Tiling the laundry room

Tiling the laundry room

We are making progress with the laundry room overhaul! I introduced this project to you all here. I also shared the wall cabinet installation. Today I am going to show you what we did to the floor. Ok, for anyone that has been reading my blog for a while, you know me and my family. You also know that we do a lot of things spur of the moment, remember our bathroom redo? That whole thing started with wanting to paint the wall one Saturday night. This laundry room and mudroom has been well planned and thought out. But, we have done it Our house now a home style and thrown in some last minute additions. We did something with a wall, and decided to tile the floor.

The original floor, was legit cookie cutter, builders grade linoleum. I think it was white, but it had changed to a yellow color. Here is how the laundry room looked before. I wish I could show you what the new laundry room will look like. However, that does not exist yet. It has piles of laundry, half finished walls, and kind of looks like a construction site. Hard hats are needed. We decided to tackle from the floor up. Really we decided to shop around and “price” out the tile.
We went to a store called HOBO that is here in the Milwaukee area. I am not sure if it is nationwide or not. The store is a overstock kind of store. What is on the floor is what they have, no ordering more or checking other stores. Crazy good deals! We walked around. Tortured our kids with yet another home specific shopping trip and landed on these lovely ladies. They seem like they would be ladies, fancy ones. They are ceramic, 12×24 inches, white with lots of gray lines and details. They were also $0.99. I mean, come on! Our laundry room is small, and this is where not having a gigantic house comes in handy. In total we needed just 3 boxes, our laundry room is 64 square feet. We were in love with price and style. I stood by them like a Buckingham Palace guard with these things. “Mine, keep walking, look but don’t touch, Nora kick her in the shin!” Ok, I did not encourage violence. I did stand in front of our lucky find until we could get some assistance.
We also bought
  •  Mastic (AKA thin set)
  •  Dark gray grout,
  •  Trowel to lay all of the thin set gook,
  • Grout float for grout gook,
  •  200 spacers
  • One big sponge specifically for tiling
Just realized I should have taken a picture of all of this before hand. Blogging fail.
 First step in the tiling saga, turn off the water and remove any appliances or furniture. To do that unscrew the hoses from the back of the washer. Making sure to turn off the hose and having a bucket under the hose for any remaining water in the hose.
Ready to be moved out.

We also are lucky to have a parent (my Father in law) who owns a moving company. We have random things like this four wheel dolly to set the washer and dryer on. Dale lifted it up, I shoved this under it. Saved my shoulder some pain, and me getting some crap about over use from my physical therapist. Win, win here people. Dale may or may not have said “beep, beep!” when backing up with the washer. I got a winner here people.

This was so easy for me guys. I kind of just twiddled my thumbs. Look at that focus Dale has people!
The washer and dryer are removed. Yes we did not paint the whole room. When we painted  about two years ago we could not move (too lazy to move) the washer and dryer so we painted what we could. It has now been fixed. We also have many other furry friends in the name of dust bunnies. They multiply, like bunnies. Hehe!
I will note in this picture it looks like we might have mold. It is just caked on dust. Judge me if you must, I would too.
The dryer was really easy to remove. Pull the vent from it slowly and unplug. With a gas one this would have been more involved. Notice the money, this is a paid sponsor from the spare change under the rug. We are getting paid now, moving on up!
See, movie magic. The wall is painted! More on that and other wall stuff later.
Next, remove all floor trim.

Time to let it rip! Which I yelled, and it got stinky and awkward for a minute. Yell let it rip in this house and you get some stinky noise. Dale got what I meant eventually and got to ripping, the floor up that is. Pulling the linoleum up. If you are lucky and it was not done properly this will be easy. We got sort of lucky. It was secured in some spots and others it came up with no effort.

This is one of the effort spots. Only part of it came off. We used a very professional home improvement tool called a ice scraper. For all you non existent frozen peeps that is a tool to break up the ice on walk ways and driveways. Dale got to work scraping it up. I cheered him on and wondered when we could get to the fun stuff. Prep of any project is the most boring, but important part of any home renovation.
Be sure you have cleared all of the stuff, flooring, glue, what not from the bottom of the floor. Now, this part I will explain is really particular to our situation. We did not need to lay anything else down before we could start tiling. Some homes you don’t, some you need a layer added by plywood, sub floor, or concrete boards. Our sub floor and ply wood overlay is over the recommended 1 inch and a quarter thick. This allows there to be a solid structure, less movement with the tile. Otherwise the floor can bow and the tiles will crack. We also had a really level floor. No noisy creeks or spots. So once it was all cleaned up we were good to start laying down. Check your floor for being level, solid, any creaks, and the thickness of the floor and sub floor itself. Each house is different. You can begin laying tile onto straight concrete if it is level.
The kids were giving the floor a try before bed, Also before we got to work.
Yep, the tiles work. They are spin worthy.
We laid the tile out on the floor to test how many we would need. To get a feel of how it would go.

Once we put those crazy tile twirl testers to bed it was time to get to work laying these ladies down. Mixing the thin set by doing it according to the instructions on the bag. Each thin set it so particular and different. So on this one read the instructions. You can split the bag in half, doing half bag and half recommended water. Because most only last 4 hours before they don’t work and it becomes hard. So if you cant lay it all down within 4 hours, do it in spurts. It became hard to lay it down and smoosh after a few hours. Dale recommends buying the bag where you mix it yourself. It stinks less, and is easier to work with then the pre-made stuff. It is also cheaper to get a bag and mix yourself.

Taking the trowel and getting a glob of mixed thin set.
Take the un-grooved side of the trowel and lay a thin layer on. Enough to cover the floor. Smooth it out with no obvious clumps or really thin spots. We set enough thin set to be able to lay a few down at a time.
Then, once laid use the grooved side and run it along the fresh thin set. This will make lines along the floor. It helps make sure there is not too much in one spot, and help the tile attach to the thin set. Sliding along slowly, and pushing the grooved edge trowel down along it.
Take the tile you are going to lay and smoosh (love that word) a very thin layer onto the back of the tile. This allows it to adhere and attach to the thin set on the ground.
We made sure to keep the tiles straight. Hopefully the wall is straight.

With one full tile down it is time to lay the half tile down. This will give that staggered look I am going for with the tile. Mark with a permanent marker where you want the tile to be cut. The wet saw cut right down the middle of the permanent marker, so the mark will not matter.

Using a wet saw filled up with water. Set the tile cut line directly in front of the blade.
Slowly push the tile through, keeping an eye on your traced line the whole time. Make adjustments or stop the saw if you start to go off course.
Watch fingers! I was watching this and taking pictures of this through my fingers. Like a scary movie, looking halfway will protect you from the scary. The scary being my husband’s hand and fingers being way too close to a blade.
Tada! One half cut tile done and ready to start the staggering design on the floor.
 Also one cute guy with ten fingers still intact. I forced him to pose for this, he has such a great forced smile. His Mom taught him well to pose for pictures. Smile and get it over with. Notice the beanie and coat, it is freaking cold in our garage! We are tough DIY warriors.
Back inside with the new half tile, use the spacers to set the next tile up against. Squish them in place so the line in between the tiles is even. I chose a somewhat thick spacer, there is lots of different sizes of grout lines available. The space I decided to go with is 3/16 inch grout line, I did this because I thought the dark gray of the grout standing out would be a good break up of the really bright and white tile. Bring out the gray in the tile.
After each set of tiles was down we used our leveler to make sure each tile was level with the previous one. This is needed for the look of it. As well as making the tile last. If it is not level things can be chipped, nicked, or even cracked. Make sure things are level. If not push down, or pull up and add more thin set until it is level. Be sure to check level right after the tile has been set down. This way if there is needed adjustments you can do it before things become rock hard.
Here is a example of how thick the thin set should be.
Don’t step on the tile once down. Most need 24 hours to set before any weight should be put on it. So be sure to plan your route of escape and way to lay the tile so you are not stuck in a corner. No body puts baby in a corner.
We had a few tricky spots. But more or less is was straight cuts. This is the air vent for the heat and air conditioning. We figured this out by measuring the vent.
Marking on the tile the exact measurements of the vent.
Then cutting perfectly. We also covered the vent to not get junk blowing up from it on our new tiles. Important stuff guys.
Starting to be able to see the staggered tile pattern. Cutting a half tile on one side to have them be a brick like pattern. I also wanted the direction of them to meet up with the direction of the wood floors in the hallway. All laying the same way. Because, flow and all.

Time for some more movie magic. We took a break, stopped right here for a day. We ran out of thin set, time, energy, and patience. We picked it up two days later once the tiles were set.

Dale got started on the last little bit while Gavin, our little monster took out all of the spacers.
I am going to call it now, in ten years Dale and I will be working on a project and Gavin will be the third person to this home improvement arrangement. He loves anything DIY, project and using his tools. He got his own little screw driver to wedge the spacers out and collected them in his bucket. He wore the hat the whole time, of course he did. Dale and I need to up our outfit game. Gavin made tiling look good. Monster hat time anyone?
Towards the end we got some fun, complicated cuts. At this point we could not walk through the laundry room to the garage. So Dale was having to run all the way around to the front door then to the side, into the garage, in the dead of winter. The temperatures were about -12 and all of the cuts were needing to be done on our wet saw. This was about 10 at night, which is when we do most of our heavy DIY stuff. We are decorating vampires. Dale was a cold, out of breath, sleepy mess. I felt bad as I was curled up in a sweater on the couch. Tiling at this point became a one person job with the limited space. Dale was the one man to do it!
Complicated door way cut.
The last tile! We have never been so excited. I said it on Facebook and I will say it again “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Said someone hungry. “Nothing feels as good as laying the last tile feels.” Said us after this went down.
This is me the morning that we could walk on the tile, I had to give them a test run. Still in my pajamas, and barefoot.
Look at those beautiful ladies, see they are totally fancy. We were tired and done with this. It was not a big job, we just felt rushed to get it done because our house was a mess and we had piles of laundry to do. I also was ready to get my car back in the garage where it is a little warmer.
Before I show you the pretty tile, let me show you the mess we lived in for two days. This is where people stop being polite and start getting real.
All of the tile is down, it has been sitting undisturbed for 24 hours. That was the recommended time to let it sit from the thin set instructions. It is time to get this project done, and grout it up!

First, scrape out any thin set that is seeping out of the tile lines. It should be nice and hard, so we just took a screw driver and chiseled it out. There was a tool for it, but this worked well enough.

With the grout lines cleared it is time to add the actual grout. Using a grout float, getting a clump of grout and slapping it on the tile.
This is the grout, not too thick or watery. Follow the instructions on your specific grout. Making it yourself is easier to use, just like the thin set.

Gliding the grout float along the tile, being sure to push and smush, push the grout into the lines. Push it real good!
It is easier to go across the line instead of along the line. You will brush the grout right out if it if you go along the line.
It is going to look messy, you are going to question your grout lines. Think this is a DIY fail. But, make sure the grout is in all of the lines. Filling it in to be even with the tile. Let it sit, our grout called for it to sit 30 minutes as the messy picture above shows. You can also test touch it. If it seems mushy or your finger can easily push into the grout, let it sit for a little longer.

So this is the mess we had for 30 minutes. I really thought it would not look neat enough. I questioned why I chose the larger grout lines. We were floor tiling newbies. What was I thinking? Dale, the ever patient man said “keep calm, grout on, let it go.”

Time to make it pretty. Dale got to work, using a damp sponge and some old fashioned elbow grease, we got that on clearance. Wringing the sponge out, damp, not dripping. The more wet it is the more of a chance you have of completely wiping the grout away in spots. This is just to wipe off the grout from the tile and to make the lines neat and pretty.

Wipe in a circular motion, one side to the other, up and down, whatev’s.
It does not matter, just get it done.
It took a few pass through’s of the sponge.
Moving along the floor, leaving it, then going back and wiping again.
Notice the lines are becoming more and more pronounced and tidy? Our grout was towing the line, becoming worthy of the neat tile lines we set up.

Dale’s arms were numb, any feeling he did have was tingling. But, the grout was done. It was even, lined and wonderful. I also annoyingly (to Dale) walked around and pointed out any spot that needed to be improved upon. I would have done it myself but my stupid rotator cuff shoulder tear is on the road to healing. I am doing small exercises, and scrubbing tile is not on the recommended list. Also, Dale has some big guns to do the scrubbing. He did an amazing job with this tile. He had never done floor tile. We had done back splash in the kitchen and tile on the wall in our bathroom. But all with smaller grout lines, and not in this large of a space. Dale is pretty much a modern day super hero. He can write code for programs, fix computers, lay tile, build anything,  work on cars, and cook. I have to give him a lot of credit for the long, hard manual labor this job took. I hope the next project I can jump back in and help him out. Have him be the official photographer. I want to get my hands dirty on the next one!

 Dale was wondering where those nifty scrubbing bubble guys from the cleaning commercials were. If they existed, this would have been the time to make themselves known. Help a guy out.

That my friends is a wrap. Did you make it through this picture and talk heavy post? There was a lot of tips, steps, and things learned along the way that were needed. Also some corny jokes because this is me, home renovation tutorials and jokes go hand in hand. Am I right? There is a few tidbits of things in these pictures that give away the next little nugget of tutorials I have. We did something with a wall, some patching, some painting, some tearing down, some kicking in. It was loads of fun. This tile redo was something that was not planned. I had to throw something in last minute. But, it only set us back around $100 for supplies and tile. I think a GRRRRREAT! (say it like the Frosted Flakes cereal tiger guy) price for a huge impact on the room.

*It was brought to my attention by a wonderful, frequent reader, that I forgot to mention that after the grout and tile has been put down you need to seal the grout to guarantee that the grout will not stain, break, or chip away. The grout we purchased had a sealer in it, once we mixed the grout and put it on there was a seal already on it! This has been edited to add this. Yay for readers and their helpful hints!

