Surprise Kitchen Reno: Part III

As of our last post, we had laid the subfloor through the first floor kitchen, bathroom and the hall connecting both. Since there are no square angles in space, it was an exercise in patience to make the precise cuts to the subfloor. The absence of square angles continued to haunt us in the next step towards finishing the floor: laying the tile!

We chose a simple porcelain tile in ‘Texas Beige’.


Our goal was to then lay our tiles to minimize waste and have final lines aesthetically pleasing (since there wasn’t a straight edge for alignment). So, after the tiles were laid out in the configuration we liked, we snapped a chalk line to ensure straight line for laying the tiles permanently.



Again, since there are no square angles, LOTS of cuts required to the tiles for the periphery. Each tile that required a cut was then numbered, as depicted below.

1, 2, 3, 4...

J used a 1/4″ trowel to spread mortar on the subfloor, and then backbuttered each tile. We chose 3/16′ spacers (or tombstones, if you’re fun), and placed four at the intersection of each set of 4 tiles.



To level the floor, we used a 4′ straight edge (with all of J’s weight behind it) as a press. We had to wait 72 hours before we could allow for heavy traffic in the area.

4' level

The second phase was the grout work, which is almost as labour-intensive as laying the tile.

MAPEI Keracolor S in Biscuit

We mixed the grout with the specified amount of water, and then using a sponge float J pressed the mucky goo into the joints to bring it just below level to the tiles’ surface. Then with the wet sponge (we changed our water constantly), we did an initial wipe of the tie surface, and shaped the grout lines. Being very careful not to add water to the installed grout, we used a damp cloth remove the residue or ‘haze’ on the surface of the tiles.

Almost there...

As per the manufacturers specifications, we allowed the grout to dry 72 hours. AND WE’RE NOT FINISHED YET.

The final step: seal the grout and tile.

TileLab Surfacegard Penetrating Sealer

We applied the product along the grout lines with a brush; after 10 minutes, we wiped excess and applied a second coat.

and then…NEW FLOOR!!

Since moving in, the first floor kitchen and bathroom had never felt like they were ours. The floors were a large part of this feeling, as there were three different materials, none of which we were particularly fond. Many corners, edges, and joins were lifting and separating, so that it never looked or felt clean.

Before: interface between the kitchen vinyl tiles, and laminate wood hallway to bathroom

Before: gaps in joins between vinyl bathroom tiles

There was nothing of the original house to resurrect in this space, but our new floor follows a tradition that has persisted for thousands of years, because of its aesthetic and maintenance ease.

In Surprise Kitchen Reno! Part IV, we’ll be plastering and sanding our walls, removing old crown moulding and adding new forms, switching out light fixtures, and painting!



Filed under Bathrooms, First floor, Kitchen

2 responses to “Surprise Kitchen Reno: Part III

  1. Great story, like you I live in an old (1870’s) rowhouse in Georgetown, keep me in the loop of your progress, any tips are well appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Ron Taylor

    • Heritage Row Reno

      Thanks, Ron! We’re just around the corner (or two) from Georgetown- such a charming neighbourhood! I’ve done a bit of research at the Registry of Deeds, and will soon write about the history of our home and its former inhabitants.

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