February 23, 2010

Kitchen Before & After: Part 4

Tile Backsplash Installation

After drooling over Heath Ceramics tiles for several months, we decided that their colors, although beautiful, were just too earthy for the look we were going for. We decided on a gray and white glass subway tile with a random-looking horizontal pattern. You can see my review of the tile on www.glasstilestore.com.

Picking the tile was easy compared to the royal pain in the ass that installing it was. After viewing a few DIY Network videos on installing tile backsplashes and double checking that our math was mostly correct, we enlisted the help of friends & family (particularly my dad - who, poor guy, had no idea what he was getting himself into). We figured 2 & 1/2 days was more than enough time to complete the project (considering they said in the video that it would take a couple of hours). We underestimated a bit. Here's how it actually went down:

Day 1: Removed the infamous 2/3rds switchplates and outlets. Cut & installed backerboard.

Day 2: Placed 1-foot tile blocks in piles on the counter and figured out where they were going to go. Rented tile cutter.

Day 3: Took tile cutter back after realizing it was too weak for our beefy glass tiles. Rented new, more expensive tile cutter. Started cutting tile. Cut tile all day (thanks Papa!). Mixed thinset. Realized thinset mixed a little too thin. Re-read directions. Poured out thinset. Remixed to correct specifications. Started placing thinset, then tile on backerboard. Realized this is a 4 - 6 hands type of job. Enlisted more friends & neighbors.

Day 4: Finished placing tiles in 1-foot blocks along backerboard.
Note: glass tiles are heavy and like to slide down once you place them on a vertical surface. 2nd person needed to hold tiles in place while thinset dries.

Day 5: Grouted, grouted, grouted. Realized that fingers worked better to apply grout than any tools we had purchased. Sponged off excess, sponged off excess and then sponged it off some more. Applied band-aids to blistered and bleeding fingers.

Day 6: Cracked open a beer and enjoyed the beautiful new tile backsplash! I expect Dwell Magazine to be knocking on our door begging for a photo shoot any day now.

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