Nightmare Phase Two: Laying Tile


Well, it’s about time I finally do this post. We actually completed laying this tile in November, but I kept putting off doing this post, because if I wrote it I would feel obligated to actually start grouting. Since the grouting finally started last weekend, I may as well get this post out there in preparation for being able to do the next one.

We opted to use tile because it would be waterproof. I wasn’t super fond of having tile in the living room, but after looking around, we saw the porcelain wood-look tile and realized that we could get it to match the color of wood that we wanted to do everywhere else in the house. After all of the flooding last year, I’m very excited to be getting closer and closer to a refinished, waterproof living room.


So, after getting the subfloor all leveled, the first step for laying our new tile was mixing up the thinset. This is the consistency that it’s supposed to have, like peanut butter. Then we were ready to begin laying our tile. Also, mixing and using the thinset was a relief after having to deal with the self-leveling concrete. The working time was much longer so the job was much more relaxed, even though it took way longer in total.


We used a 1/4″ trowel for spreading the thinset. We actually went to The Tile Store for one of their free Saturday morning demonstrations. It was incredibly helpful. The worker who demonstrated for us (we were the only two there, so he demonstrated things specifically for our project) had been tiling for 15 years professionally. There were multiple things that he was sure to tell us that we probably wouldn’t have even have thought to look up ourselves. For example, when you’re doing your first tiling job, try to pull up a tile every now and then to check the contact that it’s making with the thinset on the bottom.

This tiling guy also convinced us that we should do 1/8″ grout lines instead of 1/16″. I was planning on doing 1/16″ so that it would look more like wood in the end result, but he went and found some 24″ tiles and showed us that they were frequently imperfect in their straightness. So while 1/16″ grout lines would look great in theory, they probably wouldn’t actually be feasible in reality. So, we got the 1/8″ spacers from The Tile Shop and ended up switching to sanded grout from unsanded, but more on that in the next post.

Another thing that he explained was that it was important to go along and pick up any thinset that wasn’t going to have a tile placed on it fairly quickly so it didn’t dry out and stay there. You can see the thinset coming out from under the tiles in the picture above, has been scraped up in the picture below.

You can see all of the boxes of tiles that we had to haul into the house before we could start. We actually had to haul all of those three times total. Once from the store cart into the truck, then from the truck into our garage (where it stayed for months before we actually decided to lay it), then from the garage down into our living room.

You can also see the tile cutter that we used. We learned after the first batch that it’s fastest to lay two rows of tile at the same time as opposed to just one. It saved time and effort since it was easier for Matt to spread the thinset over two rows than one. So we layed out dry runs of two rows and made sure to have the tiles cut that we would need at the end. Then it was just a matter of doing it over and over again. And over. And over. Again.


It was so rewarding doing the tiling. It’s great to be able to see the vast amount of work you’ve done. With some projects, you can’t really see the progress as you go, sometimes you can’t even see it when it’s done. It’s much more difficult to stay motivated on those projects. Luckily tiling is not one of those projects and seeing it come further and further kept us going.

This was my outfit every time we did this. Torn up jeans covered in concrete, ratty old shirt and kneepads. No need for shoes or socks.


I loved taking this picture because I could pretend like it was finished. Also, Fancy Pants approves of the new flooring. Though at night her and Pixie would go down there and knock up all of the spacers and race around the room chasing them. Little jerks.


And here’s the last bit of the room done! This was a difficult area to tile because of the closet and the need for tile clippers so that we could notch out areas on the tile. I felt like crying when we were done. Also jumping up and down. May have done that one actually.

Then we actually did some grouting! Of course, Matt’s plan was just to do it all at once, instead of doing a color test. It was not the right color. Then we had to saw it all up with a grout saw. Then it took us another four months before we wanted to do anymore grouting… but again, more on that later.


You can see all the dust from the sawed up grout. *grumble grumble*


In this picture, you see that the right side of the room has been grouted with our new, dark grout, but the left still hasn’t been grouted. I wanted to use a dark grout to make the tile look more seamless and a bit more like wood. I think it’s working! Well, hopefully I’ll have the grouting done within a week or so and the final Nightmare post will be up.


One thought on “Nightmare Phase Two: Laying Tile

  1. Pingback: DIY Mirror Wall Art | From House to Home

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