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Checking Off the Backsplash!

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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
Grout/tile sealer
Caulk, matched to grout color

GROUTING TILE: TOOLS USED
Rosin paper + painter’s tape
2 med-lg plastic buckets
Drill + grout mixer paddle
Grout float
Sponge
Microfiber cloths
Gloves
Paper towels

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Later this week, we’ll be tying up our partnership with Rejuvenation, and we cannot wait to share those details with you!

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  • SEM3.17.15 - 7:26 AM

    stunning! Living vicariously through your renovations!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design3.17.15 - 8:28 AM

    It looks so clean and pretty.ReplyCancel

  • Amy3.17.15 - 9:03 AM

    I was caulking last night… I always feel like there must be a better way because I wipe off so much with my finger! Have you ever tried any of the caulking tools? This one has great reviews. I’m thinking about giving it a shot. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Workforce-3-in-1-Caulk-Tool-CT31HD/202251544#customer_reviewsReplyCancel

    • Kim3.17.15 - 9:11 AM

      We have used something similar when we re-caulked our tub in our last home, but I think this was so frustrating because of the grout lines and all the angles around the cabinets/walls/etc. I think that for baseboards a tool like that would be helpful, and at that price, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ RatherSquare.com3.17.15 - 9:06 AM

    Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Debra3.17.15 - 9:09 AM

    Very pretty! I really like the lighter grout which makes everything look clean and fresh.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.17.15 - 11:17 AM

      Clean and fresh – yes, we couldn’t agree more!ReplyCancel

  • Sara3.17.15 - 10:17 AM

    It looks SO good, guys! Well done :)ReplyCancel

  • Emily3.17.15 - 10:27 AM

    Smart call on the flexible grout admixture. Will that keep the grout from cracking if there is movement in the old house? We’ve already had issues with slight cracks in our grout because I don’t think ours is flexible, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

    Did you grout between the bottom tile and the countertop?ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.17.15 - 10:41 AM

    Yup, it prevent cracking grout – a necessity in this beast. I would ask a local tile shop what they would recommend. You may even want to mix up additional grout and do a skim coat over what you have existing, especially if you have no plans to replace your tile anytime soon.

    We didn’t grout between the bottom tile and the countertop, but that’s where the caulk came into play. It sealed the miniscule gap that was there after tiling!ReplyCancel

  • Jannike3.17.15 - 11:31 AM

    Gorgeous! Thank you for not using dark grout.ReplyCancel

  • Brooke3.17.15 - 11:49 AM

    We recently did subway tile in our kitchen, too–and went with the darker gray grout. But I love the look of your choice as well! The caulk stressed me out so much, I had to walk away and let my husband finish–haha. But I’m very happy with the final outcome. I’ve loved seeing what you guys have chosen!ReplyCancel

  • Hollie @ Fancykins3.17.15 - 1:12 PM

    Honestly, both light and darker grout are so pretty, I don’t know how how you could go wrong! Looks so good, you guys!ReplyCancel

  • Coco3.18.15 - 6:32 PM

    It looks amazing! Great job!

    xo
    Coco
    cococozy.comReplyCancel

  • KT3.28.15 - 12:00 PM

    Hi! I was looking for how you cut the tiles….did I miss it somewhere? just wondering if you used a wet saw or those clipper things.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.28.15 - 4:24 PM

      We bought both a clipper and a score + cut tool, both of which we returned. The wet saw worked out fine for every need we had!ReplyCancel

  • […] Pro-Grout unsanded grout in whisper grey that we picked up from the Tile Shop.  (The folks at the Yellow Brick Home used the same color and we liked the way it looked on theirs.)  We also bought some Flexible […]ReplyCancel

  • […] We fell into a rhythm where I’d spread the mastic and set the tile, and Scott would follow behind with end cuts and the more intricate measurements around the outlets. For all of his intricate cuts, he used the wet saw exclusively. We also purchased tile nippers and a (score-and-snap) tile cutter, both of which we personally found were unnecessary. Scott found that working with the wet saw gave him the most accurate cuts, and he was the most comfortable sticking with that. Our wet saw is a small tabletop version, but keep in mind that they can be rented, too. https://www.yellowbrickhome.com/2015/03/17/checking-off-the-backsplash/ […]ReplyCancel

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