Front Hall Overhaul – Part 4: Smashing Tiles

At the beginning of April I started my front hall entrance overhaul.  It involved ripping out the hideous carpet from the closet and painting the walls and closet Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal:

ripping out the old nasty carpet in the front entrance hall closet        ripping out the old nasty carpet in the front entrance hall closet

old linoleum in the front entrance hall closet        painting the front entrance hall and closet benjamin moore kendall charcoal

Now that the outdoor cat enclosure/catio is DONE I finally have time to relax work on the front hall again.  Which means it’s time to replace the boring/white/square/snore-inducing tile!  Hubby and I went to Home Depot back in April to look at tile.  We both liked the Hampshire slate:


We borrowed a piece to take home and decided it would definitely work in the front hall.  Although I might need to re-paint the walls a lighter grey.  Jim’s friend Torrey [who is responsible for the brilliant wall colors in most of our condo] suggested I match the new wall color to whatever grout color I go with.  I’m planning on using a light grey grout and I think a similar color will be perfect for the walls 🙂

So last week I ordered 40 12×12″ Hampshire grey slate tiles from Home Depot, which I picked up today:

205o         205n

Aren’t they beautiful?  I love the natural variation of slate.  The front entrance hall is approximately 38 square feet so hopefully I’ll be OK with 40 tiles…  They come 10 to a box.  Worst case, I’ll have to order a 5th box.  At $30/box they’re pretty affordable.  I’ll do the main room first, then the closet.  That way if I run out, it won’t look too horrid!

In preparation for the arrival of the tile, I got started Tuesday after work by using a hammer to smash out a small area of tile in the corner:

smashing the old tiles out of the front entrance hall with a ball peen hammer        2 tiles removed from front entrance hall

I originally attempted to use my hammer and cold chisel to gently pry up the tiles [like I’d done with the one tile I replaced in the master bathroom], but quickly switched to the “smash the hell out of them with a hammer” method.  Which made a mess, but was SO MUCH QUICKER!   I put the larger pieces/chunks in a cardboard box for the dump, and shop-vac’d the rest.

On Wednesday after work I headed to Home Depot for some tiling supplies [including sealant, thin-set mortar, ¼” spacers, and light grey grout]:


Then smashed the rest of the first row of tiles out, as well as the row on the opposite side of the room:

205a        205b


Smashing tiles is a HUGE stress reliever!  I thoroughly enjoyed it *nods*.

Yesterday after work I smashed the hell out of the remaining tiles:

205f        205e

What a mess!!!  My safety goggles, construction earmuffs, and dust mask were [literally] lifesavers!  There was so much dust from all the smashing it was rolling out the door in big waves.  However, when I first started I couldn’t find my work gloves so I used my motorcycle gloves instead.  Mistake:


They don’t have padding in the right places to avoid slices from wayward bits of flying tile.  I also nicked my legs in a few spots.  And without eye protection I could have seriously injured my eyes – shards of ceramic kept nailing me in the face and goggles!

I filled up 2 small boxes with all the chunks and debris I could, then ripped up the orange Schluter Ditra [SD] “uncoupling, waterproofing, and vapor pressure equalization” membrane.  I decided to start fresh with a new one, which I picked up today at Home Depot when I got the tiles:

205l        205m

I’ve read a lot about it, it’s pretty impressive stuff!  Not only does it keep moisture from getting under the tiles, it also acts as a buffer between pressure from above [like people walking & dropping stuff] and movement from below [like the gradual shifting of the ground/foundation/house].  Apparently our tiles should never crack or shift with an SD membrane under them.

Once that was gone I shop-vac’d the rest of the dust and debris from the front hall.  All that’s left is the original blue linoleum with chunks of white fleece backing [from the original SD membrane] stuck to it:


I was able to use a putty knife to pry up some of the fleece backing.  I’ll get the rest of it later:

205i        205j

Once the floor is clear and clean, I’ll spread a thin layer of thin-set mortar and lay down the new SD membrane.  I’ll let it set overnight and then I can start tiling!

I should probably mention that I seem to be stuck in a particularly manic phase of DIY.  It seems to happen a few times a year, usually when I have stuff on my mind [I don’t usually know what that stuff is until the manic phase passes and I can talk it through with my therapist].  So I wanted to point out that I’m not usually this crazy productive!!!  But, in addition to walking, cleaning, organizing, and [apparently] smashing tiles, DIY in general is a big stress reliever for me.  I love every part of it.  The planning, the shopping, the trial and error, the mistakes, the learning, the work, the photos, the blogging, and the finished product.  And the big smile on my hubby’s face when he sees what I’ve accomplished 🙂

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  1. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    Those tiles are beautiful. Good choice.

  2. omg Alison! I don’t think you plan to, but DON’T rip out the linoleum. I believe it (some of it?) has asbestos backing – and that’s nothing to mess with. Your new tiles look gorgeous and I like Torrey’s idea of matching the wall paint to the grout. It will be beautiful!

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