***this post has been waiting to be finished for over a week, but with the start of the school year fo both kids plus my own grad school class starting up, blog stuff got shifted to the back burner...progress is happening though and that's the important thing!***
WOOT WOOT! Floor time!
I may have mentioned this before, but in case you don't recall, when we pulled out the floor in the kitchen, we found no fewer than four layers of flooring piled one on top of another. Sometimes with a layer of luan in there for good measure. I guess if you're just doing vinyl flooring then slapping it down over the existing floor is the quick & easy way to go, but since we wanted something else and because the existing floor had gotten higher than the hardwoods in the adjacent rooms, the old stuff had to go.
There were a few options to choose from when considering kitchen flooring. One thing we thought about was doing hardwood to match the rest of the house. The only big concern we had with that was how to work it from the kitchen to the dining room, it would have involved pulling some planks up and putting new ones down. Color matching would have also been an issue. We also considered some sort of cork flooring. I had seen it a few places and thought it looked fantastic, but the process was about as involved as hard-wood would have been, so we decided to look at the third option - tile. Tile is something Jason has done before (2 bathrooms) so it's something we KNOW we could handle.
We visited our favorite tile shop (if you're in southeast PA, check out Orlandini Tile in Marcus Hook) and saw tons of gorgeous options. We fell in love with these wood look tiles and brought home a few samples to choose from. I highly encourage you to bring home samples to lay down on your floor before making a final decision. See how it looks in the room - does the light make it look lighter/darker? does the paint make it look bluer or greenish? I changed my mind at least twice by looking at different samples at different times of day.
Finally we went with one called "Newport Charcoal" -- it's got sort of a gray-ish tan thing going on. It reminds me a bit of driftwood. It's porcelain tile, so it'll be durable and easy to clean. Both good features.
Up until this point we had been able to get by in the renovation process without totally emptying the room. We still had our stove & fridge in place, but when you're working on the floor, empty is best. So the fridge moved to the dining room and the stove moved to the back porch. If you have to do these sorts of things, don't underestimate the time it takes. For the fridge we had to take the doors off and and put them back on and for the stove we had to deconstruct part of the back deck so we could take out the sliding glass doors.
Finally, we got down to actually starting on the floor. The first step was to lay down some concrete backer board. This board had to be put down with thinset AND screws. It was a pretty straightforward process but it took a while (and the drill is very tired). This took the better part of two weekends.
After that we determined the tile layout. There's two big options: pattern or random. I liked a simple offset pattern for this tile, so we went with an 8" offset, so with 24" tiles, the pattern repeats every 3 rows. We also spent some time figuring out the starting point of the pattern - we looked at how the tiles would line up with the doors and the other end of the room. We didn't want a seam right in the middle of the doorway and we didn't want to be finishing courses of tile with skinny slivers. It's not a huge deal, but we just wanted things to look right.
Once the layout was decided, Jason cut tiles for a few rows. It's a good idea to "dry fit" your tiles to make sure you're not stuck with a bunch of wet thinset and tiles that don't fit right. We already had a wet saw, but they're not terribly expensive (about $100) and they are also available to rent at Home Depot or Lowes.
Layout was a pretty straightforward process. The little white "X"s are spacers. They're used to maintain an even grout line between the tiles. We went with 1/8" spacers. It's a pretty small grout line, but we liked the look.
Tiling took 2 weekends. The first weekend we were able to lay about 1/2 of the tile. Midweek, Jason put down a bit more and the last of it was laid on the second Saturday morning.
Grouting started the same afternoon. Grouting is a bit of a process - you put the grout down and really work it into the joints and then you have to come back and wipe the excess with water. We ended up spending most of Saturday night wiping grout and there are a few places where there's set up grout in the textured "grain" of the tile, but overall I'm super happy with the floor. It's exactly what we hoped for!
Let's take a quick look at what we started with in the kitchen: