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DIY Sunporch Refresh – How Tile Can Dramatically Change A Room

The Life

Laying tile floor is a tedious but well-worth it DIY project that can dramatically change an entire room!
A splurge in decorative oversized porcelain tile, a can of touch-up paint, and new light fixtures was our antidote to renewing and transforming the space. With the design choice of choosing larger tile we were even able to make the room appear larger!
 
Here’s our process from start to finish – you will be so shocked how our decision to choose larger than average tile changed the entire room!
  
Rewind to last Labor Day…
 
Our sunporch entry-way was decorated with air plants and a patterned accent rug. It was a never an eye-sore space, but we knew we could make it better and had so much potential. Being such a heavy traffic area (and we knew we were adding a furry member to out family) we decided to revamp the space.
 
Lucky for us the sunporch already had good bones; such as a high ceiling, accordion doors leading to the kitchen, lots of windows, and beautiful molding.
 

Our Process

 
 
Step 1: Clear the room, remove the accordion doors and lower molding pieces, and demo the bamboo hardwood flooring. Overall, it was a pretty easy task! That evening Caleb did research on replacing the sub-floor and created an initial plan and we both scrolled through countless tile flooring options.
 
 
BEFORE iPhone photo from when we first toured our home before we bought it . . .
 
diy tile floor
 
And during the demo . . .
 
diy hexagon tile
 
Step 2: Commit to a tile. At first we were toying with the idea of a marbled tile; traditional white with gray veins. But after a lot of thought (and scrolling through google images and home blogs) we decided we wanted something bolder and unexpected. We settled on hexagon tile with a geometric pattern in order to give the room a striking focal point. Caleb and I are both drawn to monochromatic color schemes. We want to make each room a work of art by carefully choosing only to display the bare necessities and specifically curating each entity. I can’t even express how excited I am about the tile we chose! Eye candy for sure, don’t you agree? We ordered 10% more than we needed incase of any mistakes and because larger tiles are known to crack easier than smaller ones during installation. Key Design Decision: By choosing tile that was larger than the standard ~12×12 inches and using smaller grout lines we were able to make the room appear bigger. The Electra grande Lighting tiles are 13.5″ X 15.5″.
 
Step 3: We tore up the sub-floors because they were disgusting. Had to remove some of the molding. Problems with support beams. The subflooring extended past the walls which made demo… interesting. Because the subfloor was nailed down and also wedged under the walls, prying it up proved to be a trying and taxing endeavor. However, we were able to slowly but surely get about half of the flooring removed before calling it quits for the day.
 
diy hexagon tile
 
Step 3a: Caleb made a trip to Home Depot and picked up supplies so we could tackle the remaining of subfloors. The shop vacuum is my new best friend! Because of what we learned on Monday, Caleb purchased a Ryobi reciprocating saw and some Milwaukee Tool blades. This was a big improvement. Cutting the flooring to manageable sizes allowed the pieces to be pulled up more easily. We were also able to cut away the parts around the walls that couldn’t be pried up. Next we removed the old insulation which was home to a lot of mouse poo and some dearly departed mouse carcasses. With plastic gloves taped to his long sleeve shirt, Caleb removed the insulation and mouse droppings while Ren vacuumed the remaining dust, poo, garbage, etc. from between the joists. The demo also revealed some water damage to the base board below the joist near the door. This was apparently the entryway for our mouse house guests. Upon further inspection, the studs were on odd centers. We could have left them and done some interesting origami with the sub floor, but decided to replace them. This part of the demo was also interesting as the studs were fastened to the structure of the house with 5” long nails. We purchased a long bar to assist with the removal of said nails. After the studs were removed, it was apparent that the part of the sun room that extended past the foundation of the house had been severely compromised by water damage. This needed to be replaced. We were not ready to demo the whole porch at this time so Caleb had to crawl under the entry stairway and nail the sub-subfloor to the bottom of the new joists. We installed new joists on 16” centers so the sub floor could be cut in nice even increments. The backer board was then installed in a perpendicular orientation to the subfloor.
 
installing tile floor
 
Step 4: Tile! There are countless YouTube videos on how to mix and spread the thin-set (tile adhesive). We watched many, and you would not be served here by me trying to summarize that here. So lets just say we did (nearly) exactly what the YouTube videos tell you. We started at the west wall and worked toward the entry door. The first half went quite smoothly. Then the (less than) square 1888 construction reared its ugly head. To cut the tiles Caleb used a Ryobi angle grinder with some clamps and a straightedge.
Safety recommendation for when cutting tiles: Use ear plugs.
We didn’t have trouble cutting the tile for the non-whole pieces, but the gaps in our tiles started to get harder to line up. Then when we made it to the final row of tiles, we had no where to stand. So we… stood on our newly laid tiles. Turned out to not be that much of an issue, but still caused some anxiety.
 
