Thursday, August 23, 2012

Firing Up Some Tile

Ever since we bought the house back in May, I knew that I wanted to touch up the fireplace in our basement.  It had a beautiful white mantel, but also a blank, black space above the hearth:

During an innocent trip to Lowe's for some lightbulbs, out of the corner of my eye, I spied some GORGEOUS glass tile:

At $4.98 for a 12x12 sheet of tile, I couldn't pass it up. I purchased two of them.  I knew it would be the perfect touch to the fireplace.  I've never tiled before, so I asked a nice Lowe's employee to point me in the direction of the smallest amount of mortar and grout that I could buy.  I knew I only needed a little bit because the area was so small.  He showed me two tubs of both that were perfect.  I picked up a trowel and a grout sponge and I was ready to go.

The mortar was a ready-to-use, no mix adhesive and the grout was unsanded white.  I just had to add water to it. 

First, I cut the sheet almost in half with a box cutter and matched it up the way it would be on the fireplace.

Then I measured the extra spaces to see where I needed to cut the tiles to fit in the small spaces on either end.  I borrowed my neighbor's scorer and tile pliers for this part.  I had to put a tile on top of another in order for the scorer to touch the tile. The scorer just makes a slight groove in the tile and then the tile can be snapped right where the line is. 

After I scored the tile, I just used the pliers to snap it where it was scored. I did it over a trash can in case the glass shattered.  I did have one shatter, but the rest were a success. 

Once all the pieces fit, I was ready to start "actually" tiling.

I spread the adhesive on with a scraper tool and then used a 1/4" square notched trowel.

In hindsight, I probably should have used a smaller grooved trowel, but it got the job done.  Then I just placed the strips of glass tile on the adhesive and then placed the smaller pieces on the ends. Everything fit perfectly.

Once it was dry, I could start the grout.  First I had to tape paint stirrers to the bottom of where I just tiled so that I could grout an end.

For the grout, I added water and mixed it up.  Then I just plopped it on over the tile with the scraper, making sure to push it in each crevice.  If I happened to see an air bubble, I just put a little grout on my finger and shoved it in the bubble.

After that, I used the sponge and wiped the grout off in a diagonal fashion.  This ensures that you're not actually wiping out the grout, but moving it more into the crevices.  Make sure to have a bucket of water to rinse out the sponge (You will do it often).  A rag is also useful in case you need to wipe something down.

Once the grout dried for about a day, I used the scraper to separate the grout from the paint stirrers.  They came off fairly easy.  Some grout came with it, but not too much.  Then I took some sandpaper to smooth out the edge.

After that, the tile was practically finished ! I just needed to seal it.  I just followed the directions on the back and used a paint brush to brush the sealer over the tile.  I put one coat on, let dry for about 15 minutes, put on another coat, and then wiped it off.  So simple !

I LOVE the way that the tile looks on the fireplace.  Not too shabby for my first tiling job.

What little update made a big difference in your home?

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !