Re-tiling the Kitchen

Feb 18, 2016 | 2 comments

The first time my wife clapped eyes on the kitchen in our new home she suggested that we might want to get rid of the brown, orange and cream tiles. From that moment on, their days were numbered. I didn’t think they were particularly offensive, but my new-house-DIY-fervour meant that I was more than happy to oblige. Here are a couple of ‘before pictures’:

We followed much the same process choosing tiles as we did with deciding room colours i.e. painfully wrangling over several shades of what was essentially a plain white metro tile. Chalk Farm White, Victoria White, Chelsea White, Regents Park etc etc…before finally settling on White Chapel Gloss White. We bought them from

Before starting the tiling there was the little matter of removing the old tiles, and in doing this I took a lot of the plaster underneath with them. Here’s the kitchen in its untiled and patchy state:

The prospect of re-plastering these gaping holes in the plasterwork was a little intimidating, until a friend pointed out that a) it didn’t need to be perfectly smooth because I’d be tiling over it, and b) I could use an easy to handle filler called Gyproc Joint Filler instead of plaster. So I gave it a bash, patching up as best I could and sanding any particularly knobbly bits at the end. You can see the patching (white) in the image below.

For a first-time effort I really enjoyed this job. Tiling is a pretty straight-forward process – bosh on a load of tiling adhesive, achieve an even spread with a notched trowel, place the tiles on, and insert spacers to ensure they are even (we used 2mm spacers). We started at the bottom and in the middle of the cooker hood and worked up, using a spirit level to check the first few tiles.

The fiddly and time-consuming part was cutting odd shaped tiles to fit around plug sockets and cupboards. The solution to this came in the form of my dad and his trusty Dremel Rotary Multi-Tool. If you can lay your hands on one there is no better tool for the job, it made a mockery of the cheap twin rail tile-cutter I had bought. Below is a pic of the old man at his Dremel station. You can just about see some of the tiles he cut around the plug socket above his head.

The final task was to add grout. My determination was to go for the classic white tile/ dark grout combo, but for the sake of argument we also tested some white grout on a patch above the cooker. This confirmed our original idea to go with charcoal. Have a look below.

Adding dark grout to white tiles is a bit daunting – you have to work quickly as it dries fast and very hard, but it is so satisfying when you wipe the excess away to see the finished article. By the way – if you have gone for ‘cracked-effect’ tiles beware using the dark grout as it could bleed into the cracks. Also, to get rid of the final excess grout and achieve a uniform finish we ran a wooden lollipop stick along all the cracks.

So that’s about it. A bit of a tidy up, and some sealant on the bottom where the tiles meet the kitchen counter and voila!

To finish things off, here is the obligatory before and after shot….

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