Once our counters were in, we gave ourselves a week of rest and dove into tiling. I won't lie. I was so scared silly by this project that I got quite a few quotes to have it done. In the end, the "friends and family" rate i got from one person wasn't any better than Lowe's standard rate. It's just as well. We never learn anything if we don't try it.
The first thing I did was sand the walls to scratch the paint up so the adhesive would hold to it better. Apparently, at one point our kitchen was painted purple.
Then I applied adhesive with a notched trowel. Basically you just smudge it on and scrape the wall with the notches, leaving behind just what slips through the notches.
Then I pressed the tiles into the adhesive. The ones along the counter got spacers, but the rest of the tiles had built-in spacers so they didn't require them.
I won't lie. Cutting the tiles was torture. It's probably what most makes our tiles look like a diy-job. Once all the tiles were laid, we cleaned up any slopped adhesive and let them dry overnight.
The next day, we slopped grout into all the cracks. Mostly Nick did that, but it looked harder than it sounded like it it would have been. I followed behind him with a sponge. You hafta sponge it pretty quickly, and it took a while to figure out exactly how much pressure to put on the sponge, how much grout you really want taken off.
And you'll probably have to go over it 3 or 4 times to get all the "haze" off.
Then you go around the counters, cabinets, and in our case sink and shelf brackets, with caulk that matches the grout.
It makes me even more eager to see the rest of the kitchen finished.