Home Improvement 101: Kitchen Remodel

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Our brand new kitchen!

Over the past two weeks, the hubby and I took on one of our more ambitious home improvement projects: we installed a glass tile backsplash in our kitchen. 

The impetus for this project was that we finally replaced our old laminate countertops with a beautiful grey quartz — and compared to our beautiful new countertops, the bare walls were just not going to cut it.

This was our second tile project (we’d previously done the upstairs guest bathroom) so we weren’t total newbies, but there was still a lot of learning on the fly. There are plenty of other tutorials for how to install tile all over the internet, so we’ll just share our top tips that we learned instead:

1. Mix Your Thinset To The Consistency of Hummus
You’ll see a lot of comparisons for how thick you should mix your thinset. Some sources say toothpaste, others say pancake batter, etc. We found that if it set up somewhere between whipped cream cheese and hummus, you generally got the best coverage and it made back-buttering tile a whole lot easier.

2. Silicone Caulk Drys REALLY FAST.
When the hubby went to caulk, he tried to do the entire back wall in one section, smooth the entire section, and then pull up the tape so the “overflow” didn’t dry that way.  Except it was already dry on the surface by that point in time, and so pulling up the tape didn’t actually pull off the rough edges, it just made the surface appear lumpy.

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We ended up having to remove the first attempt at caulk, redo it completely, and on the second go, we just let it dry completely with tape in place, then pulled up the tape w/ a razor once it had dried overnight.  This worked MUCH better.

3. Teamwork Makes Quick(er) Work
As this was our second tile installation, we kind of had a system down by now: the hubby cuts the pieces into the right lengths/shapes using the tile saw, and I lay the actual tile.  Doing these things in tandem allows us both to stay working at the same time, and we finish a lot quicker.  Even better, we don’t have time to “critique” each other’s work — we just stay heads down, focused on our area, until we’re finished.

4. Don’t Run the Dishwasher While Tiling.
Dishwasher = steam. Steam = humidity. Humidity = sweating your balls off the entire time you’re working near the dishwasher. Trust me.

So, without further ado, the before and after:

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Share your top tile tips in the comments, and let me know what you think of the new look in our kitchen!

Whitney