Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kitchen tile job grout....done.

I just realized I hadn't updated the kitchen grout tile situation. Sorry to leave you hanging there (following up on this blog post and this blog post).

It did take us a while to find the right grout colour. We decided against the sanded grout, as it looked too rustic against the smooth shiny tiles. It just wasn't right. And we wanted it greener than what we had tried before. Mixing the 2 sanded grouts together gave us a greenishness, but the tan just muddied the outcome after it dried and the texture made too many shadows.

So we went from tile store to tile store, carrying a sheet of the tiles with us, trying to find the right match. I highly recommend bringing the tiles AND experimenting in different lights. We discovered very quickly that some colours looked great in fluorescent light or natural light, but looked awful in xenon or halogen, which is what we'd have.

Then we found our colour. It was perfect. But, unfortunately for us, it was, of course, discontinued and they had just enough left to do our project (maybe). This meant, if we ever had to do a patch, we would have to mismatch the grout, or redo the whole kitchen. It was also very, very expensive.

As much as I love finding the right colour, I'm not taking the risk of not having a backup if something happens. This is just too big of a job to have to do over. We kept looking.

Then we found a non-sanded grout which was, in the end, every bit as good. DH couldn't distinguish it from the more expensive, discontinued grout.

The interesting thing about this stuff was that you can mix it with water, but you could also mix it with something called 'grout booster' which basically turns your unsanded grout into a grout-stain-resistant-resin that never needs to be sealed.

Oh, I was so there.

So we bought 2 boxes of the grout, 2 containers of the grout booster, and started blue taping off the edges of the tile, on the wall and on the counter top, getting it ready to grout.

That took 2 hours.

The one thing the salesman told us before checking out at the tile store was to never never never mix partial grout and partial grout boost, but to mix the whole batch, all at once. He said it was very important, because sometimes if you don;t get the mix just right, the different batches (even if from the same container) can be blotchy if you mess up the measurements.

But he also said that the grout set up time with the Booster was about 60 minutes.

I thought to myself, "No %$*%#@ way am I going to get all of this grout up within one hour. No way."

So I completely ignore the nice young man at the tile store and brought out my postage meter. I weighed the box of grout, emptied the box, then weighed the empty box. I weighed the bottle of booster and then weighed the empty bottle.

I subtracted the weight of the empty containers from the full containers, divided by 2, then put my mixing bucket on the scale, reset the scale to zero, then added half of the dry grout weight, then added half of the liquid. Viola. Perfect to the gram.

And I will tell you this: Now that I am done, I could NOT have possibly grouted that entire kitchen in two hours. In the end, it took me 6. If I had done the whole thing in 2 batches instead of 4, I would have wasted a lot of grout, and I'm pretty sure it would have looked worse than blotchy.

And the grout was expensive. It cost more than the tiles. Not as much more than the first choice, but more. Still, I'll never have to seal them, and we didn't have to compromise on color or texture, which, I thought was a good trade off along with the stain resistant factor.

Once the mix was ready to go, (I just hand mixed it, no need for the 1/2" grout paddle and the cordless drill on this one) I just scooped up a bunch of the grout, slapped it on the tiles and started working it into the little cracks with a grout float. This is why it took so long. There were a lot of cracks, and I didn't want the grout to get dry or look 'chunky'. It's also more than a little tricky getting into those cracks up under the cabinets. There's just not a lot of room to work (DH Hint: Don't be afraid to use your hands in tight places. A rubber glove helps.).

After waiting 30 minutes, the crew (DH and our friend J) came in behind and started the cleanup with the damp sponge while I kept working forward around the kitchen. They spent a lot of time getting the tiles clean while not gouging out the grout. It was not the easiest job we'd ever done but it wasn't the hardest.

It was a little nerve wracking knowing that you have a limited amount of time to do a process and you can't stop once you start.

This was the last stage of the grouting, and we had JUST ENOUGH mixture. None to spare, and zero leftovers. We were lucky...

After the tiles has been primarily buffed clean, we then removed the blue tape. I did not want the grout to dry hard behind it so that when I removed the tape it could crack the edge grout. It was still pliable when the tape came off.

A few more hours over the next few days of buffing tiles made the little suckers really shine.

To meet the backsplash and the counter, we sealed a bit of 1/4 round trim with the same stuff we treated the counter tops with, mitered the corners, and set the trim in on top of some anti-bacterial kitchen sealant/adhesive, then weighted it down with tape and various heavy stuff until it dried. This trim hides any irregularities in the wall or counter and then politely disappears.

Then we put the side panels back on the upper kitchen cabinets (that we removed in order to tuck the tiles in behind) and had a glass of wine. (DH: If you enlarge the photo, you can see the ingenious "copper" switchplate solution created by DW.)

Job done. Yay! (Thank you, J!)


Kelly@TearingUpHouses said...

Looks FANTASTIC! Good job on the grout color, too.


Hill said...
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