The End of the Flooring Fiasco

Oh my goodness friends. Yes, fiasco is the only way to describe the flooring situation. Yes, I might be being dramatic. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments :)

kitchen

I was waiting for today to get  some better daylight pictures, but it’s been overcast all day and Lord knows when I’ll be able to take more pictures, so I am sorry for the not-so-good lighting.

When we were talking about this project, one thing that we considered heavily was the price to do it ourselves versus the price to hire this project out. In the end, we decided that the time and stress saved in hiring it out was worth the additional money for the labor. Our thinking was that even though this would almost triple the price compared to buying the tile and doing it ourselves, at the end of the week we would be able to just roll all out furniture in, slap some paintings on the wall and have a completed first floor.

I’m here to say, at this point and time my life, I don’t think it was worth it.

kitchen other side

And maybe we just had an unfortunate series of events with the grout, maybe it’s my fault for not doing enough research, or being cheap, but I would rather all the imperfections be absolutely 100% my fault, than living with the idea that the floor didn’t come out perfect and we paid someone a lot of money to do it. If I could do it again, I honestly might hire someone to help me do the project, or might hire out the tile laying and do the grout myself (since I really don’t have issues with the tile), but I just don’t know if I would give up total control on such a large scale again.

First, the grout. You can read about the grout story here. The second batch of grout came this week and the contractor came on Sunday to finish it. Thankfully, the grout color dried just about the same light gray as the other half of the flooring. I was super nervous the color had been an installation error and now we would have two separate grout colors.

dining room

Having said that, the second batch has significantly more veining. The color variation is obvious.

Some spots are light gray and some spots are black. This was a problem in the laundry room area and the color has been evening out over the last two weeks, so I’m hoping the veining fades/the grout darkens enough to disguise this. I do think once all the furniture is in place, this will not be so obvious. However, I haven’t sealed the grout either because I’m not sure if I should dye it black (another huge project, cost, etc.) or just try an enhancing grout sealer and see what happens. I’ll probably try the enhancing sealer under the cabinets in the laundry room and then seriously think about if I can live with the light gray grout that is so different from my vision.

dining room

Could the color variation be from installation error? I’m honestly not sure. It seems to be a common issue especially with dark grouts from my research online and there really are so many factors involved when mixing bagged grout (too much water, not enough water, not enough time before wiping, too much water when wiping) and there are different schools of thought for each of these aspects it seems. The only way to 100% guarantee uniform grout color is to use the pre-mixed stuff that you just add the packet too (what we used for the backsplash and had no color variation at all). Obviously, the expense to use that kind of grout for 600+ sqft would be astronomical. All in all, I would probably be less upset if this happened and I was the one who mixed the grout. I guess it’s just disappointing when you hire out a project and it doesn’t come out the way you wanted. Julia Marcum talked about a similar result/feeling in her post about grout results, so I’m happy to see I’m not alone.

On top of the grout variation, I was not expecting that I would have so much cleanup after the floors were in. I kinda thought that once they were done I literally would just be dancing in with area rugs and my stud finder to make the rooms pretty. Unbeknownst to me, the grout haze cleanup falls on the homeowner and depending on how good a job the installer does of wiping the grout up, this could be really easy or a huge headache. Ours fell slighting under the huge headache mark, not as bad as it could have been, but there were a lot of grout lines that were not wiped up cleanly! You can see in the picture below the uneven lines. This meant a lot of my time spent wiping the lines with a rag one by one and scraping off the chunks until they were even and up to my standard.

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This one shows the color variation and sloppy grout.

grout color variation

It’s worth noting that the majority of the flooring has very neat grout lines and there really are only 3-4 spots where the grout went wonky. Obviously, these are the spots I’m showing you, but I don’t want you to think that the whole 650 sqft look like this. If it did, you better believe we would be replacing the grout. I’ve been scraping the spots slowly and scrubbing the uneven spots and they are looking better with elbow grease, but it’s still a little frustrating.

I really do not take for granted the fact that the floors, regardless of some imperfections, are a complete upgrade from what we had before- a combination of peeling laminate tiles, pink carpet and slate that did not work in the space.

And while we’re here, lets address the obvious: I am, without a doubt, an absolute psychotic level perfectionist, and I can guarantee you that many, many other people would never fixate on grout as much I have been, OK? Trust me, I know.

I literally stood there for days and watched it dry. I had a lot of time to contemplate life, myself and my issues.

It’s been over two weeks since the flooring started being put down, as of today we have officially moved in all the big appliances so functionally, everything is done.

laundry room

When I look at the floors as a whole (and from standing up) I smile because there really do look awesome, it’s only when I think back about some of the decisions and look too closely at details that I get disappointed and have a few regrets.

There’s still a lot to do- baseboard trim, drywall repair and painting before I get to the fun part- DECORATING, but I keep telling myself to focus on how far we’ve come, not how much farther we have to go!