Finally, after living here a year, we had had enough of the white carpet on the main floor. It was worn in spots, faded in some spots (look at the empty front room; can you see the shadow on the carpet?), and it was pulling loose and running in spots. Who in their right mind puts WHITE carpet in a house?!?! Especially in high traffic areas (the garage entry way, the path from living room to family room, the stairs)???
Nevermind we have a zoo of pets, so steaming every other day was NOT in the cards, neither was constant vacumming.
We had had it!
We considered hardwood, but it was going to be somewhere around $15,000 for the wood we liked, plus the install. I was also pretty skeptical about it's ability to not get wavy if the dog threw up on it, or if I spilled water. I was also worried about dents and scratches. We had considered linoleum but didn't really like the look, or the seams everywhere and it seemed to cost just as much as hardwood for some brands. One day when we were visting our friendds Amber & Perry, we saw their awesome tiled main floor, and that was that. We followed their lead!
We went back and forth for quite awhile trying to decide on tile we liked. We didn't want to go too heavy on the budget (Joel estimated around $3,000 with the cheap budget tile would be more than enough) but we also wanted something we liked (some of which was as high as $11/ft). We also weren't sure about DIYing it; then we figured that part out and it was going to be between $4 and $7 per foot to pay someone to lay tiles and do the grout work, and we would still have to do all the prep and underlay ourselves. No thanks!!!
We ended up finding this tile at Home Depot, along with a couple others we likee, so we brought samples home while we debated. The deal was sealed when some friends came over, and saw the sample and asked us about the hardwood we chose. They were so surprised it was tile, and how nice it looked, that made the end decision incredibly easy (though when moving tile I was really tempted to reconsider....Each box of tile weighed around 40 pounds and had to be loaded into our truck, out of our truck to the garage, then into the house, and up the stairs, so it was a LOT of heavy lifting!).
Joel and our nephew did almost all of it themselves (minimal help from me; I hauled boxes of tiles, and did some of the grout work and the subfloor removal/screw-in). It cost us approximately $5-6,000 to do all the main floor (approx. 1000 square feet, I had previously estimated this as 1200, my bad). That includes the concrete board, fibreglass tape, plywood sub floor, screws and grout, no labour (our nephew got paid well for his help, however).
It took approximately two weeks to complete (working 3-5 hours a night, and all day on the weekends) but was SO worth it. I'll update with all the technical details once I get them from Joel; I'm pretty sure he has an exact list of costs and materials, so I'm just giving the general info I know.
A quick "Before"
(Before we lived here!)
What it looked like with our stuff (before tile and before I got interested in really decorating):
(Curtains & rods are currently in the process of being replaced, woohoo!!)
After ripping out the carpet, and putting in new subfloor (I forgot to take pictures of that part, oops!), we pulled up all the old particle board subfloor because it is NOT a good mix with grout, and laid down plywood, screwed every 12 inches or so. I did a lot of the subflooring, and it was actually really, really easy, but very monotonous! If you're going to be forced to redo subfloor, invest in the best impact driver you can find. Joel bought a specific impact for this job (I'll update with the model when I find that information) and it made it super easy to get it snug against the joists..
All our tile was bought at Home Depot. It's ceramic plank, wood look tile. It's supposedly walnut color (Walnut my butt!), and is made by a company called Corte. It's hard to tell from the photos but the tiles are really a chocolatey brown; I'd say somewhere between hot cocoa powder, and a Jersey Milk chocolate bar. The grout is just a tad lighter, sort of a sandy/chocolate color (man, I'm technical!).
So after all the subfloor was laid, and solid, we laid down our mortar, then Wonderboard (also known as concrete board or backer board. There are also plenty of brand names). Screwed down the boards, and taped the seams with fibreglass tape, then mudded over top of them to get them nice and flat. It was hard work.
If you're doing this, INVEST IN KNEEPADS. Seriously. I can't stress this one enough. Your knees will thank you :) We bought a couple pairs of gel kneepads at Home Depot. I think they were around $15-20. Definitely money well spent.
We started laying out our pattern. We were told by a couple tile people (including our awesome neighbor who works for a big tile company) to do about a 30% overlap to prevent breakage, so that's what we did. It looks more realistic this way too, in that the grains of the "wood" blend together more.
You can see all the little spacers we had to use. Luckily we could reuse them on later rows as we pulled them out and grouted. Those things will make you crazy. They're so fidgety. After we grouted everything, we let it sit for a day or two. That was really tough since we have no area in the basement to relax, except our bedroom. The dogs weren't happy either.
De-hazing the tile is the worst part. You wash and wash and wash and wash and wash the floor. Then you do it again. I think we washed the floor no less than a dozen times to get all the grout haze off. It was brutal. My arms have never been so sore (but that could be due to lifting about 60 boxes full of 40 pounds of tile in the previous week....). After de-hazing it, we gave it a quick mop with some all purpose tile sealant, let it cure for 3 days, and moved our furniture back in.
We've had the tile in for about 6 months now. The only part that is hard is cleaning the grout. It really, really, really sucks. However, the whole "pet repellant" factor makes up for it. Just after we finished the tile, Darwin got very sick, and the tile was easy to clean and didn't hold the smell like carpet.