Feb 20, 2013

A review of SnapStone floating tile floor

Hey, hey everyone! Hope you all are doing well. The hubs and I spent the weekend in Quebec City for winter carnival. It was so fun...and so cold! We went to Quebec City for our first anniversary and we loved it. It was so fun to see it in the wintertime.

Anyways, I'm here today as promised to share my thoughts on the SnapStone tile product that we used in our entryway. As I mentioned in my entryway update, we decided to use this porcelain tile floating floor system because it was supposed to be quick and easy to install. We found it at Lowe's. They had about four colors available in the store, but others available to order on their website. We picked the color Camel (which appears unavailable.)

On the bottom of the tile is an interlocking tray with a rubber base. The tiles click together without the use of thinset or mortar, so you can install it over an existing floor.

For the most part, it was easy to install. We've never installed other tile, so we don't have a frame of reference if it's easier than traditional tile. But it seemed relatively easy to install once we got the hang of it. We followed the written instructions and watched the instructional videos on the SnapStone website.

To click the tiles together, you are supposed to line them up and then tap the edges with a rubber mallet to lock the tiles into place. After they're locked together, you finish the job with a flexible grout.

Some things I've gotta mention about this tile:
  • The guy in the installation videos made it look super easy to click the tiles together with one whap of the rubber mallet. I did not find it that easy. I had to hit those tiles a good few times to get them to click together, especially once I finished the first row and I had to attach the tiles on two sides.
  • Once the tiles were clicked together, they held pretty well -- but they were still able to slide. So adding a new tile to a row would ultimately end up shifting all the previous tiles a little bit. So I had to keep rechecking to make sure they were all aligned. We actually got through about three rows before we realized the top row had shifted, and we had to take them apart and start over.
  • This was made more difficult by the fact that, because it's a floating floor, you have to leave a 1/4" expansion gap around the edges. Hammering on one tile would ultimately shift the row all the way against the wall, so we had to put some luan scraps in between the end tile and the wall to keep them from shifting over too far.
  • For the tiles that went around the walls, you had to break off the tabs on that side. They were pretty easy to twist off with some pliers.

  • Cutting the tile was the same as any porcelain tile. We used both a tile cutter and a tile saw. Using the tile cutter, you had to then take a razor blade to cut through the rubber grid on the bottom. Not too hard to do, but we did burn through a few razor blades.
It took us about a day to lay the tile. It would have taken less time if we realized from the beginning that the tiles were shifting, and we put the luan in the expansion gap, so we didn't have to start over. It probably took longer too because the tile has a pretty variable pattern, and I spent some time picking just the right tiles to make sure they matched up.

It's been in about a couple months and we've had no troubles with it. It's kind of interesting -- you have to keep rubber-backed mats or rugs off the floor for a whole month, which was kind of obnoxious. So that meant we had wet and dirty shoes on the floor, and I was worried it'd cause problems with the grout -- but nothing that I noticed.

I was worried the floating floor would have a weird sound when you walked on it -- like a hollow sound, or maybe a gritty sound of dirt between the floor and the underlayment. But we haven't noticed anything like that (we made sure to vacuum well before we laid the tile to ensure there was no dirt or grit underneath the tile).

All in all, I'd definitely use these SnapStone tiles again! Would you give it a try?

Feb 14, 2013

White-and-aqua striped curtains {DIY}

Hey all! Hope you're doing well! We finally dug ourselves out of the blizzard. Now we get to deal with slush. :)

Today I'm sharing a project that has been on my radar for a while, and took me a loooong time to finish. I think nearly every blog-reader out there has fallen in love with the Nester's striped curtains:

Source: thenester.com via Mindy on Pinterest

Gorgeous, am I right? I totally wanted striped curtains for my office. But try as I might, I couldn't find striped fabric like this. What's a blogger to do? DIY, of course!

There are a lot of tutorials out there for striped curtains using fabric or even paint. I read a bunch and used them all to tackle my own striped curtains. And I'm sharing how I did it with all of you so you can make your own too!

