I’m back with another laundry room update. Last week, I shared our IKEA kitchen cabinet installation as well as how we added the butcher block countertop. That side of the laundry room was looking pretty damn good if I do say so myself. But the other side… well, it was looking a little lackluster and dare I say, boring?!
We adore our new Maytag washer and dryer, but the white against the beige walls was just kinda “blah.” And since the other side was looking so bold with the dark green, I realized that I needed some color over here too. If you remember from my gameplan post, I originally thought I would use this tile above the washer and dryer. While it truly is a gorgeous tile, I was afraid the grayish color just wasn’t enough for this space. So I pivoted and opted for this green tile instead. I texted Bridget before I ordered it for her thoughts and when she urged me to go for it, I knew that I had picked a winner!
Choosing Green Tile
This tile is actually super popular – not necessarily in the color green – but the white and gray have been used all across the blogosphere. I’ve coveted it for quite some time and here I finally had a spot to use it! I shopped around and ended up finding it on Wayfair for the best price during a sale (but I know Lowe’s carries it too!). It certainly isn’t the cheapest tile around, but since we were covering such a small area, I only needed to buy two boxes of the tile.
My Best Tiling Tips
Finn and I have tiled a few times before this, so we were pretty confident going into this project. Our first (ever!!) tiling project was when we completely gutted and renovated our bathroom in our condo. We tiled for a month straight doing the floor and the walls and we learned sooooo much along the way (so many mistakes made!). After surviving that, we’re not really scared of tiling projects. Everything seems manageable compared to that gigantic project! If you have never tiled before, I would suggest starting with a backsplash. It’s easier than floors or a bathroom (where you have to be really aware of waterproofing).
Today, instead of giving you a step-by-step tutorial for tiling (which I’ve done in the past – see below), I wanted to share my best tiling tips! But before we get to those, here are some tiling posts from the archives…
- How to Prepare for Tile Backsplash
- Tiling a Backsplash Step-by-Step
- 10 Tips for Subway Tile
- How to Install Basketweave Floor Tile
- Tips for Large Floor Tile Installation
- Marble Tile on Our Fireplace
Opt for Pre-Mixed Mortar if Possible
For this project, we ended up buying a pre-mixed mortar to attach the green tile to the wall. You can buy big bags of the powder and mix it up yourself, however, it is hard to get a perfect consistency; it makes a huge mess; and you have to use it quickly (it dries in about 20 minutes). Because we were tiling such a tiny area over the washer and dryer, we opted for the pre-mixed mortar. I only used about half of the small bucket and we got it for $20 at Floor and Decor.
Buy the Correct Trowel Size
When it comes to the tools to actually get the stuff up on the wall, make sure you buy the correct trowel size. This is based on your tile size. For our situation, a 1/4 inch notched trowel was the way to go. I recommend buying a big paddle one and a small one to get into tight corners. My “technique” is to use a grout float to slop the mortar on the wall then I’ll use the trowel to make notches behind it.
Make a Plan for Spacers
When we added subway tile to our bathroom (again, our first tiling experience), we made a big mistake. We didn’t realize that most subway tile comes with built-in 1/16 inch spacers. That means if you want a small grout line you don’t need to use spacers at all! We used a spacer and ended up with really big grout lines that screwed up all of the math on our project. It was a lesson learned. This time around, we did purchase 1/16 inch spacers, just to see how they would look with our tile. After testing them, we realized we liked the look of a super small 1/16 inch grout line and nixed the spacer plan.
Do Some Math
Math. Ugh, that’s my least favorite part of any project but a necessity for this one. I suggest taking painter’s tape and making “your wall” on a flat surface. Then play around with the first few rows of your tile to see how they’ll look. You want to avoid having tiny slivers of tile on the sides (almost impossible to cut!). Instead, you want it to look like your tiles are being halved when they meet the sides of the wall. Move your design around until you get the perfect look. Then, when you go to lay your first tile on the wall, you can start with the middle tile using your measurements to get it in the perfect, exact spot!
Use a Ledger
You can’t just go ahead and put a row of tile on the wall or else it will slide on down. It needs something to rest on as it dries and that’s where a ledger comes in handy. We used some extra MDF to make a super level line across the back of the wall where we wanted our tile to stop. Screw it in and triple-check that it is perfectly level before you get started. This dictates the entire pattern for your tile, so make sure it’s on there perfectly! When everything is dry, you can remove the ledger and patch the holes.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
I ended up plopping myself up on the washer and dryer for the entirety of this project (with a few breaks in between), while Finn did the cuts. It’s pretty relaxing to just sit and tile a few rows at a time. My biggest tips are to wipe up excess mortar with a wet rag as you go. If it dries on there, you’ll have a mess on your hands later on.
I also suggest wearing rubber gloves because mortar is so incredibly drying. Save your skin and wear them…trust me! Also, don your crappiest clothes because mortar does not come out in the wash! This is my go-to dirty DIY outfit that I whip out on project days. Finn says I look like a ninja, but it gets the job done.
While I was perched atop our appliances, Finn was downstairs making cuts. We own this wet saw and have used it for all of our other tiling projects. Because we were making large cuts on these big pieces of tile, we were able to get away with using a small tile cutter (it’s only about $20). It’s such a handy tool, but it doesn’t work with every tile (no mosaics, marble, or making tiny intricate cuts). This was perfect for this easy job, though.
At the top of the wall, we did have to shave down the top row a bit. Finn used this diamond blade file to do that. It made a mess but helped us shave down the tile vertically pretty easily (well, at least with a bit of muscle on Finn’s part!).
With Finn doing the cutting and me laying the tile, we were able to get it all up on the wall in an afternoon.
My Best Grouting Tips
You want your mortar to cure for a few days before you grout. Again, to keep things easy, I opted for a pre-mixed grout for this step of the project. When it comes to grout, it’s easy to screw things up if you don’t mix it correctly. It has to be the perfect consistency…not too dry and not too wet. To bypass any potential issues, I went with this pre-mixed grout in the color “Pewter.”
I didn’t want anything too light or too dark for the grout line and I think “Pewter” was the best choice of the bunch!
Grouting is messy, so be sure to put a tarp down (especially on a vertical wall where it just falls right off!). You’ll scoop up the grout with a grout float and apply it directly to the wall. Push it into the gaps and go back and forth at a 45-degree angle. I usually grout a section for about 5-10 minutes and then start wiping.
You’ll want to have a clean bucket of water and multiple sponges on hand when wiping. Get the sponge wet and ring it out really, really good. You don’t want to apply too much water to the tile, just enough to wipe off the excess grout. I usually go around and get as much off the tile as possible and also shape the grout joints the best I can.
It took me about less than two hours to get this entire area grouted and cleaned up. Just go in small sections, follow the directions for your particular grout, and don’t let it sit on the surface for too long before wiping!
The last step is to caulk the edges of your tile. To do this, you’ll want to use caulk the same color as your grout! I found the “Pewter” color and took 10 minutes to caulk the two sides and top of the tile. This can get a little messy and I recommend placing painter’s tape on your side walls and ceiling so you get a nice crisp line (without it smearing onto those areas). Keep a wet rag handy and go slow!
Before & After – Our New Green Tile
I am sooooo pleased with the new bold look in here! I think it matches so much better with the other side of the room. Now, it’s way less boring over here! It was a one-day project that was well worth the time, money, and effort.
The BIG projects in here are officially done. We just have to cut the butcher block to place on top of the appliances, fix the baseboard in a few spots, accessorize, and we should be good to go! Stay tuned for the big reveal (and all of the sources) next week.Casey