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Patio Project Part 1: Tiling

Oops! I did it again…

What was meant to be just a simple walk around At Home to pass the time and browse some new patio furniture turned into me asking Kyle if tiling a patio was possible, visiting Lowe’s and Home Depot to look at tile, finding a tile design we love, immediately driving home to measure the square footage of our patio, and going back to Home Depot to buy the tile and get started.

For several years, I have had an idea of what my “dream” patio would look like: a Mediterranean feel with light natural colors, twinkle lights, a dining table, lounge seats, potted plants, and a cute rug and pillows. Up to this point, we had not put a lot of effort into the patio area because we hadn’t found a way to keep our chickens out of the area. We finally seem to have found a solution, so we are ready for a patio project! Here is a “before” photo:

To get started, we measured the square footage of the patio and calculated how many boxes of tiles we would need. We both loved the Marazzi Travisano Trevi porcelain tiles from Home Depot. Porcelain tiles are durable, great in all weather conditions, slip resistant, and easy to maintain, and the pattern and color of these tiles fit our vision for the patio perfectly! We really liked the idea of creating a pattern with two different sized tiles, so we decided to go with the 12 in. x 12 in. and 18 in. x 18 in. tiles (both were $1.99/square foot), and made sure to factor the size differences into our calculation.

Day 1:

On the first day, we began preparations for laying the tile. We power washed the concrete patio to make sure it was completely clean. If you’ve never used a power washer – it is a game changer! The best part is that they are affordable to purchase–a light duty version costs around $100), but can also be rented at Home Depot for around $27 for 4-hours or $39/day.

While we were waiting for the concrete to completely dry, we went on a power washing spree. We decided we would try to clean my glider bench, which I thought was going to need to be sanded and re-stained. Thanks to the power washer, it looks brand new! We couldn’t believe how much dirt washed off (see the pic below). We enjoyed the results so much we decided to clean our fence until it was time to return the rental.

Day 2:

Our goals for the next day were to treat the concrete with RedGard to ensure that it would be protected from cracking and begin laying out our tiles in a pattern. We applied the RedGard treatment with paint rollers, which took about an hour. It’s easy to know when it is fully cured because it’s pink when wet and turns red when dry.

Once we finished applying the RedGard, we headed to Home Depot to rent a medium tile saw. The rental costs about $41 for 4-hours or $59/day. We opted to rent for one day so we could take our time and avoid any mistakes that might be made for trying to rush to get it back in time.

Tip #1: If you’ve never used a tile saw, an employee in the Tool Rental department at Home Depot will take a few minutes to show you how to operate it and answer your questions.

When we got home, everything was dry so we began setting the tiles in the pattern we wanted using 3/16″ tile spacers. Once we saw how it looked with all of the tiles laid out, we started to get even more excited!

Day 3:

At this point, we were ready to mortar the tiles. We purchased 3 bags of VersaBond Thinset Mortar in White, mixed it up with water and used a flooring trowel to start applying it to the concrete and backs of the tiles. Now here’s where the reality of home projects comes in: While we thought we would get most of it done on this day, we ran into a series of issues. We had some difficulty mixing the mortar because it was too thick, then the mortar kept hardening in the bucket because of the heat. It made things go so slowly and we ended up having to throw away quite a bit of the mortar:

To top it off, we live in South Texas and the heat can be oppressive. We had heat indices of 106-109 and it was simply miserable. Although we were outside for several hours, we did not even get 1/3 of the tiles mortared before we decided that it was time to pack it up and call it a day.

Tip #2: Rather than pouring the entire bag of mortar into the bucket, mix it in smaller batches (approx. 1/3 bag). If the mortar starts to set in the bucket, add some water and mix by hand.

Days 4 – 10:

The next day, we mixed the mortar in smaller batches which resulted in a smoother texture that made application easier and kept us from wasting product.

We worked as long as we could bare the heat and then called it a day. There was rain in the forecast for later that night, so we put some plastic down over the tiles that were freshly mortared to protect them from the moisture. Little did we know we would receive 8 inches of rain over the next few days! We lost about 4 days of working on on our patio project while we waited for the rain to pass and the uncovered tiles to dry, but we were finally able to finish mortaring the tiles on Day 10.

Days 11 – 12:

On the next 2 days, we got up early to begin applying grout to the tiles before it got too hot outside. We used Polyblend Sanded Grout in #382/Bone. The grout applies a few shades darker then it will be when it is finished drying, so don’t panic if it isn’t the color you expected when you mix it. The color we chose looked tan when we started grouting, but dried to a nice cream color.

While Kyle applied the grout, I worked on cleaning the excess grout off of the finished tiles. The excess forms a white haze on the tiles which takes some effort to remove. It’s recommended that you wipe the excess off with a damp sponge, but we have found that this has to be done multiple times to be effective which is a pain. Instead of using the sponge, we brushed the excess off with a dry Scotch-Brite Household Scrubber which turned the hazy part into sand, making it easy to remove from the tiles. There was a bit of haze remaining in a few places, so we used a dry Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe it off.

Tip #3: Use a dry scrub brush to remove excess grout, then sweep.

Tip #4: A dry Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great to remove any lingering haze.

All that lacks is for us to let the grout cure for 72 hours (we factored extra time because of the heat and humidity) and then we will apply sealer to the tiles which will repel moisture and help with stain resistance, but we couldn’t wait to show you how it looks…

The Big Reveal:

We are so happy with the way it turned out! We are amazed at how tiling the patio made a simple space feel more upscale and inviting. We can’t wait to start the next phase of the project–decorating!

Be sure to keep an eye out for more posts as we continue this patio project.

Shop My Home to purchase the decorative products mentioned in this post.

Ready to get started on your own patio tiling project? Here’s what you’ll need:

Measuring Tape
Power Washer
Tile Saw
Mixing Paddle (For initial mixing of mortar and grout in bucket)
Grout Float
Mud Pan (Use with grout float while grouting tile)
Notched Flooring Trowel (For spreading mortar)
Mortar Trowel (To aid in re-mixing and scooping mortar and grout out of bucket)
Tile Spacers (The size depends on how much space you’d like between your tiles)
VersaBond Thinset Mortar (The back of the bag contains information about how many square feet each bag will cover – we needed 3 bags for this project)
Polyblend Sanded Grout (We used #382 Bone; The back of the bag contains information about how many square feet each bag will cover – we needed 2 bags for this project)
Scotch-Brite Household Scrubber
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
Grout & Tile Sealer

If you complete this project, we would love to see your photos! Comment below or tag us on Instagram or Facebook @dineanddigs

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