Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Installing Subway Tile for Kitchen Backsplash | #PBJreno Update

When we finally got to the stage of installing our kitchen backsplash, I could hardly contain myself.    Even though many people don't choose to have a backsplash I couldn't help but feel that our kitchen wasn't complete without it.  It was the "big step" that was going to make the space feel <almost> finished!

Picking a tile for backsplash can be a daunting task.  There are SO many possible decisions - material,  tile size, colors, grout size, grout color, pattern of the tile layout.  However, I was very happy that I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted the second we walked into this home for the first tour.  I knew I wanted larger subway tiles, simple pattern layout, white grout and something that made the white cabinets feel seamless.

I was very excited when The Tile Shop wanted to work together for my backsplash and told me to go on a shopping trip in their store or online.  One trip to their local store and I walked down the first aisle and pretty much the first tile I looked at - I knew was the winner.  Talk about luck.
I chose their Calacutta Bianco Gloss Subway Tile - 4x16". It's a bright white subway tile in a gloss finish with subtle grey veins.  The veins were sparse enough it wasn't going to compete with our countertops, and the bright white matched the white of our upper cabinets.
We have helped my Father-in-Law install our backsplash in our first home's kitchen in Virginia so we were at least familiar with the, and his, process.  He and I got in a pretty good routine to go through the installation process. A lot of pre-measuring, laying out the tile with the spacers, measuring again, once more to be sure, and then cutting of the tiles when necessary.

We started with our shorter of the two walls we were tiling and templated out the full space with the tiles, as you can see above. Then we had to go back and measure out where the outlet cuts would be in the tiles.

I'm still a little skiddish when it comes to cutting tile.  I got comfortable with doing the simple straight cuts, but when it was time to cut out sections for outlets and light switches I let my FIL do all that work.  However, he made the process seem pretty easy.

We used painter's tape to tape off the measured area of the outlet.  Then he'd cut in on the sides to the depth of the cuts.  Since you can't make the "horizontal" cut, you have to do many many many cuts to remove the total area.

Once we had all the cuts ready to go, it's time for the goop Thinset.  Things I learned along the way: I've heard both thinset and mortar talked about when laying tile... well, what's the difference and when do you use which?
Thinset is actually a type of mortar made to go on in a thinner manner.  Thinset uses a finer sand than other types of mortar allowing for the thinner bed application like on backsplashes.
To mix the Thinset you want to add water to the dry mix little by little mixing it each time to ensure you don't add too much water.  You really need the mixture to be about a texture of toothpaste, or frosting in order to hold the tiles without sagging but be able to be thinned out smooth enough.

Ready to add the Thinset and tiles!

We hit a BIG hurdle as we finished our smaller wall and moved to our longer wall.  Luckily since we were laying out the tiles first to be sure of spacing and measurements, we were able to notice that our walls were not 100% flat.  Despite all the squaring we did when installing sheetrock, and mudding and sanding. Since our tiles were 16" in length they cover a lot of "real estate" on the wall and when you're crossing over where studs are, where we tapped/mudded, it was bound to not be totally flush. So, we had to go back and mud over areas that had depressions in the wall that would have caused the tiles to not lay flat on the wall.  We just added a thin layer, let dry 24 hours and sanded smooth. 

 Once that was all fixed, it was time to resume the tiling. 

Similar to how we cut the outlet tiles, we had to cut out the areas for the pendant lights.  It was a little more difficult since it's a curved area, but we just did the same process as before. 

<Moment of truth: There was actually about 6 weeks in between when we finished tiling and before we grouted. Yah... sometimes it's hard to finish projects on a tight timeline.>

Since I was working with The Tile Shop we were able to use all their suggested products for their grout which is great because they actually suggest using an additive to the unsanded grout powder instead of water.  The bottle on the right is the "flexible grout mixture" and just hearing the name made me feel more confident about using it.  We used a bright white grout, but I did debate for a little using a dark grey grout for dramatic contrast.  But, ended up deciding I wanted a more clean seamless appearance. 

This process is just a lot of smooshing on the grout, being sure it's smooth in the cracks and then going back with a sponge and wiping it off the surface of the tiles.  In the picture below you can see the difference of adding the grout (left of the outlet) and once we wiped it down with a clean wet sponge (right of the sponge). 

B-E-A-UTIFUL huh?!

A HUGE thanks to The Tile Shop for wanting to work with me on for our backsplash.  Truly impressed with their products and how easy the process was!

We're moving along in the kitchen reno - practically done.  WHO IS EXCITED TO SEE THE FULL REVEAL!?

As always I love to share little glimpse into our lives on Instagram, especially our progress of #PBJreno.  Wouldn't you agree the backsplash looks gorgeous paired with our glass jars?



