Progress pics and grout color question!

angie_diyFebruary 1, 2012


I am wrapping up the envelope of the kitchen, so I thought I would post some progress pics. I also am seeking opinions on a grout color for the new floor pictured at the end, so please weigh in!

Late last year, we got the new windows in. This one is an out-swinging, French-door casement:

and took out a couple more doors and replaced them with arches to match the others in the house. I installed the arch, but we thank our drywaller for her artistry on the plaster. (Yes, her artistry.)

Here was the inspiration for our color scheme; the vintage kitchens website describes it as "rust, pale yellow, and sage green."

Welllll, something went awry on the way to 1930. Here is the yellow that we (oops) chose:

It is much brighter and more saturated than we anticipated. Actually, very little of this will be showing once the cabs and backsplash are in. We are going to leave it until after the install; if we don't like it then, I'll repaint at that time.

You may recall that our range will be under a window. We decided to commission a stained-glass panel to install over the fixed window. This was mostly to obscure the view to/from our neighbor's kitchen. It just came in:

The final piece is this checkerboard floor, set on the diagonal. I also installed an electric radiant floor heater under it. We chose 6x6 tiles of two different colors of travertine, viz., salmon/coral and tan/cream. I cut them from 12x12 tiles in an effort to give a more vintage look, as some of you may remember from a thread where I was asking advice on this. (Interestingly, most people on GW favored 12x12, and everyone locally that I brought into see samples, including an architect, voted for the 6x6. I really like it!)

Now, this is not yet enhanced, sealed, or grouted. I would really like some help with grout suggestions. The grout width is 5/32". The cutting and laying went well, but not perfectly, so there are some variations in the grout width and alignment. Hence, I would like to pick a color that does not "pop out," but rather fades into the background. Here is a closeup. (That bright blob in the bottom center is a reflection of the naked ceiling light fixture.)

Any suggestions on a color for this grout? As always, I am grateful for your help in this project!

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awesome, I thought the six by six was going to be fab and it is!!! Way to go outside the box it looks fabulous!! I wondered what you had decided on. Excellent choice. Gray or off white for the grout.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:38PM
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greatday, thanks so much for your encouragement.

Any other input on the grout color, pretty please?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Looking great so far! Love the arches. I would go for a grout in the taupey light brown family.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:21AM
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That floor is looking fantastic, and I love your whole color scheme. Re: grout, maybe something beige-ish that recedes into the background?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Since this is flooring and you have lots of grout lines, I would try to pick something that masks any possible spills/dirt as best as possible. Personally, I have a hard time keeping my light flooring grout clean in heavily used areas. (Others might have better techniques on keeping light grout clean...?)

Couple that with your desire to have something that doesn't stand out, I'd pick one of the medium tones within your range of tiles and use that as the grout. Maybe not an exact match in color, but something in the same shades of color. (I would have said, 'pick the darkest matching tone,' except you don't want contrast.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Your kitchen is looking great! Funny, but I chose that same yellow....once. It was quickly painted over! It's amazing how much it brightens a space, though!

As for grout, I recently did a google search for the same thing and there are some great topics on this on the john bridge tile forums. There is also a grout site that shows all the different colors of grout for the top 4 makers at grout-aide (I've linked to it). Of course, depending on what your monitor color is like, it may be different, but it gave me a good idea of what colors to look at.

Here is a link that might be useful: grout color choices

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Dee, Briana, and lolauren: thanks for the suggestions. Colors are NOT my strong suit. Lolauren, good point about keeping it (looking) clean. I hadn't thought about that, believe it or not.

Oh, oldhousegal! That site is great. Thank you so much

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Just a thought, but if you're planning to enhance, you should do that before picking a grout color. The enhancing sealers will darken the tile and if you pick a grout color before, you may be unhappy if the colors don't come out as you expect. Though, assuming you'll be then sealing your grout as well, I wonder whether enhancing sealers affect grout color?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 1:49PM
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Angie- Lolauren referred to what I was thinking and accidentally omitted. If you go too light on the grout, your grout will end up being dark anyway just dirty in the high traffic areas. The lighter tiles appear to have some brown in them- what about picking up on that color?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Wow, the floor looks great! Good job on the shade dispersal, it looks really random in a not random way.

I am pretty sure there is a grout made to match saltillo tiles that would be a close match for your tiles. I also think an unsanded epoxy group will stay cleaner. We used one 10 years ago on a tiled are next to our range, sealed it once, maybe twice, and it still looks great despite grease, splatters, etc.

