Somehow (maybe because we thought it would be the easiest?), the entryway is the one room – we can call it that, right? – in the house that has been receiving the most attention. It wasn’t planned that way (we’re actually itching to get the second floor studio into shape!), but after addressing the stair dilemma, we thought, well, let’s paint the walls! This, of course, transitioned to the coat closet, and now? The foyer tile!
We’ve never tiled before, but we were weirdly excited about it. The preciseness of it all, the careful cuts and, quite honestly, swirling around mortar looks fun to me (weirdo), so we were eager and looking forward to diving in! All that said, each step has taken us a bit longer than we expected (isn’t that always the case?), so let’s back up. Here’s how our entryway looked a couple weeks ago:
After tearing down the dividing apartment walls and pulling up the existing wood floors, we were left with funny patches of newer subfloor (that was likely installed when the house was divided into its former two units) and the really old subfloor, both of which met up with the main room hardwoods at different levels.
The first thing we had to do was level everything out by bringing up the old subfloor to meet with the new-ish one, since there was no reason to tear that out. We picked up two 8′ sheets of 15/32″ plywood (the same thickness as the newer subfloor), then carefully patched it in as best we could, using 2″ wood screws about 1′ apart to secure each piece in place. For the larger sheets, I continued the 1′ screw pattern throughout the center of the boards as well. Once this was done, it was on to the tiling process!
We are absolutely thrilled to be working with The Tile Shop on this project (pinch us; they’re amazing!), and we were advised by the staff to first lay down Pro-Level on top of our subfloor to really even everything out. Although somewhat messy (since it’s been below zero outside, and all of our mixing was done indoors!), this was oddly fun! Having just seen Young House Love use the same leveler, I pulled up their post as a guide. Truly, it couldn’t have been more simple; water + Pro-Level = well, a level floor!
We did the leveler last Friday night, with the hopes of waking up – bright eyed and bushy tailed! – to a smooth concrete-esque entryway floor. We’d start our tile dry cuts on Saturday, and by Sunday, we’d mortar and grout – done! Except this was the weekend that the weather began dipping low, and our drafty foyer had other plans. The leveler was drying in some spots, but overall, it looked like this (and was still soft to the touch):
So, new plan! Saturday was spent taking care of furnace issues, sealing up cracks and – because what other choice did we have? – downtime. But to help further along our tiling project, we set up a space heater in the foyer, moving it a foot here and a foot there, pointing it at different angles over the course of the day. By Sunday – bingo!
We were finally able to start our dry layout – hip, hip! When choosing our tile, we knew we wanted something classic and neutral, something you would expect to see an old Chicago home. (I actually feared that I might gravitate towards trendy tile – whatever that may be – so I gave Scott firm instructions to keep me in line!) While we had bounced a few ideas back and forth, as soon as we saw this basketweave tile, we knew we had our winner:
We spent all of Sunday measuring, cutting and placing our tiles (no mortar, just a dry fit), and my goodness – our knees really felt it! Prior to our first cut, we actually watched a few video tutorials on where to actually lay our first piece, but because our entry has so many corners (mostly due to the stairs) and our almost-130-year-old walls are very uneven, we decided to wing it. (Yes, really!)
We started in our doorway, then we worked our way down until we finished inside the closet. Surprisingly – crooked walls and all! – our tiles look nice and straight!
The above is still just our dry fit, and earlier this week we took some time to label each piece, lay them to the side and stack them up; you guys, we’re ready to make it official! Our hearts; be still!
Our hope is to finish up over the weekend, especially since the weather will be, oh, almost 100-degrees warmer than it has been (speeding up our dry times). We’ll be using a charcoal grout since this is a high traffic area, and can you even imagine once we have thick, tall baseboard trim all around? We’ll also be capping off the stair profile with a strip of hunky wood (stained super dark, we think), painting the front door, the closet door and layering in… a rug? Some artwork? A small table and a bench?
I just love getting ahead of myself.
This post is in partnership with The Tile Shop. Opinions, aching knees and fluttering hearts are all ours.