So, Monday we started working on the floor. Somewhere in there we had to cut part of the threshold between the two rooms to make a more square starting point. So we started laying the border tiles, which had to be shaved some of them (made thinner) to keep an even transition from the wood to the tile because things were not only not square, but not level either. We found out pretty quickly that these tiles were pretty brittle and lost a couple early on. Then we laid the first row and our guide line. Then we filled it in. We had to add mortar or shave tiles here and there when the floor was just not level and a couple tiles cracked or chipped on the edges, but we didn’t feel like it was too too bad. Laying the tiles took 2.5 days. And I learned how to use a tile saw.
Then it was time to grout. We really felt a rush to grout because the edges were chipping and the tiles cracked so easily that we really felt they needed the stability of side support before we lost any more. We started in a corner and immediately noticed staining, so Daniel wiped it off as quickly as he could and we checked the instructions and found this item:
M. If the tiles are not pre-sealed, apply the Grout Release following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help to protect the tiles from being stained by the grout.
So, Daniel ran out to get grout release, which they didn’t have, so he got a penetrating sealer instead that is supposed to keep out stains. We applied that and left for the day. The next day we started grouting (with a whole new batch of grout, mind you, since the first batch was wasted) behind the refrigerator in case there was more staining and immediately we saw there was. Big grey stains on the white blocks of the tile. So I called the company and they were totally unhelpful, saying only that since we hadn’t used the grout release, as stated in the instructions, there was nothing they could do (or apparently recommend). So we turned to the internet and found some grout release that had only an hour’s setting time rather than 4 hours like Dupont, called around to find who had it, and out Daniel ran to get it, hoping that the grout we had mixed, if kept covered, would stay good. It didn’t.
So, at 4 in the afternoon, I ran out an got yet more grout, calling the babysitter watching Gus and Addy to see if they could stay later (thankfully they could and she was our savior and even fed the kids dinner) and we grouted the floor until 6:15 that night.
The next day, though it wasn’t as bad as before, there was still staining. Some of it was from the grout, some was just from traffic during installation, but it wasn’t pretty. We tried haze remover, I Bon Amied the whole floor, we mopped it with vinegar, nothing brought up the stains. So, we decided we had to sand it out. So we rented a big floor buffer and sanded it down past the stains. But then, that left white crud along the grout lines. Of course, we noticed that right before getting ready to seal when I had to leave to go to pick up the kids (Addy was at school, Gus at the sitter’s). So, I left Daniel thinking there was maybe 15 min to half an our of work left. When I texted him two hours later, he was still getting up the white crud from the grout and ended up working till 7, leaving maybe 10 min before we got home.
And that’s the epic saga of the kitchen floor. There’s still a little staining that wouldn’t come up, but we were getting to the substrate of the tiles, but I’m hoping that over time it will all blend into the patina of the floor. From far away, though, they look great and are everyone’s favorite part of the kitchen.
In case you were wondering, we went with Granada Tiles in the Toscano pattern in a custom colorway. Again, Mapei grout, I think pearl gray again, but this time sanded.
Finally, tiling is very messy work. It took three days for the grout to wash off of my hands.