How these Beginners tried to lay Tile all on their Own... {Home, Bathroom}

Does this ever happen to you?

So you have this great idea for a small home renovation.

And you are inspired by the likes of Pinterest, or a popular DIY blog.

You really think you can pull this off, no sweat.

But somehow you find yourself wildly off track, covered in tile thinset, and this just is not looking like the pictures... or what you had in mind.

#fail

Just me? 



Thank goodness for a good sense of humor... this handyman said I should call this post "The-Not-So-Kind-Handyman-and-I."

So he admits tiling a floor is not his expertise.



Removing the floor was uneventful... which was so great.

The plywood underneath was in good shape so we didn't need to remove or replace anything.

So this handyman cut all the tiles in preparation... we choose these gray porcelain tiles from Lowes.

And he prepared thinset. We went with this SpeedSet from Home Depot... because we have one bathroom and we were desperate to connect the toilet as soon as possible.

Wait time is approximately four hour before light foot traffic.


This handyman followed the directions for the ratio of water to SpeedSet... and we began to lay the tiles. We quickly realized that this was overly messy and the SpeedSet oozed from the cracks and onto the tile.

We laid about ten tiles and then we stopped.


Knowing the other handyman in my life was in town, I gave him a call, explained this messy dilemma, and he came to our rescue.

My dad showed us how a thinset should be more of a whipped texture... not watery. Lesson learned.

We pulled up the tiles, cleaned them off thoroughly, while this other-handyman scrapped the thinset off the plywood.

Here are the highlights of what we learned:

  • Lay the thinset and use a notched trowel to make grooves and texture
  • Lay a few tiles together over the thinset (lay the tile tight to the former tile and pull away to achieve the  spacing / gap you so desire... this way you avoid oozing thinset between the tiles) 
  • Use a float and lightly apply pressure where the tiles meet to create a flush surface
  • Include spacers as you go (we used 1/8 inch spacers)
  • You may need to remove a tile and add more thinset to achieve the right level
  • Although we were using a SpeedSet we were not rushed... in all we took about 1 hour to lay the tile 
  • For this small space we mixed up the thinset in two batches 
  • Clean the tile as you go, so the thinset does not dry on the tile (we had a bowl and sponge prepared)

Here is the bathroom floor after laying the tile...

And applying our charcoal gray grout:



Our second dilemma is our nice charcoal gray grout turned chalky... which seems common when I Googled "why did my dark grout turn white."

We went ahead and sealed the grout hoping, wondering if it would return the true color.

Unfortunately, no luck.



After researching this predicament we're trying this... a vinegar and water solution which we apply with a sponge and  rinse off with a wet rag.

Fingers crossed.

If this doesn't work, we'll look into dying / painting our grout. 

(Update: We gave the manufacturer a call, followed their recommendations, and we're pleased with these results.)

And just so you don't have to scroll up top... here's our before:


And after... this tile certainly lends a more mature, masculine, expensive vibe:


So our excitement and confidence has taken a small beating when it comes to DIY... and we're so use to that around here.

But we're not throwing in the towel just yet.

We have big plans for this small bath:

  • Grey trim and wainscoting
  • Fresh white above the wainscoting and ceiling
  • New bath towel hooks...  I have my eye on faux twig hooks from Birdies Nest in London
  • New hand towel holder... already purchased from Winners and ready to go
  • Bigger, better storage

Wish us luck?




Do you have any recommendations for our grout-dilemma? 

Will you share your home reno #fails... and let us know we're not alone?  I so hope we're not....