Something to Smile About (The DIY Tile Edition)

Joy! Rapture! Happiness! The tile is up! I have more reasons to smile on this snowy Monday, but the tile is the biggest by far!

I know I haven’t posted much about our ongoing home improvement saga (soap opera?) lately because it’s been a lot of little things and a certain amount of waiting…not enthralling reading. We have done some touch-up work. My husband removed the kitchen base molding without breaking it, which means we can reuse it rather than buying all new. But mostly I’ve been stressing about the tile.

The new tile is installed except for the caulking around the edges! | A Chat Over Coffee

The new tile is installed except for the caulking around the edges! | A Chat Over Coffee

The Story of the Tile

We have a friend who is a tile guy. He did our master bathroom a few years ago and we really wanted him to do the kitchen back splash. Then he got sick. It’s nothing life-threatening and he’s improving, thankfully, but his recovery was going to take long enough that he wasn’t going to be able to do the tile.

We have another friend who is a contractor and can do just about anything to fix a house. He’s been our consultant throughout our DIY and even helped Jay install our new-to-us built-in microwave. But he’s also swamped at his real job and couldn’t do the tile.

Both of our expert friends gave us advice and coaching, so…long story short…I installed the tile. Jay ran the wet saw for the major cuts, which thankfully were few. I bought the supplies and tools, set the tile, nipped the smaller cuts, and spread in the grout. The caulk isn’t done yet but my father is very, very particular about that sort of thing and I’m hoping he’ll come over and help with that step.

The tile wasn't supposed to be DIY, but it ended up that way. We still need to caulk but we're really pleased with how the color combination turned out. | A Chat Over Coffee

The tile wasn’t supposed to be DIY, but it ended up that way. We still need to caulk but we’re really pleased with how the color combination turned out. | A Chat Over Coffee

This was not a professional job, but for my first go at tile, I’m pretty proud of the result. God was incredibly merciful during this process because, even though I had basically no clue what I was doing, I picked out an extremely forgiving tile that ended up fitting our space nearly perfectly. We required no top or bottom cuts by the cabinets or counter and only minimal fitting cuts around the microwave and outlets. A friend loaned us a wet saw, saving us a potentially expensive rental. God is so good and His people are wonderful! We are so thankful! And I am so relieved that it’s done!

If You Want to Do Your Own Tile

I’m not going to attempt a how-to like I did for painting a brick fireplace, but I’ll share a few things I learned in case you’d like to take a shot at laying your own tile.

  • Pick a simple, random-patterned tile. Ours was a mottled gray with beige and white, a perfect fit for our existing beige counter top and newly painted white cabinets and gray walls.
  • Measure your space carefully and do a little math with the tile size and grout lines so you can pick a tile that will fill the space with minimal cutting required. This is where I was blessed to stumble into the right tile size. Ours was a 2” tile that came in 6 x 6 mesh sheets for quicker installation. Individual tiles could be pulled from the mesh to fill smaller spaces.
  • Lay the tile in a simple pattern. Skip the fancy basket weaves or diagonals that will require a million finicky cuts.
  • Match the grout to the tile. Avoid contrasting grout that will highlight uneven spacing.
  • Know your requirements for water and stain resistance and act accordingly. I was able to purchase a mix-in that made our grout stain and water resistant without requiring a separate sealer, which is fine for a kitchen back splash. If I were doing a tub or shower, I’d make a different choice.
  • Learn all you can. Ask a million questions, look up information, watch videos, and spend time reading labels in the home improvement store. If you’re spending big money in a store for tile, installation materials, and tools, somebody in that store should be willing to spend some time giving you the information you need to get it right. One of our local home improvement stores offered a free class on installing tile. You can be sure I went, paid close attention, and volunteered (to possibly make a fool of myself) when they asked for someone to try it hands-on.

Home School Festival of the Arts

In other news, my daughter and I spent an afternoon at the art museum one day and went to a local production of “Cyrano de Bergerac” the next day as our “Festival of the Arts” for home school. We had a marvelous time and she ended up gathering material for her literature, art, and foreign language studies. I’m not sharing pictures because the venues frown upon that sort of thing.

Snow and Cupcakes

Here's a scene from my town. The snow was very pretty but made driving terrible! | A Chat Over Coffee

Here’s a scene from my town. The snow was very pretty but made driving terrible! | A Chat Over Coffee

We managed to get the art fest in before the weather turned bad. We had some more snow and it came down hard and fast enough that travel became difficult for many in our area. Thankfully we were safe at home. I baked and decorated cupcakes while the snow fell. After all, heating up the oven also warmed up the kitchen. I told everyone I was just being efficient!

If you bake cupcakes during a snowstorm then the heat from the oven helps warm up the kitchen. It's all about efficiency! Or at least that's how I'm telling it... | A Chat Over Coffee

If you bake cupcakes during a snowstorm then the heat from the oven helps warm up the kitchen. It’s all about efficiency! Or at least that’s how I’m telling it… | A Chat Over Coffee

I used homemade vanilla in both the from-scratch chocolate cupcakes and the vanilla buttercream frosting, and then topped them with a sprinkle of purple sugar. It was so nice to have the counter space to bake now that the drop cloths are cleared away! I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts, because we still need to install those floors we bought a few weeks ago.

I hope you had a lovely weekend and are off to a great start in a very productive week!

What did you accomplish last week that made you particularly proud or happy?

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Update: This post was shared at Five Star Frou-Frou #37, Pretty Pintastic Party #93, and Home Matters Linky Party #74.

11 responses to “Something to Smile About (The DIY Tile Edition)

  1. Very impressed you did your own tile.

    We have a guest bathroom in our new house that we had roughed in, but didnt do the tile, and havent yet installed the vanity/countertop/toilet. (although the plumbing is roughed in.)

    We are thinking about doing at least some of it ourselves to learn and to maybe save a little money.

    You are giving us some motivation to give it a try.


  2. Great article/blog – I would share one tidbit with your readers – rent a “wet saw”! We (my sister and I) have done several tile projects, but our first was the most memorable – DID EVERYTHING WRONG – LOL. We picked the worst time of year (sleet, subzero temps, windy – oh yeah for us-idiots we are – ha ha ha), scored and shattered about a dozen floor tiles before we finally called an expert – our nephew was/is a master plumber – “what are we doing wrong?” his reply – rent a wet saw! From there on out – was a beautiful and fun project! oh, and I love your choice of tile – very organic looking – comfortable/peaceful – great job congrats!!


  3. I am glad your project turned out well. Now you know something new and you have an added skill. Maybe you can do a side job of tiling to earn money for your next project 🙂

    Which tip did you use to pipe that frosting on your cupcakes? My youngest thinks the height of the frosting should be equal to or more than the height of her cupcake.

    Baking and soup making is a great way to add warmth to one’s house on cold days.


    • I used a Wilton 1M star tip like this one (That’s an affiliate link that you are under no obligation to use, but a picture is nice sometimes.) I hope that helps! By the way, my husband likes to break his cupcake in half and sandwich the icing between two layers of cake to minimize getting buttercream on his face. 😉


  4. That is a good idea of your husband’s to get the frosting into mouth and not on face. I have a set of decorating tips somewhere…it may be next door. I have not used them for awhile, since children were younger.


  5. Pingback: How to Paint a Brick Fireplace | A Chat Over Coffee·

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