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lay Me Down | Rug Inspiration

We are almost to our final phase of our kitchen... but one of my last design pieces I cannot seem to put my finger on the exact one to purchase.  A kitchen rug.  So simple you'd think. 

But honestly, I'm going with something that is not our "typical" style and pushing ourselves out of our boundaries.  I have been crushing hard over the Turkish Kilim Rug trend that's happening and cannot get enough of the impact they can make in a kitchen.

My inspiration:



To name a few.  Seriously though. Aren't those kitchens to die for!  I've been searching high and low for a good two months now and haven't found "the one".  They're either too big, too expensive, too thin, or most often just not the right design.  BTW that last one is exactly what I'm looking for.

I did share a good sneak peek on my Instagram (@pbjstories) the other week of my newly finished floating shelves.  I have a few more things to do in the surrounding space (like finish the crown molding, install under cabinet lighting).  But once I do I'll for sure be doing my how-to on these beauties.

I know. It's been a VERY long process for the home renovation and I haven't been diligent about home updates or tutorials.  I swear, we're coming to a stopping point in between major projects so I'll more time to share all the goodness!

What do you think of the Turkish Kilim rug trend? Are you in or out?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The good, the bad, and the ugly of a 1950's bathroom | #PBJreno

Remember that renovation we're doing.  Yah.  We're still working on that.  

I've mentioned before that our main bathroom which we once thought was in okay condition actually turned out to be a disaster and needing to be replaced/updated in order to be a functional bathroom for the four of us.

A quick reminder what was before:

I also shared how we'll be updating all the trim/window/door casings in our home and the how-to for that.

In the before picture you can see the state that the floor was in.  It was a tiled floor that had black grout.... false. It has a light grey grout (maybe even white?) that turned black..everywhere. I tried my hardest to clean that but after spending two hours and tackling a space that was two feet by one I gave up. 

Then one sunny afternoon I was wandering around Home Depot and I stumbled upon what looked like a possible unexpected solution to our bathroom floor problem.  It was laminate tile that looked like marble that was just a peel & stick application. I asked the nearby sales person if this would work for our bathroom condition, and unfortunately he said no. BUT, he did have another suggestion if I was open to ideas.  So we wandered to the next aisle over and he showed me vinyl wood planks that he said could be used in bathrooms.  I was instantly very weary... you see in our last home we had laminate wood floors in the whole main level which included a half bath.  Well after a few months of living there the flooring around the toilet started to bubble up.  It turns out the seal of the toilet was leaking under the floors and causing bad water damage.  Water + wood laminate floors = no go sir. 
He, however, said these were different and the difference of vinyl and laminate was the key difference.  These were a peel and stick application similar to the other style I was looking at but they were a floating floor and stuck to one another rather then the floor underneath. This created a super tight and waterproof bond beyond just the tongue & groove closure of typical laminate floors. He said they were great for bathrooms because not only did the adhesion between planks create a waterproof closure, but if you seal the perimeter of the floors against the walls with a waterproof silicon sealant than the whole floor became waterproof.  *BOOM*

[Product: TrafficMaster Allure Ultra - Vinyl Plank Flooring]

I did a quick math calculation in my head of the size of the bathroom and placed a special order for the flooring. 

Installation was SUPER easy.  You can cut the pieces to size with an X-acto knife and a simple score line and snap, piece is measured exactly how you need. 

I started with the side that had the most cuts which was the wall with the door, and the tub surround.  Measure. Score with X-acto. Snap. Place. Repeat as necessary. 

The whole process took MAYBE a couple hours.  Super easy. And yes.  This is my ghetto rehab version of a bathroom. As you can see from all the tape on the left... that's where tiles fell off the wall from removing the door trim.  The large square with no tiles... well that's where the tiles broke and ripped off removing the original vanity.  And just the giant hole in the wall with the plumbing? Well... that's where our pet gremlins go in and out of the walls. 

Before installing the quarter round I applied a lot... a LOT... of waterproof clear sealant that sealed the edge of the flooring to the wall.  So any water that spilled from kids playing in the sinks, toilets overflowing from leggo's being flushed, to the bathtub splashes of two kids wrestling in a bubble bath... the floor is protected. 

Some other fun adventures that came our way in this bathroom reno was removing the window and door trim. It's always a new adventure seeing what I'm left with and have to figure out how to repair to put on the new Craftsman trim.

At least it went from that to:

One last fun adventure in this ugliness of a 50's bathroom was wanting to replace the ceiling fan... as I removed it I was greeted with pine needles, dead bugs, and lots of other unexplainable items that fell down. TIP of the DAY people: If you take down something from your ceiling, and you find pine needles, double check how it's being properly (or IMPROPERLY) vented out of your home... because you should not be getting pine needles in your bathroom.

Next up, I'll be sharing more about this bathroom and the fun things we added to it such as the toilet and sink fixtures. Who ever thought there was so much to learn when picking out a toilet!?

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