Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tryin' Tile

     Since my kitchen is where I spend seemingly 80% of my time it makes sense to have it be the place I'm happy to give that much time to. So after much thought, magazine browsing, internet surfing and nail biting I decided on colors - yellow, teal and orange to match my Fiestaware dishes. I'm absolutely fearless when it comes to paint, I'll paint anything, any color but I've never done tile and the thought of it made me a bit nervous. So, of course I started with the paint.

     Once I got my nerve up I started looking at tile for the backsplash. I didn't have a very large area to tile (13"x 9'6") but I was still surprised at the cost and the... the... sameness of the tiles. I wanted to make a statement with the backsplash. Our house is an open concept and you can see every room from everywhere. So I decided that I wanted practical art. It should have color (of course!), not look like anyone else's and have a bit of whimsy.

     I found a woman on Etsy that sells glass for stained glass and mosaics. So I bought several pounds of broken glass bits in shades of teal, blue and green. I also got small amounts of orange and yellow for my accents. After watching online videos of how other people did this I decided that I would make tile 'sheets' and then attach them to the wall. I purchased a roll of fiberglass mesh ($12.00) and a large tube of Wellbond ($7.00) and began making my own tile sheets.

Make sure to cut out for cabinet edges or outlets before tiling.
Glue the tiles to the mesh with Wellbond

      It's a pretty simple job, decide on the pattern, cut the fiberglass sheet to fit the section you're working on and glue the pieces on, leaving about 1/8" between the pieces for the grout. This can be done with an amazing array of products. Anything from glass to broken dishes to metal can be glued to the mesh and turned into 'tiles'. I also left an uneven edge when I was going to have a tile mat meet another mat so that I would have a little play room and to avoid a straight edge. I wanted the wall to look seamless. The fiberglass can be cut with scissors making it really easy to get the tile sheets exactly how you need them. You can cut out holes for outlets, allow for molding etc...

2300 tiles later... the tile mats are ready to hang!

     Now that I have all the tile mats done, I let them cure overnight to make sure the glue was completely dry.  I put the tiles on the wall using a notched trowel and working in sections only as large as the tile sheet. Before beginning I loosened the wall outlets and set a tile piece behind the screw plates so they would sit level with the tiles once the wall was done, otherwise when you put the outlet covers back on the outlet will be almost a 1/4" deeper then the plate - ugly!!

     After putting up the first two mats, I went back and filled in the gaps between them with individual tiles. It only took about 30 minutes to get all the mats on the wall. More waiting.... the adhesive needs to dry completely. Follow the instructions for the brand you're using.

Nothing left but grout!
Now the final step  - grout. The biggest consideration is what color to use. I decided to go with a smoke grey because I didn't want the grout to steal the show and my granite has a lot of grey. This goes on with a rubber float - make sure to push it into all the cracks and spaces. If you're using glass tiles make sure to choose a non-sanded grout, you don't want to scratch all your hard work! Once the grout has mostly dried and looks a bit hazy....Wipe it down.... wipe it down... wipe it some more, using one of those big yellow sponges, until you've gotten all the excess off.  Buff it with a nice terry cloth towel and use a sealer to protect all your hard work.

 Now - High Five yourself! This was a really fun project. It's a great way to make something completely unique, especially if you live in one of those newer communities, (like ours) where the houses are all very similar.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And so it begins.......

    We finally bought a house - a lovely yellow (my favorite color!) house in a cul-de-sac in a charming little neighborhood. Nice, new construction - just what I always wanted. We had lived in a ranch that was built in 1949 for about 15 years and I was soooo looking forward to having outlets on EVERY wall, central air, a fully equipped kitchen - with shiny, new appliances!  ~  oh, the luxury! I wasn't going to have to do anything... just move in and get comfy on the couch.

    Well.... its a nice image isn't it? Doesn't work that way. You move in, none of your old stuff fits right in the new house, the 10 ft ceilings are so far away, what am I supposed to do with nearly 30 windows? Tell me again why I was happy about having four bathrooms? ....and please, why is every wall so, so ~ white?!!

    So, it begins.... making the house, the home. In my head I'm surrounded by color, I love color, need it, color makes me happy, cheers me up and comforts me. I'm not afraid of color at all. In our old house the living room was purple, yellow and green. In this house, I can't even decide where to start. New homes don't really have 'rooms' in the traditional sense. When you come in the front door you can see straight through to the dining room and kitchen. Does this mean that I have to paint everything the same color? I don't think so. I think I'll start with smaller rooms and work up to the giant main floor!

    A bathroom, I can manage a bathroom... right?