Why we chose to use tile flooring throughout our entire home and the pros and cons of using tile flooring.
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When we moved into our new home, there were 4 different types of flooring in the living space alone. Two different wood floors and two different vinyl floors in the kitchen and entry way.
In our previous home, we replaced all the flooring with bamboo floors. (If you would like to read about that process, you can check it out here!)
While we loved the look of the dark wood floors in our last home, I wanted a completely different look in this home. One of the fun things about moving and fixing up homes as often as we do, is I can change my style and try new things from one home to the next! I also had some issues with bamboo flooring, which I can talk about in a separate post!
I love the durability of tile flooring and really wanted to use it throughout our entire home. I really wanted something waterproof and easy to clean for our kids and two dogs. For the look of the tile flooring, I really wanted something light and bright and that had a wood grain look to it. We found a few options, but the one we chose was from Lumber Liquidators called Avella Ultra Montego Bay Porcelain Tile. It is a larger size tile (48″ x 8″) which is what we were looking for.
We used the Picture It! Floor Visualizer on Lumber Liquidators website to see how the floor would look in the house. We did not have high hopes for this, but we were pleasantly surprised with how well it worked and how close it did look to the final product in the house.
Remove old flooring.
First step is to remove your old floors. This is the first home we have lived in that was on a concrete slab, so this was new for us. The old floors in the home consisted of a peel and stick vinyl, laminate wood, and linoleum. After we removed all the flooring, we were left with a sticky residue on some spots from the glue. We had to scrape all this off to ensure we had a smooth, clean surface to install the tile flooring onto.
We tried a lot of different methods to get the sticky residue off the floor, but the tool that worked best was a smaller scraper like the one below. It was time consuming and a lot of labor, but worth it to get a clean surface for your tile to adhere to the floor.
Depending on the type of flooring you have to remove, a larger scraper might be worth it as well to help remove the floors, not so much for the residue underneath.
Tools for tiling a floor:
- Wet Tile Saw. You are going to have cuts that you just cannot do with a manual tile cutter. If you do not want to spend the money on a tile saw, you can rent one, but we have used ours many times, so it has been worth the investment.
2. Tile Leveling System. We had never used a tile leveling system before, but this was worth every penny. Because we were tiling pretty much our entire home, we wanted to make sure it was level. We did a lot of research and watched a ton of YouTube videos before we got started. This is what we ordered and what worked well for us:
It is really cool how it works. First, you lay your tile flooring, then you place a clip in between the tile pieces (these also act as a spacer for your tile). Then you place a wedge in the clips and use the tool to tighten the wedge in the clips. This levels the pieces of tile together ensuring you have a nice level surface throughout the entire process.
This is our tile flooring with the leveling system in place. You have to let the floor set for about 24 hours before we can remove the wedges. Once your floor is dry, you can just break the clips off and the wedges will be free. These wedges are reusable, but the clips are not. Also be careful with the tool when tightening the wedges. I pinched the skin on my hand a few times!
3. Tile Mortar and Grout. We used large format tile mortar from Lowes because the tile we chose was so large. We also buy the kind that you have to mix yourself. It is more cost effective and works great. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the bag. We also went with a sanded grout that you have to mix yourself. It is a lot cheaper to go this route, especially with the amount of tile we had.
4. Tile Trowel. Do not forget your tile trowel to spread the mortar on the floor! We used a 1/4 inch trowel for our tile.
5. Buckets and buckets and more buckets. And sponges. You will need 5 gallon buckets for mixing mortar and grout. You will also need buckets of water to clean the tile as you go. Buckets will break, some will be too dirty to clean. Just be sure to have a few on hand. Same with sponges, you will need a few to clean as you go.
Grout your tile:
Once you have finished laying all your tile, you still have to grout it all. This in itself is also quite the task.
The sanded grout comes in a variety of colors. Originally I planned for a darker grout color, but the color I chose (Silver by MAPEI Keracolor at Lowes) ended up being lighter than I expected. In the end, I loved the result. The floors are blended together and looked more like a wood floor rather than looking like tile. Photo below is our main living room before we grouted it.
Seal your grout!
Especially since we chose to go with a lighter colored grout, sealing the grout is very important to keeping it clean and bright. I used a few different products to do this:
First thing I tried was this spray grout sealer. It worked well, but the can did not go far. If you have a small space, this is a great option.
If you have a larger space to seal, this works well. It has a strong smell and I am not crazy about using these strong chemicals in my home, but it is necessary to seal the grout.
This sealer was perfect for getting hard to reach spots and around corners. Again, it does not go far, so the sealer above is still my recommendation if you are tiling a larger space like the one we did.
Tile flooring is not for everyone:
Honest opinion here: Tiling a large space and doing it yourself is not for everyone. Tiling your entire house yourself is not easy! It is time consuming, labor intensive, and it is messy. BUT, I could not be happier with the results and I truly love and am so happy we went with the tile flooring. From start to finish, this took us about a month and a half. We took the flooring in sections because we were still living in the house while doing this.
Here is a shot of part of our home with the tile completed. I love how bright the space is now. The tile flooring has completely transformed the room! As I finish decorating more of the rooms we have tiled, I will update with more photos. What do you guys think? Have you tiled any areas of your homes? I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have when tiling!