See part one of the tile post right here.
The thing about tiling is not that it’s difficult, but it really is a job that takes time, patience and a lot of supplies. Luckily, we still have a handful of tools leftover from our entryway, but I will say that if this is your first tiling job, it’ll likely be a large one time investment. After which, tile away! In any case, we finished our backsplash this weekend – hooray! – and in reality, the job was spread over four separate days and weeknights: Set > Grout > Seal > Caulk. So, let’s jump in to all the things that happened after we set the tile!
GROUTING TILE: SUPPLIES USED
Unsanded grout mix, Whisper Grey
Flexible grout admixture
Caulk, matched to grout color
GROUTING TILE: TOOLS USED
Rosin paper + painter’s tape
2 med-lg plastic buckets
Drill + grout mixer paddle
WHAT WE DID. Just as before, we took the time to lay out rosin paper on our counters. Dropcloths would work just as well, but be sure to tape or tack your protective layer in place so you’re not fussing with it throughout this time sensitive process.
Next up, it was time to mix the grout! Because we used small 1/16″ spacers with our tile, we needed to use unsanded grout. (Anything 1/8″ or larger will use sanded grout, like the tile in our entry.) You know now that we had a last minute change of heart and rather than going with charcoal grout, we opted for a softer color, landing on Whisper Grey from Tile Shop. Using the paddle mixer attached to our drill, we mixed the admixture with the grout in one of our buckets until it was a thick toothpaste texture. The most important thing here is to add the admixture to the bucket first, and follow that with the grout mix until it reaches the proper consistency. Only mix as much as you can grout in about 20-30 minutes.
I used the float to push the grout into the tiles, working my way across the backsplash at a 45-degree angle. We moved fast, so there aren’t many photos during this time, but we were able to grout the entire backsplash – both sides of the kitchen – in about 30 minutes. As I moved from section to section, Scott followed behind with a bucket full of clean water and a sponge, wiping away the excess. Tip: If your grout drips or oozes out of the cracks too easily, you likely need to add more unsanded grout to your mixture.
Your first few swipes with a sponge will look incredibly messy, but that’s okay! The water bucket will need to be dumped and refreshed every few minutes (which adds to the hectic time crunch of it all), but it’s important to keep your sponge clean while not allowing the grout to sit for too long on the tile. In our case, Scott would wipe one section, move to the next, and then go back to the previous section for one more wipe down.
Once I had finished grouting and Scott had the tiles looking surface clean, we both buffed the tiles using a microfiber cloth. Keeping our hands as flat as possible (so as not to dig into the grout, which at this point is starting to harden), we moved our hands back and forth as if we were waving Hi! The microfibers removed every last bit of grout haze.
After allowing the grout to fully harden for 48 hours, it was time to seal it. At the time of grout purchase, we were torn between Whisper Grey and Dove Grey, with Dove being darker but also a little too cool for our tastes. We were so stuck between the two, wishing that Whisper Grey could be a touch darker, but not wanting to use Dove Grey for the blue undertones.
Seeing our indecision, the manager at Tile Shop recommended that we go with Whisper Grey, and if we find that it’s too light, he suggested that we use an oil based enhanced sealer which will naturally darken the grout! Say what? Below on the left is the typical water based sealer that will keep the grout color true and on the left is the enhanced sealer:
He then went on to say that all we’d need to do is wet the grout with water and note the difference in color. On the left, the grout is untouched, and on the right, the grout was wiped with a wet towel:
We loved both, but in the end, we opted to stick with the lighter color. They were both so pretty, but the true color had already won us over. However, never having heard of the grout and tile enhancer, we still wanted to share this with you!
Finally, we used a color-matched caulk to trim the edges of our tile – where it meets with the cabinets, walls and pocket door. Oddly enough, this was the most stressful part of the job for me! We had made it so far, and the caulk was messy – like, messy messy. I’ve caulked my fair share of baseboards (boy, have I!), but the mix of tight spaces and grout lines put me in a panic. I survived (barely), and just like I would when caulking baseboards, I smoothed my lines with a wet fingertip and used a damp paper towel to wipe away excess.
Despite my overreaction to the caulking, the tile is beautiful! You’ll have to excuse these tighter shots, but we’re so close to completion (not counting the back door wall, arugh!), and I’m looking forward to sharing the much larger picture (literally!) as we bring in all the final adjustments – baseboards, patio door, art and a touch of greenery.
Later this week, we’ll be tying up our partnership with Rejuvenation, and we cannot wait to share those details with you!