What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tiling Started

We have moved closer to the final phase of our kitchen renovation. Here's an update of what has been going on - the good, the bad and the ugly! I should mention that neither of us has tiling experience of this magnitude. I did the tiling for under our wood stove in our second house and my husband observed with helping a little when our brother-in-law installed the ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. So we are flying by the seat of our pants. This means the tiling process is going slow.

The fun part of any DIY project is seeing it come together. The not so fun part is the multitudes of delays (aka life) of which we have had many during our kitchen remodel. We purposely kept the tiling to the end because we knew it would be the most disruptive of all. Unlike refinishing the cabinets, the tiling means no sink until it is installed but that has to wait until the grout has cured. It means no stove because ours is a slide-in down draft stove meaning it cannot be put back into place until the grout has cured. The cure time for the grout is three days. Essentially this means no sink or stove until the tiling is complete which rather knocks out a lot of kitchen function. The dishwasher and refrigerator are still operational. I have lots of counter space and a large sink in my laundry room so have set up a make-shift kitchen. Cooking is continuing pretty much as normal with the help of gas grill/side burner, rice maker, slow cooker, countertop roaster and I have the option of cooking over an open fire.

The first step for this phase was to lift the stove out. This is no easy feat because the stove had to be disconnected from the down draft system then lifted up and over the down draft system (1) without damaging it. The second step was to remove the old sink (2) that never should have been placed that close to an electric stove. If you have followed this blog you will know we removed a built-in range top and removed the cabinet so our stove would fit. Next after careful measuring we cut a piece of exterior grade plywood (3) to go over the existing laminate countertop. Originally we were going to tile over the laminate since Home Depot said we could but after seeing the amount of repairs we decided to lay new plywood. This effectively raises the countertop ⅞ inch (5)once the tile is on. The increased height will result in less back strain when working at the counter so that will be a real plus. However, raising the height was a practical modification for the counter edge where the dishwasher is. Even with the additional height when the edging tile is in place the dishwasher door just barely clears the tile. The drains to the old sink (4) will be removed when the new sink is plumbed. The inside of the corner cabinet will see a new shelf added to give additional storage.

We used the new sink as a template for the hole (6). We decided to go with the deepest single sink we could find that would fit the spot. The old sink had the same size large sink and a smaller half sink that we wanted to put a garbage disposal in however, we cannot have one of those here so we compromised. It's been several years since I've had a single sink in the kitchen, since the turn of the century house we extensively remodeled. We ended up burning out the circular saw cutting the hole for the sink. The saw was the same one we used for all the renovations in every house we've owned. It was sad to see it go! A new shiny red Skilsaw (8) replaced it less than an hour and half later as well as a new jig saw to replace the one borrowed by one of our kids. It delayed our progress but we puttered on. The sink is going to look nice in the new location (7).

We plan on doing a fair amount of tiling in this house in addition to the kitchen so decided we really needed a wet saw. The nice thing about DIY is you can postpone things while waiting for a sale. Accumulating your materials over time by shopping the sales is one of the best ways of saving money on DIY projects. We had been checking the sales waiting for a good price when this Mastercraft wet saw (9) went on sale for $49.99. My husband picked it up the following day.

We are using SimpleSet pre-mixed thin-set mortar (10). The mixture is not as thin as it sounds so it took a little used to how to apply. A thin layer is spread using the flat part of the trowel then another layer is spread using the notched edge of the trowel. It looked too thick and sure enough the thin-set came up through the seams in several areas but we cleaned the seams out enough for the grout. We started at the window well leaving the top portion to last. Then we put down a couple of heavy towels on the bottom of the window well and put the tiles up on the top. We were going to wait to brace these tiles but an online search said they would be fine. The towels were in case they fell which they didn't!

We have five visible plugs (split receptacles) that will be tiled around. In order to work around the plugs the breaker to that plug needs to be turned off and left off until the thin-set dries. It can then be turned on until you are ready to apply the grout at which time it should be turned off again. The grout takes three days to cure and misting of the grout is required for proper curing so the power should be turned off while misting and left off until the mist dries. Use a circuit tester to be sure the power on each plug is off before doing any work around electric receptacles or switches.

It didn't take long for my husband to be cutting tile like a pro! I think he did a wonderful job of cutting the opening for the first receptacle (13). We kept the power off while working around the receptacle and for 24 hours while the thin-set was drying.

We are using 2" x 2" matte finished ceramic tiles that come in a 1 - foot sheet. We are using ⅛ - inch spacers (14) to keep the lines straight. The spacers are really easy to use even though I thought they would be a bit tedious. Spacers are "X" shaped pieces of plastic made to help you keep the grout lines straight. After placing the first tile, stand spaces up along the edge then butt the next tile to it. Keep the spacers in place for about 30 minutes or until the thin-set starts setting up.

The counter edge (15) is also going to be tiled using the same tiles as they don't have a rounded edge tile to match our tiles. Originally we were going to put wood trim but both the refrigerator and dishwasher presented problems. I had thought that edging in copper would look really nice as well but then thought that might not lend itself well to the cottage feel the house has. Finally we decided on tiling it making modifications for the dishwasher. Oh and originally I thought I wanted navy blue grout to tie into the family room. After much deliberation I decided on white grout instead because at some point we will want to change the colours and/or furniture in the family room to which the only thing dividing the family room from the kitchen is the breakfast bar. Using white grout will keep the kitchen neutral enough that any colours can be used.

Pictured is how the kitchen looked Monday night after a long and sometimes frustrating day of working on it. We did not get as much done as we had hoped but what we did get done was encouraging. We are hoping to have the tiling done at the latest by Saturday. Yes that is slow but we are taking our time so it looks nice and we are working around life. If we get finished by then we will be able to get the grouting done on Sunday. Three days later we will be able apply two coats of grout sealer. The next day we will be able to mount the sink and put the stove (right foreground) into position. So I have a little over a week of a mostly non-functional kitchen.

Over top of the downdraft you can see where we broke through the wall. Behind is under the stairs, an unused space off the walk-in pantry. We are going to make a removable access panel in case we need to get to the back of the stove. We can get to the down draft through the access panel in the front of the stove where regular stoves have a drawer as well.

So that's where we are at on the kitchen renovations so far. I hope to be writing about finished results sometime next week depending on how life treats us.

Garden Gnome