We've been working on the kitchen for two months now, and for the first time I feel like it's beginning to look better instead of worse.
The major turning point in the kitchen aesthetics was installing a porcelain tile floor. I chose 13-inch tiles that are beige, tan and gray in a marble-like swirl. I picked it because it's light in color, but the variations make it nearly impossible to see dirt on the tiles, which is essential when you have four dogs in the house.
My husband and I were pretty clueless when it came to laying a floor, so my dad came out for the weekend to show us how. First we spent several hours making a square line to follow and dry-fitting the tiles. We created the square line by centering the tiles in the two entryways and drawing a straight line parallel with the sides of the tiles until they intersected at a 90-degree angle in the middle of the floor.
When we dry-fit the floor, we placed tiles along the square line we had made and on one-third of the floor using quarter-inch spacers to ensure accuracy. This process took a couple of hours and was tedious, but it allowed us to determine the layout and make the most complicated cuts without worrying about making a mistake when the mortar was already on the floor.
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We tag-teamed the actual laying of the floor. My husband spread the mortar, I laid the tiles and my dad made the more complicated cuts, which I was happy to let him do because I can't cut a tile to save my life. I was, however, quite good at eyeballing the quarter-inch space between the tiles and making sure they stayed square as we laid down row after row.
I think my quilting background had something to do with that. After all, if you sew a three-eighths-of-an-inch seam instead of the standard quarter-inch, then your quilt top will be off by several inches by the time you're finished. The same is true for laying tile. Accuracy is key for both tasks, and I was glad my eye was already trained to notice slight variations in the width between tiles so I could keep everything straight, even and square.
My husband grouted the floor a couple of days later using a light gray grout that matches the color in the tiles. That process was much easier than laying the tile, and he was able to do it after watching a video tutorial online. Then I spent forever cleaning the chalky residue off of the tiles, which were pre-sealed.
We still have to seal the grout. I'm told that doing so will prevent it from changing color over time. It sounds easy, but, again, tedious. I'll let you know next week how it goes.
Follow Stephanie De Pasquale at Twitter.com/S_DePasquale.