Linking this post up with the Be Bold Challenge link party. I’d hoped to have a brand new bathroom project finished in time for it, but then I didn’t. But then I reflected and decided that tiling without a clue what we were doing was pretty damn bold of us. So.
True to my word, I will not be making any kind of laughable attempts at a tiling tutorial here. There are lots of those out there, and, if you are new to tiling and contemplating taking it on, I suggest you read all of them before you try this crazy tiling thing yourself.
But I do have a few thoughts on tiling for first timers: things I wish we had known, would do differently, am glad we did, etc.
1. Tile lasts a really long time, so get what you like: Most of the aesthetic decisions we’ve made for the house so far have been things that are easy to change: paint colors, furniture, etc. The tile, on the other hand, I’m certainly not planning to change…ever. We came really close to buying big black square porcelain tile, but I knew slate was what I truly wanted. It was a fair amount more per square foot, but even in our giant bathroom the difference between it and the porcelain was less than $200. I’m not suggesting you go crazy and have no budget at all–there was certainly plenty of tile that was just outside of our price range no matter how much we loved it–but do keep things in perspective and think about what a long term investment tile is when deciding whether you should spend a little more to get something you’ll be happier with.
2. If it has to be perfect, maybe hire someone else to do it: I mean, or maybe you’re so naturally good at this sort of thing that you can disregard this. I did read some first time tiling posts from other bloggers where everything turned out totally perfect looking. But those posts kind of made me want to cry. If you’re more like us, there WILL be imperfections in your finished tiling job. We’re choosing to view these imperfections as a badge of honor earned by surviving tiling.
3. Other reasons you might want to hire someone else to do it: tiling is messy, and it takes forever, and it hurts your back. I guess some people find it enjoyable, but Dave and I both…didn’t. There are a number of DIY jobs that we find pleasant even putting aside the money saved or the sense of accomplishment, but tiling not so much. It’s up there with moving yourselves instead of hiring movers. That said, we both agree that it was worth it and we’re glad we did it. I guess in that sense it’s different from not hiring movers: you can’t really point to your heavy dresser and say, “we carried that upstairs all by ourselves!” I mean, you CAN. But you shouldn’t.
4. Spend the extra time at the beginning getting the first few tiles right: (and getting the prep work right. If you don’t start out with a level surface, your tiles are doomed). It gets easier after you’ve done a few, so don’t be scared to use the first ones to learn what you’re doing. Pull them up and try again if they aren’t right! You’re going to be doing this for FOREVER, so there’s not point rushing through at the beginning.
…and that’s all I’ve got! Like I said, I’m no expert, but there are plenty of experts out there: learn from as many of them as you can before you start. Take a class, watch videos, read blogs….it’s not rocket science; it’s just tedious and takes practice to get good at it. If you can learn from a bunch of other people’s mistakes before you start and avoid making them yourself, you’ll be in good shape. Or at least better shape than if you didn’t do that.
Okay! So! Also, our tile is all finished! Let’s take a look, shall we?
Ignore the missing baseboards and the still sky blue walls and focus on my lovely, lovely slate (that grout isn’t white, by the way. I want to make it clear that I did not choose white grout. It’s not as dark as I thought it was going to be, but it’s definitely gray):
And, however imperfect our tiling job is, I am completely confident that it is miles and miles better than old, stained carpet:
So now we take a break and get Abe moved to his new room. But there is, as you can see, lots more to do in here. Probably I’ll talk about that more at some point. We still have decisions to make! Maybe you will help?