Tools For Making Tiling More Bearable

March 28, 2014

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We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

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Chris and I just keep looking at each other in disbelief. The floors are done and it is unbelievable!! It has been an incredibly long 6 weeks. While we are so happy we were able to save the thousands of dollars on installation doing it ourselves (we were originally quoted 17K, but since we decided against the heated flooring, it would actually be closer to 11K to install the tile), Chris said he wouldn’t want to do it again if someone offered him eleven thousand dollars. But, going back, we’d still save the money and do it ourselves. It’s a weird thing DIY, huh?

So the good news is the floors are done! The bad news is they were done being grouted late last night so I don’t have any photos for you today. Womp womp. Monday! For sure. Today, I wanted to share with you a few of the things that helped make tiling a lot more comfortable, in case there is a tiling job in your future. There are a lot of great lists of all the tools you need to tile (a wet saw, chalk line, trowel, spacers, square, etc. The Tile Shop has a great comprehensive list here), but besides all that, these 4 things were a life-saver for us.

First, knee pads. Specifically these ones. Chris tried out a few different brands and types throughout the process but these were his favorite. The two velcro straps are placed perfectly on the pads ensuring there’s no material or strap bunching behind your knees . Also, these stayed in place the best all of the options he was on his knees while he crawled on the floor for hours.

Tools For Making Tiling More Bearable

2. This was actually my mom’s idea and it worked like a charm! Having one of these cheap-o rolling office chairs at our disposal was priceless. I used it a lot while I rolled back and forth handing Chris tiles. When we were screwing in the Hardibacker board. When dry-laying large sections or measuring for cuts. When  you just need a place to sit and all of your furniture is downstairs (ha!)–this little black chair was our best friend. It sunk close to the ground and we used it every. day.

Tools For Making Tiling More Bearable

3. When it comes to gloves, go for something lightweight that fits well and isn’t too loose. We got these from Home Depot and they fit perfectly and allowed for lots of movement and breathability. Heavy-duty gloves didn’t lend well to handling the tile. After awhile, once he got into a rhythm, Chris opted to wear just one glove on the hand he troweled with the prevent blisters and his bare hand to lift the tile. And at the end of the day–O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream provided really fast healing for his dry, cracked hands. The stuff is amazing and just as important as the gloves were.

Tools For Making Tiling More Bearable

4. Lastly, a tool pouch. Where were we before we got this tool pouch!? It has four little pockets (often loaded throughout this project with a chisel, screwdriver, utility knife and pencil) and a clip for a measuring tape. Chris kept it fastened onto an old belt for easy on and off. It’s not bulky or heavy. Just really, really handy. Must have.

Tools For Making Tiling More Bearable

We are feeling so grateful and happy and relieved–all the good emotions right now. We can’t wait to show you the floors on Monday and get back to life as normal. Happiest of weekends to you!

What do you think?

  1. susan says:

    Useful information for me. Thank you for sharing…

  2. Daniel says:

    Really great and creative tip. I will apply it for my tool.

  3. caroline [the diy nurse] says:

    I’m so happy it’s done for you guys! What a relief :p

  4. Cindy says:

    Congrats on your new tile! We are also installing wood look-alike tile this week (and when I say “we,” I mean our installers — we aren’t as brave as you!), so I have been watching your progress with great interest (and empathy — soooooo ready to have my house back). I’m excited to see the “after” photos on Monday.

    I have a question about rugs. One of the reasons we got rid of all our carpet was that it was old and impossible to keep clean. We have two boys, a dog, and a neighborhood full of kids, and we use our floors hard. Which is exactly why we went with tile for our flooring.

    We are realizing, though, how much sound the carpet absorbed. The rooms are much more echo-y with the tile. Totally worth it, but I’m starting to wonder about area rugs. But then I wonder, didn’t I get rid of carpet in the first place because it was so hard to clean? Wouldn’t I be right back where I started?

    So I guess my question is: how did you resolve that issue? I saw in your last post that you went with the big blue rug. Did you choose it for clean-ability? Did you look into other options, like Flor?

    • Julia says:


      Such a good question and a tricky balance! For us, we went with the tile for the same exact reasons you did. We use our floors hard and also, I grew up in a household where our floors were so precious it was a constant concern and topic of discussion. It is hard to relax (or entertain!) when your mind is constantly worried about floors.

      As for carpet, I don’t love wall-to-wall carpet because of what I’ve seen that lurks beneath it. We have pulled up and replaced a lot of carpet and the amount of dirt and dust and who-knows-what under it was so disturbing. Not to mention, last year my daughter spilled bright paint on her brand new carpet in her room and there was no completely fixing or cleaning that without getting the whole room re-carpeted. That being said, I think it has its place. Probably even in the basement of our house! But like in our last house, it will most likely be a low-pile so no dirt can hide from me and my vacuum. Haha.

      But upstairs, in the main traffic area, we are sticking with the durability of the faux wood tiles and laying area rugs. I love area rugs because they define spaces, add softness, cut down on noise and you can easily clean them and UNDER them. I think FLOR is a great option. We have a set that I used in our last house and will be busting out to use in this home, too. Besides the big, blue one we’ve never spent more than $300 on an area rug, so none of them feel extremely precious. The reason we splurged on big blue was because it got great reviews and we have been so happy with how easily our sofa from the same company (c&b) has cleaned up with no problem. I can’t give a full review on the cleanability or durability yet, but we’re hoping the higher price tag translates into a rug that I won’t have to fuss over for years to come. I’ll keep you posted!

      • Cindy says:

        Thanks for your reply! We are definitely on the same page when it comes to our families and wanting our kids to live fully in their homes. I had not thought about the ability to clean under a rug, and what a difference that would make. Thanks!

        If you are willing, I would love to hear a Flor review from you two. There are several reviews in the blogosphere that say something like, “Flor contacted me and gave us a free rug in exchange for a review. Aren’t the colors awesome?” but very, very few from families who have used the rugs for awhile and can give a full opinion. Yellow Brick Home had one, but other than general forums, I have come up short.

        Thanks again for your reply!

  5. Hilary @231Blog says:

    These are great tips! I’ve loved following the project and can’t wait to see the result!

  6. Kerri @ Building a Charmed Life says:

    so exciting! can’t wait until monday!

  7. Meagan Briggs says:

    The anticipation is killing me! Can’t. Wait!!

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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