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A Thing or Two About Tiny Floor Tiles…

After a successful backsplash tiling job, we were feeling good about starting the floors, not to mention we were VERY eager to get floors put in. So much so that I forgot to take pictures of the subfloor after we peeled off layers of crusty linoleum. That was a job in a half, but nothing compared to what awaited us once we started laying the hex tiles. We used 1″ unglazed porcelain hexagon tiles with flat sides, no bevel. To start off, the walls of our 1924 kitchen which used to be the semi-enclosed patio- turned- kitchen were not straight. This presented a problem in the way of how to begin laying tiles since we needed at least ONE straight line to begin.

So far, so good until we ran into problems the next day where we thought we could pick up where we left off. We were so wrong. I wanted to cry/scream/pull out hair after we spent the next day undoing a couple of long rows we painstakingly laid from the previous day. One step forward two steps back at this point.

Alas, we did eventually sorta finish. It took an entire day, morning to night to lay the second half of the tile and now it’s semi done except for the fact that we realized that a second pass of grout is necessary to fill some air holes and small gaps. And I thought we were done… So, this week I scrambled to find the grout in the color we needed, called everyone in the area and hit the jackpot when Arizona Tile could get it the next day. Whew! Guess what we’re doing this weekend?

Through this tiling process we novices learned a few things (the hard way):

+A straight line is essential and if your walls are like ours and not all are straight, do this: find the wall that is straight and draw a perpendicular line all the way down from there. This will be your starting point for laying tiles.

+ Once you complete a row, a colored string pulled taught across from one end to another will aid in making sure your tiles are on the straight and narrow. You want this, because if they are not as straight as you can possibly get them, all of the subsequent rows will be off and eventually the individual tiles will either have too large gaps or be too tight in between. Neither is good.

+ Get the tile down all in ONE day, no matter how long it takes. Due to expansion and contraction, the thinset and tiles will be slightly off after it dries and 1/16 of an inch makes a world of difference when using 1″ hex tiles. Trust me.

+ Buy enough grout for 2 passes, just in case (especially if you chose an uncommon color like we did). The grout will settle in over night and you’ll want to make sure all gaps are sealed. The worst thing is realizing you don’t have enough and then scrambling to locate extra boxes from your local stores.

+ Get yourself a pair of knee pads and book a massage for after you’ve finished. You earned it and you’re gonna need it!

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