*Big, giant, gynormous disclaimer --  my sewing skills are very amateur. There will probably be lots in here that will make people with real sewing talent cringe. I'm hoping there are lots of beginners out there who will find this helpful, and for you pros -- humor me :)

Even though I'm not great at sewing, I decided to go the fabric route instead of paint because I wasn't sure how paint would look and how it would hold up. I also decided that the easiest thing for me would be to buy curtain panels and add fabric stripes.

I bought four of these Grayson white curtains from Target in the 95" length.

They have a grommet top that I didn't want to include in my measurements for the stripes, so I measured the length of the curtain from the bottom of the grommet section to the bottom of the curtain. There was a little variation in the length of the curtains, but they were about 90 inches.

Next, I had to figure out how many stripes I wanted and how big I wanted them to be. I needed to come up with something easily divisible, so all the stripes would be easy. Luckily, I was working with an easy number.

I sketched out a couple options....

Fifteen-inch-wide stripes only gave me three colored stripes, which didn't seem like enough. So I landed on 10" stripes, which gave me five colored stripes and four white stripes, for a total of nine. With four curtains, that was a total of 20 colored stripes. I allowed for an inch of hem for each stripe, so 11" of fabric for each stripe -- equaling 220 inches of fabric needed, or a little more than 6 yards.

Then I ventured off to Jo-Ann to find some fabric. I wanted something not too expensive, something in a material similar to the curtain material, and something a light-aqua color to coordinate with this lamp I have in the office:

I ended up with this Symphony Broadcloth. Luckily it was 45" wide, perfect for me 41"-wide curtains!

I started by measuring out my 10" stripes on my curtains and marking them with a light pencil mark on the back. Like I said earlier, the curtains weren't all exactly 90" long. I started my measuring from the top, so that if my bottom stripe ended up a little bigger than 10" it would be less noticeable.

Then, I measured my colored stripes. I measured 11" so I'd have plenty of room for error hemming.

Next, I got out my rotary cutter and my quilting grid and got to work cutting my stripes!

After they were cut, I measured the half-inch hems, pinned them and ironed them so they'd lay flat.

Then, I pinned the stripes to my curtains. This seriously took the longest amount of time. I had to make sure each stripe was straight, evenly spaced and smooth, and every little movement of the fabric meant things were shifting around. I used nearly every pin I had to keep these things together!

At this point, I seriously considered skipping the sewing and using iron-on adhesive to sew everything together. But I decided to whip out the sewing machine. Why? Well, I figured if I made a mistake sewing, I could rip out the stitches and try again. But if I messed up with adhesive, well, I'd be out of luck.

So, time to sew! Okay, maybe this part took the longest. I sewed about two-and-a-half curtains before I lost my momentum and took a break for a few weeks months.

At some point I got sick of my naked windows and the pile of fabric taking up space, I regained my momentum and finally finished sewing on the panels. I used white thread for a little contrast to give the curtains a casual look.

On the bottoms, I wrapped the aqua fabric around the hem of the curtain and folded the corners.

I did pull out the Heat & Bond to finish the edges of the stripes and keep them lying flat on the back of the curtains.

Finally, it was time to hang them -- on curtain rods that we hung high and (a little) wide.

Here's the finished product!

With the light behind them, you can see that my sewing isn't always straight -- but only if you look closely. It's definitely not bothering me, but if it starts to, I can always line them.

I love those code flag posters! They were the initial inspiration for our office redo. They're from etsy seller Empressionista.

My sewing isn't perfect, but I'm totally loving these curtains! They have the nautical look that I was going for and add some color to our gray walls.

There are lots of striped curtains out there, but I'm so happy I jumped on the bandwagon! Even Colby likes them.

What do you think -- are you nuts for striped curtains too? Have you made any? I'd love to see what you did!

Links to other great DIY striped curtains!

