Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weekend kitchen spruce up - Day 2 - Changing out the tiles

Thank you for all your kind comments about the bead board paint job.  The walls were too broken up into small sections to use anything bigger than a 3 inch roller so it WAS a big pain in the you know what!  But I do love the warmth the new color gives to the space, so that makes it all worth it.

Are you ready for day 2 of the weekend kitchen spruce up?

I sure was!

At 6 am (by now I’m getting a bit worn out, so not as early this morning) I spring  roll out of bed ready to attack the kitchen again.

Up first on the agenda is painting the trim, the windows, and the upper cabinets.

Remember I said the window (it’s actually 2 double hung windows side by side) had never really been properly painted when I remodeled the kitchen 7 years ago?  Somehow I had just worked around it when putting up the bead board and by the time I was done, I was simply done.  I must have thought I’d get back to it later…ahem.

And the trim.  Always the last thing to put up….It probably took me a year to trim out around the ceiling and add the crown molding to the tops of the cupboards.  And it wasn’t done.  I still hadn’t set the nails and filled the holes, or for that matter filled the cracks.

A tube of painters caulk later and everything is ready for paint.  I love how quickly the caulk dries.  Next up, some gloss white paint for the trim. I get one coat on the windows, ahhh so much better!  After 2 coats they are beautiful.  Why did I wait so long to do this?


By the time Mike comes down for coffee and breakfast I am almost done with both the windows and the trim. 

It’s 9:30.

I put the stained glass windows back up over the lower panes as Mike cooks breakfast.


Next the cabinets.  By washing them yesterday I had dulled the surface.  That paint prep stuff does that, so word to the wise, don’t use it on anything you don’t intend to paint.

A  little more prep and a quick coat of paint and they are looking good again.  The knobs go back on.  While I’m at it I paint the corner cabinet door with chalkboard paint.  I’ve been wanting to do that for at least a year now!


Time check;  3 pm.  Where has the day gone to?

This is where I start to debate really hard about what to do with the floor.  I can’t stand the yellowed white tiles any more.  That settles it.

         Jan 2010 home 012

I grab a hairdryer and a painter’s multi tool. 

Anita from Going a little Coastal asked how on earth I was going to get just the white tiles out to replace them.  I hope this next part answers her question.

Watch and see, Anita!

Now if these were ceramic tiles, this would be next to impossible.  But the solid vinyl composition tiles, well  they were made for this sort of thing.  That’s why schools and stores use them, they’re easy to clean, can be polished to a glossy shine, and when one breaks or cracks, you can pull it up to replace it…no problem.

And they’re cheap.

So, back to the hairdryer.  I pick the dingiest white tile and start the hairdryer, aiming the heat at one corner of the tile. 

After about 30 seconds on high I push the corner of the painters tool into the edge of the tile and lift up slowly.  It starts to come up, so more of the blade slides under and I keep the heat directed on the front area, prying up the tile some more. 



In moments the entire tile is lifted up and out.  Almost intact.  It worked!


I move on to the next, repeating the process.   I hope and pray my hairdryer, not in the best condition to start with, holds out for me.  One scary moment it stops and won’t work.  Uh oh.  Upon closer examination I discover the problem. 

The air intakes are all clogged up with lint, causing the motor to overheat.  As soon as they are cleared the dryer starts back up.  I hadn’t realized it was still on!

An hour and a half later I pull up the last of the dingy whites.  Some are a bit harder than others to come up, breaking a little. But all in all not a bad job.  The subfloor is still intact. I can see the W’s I wrote on each penciled off square that long ago summer I first laid this floor down.


Back then it took me a week to prepare the subfloor for the new tile. 

Today I’m grateful I took my time and did it right back then.  The luan is still in perfect shape. 

As anyone that has pulled up a floor knows, the devil is in the subfloor.  It does you no good to put a new floor on top of a bad surface. 

It just won’t last.


Next step, clean, clean, clean.

The old adhesive is still slightly tacky from being heated.  I scrape away and vacuum up all particles of dirt and bits of flooring.  Then I go back and do it again.

It’s crucial to get every crumb, as if the new tile is laid on top of a hard speck, it will show through.  Even the tiniest speck.

I get the box of blue tiles out of my storeroom in the basement.  Uh-oh. 

I hadn’t realized just how very BLUE these were.



After laying out a few I decided that although the blue is pretty, it just doesn’t work with everything else.  Not even a little bit. 

Plan B.  I send Mike on a mission to Lowes to scope out the colors they have in stock. 

They have white, but I’m so over white.  The only other color is a grey/blue.  “Get it” I tell him.  “How many”?  he asks.

“A whole box will do.  I can always take back what I don’t need.”

$33 with tax, that’s what it cost me.


I like this color much better than the blue.  They will work out just fine.

The pail of adhesive I had leftover from the original install is still good enough to use.  I dig around and even find a small notched trowel.


