Thinking about a remodel? Tired of your circa-1985 kitchen? Want to jazz up your walls or have the house all your friends are talking about? We’ve consulted the experts, tracked down the craftspeople, crunched the numbers, and shared our own DIY stories. Ready, set, renovate.
How I conquered my weekend project-turned-monthlong failure.
Five years ago, I decided my kitchen needed a new backsplash. It was a spur of the moment thing that hit me one morning as I made breakfast. By the time I cooked some eggs and buttered my toast, I’d talked myself into it. I’d never tiled before, but the job seemed pretty straightforward. A few cuts here; a little adhesive there. And if I ran into a hitch, I could always get my DIY dad on the phone. No problem.
I did some prep work first. I watched a couple of YouTube videos, talked to the tile guy at my neighborhood hardware store, and dropped far less on supplies than what I’d pay a pro. Two-day slam dunk, I thought.
I spread an epoxy adhesive on 24 sheets of granite tile—or roughly 3,400 individual, 1-inch-by-1-inch squares—and, armed with my level, slapped ’em up on the wall. I was pretty pleased with the results. The cuts looked neat, and everything was even. My wife was impressed. After a day’s worth of labor, all I had to do was grout the sucker. I felt like the king of the DIY world. I even got up that night to admire my handiwork. I pulled out a bag of grout, a mixing bucket, and the rest of my supplies and put them on the counter in anticipation. I couldn’t wait to finish the next day.
But by the time I came home from work the following night, I’d caught a bug. I couldn’t bring myself to grout anything. I went to bed and promised myself I’d get on it the next day. Three days later, after my doctor confirmed I had pneumonia, the bag of grout was still sitting on the counter. I’d been so proud of my handyman prowess, but now I just couldn’t see myself getting back on track. I put the bucket away.
I was going on a month with my amateur-hour kitchen tiles when I finally had enough. One morning before work, I found the grout and the bucket. Within an hour, I was done. An hour! I cleaned the granite and sealed it when I got home. Then I admired those gleaming squares for a really long time.
A couple of months ago, my eight-year-old daughter was inspecting the tiles, in that curious way that little kids do. She asked who put them up. When I told her I did, she looked surprised. “Daddy!” she said. “It’s not terrible!” In my house, I’ll take what I can get. —Robert Sanchez
Tile Budget Breakdown
Granite tiles = $240 ($10/sheet)
Thinset (adhesive) = $45
Grout = $15
Tile saw rental = $30
Other supplies = $20
TOTAL = $350