Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First blog post - DIY Tiling Project

Hello to our family and friends!
Bridget and I wanted to start chronicling all of our projects that we have been working on, so we would have a database of ideas, recipes and fond memories to reference in the years to come.
I am going to start off the blog with a DIY tiling project that we just finished.
Dan and I finally decided to ditch our grandparent's hand-me-down furniture that Walter had torn holes in, and give our living room a new look. The only down side to this make-over is that we will no longer be able to use it as our second garage. We will have to start parking our strollers (yes, we have multiple strollers in our living room) outside. 

We decided that we wanted our fireplace to be the focal point of the new and improved living room, but once we gave our never used fireplace a second look, we realized that we needed to change our design plan or update the fireplace. The fireplace functions just fine, however cosmetically, it needed some help. The tiles on the floor in front of the fireplace were cracked and the brick fireplace surround looked outdated and dirty.

With a newborn baby, I was up frequently during the night, with plenty of time to research how I wanted to transform the surround (surprisingly enough, the fireplace surround is the portion of the fireplace that surrounds the opening... I did not know this).  I decided that tile would be the best option, so I googled local tile stores and came across, you guessed  it, The Tile Shop .  
I went in the next day and talked to one of the salesmen and explained my project idea. He asked what kind of tile I wanted and I had no idea. I decided to browse and I came across this fun ceramic tile  "diamond crackle". I never told Dan the name, because that probably would have killed the project right then and there. I brought some home, along with some travertine tile for the floor, to see if we liked it. 

Dan gave me the go-ahead for the Diamond Crackle, but we decided to go with a marble for the floor tile.
After determining how much tile I would  need to complete the project, I went back to the Tile Store and left with a car load of supplies and some advice on how to get started.
Some advice that I thought would be worth mentioning is as follows;
  1. There are different types of thinset for hanging tile on walls/fireplace surrounds vs. floor tile. There are also different size trowels for applying the thinset. You should have a smaller trowel for vertical application.
  2. There are many different types/colors of grout, so find one that compliments your tile.
  3. Some smaller tile comes on a mesh backing (usually in 1 sq foot pieces), so instead of putting every little tile on individually, you can apply it in sq foot pieces.
  4. Some tile stores will cut tile for you for a minimal charge, so it doesn't hurt to ask. But beware, they are not always the most careful cutters. The Tile Shop also holds free classes/sessions on the weekends to get you started on a project.
I got all of my other instructions/info from watching various you tube videos on how to install tile and I thought this link was pretty helpful as a reference guide.,,20243084,00.html .

We followed the tutorial the best we could, but here were our deviations;
  • We did not remove our mantle, and it worked out fine. We just covered the affected areas with painters tape, so that we would not have thinset all over our white mantle
  • I did not make a cardboard cutout of the fireplace, instead, I just put painters tape on the floor with the dimensions of the surround and laid out the tile that way. 
  • When using the wet saw to cut the tile (Thanks Dad for the help!), it helps to put a piece of tape over the area  you are cutting to prevent chipping/breaking.
  • We did use the support board for the top portion of the surround (and let it dry overnight before removing it), however we did not use it at the bottom of the legs.
  • Thinset should be mixed to a peanut butter consistency. Let the thinset sit for 3 days before you start to grout. Mix the thinset with a paddle attachment for a drill. Dan did this part, as it was a little hard to hold on to!
  • When mixing grout, mix to a toothpaste consistency and then let it sit for 10 minutes, mix again and then apply it.
  • When trying to remove the grout haze, it may help to use a dry cloth (after wiping with a sponge) on small ceramic tiles. It is pretty time consuming but when it is done it looks great! Thanks Dan for helping!!!!!
  • Grout fixes everything. We made a few mistakes when applying the tile, but after we applied the grout the mistakes were not noticeable - yay!

We were able to complete the project in a week (working around nap times, drying time etc). It probably took 10-12 working hours and the cost was under $500. Definitely worth the upgrade.  We are loving our new Fireplace!  Too bad we do not have any furniture to sit on and enjoy it :)

1 comment: