This is an informational piece about updating your home to sell or to stay. As a real estate agent, I have recommended to clients many times that they do some inexpensive updates to help sell their homes at Lake Anna and the surrounding areas. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. If not, be prepared the price should be adjusted accordingly. Well, along the lines of “physician, heal thyself” I decided to install a glass mosaic backsplash in my kitchen. These things run rampant on HGTV and DYI TV shows. So, here’s how to do (or not to do) it.
1. First I bought a large amount of 1 in. recycled glass mosaic tiles (in black and gray) from Lowes after NOT measuring carefully. Then, after laying them out, I determined I was at least 4 square feet short. Went back to Lowes- only had 3- called around and found some more at another store in another direction. Tiles- $3.98 each. 3 trips to Lowes @ approx. 40 mi. each roundtrip- priceless. I also had a conversation with the nice man at Lowes who told me what “accessories” I would need and purchased them. After buying the additional tiles, the whole collection sat in my dining room for approximately 6 months waiting to be installed.
2. I decided I needed to get them out of the dining room so started the project. After giving up on using the level, I proceeded to slap adhesive on the walls followed by the tile. I used a spackle knife to apply it and a thing that looked like Bubba teeth to prepare it (you make grooves and remove excess grout). This is where it got fun. You see, the kitchen portion of the house is 275 years old. You can literally set an egg down at one end of my kitchen and it will get itself to the opposite corner without legs. Needless to say, the walls are not plumb nor even flat. I am not sure how the guys put up our cabinets except I remember it involved a lot of shims. Ditto for the granite countertops. Please note- if you are not going to lay tiles perfectly straight- DO NOT get black tiles with white grout as it tends to make it even more obvious. Dry overnight (or longer, in my case) or until your family asks when this project will finally be completed.
3. Back to project. Unless you are planning to complete this is 2 days (ha!), be prepared to get takeout, eat out and/or endure the rumblings of a family who is greatly inconvenienced and not very helpful. Once you have the tile all set up, it is time to grout. The lovely man at Lowes sold me unsanded grout that mixed with water using my drill and “egg beater” attachment (I think it’s a paint stirrer) in a bucket. Nowhere does it say how to make smaller batches or what consistency it is supposed to be. Enter the internet. Consistency should be like cake batter. I can relate. Let me ask you this- have you ever smeared cake batter between tiny tiles on a wall? I tried using the “accessory” and ended up having to smear it in with my hands and then remove it with the spongy thing (a “float?”). It must get between the tiles. It also “plops” on every surface. Note- this stuff doesn’t keep so you will have to grout in one session or make multiple batches.
4. Now the fun part! After you take off the excess grout with the spongy thing- you clean it up with a sponge or wet cloth. This sounds easy. What they don’t tell you is that it leaves a white, cloudy film- on EVERYTHING!- and that this particular step needs to be done at least 5-6 times and shortly after grouting. Your counters, floors and cabinets will also be covered as you strive to wipe off “spillage.” It was kind of like the Dr. Suess book “The Cat in the Hat” only white, not pepto-pink. I was thinking curse words that I didn’t know I used. Let’s just say some of them rhymed with bucket. Wow- with the grout I could really see how crooked the tiles are.
5. The realization comes too late that you cannot reinstall your outlet covers with the same screws that you removed as the thickness of the wall has exponentially increased and BTW you cannot find the same diameter and type of screws in a longer length for love or money (another trip to Lowes). Needless to say, I have “jury-rigged” outlet covers.
6. Now that it’s done, I must say it looks pretty good- well, with all the countertop appliances, plate rack and canisters in place and as long as you don’t look too closely. Am I glad I did it? Maybe. I know I’m glad to have all that stuff out of my dining room!
7. Project cost- around $100. Project time- probably 20 hours not including “layovers.” Added value? Maybe. Knowledge gained? Hire a professional! That goes for real estate agents as well as contractors.