I didn’t want to write an update on the hall tile project yet. But I can no longer ignore the situation. We are so close – yet are looking so bashfully incomplete. What are we missing you ask? Um, grout to start and to end this project!
So we took a week or two off. Big deal when you consider that we’ll be living with the finished floor forever. Yes, I’m saying forever because I am in no hurry to lay tile again. It’s good to take a break, relax, and come back refreshed and to have the energy to do this right. Tiling is not something you want to rush or get sloppy with because, as we learned in the past, you’ll end up having to do it again after a tile becomes loose.
So where did we leave off? If you missed the previous posts (here and here) you can see it was a lot of work getting the floor ready to lay the new tiles. The next step, which took about a day in itself, was laying out the tiles. This sounds like it should be easy, right? Well it’s not when your walls are not square to each other and I doubt there is a house out there that has an even width hall from beginning to end. If we laid out the tiles with an even grout line against one wall we ended up with a large varying gap on the other side that started small and widened over the length of the wall. It is important to find the middle point of the hallway and then arrange the tiles from there. Then mark the lines between the tiles so you stay on track as you go. If you don’t mark the floors you’ll lose completely lose your reference point.
After picking back up the tiles and another quick vacuuming to make sure there was no dust on the floors, we began to lay down the thinset. We used ready mix thinset since it’s, well, already mixed. It’s a little more expensive but it takes the hassle of getting the right consistency in the mix. Plus when you mix it yourself you can only work in batches which last 15-20 minutes. Since we are DIYers this project took two hours to lay the tiles so having to mix a half-dozen mini batches of thinset would significantly add time to the project.
Using a trowel, I made sure there was an even layer of thinset over the space where I was going to place the tiles. I placed a row of three at a time. After placing each tile, I put in four spacers on each corner, checked that I was still even with my marked grid lines, and then tapped each tile with a mallet. I like to use my hand to make sure that each corner is level with the other tiles that are already placed. You don’t want your socks snagging on a corner.
I talked Howard into cutting the trim pieces last. He agreed and at the end he actually thanked me for not letting him cut the edges until all the tiles were placed. I stayed right on the grid lines but when I placed the tiles I made sure they were snug to the spacers. I don’t think in our original layout we were as snug so we ended up needing bigger filler tiles along the perimeter.
I’m almost positive that grouting this weekend so you’ll have to come back for the file product and the before and after shots! And as for the grout line along the wall that I was worried about? I had the brilliant idea of adding quarter-round trim over the space instead of cutting the tiles to go under the trim. I know, I really shouldn’t pat myself on the back yet saying it was a brilliant idea – let’s see how it looks first! Stay tuned!