Literally, figuratively, emotionally. The kitchen counter was probably the project we've most anticipated and most dreaded.
The day at least started out on a good foot; our screws trick worked well with the hardibacker (see previous post) and Adam started laying out the tile while I picked up my awesome laundry room floor slate. When I got back to the house, we started cutting. Instead of buying a tile saw (if we'd known we'd be tiling the laundry floor, too, we might have purchased; lessons learned, I guess), we rented a big one from our neighborhood friendly equipment rental guys; of course, we took advantage of the awesome weekend, 2 days for the price of one, rental special (~$45). I made Adam do all the cutting.
We started out with one of the chipped corner tiles as a test run for our complicated sink corner pieces...And would you believe it? We got it right on the first try!
Emboldened by our shocking and unexpected success, we laid out the rest of the counters and got all the tiles cut. Fit like a glove.
We bought the white mastic that was specially labeled for granite and marble; it also had the added bonus of being advertised as thick and strong enough to build up to 3/4". That way, we could try to work out some of the unevenness that we couldn't solve in the previous several layers of leveling. We mixed it to a pretty loose consistency and started on the left where we had the least amount extra leveling to do. We laid them up to the sink and then wiped them down with a wet rag to get rid of thinset smears. Then we moved into the inside corner of our L-shaped cabinets. This is basically the location that dictated where everything else sat on that side of the sink.
We laid those corner tile and worked to the right; but by the time we got back to the area just left of the inside corner, the first tiles we'd laid were set-- and set too low for the tile we were trying to lay. I don't know if that makes any sense, but the end result is an uneven spot that we couldn't fix. I've talked about the "Oh Shit" moment of a project; this was the, "Not much we can do about it at this point" moment. Most of our joints are pretty smooth, except for this one. I'm not happy about it, but we're not trying to fool anyone into thinking it's solid surface. Obviously that's not an excuse for screwing up, but, as I said, short of tearing up the entire counter top, "not much we can do about it at this point."
Anyway, we put the blue tape on it to keep from sliding; really we put it on there because that's what we've seen other people do ;-). I had nightmares about the tiles sliding off the counter last night and cracking in the middle of surface.
Here's the way we left it Sunday night:
Overall, I'm pretty pleased at this point. We had to trim 2 pieces in the middle of laying the tile-- some grit from the thinset had crept in between the tiles and shifted things a bit. We also have a sink issue that I'll detail later. Maybe someone can help us. Until then, I will revel in the fact that we can grout next weekend and, fingers crossed, move in by the end of February.