Friday, November 28, 2014

(No) Tile Style

I'm excited to say that we're finally starting to tile the kitchen backsplash. I can't wait for the kitchen to feel all shiny and polished and, most importantly, done. We've had the tile for ages. It's simple white subway tile, with just a bit of a twist because each tile is a full foot long. Brett found it at some fancy-shmancy to-the-trades tile seller ... and then we found it at Lowe's for half the price. Huzzah!


So of course, it's been sitting in boxes on our stairs for the last three months.

Brett's done a lot of tiling, so I was feeling confident that this project would go pretty quickly and smoothly. We spent the weekend on it and ... did not install a single tile.

Everything's actually going very well; there are just several important steps I didn't know about.

First, since our tile is going to end in the middle of a wall, we needed a nice edging for it. There's a metal piece designed exactly for this called a  Schluter strip. Try saying that three times fast. Or better yet, try asking the guy at Home Depot how to find it without feeling just a little dirty.

Hey baby, wanna see my Schluter strip? 

Cutting this and screwing it on to the wall just takes a minute.


However, we can't just start sticking tile to the wall. We needed to install a rough backer of cement board for the mortar to grip. The process is similar to installing drywall. You know: slow, awkward, and ridiculously dusty.

First pop off the outlet covers.

Measure 3,00 times, cut once.

This was the moment we realized that there's a tiny piece of trim glued into one of the corners. That needed to be pried, chipped, and cajoled out before we could install the cement board. I thank the heavens daily for our chisel - it's like the DIYer's hammer of Thor. 

Because it wouldn't be any fun if things were easy.

The cement board gets cut to size and screwed to the wall. Then you tape over the seams, and cover the tape with mortar.


Mix (and mix, and mix, then wait and mix some more)


This was the first time I'd mixed mortar, and I have to say, it's fun to work with. The texture is just really satisfying. Brett said that it should be about the consistency of cookie dough, and while that's a useful description, it did seem a little odd to apply to a substance that smells like dissected frog.

This is my sad face, because Mom won't let me eat the mortar.
So here we are, all covered with backer board and mortar! Hopefully I'll be posting about our finished project after next weekend.


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