A Thoughtful Place
Teal & Lime
The Thrifty Abode
The Yellow Cape Cod
A Spotted Pony
Hodge Podge
A round-up by Apartment Therapy

Linking up!

Home Stories A2Z

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
The Shabby Nest

Feb 9, 2013

Entryway evolution, part two

Hi all! Any of you in the middle of this crazy blizzard like we are? It's still snowing, and we've already gotten more than two feet! It's by far the most snow I've ever seen in my life...totally crazy.

Colby is loving it, though!

I'm back with part two of our entryway redo. We left off here:

I forgot to mention in my last post that I also had to paint the ceiling, since we took down walls and had to patch drywall. We also got a new light fixture from Lowe's. This semi-flush mount was only about $100. I love it!

This is the only picture I have of the old light, from back before we even bought our house. The new one is big improvement!

So now we had a nice big, open space in dire need of some storage. Obviously, we wanted a place to hang coats and store shoes, but we also had an opportunity for some additional storage in this space. I was picturing some open storage with cute baskets, like this:

Source: bhg.com via Mindy on Pinterest

But the hubs was envisioning some cabinets for closed storage. In the end, he won me over, and we came up with a plan for a floor-to-ceiling pantry and a row of cabinets along the ceiling, with coat and shoe storage underneath -- similar to this:

Source: bhg.com via Mindy on Pinterest

We were hoping to find some off-the-shelf cabinets that we could make work for our plan, but our space is odd-shaped, so that was out. We needed to do something custom, but the price of custom cabinets was out of our budget. Handy hubs to the rescue again!

With his dad's help, he designed and built custom cabinets to fit our space. He made them out of birch plywood, with face frames made out of maple.

To make them safe and secure, he installed them onto strips of wood screwed into the wall studs.

Once the cabinets were installed, I was up again, paint brush in hand. I primed them with some Zinsser B-I-N and painted them with semi-gloss white latex paint by Behr. It took a few coats to cover them. To get a smooth finish, I used some Floetrol to extend the drying time.

I painted the cabinets before they were installed, and I didn't paint the face frames, because we wanted to fill the cracks to make them look like one piece.

A simple wooden rod installed under the cabinets serves as a coat rack.

With the cabinets in place, it was time to tackle the floor. As I mentioned, we had to tear out the old floor because we removed walls, leaving gaps in the tile, and we could find anything to match it. I was kind of sad to tear out the old tile -- it wasn't my favorite, but it was slate, so it felt kind of wrong. While some of it broke when we were taking it out, we were able to save a good amount, so hopefully we can reuse it somewhere else.

Not only did we have to tear up the tile, but then we had to rip up the plywood the tile was stuck to, since it was all covered in old thinset and super uneven. (Sorry I didn't get any photos of this process -- it was ugly and I just wanted it over!) There was a second layer of plywood under the first, leaving us with what you see above.

We decided to go with tile again in this space instead of hardwood since it would get exposed to a lot of moisture. But we had never done any kind of tile and were a little nervous about it. We also were looking for something we could do fast, since we were trying to get it done before winter came and we were trudging in with wet boots.

While perusing tile at Lowe's, I stumbled onto this:

Have you heard of it? It's called SnapStone, and it's porcelain tile with a rubber grid and plastic tabs attached to the bottom. You don't need to use thinset -- the tabs click together and hold the floor in place. It's essentially a floating tile floor.

We did some research on it and decided to go with it. It sounded easy to use and fast to install. It's a little more expensive than the cheaper regular tile, but we didn't need to do a very big space, so it wasn't too bad. We picked a 12-inch tile in a color called Camel (it looks like it's no longer available). They come in boxes of five for $30, and we had to special order it through Lowe's. We bought a total of 13 boxes to make sure we had enough in case we broke some or made mistakes (and we did!), and we had one box left to spare when it was all over.

