First, thank you so much for the excitement over our laundry room update last week! I am really excited to see how it evolves as we finish up some final details, but even just getting back to using daily has been such a treat!
- Tile Adhesive
- 1/8” Spacers
- Tape Measure
- Carpenter’s Square
- Sharpie Marker
- Tile Saw
- 2” Putty Knife
- 6” Joint Knife
- Unsanded Grout
- Paddle Mixer (paired with our cordless drill)
- Safety Glasses
- Rubber Float
- Sealer/Clean Rag
- Caulk (both grout caulk and regular caulk)
- Electrical Box Extender
- Diamond Bit/Dremel (for curved cuts)
To get started, we decided to begin installing directly off of our counter because it had been recently installed and confirmed level. We found it really helpful to lay out our pattern on the counter prior to affixing it to the wall. This gave us an ability to plan our measurements, cuts, and overall design. I considered doing a variety of patterns but ultimately kept it basic with a horizontal running bond layout.
For the most part, we stuck to working on two rows of tile at a time as our evening schedule only permitted us to work in smaller pockets of time. The 6″ joint knife worked great at scraping extra adhesive off of the wall at the end of any tiling session.
To actually affix the tiles to the wall, we used a tile adhesive paired with a notched trowel. The packaging for the adhesive gave advice as to which trowel type/notch size to go with based on the specifics of the tile. Our tiles are 6″ x 3″ and we used a small triangle notched trowel, which was part of a bigger kit we had purchased (the kit included multiple sized trowels and a rubber grout applicator float).
To apply the adhesive, it was easiest to use a small putty knife and add it either to the wall or the trowel first and then spread it out on the wall, again working in small sections.
We found we had about ten minutes to work with the adhesive before it would start to dry and harden. And see the spacers? A reader mentioned we were using them wrong (thank you!), but they absolutely would not hold with the beveled tiles if placed in the recommended fashion. So please ignore our spacers, we know they were incorrect, but we made them work and were careful with the piece sizes we were selecting.
In fact, we continuously matched the tile corner to corner and checked that they were remaining level as we progressed all of the way up the wall.
When it came time to make some cuts, as they always say, “Measure twice and cut once”. It worked best to measure with our tape measure and mark the tile with a carpenter’s square and a Sharpie marker.
Up until now, we always borrowed tile saws from our friends, but I found a great option during a Black Friday sale last year and we gifted it to ourselves for Christmas.
A Few Wet Saw Tips:
- Always wear protective eye gear when running a wet tile saw.
- There is a “fill” line inside, keep an eye on the water level as you go.
- Be sure to clean the saw and blade immediately after each tiling session to prevent the blade from rusting.
- We were able to set up a cutting station right on our laundry room floor, as we are in the middle of winter up here and it is too cold to do this project outside. We used beach towels under the saw to catch and splashing and kept the door closed to try and contain any dust.
- It is best to begin with a fresh blade at the start of any new tiling project.
Once the curve is cut, the bit can be run back and forth on the tile like a small sanding tool until you achieve your desired shape and finish. Luckily, we didn’t have to aim for perfection as the tile will always be covered by a decorative light plate.
After all of the tile was installed, we let it sit and cure for a couple of days before beginning the grouting process.
Oh, the grouting process! Another live and learn experience.
Prior to grouting, I highly recommend utilizing craft paper or plastic to tape off all exposed surfaces. Grouting is messy!
We purchased an unsanded grout; determining between unsanded and sanded is generally done based on the amount of space between the tiles. We kept our spaces around 1/8″, so it is typically recommended to go with an unsanded grout. Small gaps = unsanded, larger gaps = sanded.
The grout we purchased required a large bucket and was activated by mixing the powder with water.
The box showed a character mixing the grout by hand, which is how we mixed our first batch as well. Being that we haven’t grouted in ages, we didn’t realize that the consistency we achieved was ALL WRONG. We attempted to apply this thick and pasty grout to the upper area and found ourselves working so ridiculously hard to get it down into all of the grooves and then getting it wiped up with water after. We knew something wasn’t right.
We added a bit more water, mixed it the best we could and powered through but it took us almost three hours to work the entire upper half… applying the too-thick grout and then cleaning up the mess. Grout should be applied with a rubber float, however, we ended up using gloves and our fingers to run the grout down into all of the grooves and then a wet sponge to smooth everything over and clean all of the tiles and lines.
Luckily we still achieved a really clean effect (thanks to elbow grease), but this was not the correct way to mix and apply grout.
A few more tips:
- It is nearly impossible to not get grout on everything; for the most part it will wipe off of glossy finishes easily, but you may also want to be prepared to touch up paint ceilings and adjoining walls.
- Work small sections with the grout as well. It is generally a good idea to give the grout 10 minutes to settle in and cure before wiping down with a clean, wet sponge.
- Because the upper section was a larger surface area, Bryan grouted while I cleaned up behind him. Yay teamwork!
- My hands ended up so gross and dry and nasty, I wish I would have worn gloves during this part of the process.
- I went through quite a bit of clean water to deal with the grout mess we created. If possible you should never dump that grout water down your drains. I transferred my smaller buckets of water to a large five-gallon bucket, let it settle and dumped it outside in an inconspicuous area.
The bottom half went so much quicker and was a breeze in comparison to the upper half, even with all of the funny cuts behind the sink and faucet.
Another mistake we made was that we did some of our caulking in before grouting when really it should all be done after.
Any area where the tile meets a wall, cabinet or counter, we caulked in with a non-sanded tile caulk that was made to match the grout we selected.
Prior to sealing the tile, I took a look at all of the grout lines and tiles and noticed a few spots where there were still specs of grout on a tile or a wonky/over-grouted line. I was able to quickly and easily clean all of those imperfections up by gently scraping it away with a putty knife. I was so happy with how forgiving this entire project was!
Quick Tip: Get those safety glasses back out to protect from any overspray.
And that was the final step!
Unless you count grabbing a celebratory drink and toasting to a completed project another step! Because you are definitely going to want to do that!
Oh! Because the tile added a whole new thickness to the wall, it was important to add an electrical extension box to keep the receptacle flush with the tile.
I think that wraps up our process from start to finish on this lovely new wall in our laundry room. It is amazing the difference some tile makes in any space, and this was about as basic and inexpensive as it gets (in terms of tile). Although there were a few learning moments, after doing this project I would personally feel confident tackling smaller areas on my own in the future, and it really has me itching to do our tub and shower areas! #onedayatatime
Alrighty everyone! Feel free to chime in with your tiling lessons learned and additional helpful tips and tricks for us newbies. I would also love to know if any of you have favorite spacers or other tools that help make the process breezier. And if you have recently blogged about a tiling project you completed, please share those links in the comments below as well! I would love to see what you all have been up to!
Catch up on previous laundry room update posts below: