Mortar, and Tile, and Grout-OH MY!

It took us a few trips to several stores and lots of samples for us to come to an agreement on the kitchen tile.

One of our first “we love this” tiles was a special order tile from Home Depot that I cannot hunt down online. It was a dark grey (almost black) tile that was very textured and came in the long rectangular tiles that I really, really wanted. Those tiles were ~$4 per square foot, so it was on the high end of our budget AND was a bit too dark/modern looking for our little rustic home.

The second one we loved was from the Floor Trader. The man who assisted us at Floor Trader was amazingly helpful and truly helped us narrow down what we like/dislike/etc. We took a few samples home with us and really fell in love with one in particular called “Fitch Rainbow.” It was a really beautiful gray colored tile with a bit of brown/taupe mixed in. We weren’t sure why it was called Rainbow, but we decided to take our search to google to hopefully see the tile in action in a room. This is what we found:

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Uh…what? The tile on our sample board looked nothing like that, although it did have a note on the board that said the color variation between tiles is ‘high.’ We determined this one was definitely not for us. It was too busy for such a large space and again, was too modern and too expensive at ~$5 per square foot. Plus, it just kind of looked weird to us. I don’t know. (Fitch had some really beautiful lighter colored tiles, so I am by NO means talking bad about the brand..This particular tile just wasn’t the right fit for this room right now.)

This is when I had my ‘a-ha!’ moment with the long, plank-like tiles. They were definitely what I had my heart set on after seeing many, many inspiration photos on pinterest. They are lovely, but they just aren’t the right fit for our house and they were far more expensive than the more widely available square tiles. So, we went back out on another trip.

This time, with our eyes re-opened to the possibility of square tiles, we stumbled upon this little gem at Lowe’s:

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Heyyyy. It is gray and has a little bit of beige/taupe in it AND was under $1.50 per square foot. We bought a sample to take home and finally decided that this one was definitely a winner. Plus, with the price and the fact that it is an in-stock tile = major winner.  After doing all of the prep work, we were very excited to get started with the installation process.

The measuring/planning process was the hardest part of the entire installation. Our instructional book (we call it “The Bible,” and it was a gift from my dad for our housewarming party) told us to center the tiles on doors, sinks, or other focal points in the room. Uhh…it has four doors, a sink and a huge fireplace/brick focal wall. To make the planning process simpler, the book told us to create a ‘Guide Stick’ so that we could mark where cuts would be in the corners of the room without having to literally place tiles in each configuration during the planning process. Below is Josh making the guide stick.

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We ended up deciding to center the tiles on the brick wall/fireplace because it required the least amount of awkward cuts and in our opinion is the star of the show in the room (after my baller gourmet cooking, of course). After coming to that decision (four hours after we started!), we snapped a chalk line to mark the center of the room so that we could start placing the tiles!

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About five hours later, we had completed the installation of over 100 tiles!

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Where the hearth was previously, we poured several batches of self-leveling concrete to make it level with the rest of the cement board in the room. We debated using a different tile or natural slab to make the hearth different, but decided to save time and have one less decision to make that we would install this tile all the way up to the fireplace.

While Josh was out of town, my friend Taylor and Josh’s brother Aaron (who really should just be a freaking character in our blog from now on. I might put a picture of him on our ‘about us’ section) came over to help install the rest of the full sized tiles. I think Josh was totally worried the whole time we were working on it, but our section ended up pretty okay, other than a few things that the grout ended up masking a little. haha! We’ve never said we were professionals!

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When Josh came back home, we jumped right in to the grouting process. Josh went around the room to scrape off any extra mortar that smooshed up between the tiles so that the grout would evenly distribute and I made sure the tiles were vacuumed and cleaned really well.

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For the grouting process, Josh mixed and spread the grout and I wiped everything down with the grout sponge. YAY. We love it. It is awesome. I want to do snow angels in the center of the room and snuggle with it.

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Now all that we have to do to completely finish the floor is seal the grout! Merry Christmas to us!!! 🙂

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