Before the tile went down, the hubs installed some luan -- a thin type of plywood that was just the right thickness to get the tile even with the hardwood in the kitchen. Then, we plotted out how we wanted to lay  the floor. I swear this took longer than the actual labor. We wanted to make sure the design looked right and that we ended up with as few little pieces on the edges as possible. We ultimately decided to go with an offset pattern running from the front door into the kitchen...does that make sense? Maybe this photo will help:

I installed the tile while the hubs did the cutting on the end pieces. I'll have another post on the details of installing the tile, so for now I'll just say that it wasn't as easy as the installation videos made it look, but overall it was fairly simple and I'd definitely use it again.

We finished the installation in a day -- and next time we use them it would take even less time, since we know how it goes.

Now it was time to grout. Because it's a floating floor that will expand and contract, you have to use a flexible grout that they make specifically for SnapStone. There are a few color choices -- we chose Mushroom. We picked up two buckets at Lowe's but only needed one in the end.

The grouting went very fast -- I did it in a couple hours.

You aren't supposed to grout around the wall -- you're supposed to leave it open, or use a silicon caulk if you have a high-moisture area (like a bathroom). We left it open around the walls, since the baseboards will cover the gap.

We used caulk between the tiles and the two doors, since there's no trim to cover the space -- they make a caulk that matches the SnapStone grout. The silicon cracked when it dried, so we need to add another layer on top.

I was sad to tear out the slate, but now I'm not missing it at all -- I love this floor! I love the variation in the colors and the warm hue.

After the floor was finished, we added shelving to the cabinets. Since our cabinets are a custom width, that also meant custom shelves. The hubs made these out of birch plywood and trimmed the fronts with pine trim. I primed and painted them like I did the cabinets.

Meanwhile, I was also busy planning out what to do in the corner where the small closet was. I really, really love entryways with benches. They're a place to sit to put on your shoes, to toss your purse when you get home -- and they're also totally cute, right?

We decided not to go the custom route this time -- luckily I found lots of benches that would fit nearly perfectly on this wall. I picked up this one from Target:

I was happy to get my open storage and baskets! I totally have a thing for baskets -- they're like everywhere in my house. The hubs thinks it's weird... :)

To give this bench a custom look and jazz it up a bit, I decided to recover the cushion in some fabric I had on hand. I'd bought it because I loved it but wasn't sure what to do with it. The colors went great in the entryway!

I am not a good sewer, and I kind of made up making a new cover. It's definitely not pretty -- don't look too closely or you'll see all my mistakes! On the bench, though, you can't tell. I didn't make the cover removable -- I just used no-sew fabric tape to seal the back edge together.

The Target cover came with Velcro pads on the bottom that stick to ones on the bench. I used a seam ripper to get them off the original cover and then handstitched them to my new cover. So cute!

So, here's where we are now!

In case you can't tell, I did not stage these cabinets -- this is really what they look like, full of tools and supplies to finish the job, plus some random baskets of mittens and scarves.

There's still lots to do in here. We need to install a permanent shoe rack -- it'll probably just be a shelf along the bottom with space for shoes above and below. The hubs is adding drawers to the bottom of the pantry cabinet, and he needs to make some doors.

I also need to paint the face frames and the doors, once they're made. We also need to trim out the gaps underneath the cabinets, and the base of the cabinet. The trim has been cut and primed, so now it needs to be installed, and then I'll paint it.

The trim around the doors and the baseboards need to get reinstalled and given a fresh coat of paint. And the outlet and light-switch covers need to go back on. And over the bench I have plans to make a cute shelf with hooks underneath. Something like this:

Lastly, we need some hooks near the door for keys, and I'd like to add a place to put mail too. I'm working on those details!

Let's put this all in a list, shall we?

Left to do:
  • Install a shoe rack
  • Build and install drawers
  • Install and paint trim around cabinets
  • Build and paint cabinet doors
  • Replace trim around doors and baseboards, and paint
  • Replace outlet covers
  • Make shelf and install hooks over bench
  • Make a key-and-mail holder
We're so close -- I can't wait to get this done! Even though it's not finished, I think I can finally call this a mudroom instead of an entryway -- it feels like a real room now.