Kitchen Remodel, part 3

Good news! We are 95% done! Bad news: we may have driven ourselves batty last weekend. As I mentioned in recent posts we had a very full weekend of kitchen work. Part 3 though starts middle of last week when I finished painting the kitchen. Yay! I saved the hardest part for last: painting over the cabinets (*warning: some of the pictures are a tad fuzzy…*)

all sorts of contorting happened to paint over the cabinets. also a mild concern that the counter would hold me...

all sorts of contorting happened to paint over the cabinets. also a mild concern that the counter would hold me…

Once all the paint was dry Bryan installed the counter side splash


Then our crazy weekend started: backsplash installation. Saturday we got up and went on a 45 minute run followed by a walk to pick up breakfast/get a bit of energy out of Seneca. Post-breakfast we headed to Home Depot to pick up the supplies we needed. We already had the tile but had decided to go a different route so we needed a few more. Also needed thin set to put the tile up, grout, and outlet extenders. After talking to a very helpful employee we went with SimpleMat instead of thin set. Instead of mixing up mortar, spreading it on the wall, holding tile until it starts to harden, what this is is essentially double sided sticky tape. Part of it peels off and sticks to the wall and then when you are ready to stick tiles on you peel off the other side. In theory you should be able to install tile and grout and be done in one day. Apparently we needed to have started a bit earlier to accomplish that. SimpleMat turned out to be the right choice for us in this situation (the box made it very clear what NOT to use it for)



Not having used the SimpleMat before there was a bit of a learning curve but after a couple of hours we had the wall covered

have to cut out around the outlet

have to cut out around the switches

time for the tile!

time for the tile!

Sometimes it amazes me how far the technology of building things has come along. You used to have to stick individual tiles in mortar to have a mosaic. But now, you don’t need mortar (for some applications) and the tiles are attached to a mesh backing! We went with tiles that were 1/2 inch tall by anywhere between 2-8 inches. It would have taken forever to do by hand. Plus they come in a 12″ square with a specific layout so that they all mesh together nicely, no guess work needed!

Work on the actual tile portion began with Bryan making the first straight cut on the wet saw


Then the first piece went up and it looked great!

meg first section

While cutting a piece with the hand nippers I re-learned a lesson about how sharp glass can be

superficial finger cuts bleed like crazy

superficial finger cut

After some finagling the left side of the window was finished!


Then came the easy strip under the window. That’s where the easy portion ended. Figuring out the part around the right end of the window sill was difficult.

notice the safety glasses

notice the safety glasses

We decided to split up the pieces of tile differently to make it around the light switch and outlet. There were enough small sections to work out to make it really frustrating. Especially after having already put in 10 hours. Then I accidentally attached a section of tile I didn’t mean to. I thought I had the sticky stuff covered but I didn’t. And I had put enough pressure on it I couldn’t take it off. The tiles didn’t match up properly and were too tight on the bottom. Frustrated and disheartened we broke for the night.

end of the day saturday

end of the day saturday

After a night of fitful sleep (worrying about the tile) we got up and took Seneca for a hike. Post hike we got back to work. I ended up having to pry off individual tiles and gluing them back on with silicone so I could take one row out. It’s a very long and drawn out process that’s very frustrating. Putting the rest of the tile in was challenging as we had to pair up the jagged edges that didn’t match. There was more gluing of individual tiles but we finally got it done.

tape was needed to keep the glued tiles from sliding down

tape was needed to keep the glued tiles from sliding down

With all the tile in place we confidently moved forward with the grout! This was pre-mixed which was another change for me. Reading the directions it was a it different. It’s fast drying so you have to remove the extra grout earlier than what I’m used to.


It was an interesting process, adding grout but washing it off/keeping it damp behind you.


After I was far enough along applying the grout Bryan came behind me removing it from the tile surface and keeping it all damp. In theory this all sounds wonderful but with the fast drying grout, it was a pain trying to get it off the tile. Especially since some of it was textured ceramic. Trying to scrub the tile surface without removing the grout between the tiles was near impossible. Roughly 12 hours after the start of our work day my parents stopped by and said that we were too close to it and that it looked good. We should break for the night. It’s always good to have an outside perspective. We finished for the night.

grout is in but not cleaned off yet. same basic look as when we quit sunday.

grout is in but not cleaned off yet. same basic look as when we quit sunday.

Lessons learned:

  • Start projects early in the day.
  • When you start to lose your focus, don’t hurry up and try to finish. Break and start fresh the next day so you don’t make stupid mistakes and waste time.
  • Have band-aids on hand when working with glass.
  • When using fast drying grout wet the tiles first (make sure you read and follow all of the directions from the beginning). The grout comes off wet tile much easier than dry tile.
  • Don’t try to grout anything textured, all it does is lead to frustration.

Almost done! End is in sight! Sanity may return!


5 thoughts on “Kitchen Remodel, part 3

  1. Excellent work! Looks great! And not that it was even remotely likely… but you have successfully murdered the possibility of me ever doing DIY tilework. So thanks.

  2. I think it’s looking MARVELLOUS ! Such interesting stuff, that SimpleMat, Megz ! You really made a rod for your own backs with all those wall-switches, though: I think I would’ve had an electrician move ’em somewhere ! :-\

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