Tile Backplash Project – Part TWO

Where did I leave off…..oh yeah…drywall done, taped, primed and painted.  After arriving at the Homestead Friday and even though he had just spent 3 ½ hours in a car, hubby got to work hanging the upper cabinets back up on the wall.  He really is a hard worker, I am totally blessed to have him as my hubby. 

It took just over an hour to get the cabinets back up, which went off without a hitch.  I then rewashed the glassware and dishes that I had wrapped in newspaper as they were packed them away until we could get them back in the cabinets.  At least everything going back would be spic ‘n span clean and I wouldn’t have to use paper plates anymore.

The remainder of the evening was spent relaxing and enjoying our staple Friday night, home-made pizza, with BIG anticipation for tomorrow – tile day! Woo-Hoo!  The project was nearing completion, even with an out-of-the-way side trip careening through the countryside drywall re-do. 

Saturday morning dawned (and late I might add, I am not happy about this darkness until almost 7:30 a.m.) and once we had our bellies full of breakfast, we got to work prepping for tile.  Hubby had purchased a new tool for the job as what home reno project isn’t complete without the requisite new tool to go along with it? 

In this case, it was a tile cutting saw.  Looking very similar to a small table saw, only it comes with a diamond tipped blade and a water reservoir to keep the blade cool while it cuts the tiles.  Awesome deal at the local, big box hardware store too.  It will come in handy when we get around to revamping the bathroom back home. 

Back to the task at hand though…I had picked out some gorgeous, porcelain tiles from aforementioned big box hardware store, approx. 3” x 6” tiles and I wanted them laid out in a Subway pattern.  This is a very straight forward pattern with minimal cuts.  I could have gone for a Herringbone pattern, but hubby surely would have nixed that idea (and quite possible me as well) once he saw how many diagonal cuts would have been needed…not to mention the extra tile necessary for such a pattern. 

He mixed up the thinset (gray, goopy, sloppy tile adhesive) and got started slopping the stuff on the floor, counter, walls…everywhere where there was an empty space, thinset was glopped on.  There really has to be a better way of getting this stuff OUT of the bucket and ONTO the walls with minimal mess.  If anyone has any ideas, pass them along, even if its too late for this project it will come in handy on the next one.  Once the thinset was in place, and working one small area at a time, he started getting the tiles in place. 

WOW…what a difference!  Even with the little tile spacers stuck everywhere, it was a huge improvement over what had been on the wall. 

Just after 7 hours later and with all the tile installed (again, with minimal cursing) and cleanup done for the day, we collapsed on the sofa with some well-deserved cold beer and piping hot beef sammies with oven fries, just in time to catch another spectacular, Northern Ontario sunset…

Sunday was a little later of a start, mainly because I was hugging my pillow for too long, but once breakfast was over with, it was time to get the grout on the wall tile.  We pulled the stove back out (I think we set a record for how many times a stove can pulled out and put back in place within 3 weeks), covered the floor and counter with drop sheets and were ready to go.  Hubby mixed up a batch of grout, which is apparently just as goopy as thinset, maybe even more so as the stuff was just going everywhere while he was applying it.  

My job was to follow along behind with a bucket of clean, warm water and a big sponge and wipe the tiles down.  It is imperative after applying grout that you clean the tiles thoroughly, replacing the water often and just keep going over and over and over and over the tiles again until you think you are going to wipe the newly installed tiles off the wall.  Then wipe some more.  Trust me, you may think you got it all off…but once it dries, it is harder to get off if you don’t spend the 2 weeks wiping with a sponge (yes, I am exaggerating, but it really does feel like your sponging off tile for that long). 

Several hours later, the tile job was DONE.  YAY.  WOO-HOO!  But we still had some finishing touches to get done.  Mainly re-installing the outlets that were left hanging, putting up a new florescent fixture above the sink (on a switch too!) and getting my new hood fan installed over the stove – DOUBLE WOO-HOO on that as I no longer would have to try and cook in Braille, I would be able to SEE what I was doing.  For those needing a reminder of the Before look…ugh…here you go:


All in all, for a relatively small project, it wasn’t that bad.  The biggest inconvenience is being without a kitchen sink, but we managed to get through that hurdle in just one weekend.  All told, it took 3 weekends to get done, and the cost was under $500 (not counting the new tool), not bad considering drywall had to be replaced, new insulation, vapour barrier, etc.

I now have a functional kitchen with wall tile that I can CLEAN and extra lights so that I can see what I am cooking. 

I now want to give a BIG THANK YOU to my hubby who worked tirelessly through the entire project….even working through his birthday too.  I am married to the best guy in the world….even if he keeps trying to steal my pillow…

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