I am going to be warming up the space with some natural woods, and accessories. Right now it has a stark white and blue color to it. We are doing a lot. I hope if you are looking to tile you found this helpful. I hope if you are not tiling and just a faithful reader I was at least entertaining. There is still lots to share, this will be the month or more of laundry stuff. I will be sharing crafts and other things too, not just heavy DIY and laundry room. Trying to make something for everyone. I am calling this tile job a wrap!

Has anyone ever tiled before? How did it go? Any tips I did not cover? Did you make any major mistakes? I was surprised we did not come up with any major problems. We got so lucky!



  1. It looks great! My husband and I tiled our kitchen and breakfast nook area several years ago. That was a tedious job! The only tip I would add is to make sure you use a grout sealer to protect the grout. I think you have to wait like 30 days before applying it, but it keeps the grout from staining and chipping.

    • The area you did sounds a lot bigger then what we did. You guys worked hard! Thank you so much for reminding me about that! We actually got grout that had the sealer into the grout itself. I completely forgot about that! I will be editing the post now, thank you so much for reminding me about that Beverly!

    • It was a task I don't care to repeat! Wow, grout with sealer in it! That's a great new product. Where was that ten years ago? I was on hands and knees with a sealer applicator bottle covering grout lines! It's great that they make that now.

    • I am so happy to have the sealer grout! I can only imagine the time, effort, and achy back that it took to get that done.

  2. Very nice floor Emily! I bet you are anxious to get the rest of the room finished. I'll be following to witness your transformation! How exciting! I love the pictures of the kids dancing around on the new tiles 🙂

    • Thank you Laurie! I am anxious to get it done, I like seeing the results. It will be a great functional space with lots of storage. I am eager to put it to use. I am happy you are enjoying the process!

  3. This looks amazing, I could never tackle a job like this. Let alone do it as well as you have. We have a new home, and our professionally done tile does not have these straight of lines. I cannot believe you or your husband have not done this before. Once again, you impress me girlie!

  4. Very nice… it looks great. 🙂

  5. It looks fantastic! You got a screamin deal on that tile, for a $100 upgrade it makes a huge impact in the room.

  6. Marvellous work, and a great read. Was giggling when you said "So be sure to plan your route of escape and way to lay the tile so you are not stuck in a corner. No body puts baby in a corner. " !! Via Creative Bloggers Network

  7. The floor looks awesome, but more importantly, it's kid tested to be sin worthy! LOVE that. Just like my daughters dresses always had to pass the twirl test. LOL You did a fantastic job on this project. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty – we hope to see you again next week. 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  8. Great tutorial! Love the tile you chose and the fact that you went with a darker grout. It really helps the tile pop!!
    I'd love for you to join in on Talented Tuesday Link Party! It's on the blog now! 🙂

    • Thank you, with this being our first floor tile experience the darker, more obvious tile made me nervous. But, I think it does pop nicely. Thank you for your kind words.

  9. I love the tile you chose (it's super similar to what we have in our master bath, and I love it!), and you did such a great job with this tutorial! Thanks for linking up at The Creative Circle! I hope you'll join us for the party again this Thursday – I can't wait to see what you'll have to share!

  10. First of all, I want to steal your washer! I have a very old washer and dryer haha. Second, great job!! It looks awesome.

  11. Great tutorial, very thorough. We've been there done that with our last home remodel. Grateful for handy husbands that's for sure. I love the tile and I am definitely not judging you for a little dust!

  12. Love the color of the wall, very nice blue, almost makes you feel as tho you are outside and not in a laundry room! The tile looks nice, way better than before! What a fun project, it looks like a lot of hard work even tho it is a smaller room! Something to be very proud off! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh, that tile is gorgeous! So bright and fresh for a laundry room. Also, that saw is terrifying. I'm glad he made it out with all his fingers!

  14. Beautiful tile! What a great upgrade, house projects are so much fun to accomplish! 🙂

  15. Omg I LOL everytime I read your blog you are so funny!!! We have very similar senses of humor so I love it!

    That tile makes my heart skip a beat – it is BEAUTIFUL!! Can't wait to see more 🙂

    • Thank you Holly! I am glad you enjoy my humor and random spurts of jokes. Sometimes I thick and heavy tutorial post like this can feel really boring. I am here to entertain you after all!

  16. Looks amazing and hopefully easier to clean yes? 🙂

  17. Great to see the whole family getting involved and enjoying it, that’s what DIY is all about

  18. Karen Gleason says:

    How long did you wait to put washer/dryer back into laundry room?
    Love the colors!

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