Very carefully I spread the adhesive on each square, trying to be careful not to get too close to the edges and scraping with the notched edge to create tiny ridges.


My hand is stuck to the trowel.  This stuff is super sticky!

Once that is done, the key is waiting.  The adhesive must nearly dry, when touching it none should come off on your fingers. 

Finally, 40 minutes later the glue is set and ready to take the new tiles.


I do the 11 full tiles first.  Place and press, wiping away any adhesive that comes out around the edges.  There are far more partial tiles than full in my floor, as I had laid out the checkerboard on the diagonal back when I first installed it.  Lots of cuts, all around the edges.

A utility knife and a straight edge are the basic tools for this.

And the straight edge can be another tile.  It works.

Just lay the tile where you want to fit it, hold the straight edge along the line you want to cut, run the blade a couple times over the line, bend back and snap, it breaks along the line.  Easy!

A sanding sponge takes care of any rough edges.

By 8 pm the last tile is cut and set in place. 

I love it!


The directions call for a 100 lb roller to go over the tiles after they are all placed.

I don't have a roller, and the kitchen is so small it probably wouldn’t fit anyway. 

So I put Mike to work, walking on each tile and pressing down the edges all the way around to get a good bond.  He was happy to be my roller. ;)

It meant he was going to get his kitchen back finally.

And I was very happy to be done with sprucing up the kitchen.

Here’s another before picture for comparison.  Can you see how yellowed that white is?   

Jan 2010 home 011 

Now look at it!  And this is before I even washed  it!  (That must wait a couple days while the adhesive cures.)

010-5 006-4


Have I mentioned how much I’m loving the new look?


Now that that’s over, the rest of the week is for tweaking the decor and picking up. 

Somehow that sounds pretty easy in comparison!  ;)

Gotta get ready for work now….



  1. Beautiful Rose ... I actually need to replace a few peel and stick tiles and this post REALLY helped to show just how easy it will be. Thanks : ) Your floor turned out great and your right the grey/blue is so much better.

  2. whoa! I'm tired just reading about it. You are so smart! You know something about everything!
    Love the clean-ness (word?) of the cabinets and window trim!
    I really liked the blue (even with the black) but hey, if it didn't work, then well, yeah, gray is the new blue! hahah
    I love blue, and now I love gray. hence MY kitchen floor (blue&gray)
    have a great day, love the new floor!

  3. WOW Rose, that looks amazing... love the gray with the black... I can't believe how much of a difference that made. Everything is looking exceptionally beautiful... great job buddy.

    So have you picked the chair you are sitting in for the party, it better be comfy because you are going to be exhausted.

    Can't wait to see the whole picture. Come on stop teasing

    Have a great day...

    Hugs, Deb

  4. That looks great!!! Love the look. I was always so intimidated to do that to my laundry room. Im on my way to Lowes and will have to let you know how my project turns out. Thanks , Molly

  5. Very nice!!! It really makes a diffence.

  6. It looks so good Rose. I like that color much better.

  7. You made it look so easy! That would have taken me forever and a day to finish. I love the new color combo and the new white trim looks great too! You got so much done in just two days!

  8. That floor looks marvelous. The cabinets look really pretty as do the windows. Your party is going to be a huge success.

  9. You are a whirlwind! You got all that done in one day? It looks fantastic. Love the blue gray color of the new tiles.

  10. OK, just thought I'd mention that is the l-o-n-g-e-s-t post I have EVER read!

    And those tiles ROCK!!!!! You are amazing! I would have thrown a rug over it all!!! I absolutely LOVE the color combo!

    You're the bomb!


  11. What an awesome job!! The gray looks amazing - it has the look (on my monitor at least) of a clean white floor - but with actually being white. That probably makes no sense, lol, but I know what I mean :-) Anyway - fabulous job, and thanks for sharing the how to with us!

  12. Dear Lord Rose- I'm tired just reading this!?! You're right though, the new tiles look great!! ;)

  13. I was a little nervous when I first saw the blue tiles. You were right to go with a blue-gray and it does look so much better. You've got a new kitchen in a couple of days but following that wore me out. You must have loads of energy.

  14. I really like that color you ended up with. Great job!

  15. WOW-WEEE Rose!!! You Rock!! Looks the paint color ~ bead board ~ floor. Woot!!

  16. You go girl!! It looks so much better than before & I agree, the blue was not the "it" color here - even if it is my favorite color.

  17. A+++! Wonder Woman strikes again! I'm going to print off this post and show it to my hubby. I really liked the part about when "he cooked breakfast". I'd get so much more done around here if I didn't have to cook - lol! Your kitchen is really starting to shine, I so need to get busy in mine. You've inspired me and I hope your hubby will inspire mine, but I have my doubts!

  18. I love the new color! It's so soft and pretty. Looks great!


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