Who does not like subway tile… apparently no one. Including Angela. I have to admit I like the look but knowing the ungodly number of tile cuts to be made and little spacers to be set, I was not looking forward to it. Luckily we have a small house and appropriately scaled kitchen so the scope of the work was manageable. We decided on a using standard bright white subway tiles. Given the contrast in the oak trim around the windows, dark grout, and stainless steel appliances with black paint, we opted to lighten the room a bit.
We started by protecting our newly installed counter-tops and stirring up the premixed thinset. Normally I would be against the premixed stuff but the risk is low for a loose tile considering the low humidity, non-impact location, and the small size of the tiles. My dad began spreading the thinset with a triangle-notched trowel and Angela began setting the first tiles along the base of the countertop. I was taping off areas and following behind with the spacers.
Angela intently setting the tiles. Of course any off-center or improperly spaced tile was corrected as I followed behind. There were not many to fix. The grout joints were set at 1/8″.
Angela learning how to score and cut tiles. She also became accustomed to using the tile snips. Normally we would use the wet saw for tile work but the size of the tiles was perfect for the manual cutter. Plus I did not want to get water all over the house.
A photo of me setting the spacers as evidence that I actually do some of the work in the house.
Day one finishing up with all the tiles set and thinset allowed to cure for about 2 hours. I then removed the spacers to wipe off any thinset that was pushed from the joints. I waited two days before grouting to make sure everything was solid. At this point, I really like the shadows between the tiles and thought about going with a dark grout. However, we were concerned that the dark lines would accent any tiles that were not spaced perfectly or did not have a straight joint. We tried our best to get everything straight but we did not succeed everywhere, which killed me considering how hard we did try.
Grout prep. Non-sanded grout since the joints were either 1/8″ or just below. Silicone caulk to match the grout “antique white” color. Silicone clear to caulk the seams around the oak trim and against the brick.
Starting to grout by troweling over
Grout applied and excess scraped off. Wiping the haze off with a damp sponge followed. 2 hour wait and repeat.
Let the grout cure for 24 hours and then caulked all the surfaces where the planes met. Grouting them is just asking for cracks and possible mold / mildew growth. Not a bad looking seam.
Finished product. Next on the list is the upper and lower cabinet molding along with jamb extensions and casing the kitchen door.