Yellow is a favorite paint color but I can't tell you how many times I have had to repaint. I still love it, though.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Prickly: good point about the enhancers. I have been assuming that I could judge by how they look when wet, but will check. I am planning to buy a bit of enhancer and so some spare tiles.

Briana: that is a great idea! The tan tiles do have some darker grey/brown areas. (In fact, a lot of my tiles had way too much -- they went under the cabs.) I should try to match that color. Brilliant!

Mabeldingeldine: on my list of things to do today is to learn about grout! I was assuming I would use a non-sanded portland cement grout, because what I have read of epoxy grouts claim it is too messy/overkill/expensive. You have inspired me to revisit that decision. Thanks. (Also, thanks for the randomness comment. I like how it came out, although I still came out with a few closer than I wanted them.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:38PM
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I love the floor! You've done a nice job. And your other work is great too.

Make a mockup sample of your tile and see if you can get some grout
samples to test out before you do the floor. I did that with my backsplash,
using natural and cutting it with different percentages of white. I could
have gone straight natural but I was timid and went with 3/4 natural and
1/4 standard white in my grout mix. The natural I used was a concrete
color, similar to the color of natural on the link that Oldhousegal shared.

I don't think you're going to notice the subtile changes in your spacing if
you use a contrasting grout. I think something that will not show the
eventual darkening of grout, that floors are prone to show, would be nice.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:52PM
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From what I've read and in my experience with two stone tile installs, you will want to seal the floor before grouting anyway. (I mean, I haven't tried grouting before sealing, but as I understand it helps keep the grout haze from clinging to the stone or staining it.)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Epoxy grouts are messy and expensive, and maybe they are overkill. But you are saving bags of money by DIYing, and because you have invested so much of your time, which as we know is invaluable, why not go for the thing most likely to serve you well for 20+ years? And as for messy, really, the whole project is messy, how much messier can it be?

But I am curious to see what you learn.

And I really, really like the tile and the way that room is coming together.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:05AM
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And as for messy, really, the whole project is messy, how much messier can it be?

Yeah, good point. That was kinda silly. You should have seen me at 3 am the day I finished the tile setting!

My head is swimming with grouting info. I am leaning towards epoxy, for the reasons you point out. But, I wanted to use unsanded grout, to be able to repolish the floor later if necessary, and epoxy *does* have sand in it. Meanwhile, my grout lines are just a bit too wide for normal, cement-based unsanded grout. Hmmm.

Interestingly, my sealing test did not go as I anticipated it. I bought Dupont's "Stone Sealer and Enhancer," and tried it on some test pieces (letting it penetrate for 20 minutes, buffing off, and curing overnight). I taped off half the test tiles, so I could get a good "before and after" comparison. The sealer/enhancer seemed to make no difference at all. The color was unchanged, and water beaded nearly the same on both treated and untreated sides. This morning, I put coffee on both sides, let sit for 20', then wiped off. I cannot see where the coffee was on either the sealed OR the unsealed parts. Interesting.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 2:56PM
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Which side do you prefer?

One side is grouted with Mapei "bone," a taupe color. It is a little light as it has not yet been sealed.

The other side is not yet grouted, and therefore appears dark.

I am starting to think that a grout color that blends in may be a mistake. Do you prefer the contrast (left) or the lack of contrast (right)?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:34AM
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I prefer the lack of contrast. HTH.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Circus Peanut

Angie, I used unsanded epoxy grout in my bath (also DIY of course) and it's worked out very well, I totally recommend it. The brand was Mapei - can't you order unsanded epoxy grout?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Circus: Did you use Kerapoxy? (Opticolor is sanded.) Sorry to not have updated on the grout choice. I have been planning to use Laticrete SpectraLok epoxy grout. It *is* sanded, but the JohnBridge folks say that the sand is not very aggressive. Now you have me thinking... (which is generally dangerous!).

The grout in the picture above is unsanded cementitious Mapei. I only put it under where the cabinets are going, as an effort to (a) save some money, and (b) get an idea of coloration. Now I wish I left more of this area ungrouted to give me more test area!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Circus Peanut

You know, I used Laticrete Spectralok on my very first tiling project and I liked it - but it definitely didn't feel sanded to me, just very smooth and silky.

Yes, I used the Mapei Kerapoxy on another project and liked it a bit better -- found it slightly easier to use than the SpectraLok. But these things can vary so much, it's hard to tell from batch to batch.

Oh, and I like the 'bone' color quite a bit -- anything will look tame at first after staring at the ungrouted tile for so long.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:31AM
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I think that grout is very lovely, but it doesn't look..... aged. It also looks like a grout color that you will notice the inevitable aging process on (drips, dirt, etc.)

If you want a more "vintage" look for your tiles, the darker grout with contrast might be the way to go.

