necessary thickness, then you can cut off the excess and put it between the outlet and the wall (the screws are long enough that they’re still secured to the box in the wall. Then the whole thing gets covered by a switchplate and it looks very snazzy and amazing and professional.
And oh wait? What’s that? You didn’t think I was just going to tile one side of the room and leave the other all sad and tile-less, did you?
Course not. I’m not a fucking monster.
BOOM. Tile everywhere. Tile to the floor. Tile like you wouldn’t believe.
One of my favorite things in the room now is our portrait of Martha! Max painted this likeness of the venerable Miss Martha Helen Stewart a few years ago, and I love having her watch over us while we attempt to cook and take care of our guests and live up to her standard of amazing. Also, she covers our breaker box perfectly.
Martha Stewart is literally the perfect human and if you don’t agree with that, well, you can just show yourself right out the way you came.
Yeah, I really need to paint that little piece of trim, too. I need to paint all the trim. I’M GETTING TO IT.
There is so much delicious tile. Also, Max got an espresso machine so now he is bouncing off the walls like a total psycho.
One of the things I’d love to do someday is replace this countertop with butcher block. I really don’t know why I chose this white laminate, but it’s not very practical as it shows EVERYTHING and I want to bring more natural wood to this side of the room. Also, I have three different countertop materials going on in one very small kitchen which is just not a good idea FYI. But I LOVE the section of butcher block that we do have and I’d really like some more of it pronto.
I make mistakes.
I still need to caulk everything, like where the tile meets the bottom of the cabinets and the walls and the trim and the baseboards and in the corners, but I have to order the black caulk online because all home improvement stores hate me.
I’m so happy about my tile. I totally did that and it looks legit and everything.
The friendly folks at Ball sent me a set of adorable blue limited-edition Ball Heritage Collection jars, produced for Ball’s 100-year anniversary, and I love them! The blue is so cheery. So far we’ve just used them to put flowers in and drink out of, but maybe when the kitchen is done and I’m itching for projects, I’ll try my hand at canning? Sounds like fun scary chemistry science times?
Looks like the jars are sold out on Ball’s website but still available some places if you google around for them.
The white cheese board is from Crate&Barrel and the marble one was a lucky thrift find this weekend. $6!
I am very happy with how far the kitchen has come. I swear I’ll show wider shots of the room soon, but something very exciting is happening with the floor that I have to save for another post. Soon! It’s good.
In case you want to see the kitchen evolve from the beginning, here you go!
1. Let’s Talk About the Kitchen.
2. Kitchen Happenings are Afoot.
3. Dear Kitchen: It Gets Better.
4. One More Kitchen Thing.
5. As-Is, You Win Again.
6. Stopgap Measures in the Kitchen.
7. Tiling: Part 1!