Some Finishing Touches

March 16, 2012   //  Posted in: DIY, Flooring, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

It’s been a long time coming, but I think I’m finally done with the floor portion of our kitchen “remodel”. Let’s use the term “remodel” loosely; it hardly seems such since it’s being overhauled in a very, very slow fashion, pending monetary fluctuations and my sheer willpower.

Quick backtrack: If you remember, I started “renovating” the kitchen about 16 months ago, when I daringly removed 7 of the 10 upper cabinets along three walls (documented in one of my super early-on posts), much to the dismay of cabinet-loving folk and my oak-loving grandma. The open space made way for simple shelving, mostly so I could really see how I’d live and adjust to having my hodge-podge assemblage of dinnerware exposed so openly. It’s been going well. And by that, I mean, it fits, and its inevitable clutter doesn’t bother me too much.

Kitchen, with fewer cabinets and open shelves.

Phase 2, if you will, was the flooring overhaul that took place last month. The tiles were laid and grouted over the course of two days (there’s even a video of that process here if you want to reflect back), but there were still some finishing touches to be completed… specifically, the baseboard trim, grout sealant, vent painting, and floor transition installations.

Not that it was a tremendous undertaking, but it was impacting. I approached the finishing touches like a 4 course meal, finishing one before starting another, which unfortunately meant that unlike dinner, it did take several days this week to complete my goals.

Course 1: I sealed my little heart out.

I bought some of this spray sealant for good measure after hearing people (my mom, specifically) talk about how easily light grout stains with heavy traffic. Whether or not it’s overkill to apply two coats of this stuff every 1-2 years is beyond me, but I’ll give it a whirl. See, at just under $10, I considered it a small investment to make. This specific product is water-based, safe for use indoors/confined areas, and is <25% VOC. There was another similar product in my hand that had all of the opposite attributes for the same price tag, but I opted for the safer route considering that it’s harder to ventilate the kitchen in March, and my own tendency to eat any piece of cheese that accidentally falls off the cutting board.

Non-toxic spray grout sealer.

There’s not a whole lot I can say about the process in photos, I did the whole spray down myself in a quick 4-minutes, waited 10-mintes, and then wiped all excess moisture from the tiles. I did a second coat that same evening, giving the first coat several hours to cure, which was more than enough per the packaging.

Only tip that was hard to follow? Holding that spray nozzle 12-15″ away from the grout line. I need to work on my aim. See how it moistens the grout line though? It doesn’t alter the color of your grout, just wets it and dries clear. You’ll see that it looks all back to normal in the final images of this here post.

Non-toxic spray grout sealer.

Course 2: I prettied up the vent cover.

It was dirty and black, but now it’s clean and gray. A quick coat of Rust-Oleum did the trick.

Refinished the vent cover.

The little cover for the heating vent that pops out beneath one of the kitchen cabinets got a new lease on life.

Refinished the vent cover.

Course 3: And because you can see it in the above picture, I finished installing quarter round.

I had saved most of the quarter round from when I originally prepped the kitchen floor, although some of it was broken or destroyed in the removal process. (All in all, I had to buy another 10′ piece of quarter round to match the rest at $8 total, which was still at least $30 less than I would have spent to replace it all in full.)

While this next photo isn’t all-encompassing of the whole kitchen, you get a little taste of how much that quarter round adds to the existing baseboard. I always feel like it’s most impacting in the outer corners of a room. Reinstalled, caulked, and then painted with a fresh coat of out-of-the-can white paint, it’s all freshie-daisy in here. The metal heating unit cover fits right in after also receiving a simple $4 upgrade.

Peeks of the finished quarter round trim.

Course 4: Threshold installation is just like dessert.

I now know it as the surest sign of a room being complete: there are real floor threshold transitions bridging the gap between the hardwoods and the new kitchen tiles. I shopped around a bit, coming to accept these ACE Hardware carpet trim barriers as the best and most cost-effective option at concealing an inevitably-rough tile-to-wood transition. Before we found these, we were beginning to seriously consider reinstalling the wooden thresholds that had been  used to bridge the gap between Pergo and hardwood, but the wood tone was off-putting in contrast, and I knew that these silvery metal options would be simple, subtle, and not offensive (to us, at least). The matching pair that I bought cost less than any models I found at the bigger box stores, at less than $20 for two sufficient pieces of trim to span the two kitchen access points. Here’s one of them:

Threshold installation.

The next steps (that I can only presume will take place over the next year, if I can save up dough) involve refinishing all of the remaining cabinetry, updating all of the appliances, and buying a brand-spankin’ new countertop. Stick with me, you’ll see it happen.

(P.S. It was great to see countless Merrypad fans at last night’s Rochester ADDY awards, thanks for your dedicated support of this little blog, and congrats to all who took home awards!)

  • Donna
    6 years ago - Reply

    Nice work! I started following your blog about a month ago. I am a Rochester person as well (Webster, actually) and enjoy your posts. Wanted to mention that for grout sealer Home Depot carries a great product called Grout Renew which is actually a colored grout sealer. You can order it in a wide range of colors. In a few years when your grout is getting dingy and and inconsistent looking, use Grout Renew to make it look all new again. I just sealed my kitchen tile grout and it looks great again.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      That’s great to know! I’ll have to refer that product to my mom – they have white grout in their bathroom that over the years has tinted a little bit. Going darker universally would be a great fix for her problem! Thanks for the great tip, Donna, always nice to meet another local who reads up on my little projects ;)

  • Eleanor
    6 years ago - Reply

    Your blog has been such an inspiration! I’ve been planning a budget kitchen renovation for a while, and hadn’t found the right DIY flooring until I saw your use of the TrafficMaster Ceramica peel-and-stick tiles. (I chose the 1’x2′ Camel colored tiles.) I’ve just finished grouting and came back to Merrypad to see what you used to seal the grout. I was wondering — did you wipe down the tiles at all after spraying the grout sealer? And how long did you wait after finishing the grouting before you sealed it? Also, since you’ve finished, have you had any tile corners pop up? That was a possible issue I discovered when reading the reviews of the tiles on the Home Depot website.

    Thanks so much for your answers. My next project may be the striped stairs! :)

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Hi Eleanor! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site and your new tiles!! For sealing the grout, I chose a water-based spray by TileGuard; it was the least toxic of the ones I checked out at Home Depot and for $10 was enough to do both two coats in the kitchen AND the bathroom. I had sprayed down about a week after actually having grouted, so it had plenty of time to dry, but the packaging of any variety you pick out should clearly state how long to wait (This brand suggested that it could be done just one hour after cleaning the haziness off the tiles). The spray did aim well, and after 10 minutes of sitting on the grout I went back through the kitchen on a dry rag to wipe down the entire surface so that it didn’t sit on the tiles. I did that whole stand-on-the-towel-and-slide-my-feet-everywhere method. My spray advised that I could do a second coat and follow the same wipe-down process, so I did that after an hour of letting the first coat dry.

      As for poppage, between both the kitchen and bathroom, we only have one popping tile, and it’s in the kitchen. It’s undoubtedly because the underlaying linoleum had a ripple or slight gradient that I hadn’t been able to see when I was tiling; the bathroom is great, but I attribute that to having done a nice smooth underlayment in there during the renovation. Fortunately, it’s not in a spot that we’re stepping in and haven’t had grout issues yet.

      Good luck!!

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