Friday, April 23, 2010

Kitchen Countertop Project: Part 7 "Edging It"

If you haven't been following along with our Granite Tile Kitchen Countertop Project, you can catch up on Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 here before reading this update.

We last left off where we finished laying the top tiles with granite mortar, being extra sure that the tiles were level and spaced evenly before calling it a day... er, night. We wiped off any excess mortar before it dried, and carefully removed the tile spacers before hitting the sack.

The next day when we inspected the tiles and the mortar had had time to dry, we were pretty pleased with our work. It was time to move on to the next step: the edges for the overhang.

Before we decided the height of the overhang tiles, however, we went around the entire countertop edge measuring to make sure that we would find a height that would 1) cover all the cement board behind it, and 2) would still allow the dishwasher to open. We were stumped for a bit because the dishwasher was too high for the size we needed to completely cover the cement board all the way around, causing the door to hit the tile and not open at all. But then we remembered that when we installed the dishwasher (one of the upsides of DIY!), there were feet at the front of the machine that, when twisted, raised/lowered the front of the dishwasher. So Tom got out his trusty tools and we lowered that baby about an inch (making sure the door still opened/shut correctly), and then we were in business!

This next part is pretty similar to the top tiles, in that we measured each outer-edge top tile width and made cuts in the smaller 2.5" tall tiles so that the grout lines matched up. It took alot of cuts and intense measuring, but Tom managed to get them all done in a couple hours - what a guy!

Meanwhile while Tom was out getting the last tile cuts done, I was readying another batch of granite mortar in a new bucket. Why? For the first batch of mortar leftover from the top tiles, we had filled the entire bucket with water thinking that we could wash it away the next day (this was late at night), only to return to discover that the mortar was hard as a rock underneath all the water! I learned why from a little internet research - some mortar (like the kind sold in pre-mixed buckets) dried through the process of water evaporation, while others (like ours, apparently!) dries through a chemical reaction that begins once you mix it. So, we were down one bucket (will the trash people take a bucket of cement?) but luckily were able to find our car wash bucket to sacrifice this time around.

I made half the 50 lb. bag of mortar, which ended up being way too much for the edges. But that's okay, as I can't really see anything else we'd use Granite Mortar on, anyways. The process this time around was almost the same - apply the mortar to the cement board, butter the backs of the tiles, lay the tile, set the tile.

Except that this time around gravity was working against me. I won't lie, it was pretty hard to match up the grout lines, make sure the tile was straight up and down, aligned with the top tile edge and was even with the edge tiles next to it - all while holding up the tile with one hand because it would fall off if I didn't (hence the lack of photos of this part! I had my hands full).

Once it was in the perfect spot, I very carefully taped it up using regular masking tape.

After a few hours, the edges were done!

We waited a day to take the tape off the edge tiles, and when we did - I tell ya, I felt like we were cutting the ribbon at our own little ceremony!

After we carefully peeled the tape off (so as to not leave any sticky residue behind), and picked out the spacers, we stood back and admired our hard work. I had had some worries about the masking tape being too tight and pulling the tiles this-way-or-that, or not being tight enough and the tiles dipping/falling slightly and then drying that way. But come to find out I need not have worried - that masking tape worked like a charm!

Yes, we spent quite a while staring at our countertops, and setting different cups/dishes on them, just to see how they would look. We also set the sink inside the sink hole, to make sure it would fit - but mostly just to look at it.

I think this might be love.

Anyways, if we can manage to stop staring at the beautiful shininess of our countertop-to-be long enough, the next step is grouting the tiles, which will really finish them off and make them look superb. Then it'll be time to seal it so when the inevitable spills happen our countertop will still be as pretty as the day month we installed it, then we are done! The light at the end is getting brighter, oh yes it is! So stay tuned next week for the (hopefully!) last few updates on our Countertop Project, and then our answer to the big question "Would We Do It Again?". What do you think? Would we?

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  1. Chelsea. The edges came out great! You guys are brave, tackling all this on your first homme. I'm impressed!!! I think you'd do it all over again...look at how much you've learned already. Next time will be breeze!
    It really looks beautiful. What color dishes do you have? Our granite has stood the test of time so far, I love being able to put hot pots right down on it. Yours is even darker than ours so I wouldn't worry about spills, be more worried about breaking dishes on that hard granite countertop. You'll lose a few. We did. :)

  2. Yay it's really coming along so great! That's so funny about putting the sink and dishes on it to admire it and see how it will look. I do the same thing when I'm remodeling something :)
    I'm still excited and can't wait to get to see it all finished!

  3. That's it, I'm doing tile countertops instead of solid stone. I'm just in love with yours. You did a fantastic job, and I'll bet it was a fraction of what solid granite would have run. Bravo!

  4. Thanks, guys! It's definitely been an adventure, that's for sure - but considering we tackled it as pretty much complete amateurs, I think it's turning out fabulous - and we've even learned a thing or two (and possibly inspired some of you guys, too)! Ohh, just wait until you see it with the grout... ;)

    Thanks for following along and commenting! It makes my day!

  5. Looks great already, can't wait to see it 100% finished. :-)

  6. Amazing! I'm so impressed that you were able to do all this yourselves!

  7. wow! the counters look amazing! i wish our kitchen was looking that good but we're a long way away... :) you did a great job, and i think it's definitely worth all the work in the end.


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