We started this work week with aching backs, sore shoulders and stiff knees, but you know what? The payoff was worth all that pain (so this is what your thirties feels like!), because you guys, we have a tiled entryway! We have a floor that’s actually level – a floor that feels smooth underfoot; no more splinters for these two (er, five):
After our dry fit the prior weekend, we took one night last week to label all of our tiles with a letter and corresponding number. For example, by the door, we marked them as D1, D2 and D3, and for the larger areas, we separated them into a few zones: A, B and C (which just happened to coincide with the Closet). Before we piled them back up, I snapped several photos with my phone that we could reference when it came time to really lay them down, which worked out perfectly.
It took us the whole weekend to complete the project, starting by mixing up our mortar and placing the tiles down on Saturday. Never having tiled before, we quickly watched an instructional video that The Tile Shop passed along (we also worked directly with Jeff at the Schaumburg location, and not only did he happily put up with my list of questions, but he reassured us, you can do this!), and we made mental notes on what to do: holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle, working on small sections at a time (or as much as you can accomplish in about 20-30 minutes so the mortar doesn’t dry out).
(On a side note, was the mortaring as fun as I hoped it would be? Eh. I was in the zone while Scott passed me our labeled tiles, so while I wouldn’t say I had the time of my life, it was a great feeling to know that I did it! I can tile now!)
We allowed everything to set overnight, and we grouted the tiles and wrapped up by late Sunday afternoon. As far as mixing the water with the thinset mortar and the admixture to the grout (the milky, watery component to get our grout to the right consistency), we just followed the instructions on the back of each bag, respectively. The biggest thing we learned was to always add the mortar/grout to the water/admixture – never the other way around.
Grouting – although extremely messy! – was especially satisfying; the look of our tiles changed immediately! We fell into a groove where I used the float to fill in our tile, then Scott followed closely behind with a rotating crew of fresh water and sponges. We used a charcoal colored grout, so while it felt a little terrifying to see such a mess at first, it was pretty fun to watch the transformation unfold with every swipe of the sponge. Wipe, rinse and wipe; wipe, rinse and wipe (again and again and again).
While the grout was still wet, it looked jet black (which we actually didn’t mind), but it dried to a gorgeous, truly medium shade of gray. An hour after everything was grouted and wiped clean, we did go back over the tile with a handful of damp microfiber cloths, starting in the corner and buffing our way out of the entryway. This completely got rid of any hazy residue that was leftover, and we spent the remainder of the night staring at the finished foyer. We couldn’t. Stop. Staring. We did it! And we love it!
It’s crazy to see how far this little space has come (a toast for every victory!), but there’s still much more to do (in addition to sealing the tiles some night this week) – baseboards, lighting, painting the stair treads, painting the front door and installing hardwood on the second floor landing… to name a few. We’re looking forward to all of those things, but to avoid burn out, we’ve been tossing around ideas for other rooms, too! (The nook? The studio? The storage room?)
Oh, new house, there’s so much ahead for you.