Can you buy a darker grout and just rub some over the grout you already did..... ? I think you'd still be able to visualize it that way.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Briana and lolauren: Thanks for taking the time to "vote." I appreciate it.

Lolauren: Good idea. I was thinking of trying to darken the grout I have just as a test, too. Heck, even a sharpie may be revealing. (Funny, even though it is under a cab, I hesitate to do something so non-approved.)

Circus: thanks for your continued input. It is nice to have someone in a similar position but with additional experience/expertise weigh in!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Also- you mentioned an enhancer last week. I think you should test an area to make sure the color enhancer has the same effect on both the tile and grout. You don't want it to enhance one and not the other and make it look like they don't match. You can also mix grout colors as long as you are good at keeping a perfect ratio!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Thanks, Briana. I have not done the grouting yet, but I just got back from the store, having made my choice of grouts. I am going with Spectralock Latte. I believe this should either match or be slightly darker than the tan tiles.

As for enhancers, the tiles have already been enhanced/sealed. The Spectralock epoxy grout should not be affected by the enhancer.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Is all of the grout haze cleaned off the tiles that have been grouted? Perhaps it's an optical illusion, but the tiles themselves look different in the grouted area.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 6:30PM
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I like the right side better

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 6:45PM
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I'm with pricklypearcactus, the grouted tiles look different: the lighter tiles are darker and the darker tiles are lighter. It could be an optical illusion; I've seen weirder photo color aberrations. I sort of like the look on the left, but it might be the cleaner look of the tiles more than the darker lines.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 6:52PM
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I was going to suggest you go for slightly darker than the sample you showed above, but you've already made that decision. To me, it will look more vintagey. Can't wait to see how it turns out! Tiling can be so fun. I used to do picassiette garden art with old tiles, bits of tiles, marbles, pennies, china, etc....before the kids, that is. ;)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:00PM
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Thanks, all.

Prickly and linelle: Very perspicacious of you! I should have explained this. The tiles ARE indeed a bit different. I used the tiles that I liked least in the locations that will go under cabinets. I also did my test-grouting on areas that go under the cabs. Ergo, the right-hand (grouted) side has less vibrant tiles, with lighter reds and darker tans. This effect is more dramatic in other areas of the kitchen; I chose the "least bad" area to show. I believe I got all the grout haze off.

Thanks, annsch and breezy. I am so bad at these things that it is helpful to have them discussed!

The concept of the red-and-white checkerboard was meant as a subtle nod towards vintage kitchens in general, with Marmoleum/Linoleum floors in mind in particular. One realization I had since asking this question on this thread was that a grout that blends in likely comes closer to this look (since Marmoleum didn't have any grout lines to delineate the checkerboard). If you look at the picture above, you could imagine the right-hand side was marmoleum, but you couldn't imagine the left-hand one was.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:12PM
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I understand what you're saying, but linoleum designs are also very crisp; the area on the right is not so much. It also has the potential to evoke faux tumbled tuscamerican. Which you don't want. Although both look good enough that either could work, depending how they look in person.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:09PM
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I personally like the grout shown, but I agree with Marco, that the linoleum would be crisper. That said, I think either way will look amazing, and it needs to be more about what you like!

I eagerly await more pics and a report out on the Spectralock. Someday I hope we'll be DIYing a new bathroom, and I'll be looking for good tiling info.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:50PM
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It was a bit of a slog, but the grouting is done. I went with a color just a bit darker than the tan tile. I decided to go with my initial thought of not having too much contrast, so as to minimize the flaws in my tile setting. (Really, it is a pretty nice job, if I don't say so myself, but why accentuate the negatives?)

Here is the finished result of the same area that I showed in the picture on Feb. 7:

You can see that, as Prickly and Linelle noticed, the tiles on the right are less vibrant than those on the left, irrespective of the grout. Overall, I am relieved: I do prefer the slightly darker grout on the left.

Here is an overview:

and a closeup of a random area:

Here is a view from the hallway to the kitchen. (I was staining/finishing that oak transition strip in the foreground in my PJs at 6 am this morning!) I just put that marble threshold in the bathroom, and I finished off the edge of the stairs with a step edge profile from Schluter. I am happy with how both of those elements turned out.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 8:57PM
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Oh, I forgot: mabeldingeldine, the SpectraLock worked out well. I thought it was a little harder to use than cementitious grout, mostly because you had to watch your timing more carefully. The actual mixing and application was as easy as for cement grout. Cleanup was a little harder, but no big deal. The results seem worth it to me. It cost me about $200 to do that area, compared to about $30 for cement grout.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 7:16PM
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