 
Step 5: Wait 48 hours for the tiles to set. This was a very welcome break.
 
Step 6: Grout time! We chose black grout to match the lines of the tile and continue the pattern throughout. Mix grout and spread into joints with a rubber grout float. Sweeping diagonally over joints fills them well. Use a grout sponge to wipe off excess grout from tile surfaces.
diy laying tile floor
Step 7: Allow to dry for a few hours, then wipe the tile with a damp rag to remove any grout cloudiness on the tile.
diy tile floor
diy laying tile floor
 
Step 8: Replace molding. Paint new molding white. I accidentally started painting the molding the wrong color white so I went to Home Depot with a scrap piece of the old molding and had them paint match it for us. While the strips of molding were drying I sanded and then repainted the East + West facing walls. I used the color Behr Toasty Gray, the same gray as every room in the house.
 
Step 9: We found a T-mold transition piece from Home Depot. Caleb had to miter out a section of the base as the tile mating up with the kitchen hardwood floor was not a perfect gap. After several weeks we finally found a seam that we liked to cover the gap for the transition from kitchen to sunroom. We went with a gray wooden piece so that is matched the color tones of the sunroom while also bringing in the silver hues from the appliances in the kitchen.
 
Step 10: Replace the Accordion Door or Not? I appreciated the accordion door, because although it does not provide visual isolation, it does create a separation between spaces and I think it looks pretty cool. But, over the several weeks we had it removed I really enjoyed the open transition from the kitchen to the sunroom and it gives us a little more room coming in and out of the house with the two excited doggies. For now, Caleb and I decided to keep the doors off.
 
Step 11: Replace the fixtures. We decided on cast aluminum matte black pendant lights from TRNK NYC. We love these because they match the black lines in the tile and creates a nice transition into our kitchen which has a lot of black entities. They are so Scandinavian!
 
Step 12: Add all the plants & a geometric deer head. Step back and enjoy our new room!
  
sunroom tile projecttrnk nyc aluminum lights
 

Final Cost Breakdown

Our Planned Budget: $3000.00
Our Final Actual Cost: $2648.65
 
Floor Tiles from Mission Stone and Tile: Electra Grande Lightning- Porcelain Tile
Cost with Shipping: $1,581.28
 
Ridgid Shop Vac
Cost: $69.97
 
Sawzall Blade from Home Depot
Cost: $19.97
 
Air Masks from Home Depot (2 Pack)
Cost: $5.47
 
Plastic Drop Cloth to prevent dust from spreading throughout the house from Home Depot
Cost: $4.98
 
Ryobi Cordless Reciprocating Saw
Cost: $44.99
 
Ryobi Angle Grinder
Cost: $47.98
 
R19 Roll Insulation (2) from Home Depot
Cost: $97.96
 
Ryobi P214 Cordless Drill
Cost: $42.73
 
2x6x8ft Boards (6) from Home Depot
Cost: $34.92
 
48” Wood Lath 50 PC Bundle from Home Depot: We purchased these to give height to the boards we made for support beams.
Cost: $13.97
 
Sub-Floor Panels from Home Depot
Cost: $300.94
 
Cement Floor Panels from Home Depot
Cost: $105.40
 
Grout – in Black from Home Depot (2 bags)
Cost: $27.43
 
Wooden Floor Divider Seal from Home Depot
Cost: $30.14
 
Trnk NYC Conical Cast Pendant (2)
Cost: $220.52
 

After Thoughts

I am so happy with how our sunporch turned out! The new tile floor brightened, modernized, and even made the room feel larger! When laying tile it is so important to remember that smaller tiles in a large room will make it seem tighter, where as large tiles on a small space will create the illusion that it is bigger. Our sunporch is living proof that this even just one design choice can make all the difference!

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DIY tile flooring  

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