Renovations, The Buffalo BurrowTips for Installing Brick Floors January 10, 2020 Photo by John Bessler This is a sponsored post by Lowe’s Home Improvement. All opinions are 100% my own. I know I’ve said it in several kitchen plans posts, but it’s worth mentioning one more time. Chris and I have been dreaming about a brick floor in a kitchen for nearly a decade now. In our first house (five houses ago now), the kitchen was the one room we didn’t end up renovating before we sold. It was fairly nice, but saying it wasn’t our style is an understatement. I remember many nights standing in that kitchen when we’d dream about what we’d do to it if we had the money. And that was when the brick floor dream was born. Even back then, we loved the age, texture, and character it would bring and I remember we both said, “One day…one day we’ll have a brick floor in our kitchen.” And here we are, friends. Five houses and ten years later and the brick floor has happened! We ordered shaved mill brick samples because we really wanted the feel of real brick in here. They were GORGEOUS. But sadly, they felt a little rough and were porous. I’ve seen them used in other kitchens, but we just didn’t feel peace about it. We were worried about their durability in a room that works so hard, especially on the floors. Our kitchen sees spills daily. We don’t design our kitchen just to be pretty, it gets some serious use from all of us and it has to hold up. I could just envision spilling olive oil once and it soaking into my lovely brick and being a forever dark spot. The rough texture of it was also a concern. I mean, it makes sense! Brick isn’t smooth and soft and this was real brick. But for a floor with little kids running around barefoot and falling daily, it just felt impractical. We loved this brick and it would be awesome on a wall or somewhere that these two factors don’t matter. Maybe there’ll be a shaved brick wall in our future! At first, we thought our brick floor dream had died. I’d seen some imitation brick floors before that screamed fake. They weren’t terrible, but they did not look at all like the real thing. But after I looked at a lot of other styles of tile, I couldn’t shake the brick floor idea and how well it would fit in with the style of our house: that old European country house vibe. Thank goodness, we stumbled upon this Brick Porcelain Floor Tile! Brick Porcelain Floor Tile I loved it from pictures, but was worried that in person it would feel as fake as the others I’d seen. We ordered it just to check it out and it felt pretty perfect! The dimension and variety of color in the tiles are gorgeous and while it is smooth to the touch and obviously porcelain, it still has the brick feel we wanted. I’m so excited to show it to y’all installed in our space! I know you guys just saw it this before, but let’s look back at our un-tiled space. And now TILED! Just look at that texture and dimension! What a backdrop for the rest of the kitchen design. Isn’t it amazing how that change makes the whole room feel so much more finished (and check out the little bit of window trim Chris finished up!). Our tile guy is a great friend of ours. After so many houses and additions, he’s kind of gone through life with us. He’s worked with us when I was about to pop with both babies, holding newborns, and raising toddlers. And we’ve had fun working on so many different tile projects together. He’s so knowledgeable and after all of the different jobs, we’ve learned a lot. Here are a few tile flooring tips we’ve learned, especially for these brick floors: 1.) DECIDE ON A PATTERN This one seems obvious, but it has to be said! Decide if you’re going to lay your brick in a traditional staggered pattern or in a herringbone pattern as we did here. The pattern is key for then laying out your tile in the space and having the right placement. You can’t go wrong with either brick pattern. I love the classic feel of staggered brick, but I liked the idea of the herringbone so it’s a really different pattern than the wood floors that back up to it. And I’ve always loved how special herringbone feels. I’ve saved many photos of old houses over the years with wood and tile herringbone floors and it feels really classic to me. 2.) DECIDE ON PATTERN PLACEMENT IN THE SPACE This tip is so crucial, you guys. I’ve seen so many spaces with gorgeous tile, but really poor pattern placement and it can ruin it! What I mean by this is to give the starting point of the pattern some real thought. It helps to decide the focal point of the room and then center the pattern there. For our kitchen, I knew that the stove wall is our main focal point, so I wanted the pattern to flow out of it. BEFORE: AFTER: We started laying our tile against that wall right in the center so that the herringbone pattern would be centered on the focal point and then we worked out to both sides and then filled in the rest of the room. With all tile installations, you’re going to have a partial pattern somewhere. Give that some real thought. For example, I’ve seen a lot of floors where they chose to put a partial tile right inside the door instead of at the other end of the room under a cabinet and it can be really obvious, especially with patterned tile. In our case here, I didn’t mind having partial patterns on each side of the room because having it centered was what mattered most visually. And with the nature of herringbone you’re going to have partial on every side. Deciding on your center line is really what you want to focus on. 3.) CHOOSE A NARROW GROUT LINE FOR FLOORING When it comes to grout lines, I would go narrower for a floor and possibly wider for a brick wall. For example, we went much wider on our brick hearth on this house to really mimic the feel of mortar. But on the floor, we went with 1/8″ grout lines for a couple of reasons. We wanted them to show up and define the pattern, but not be so wide that the lines become the focus instead of the beautiful brick. Also, extra wide lines can create a finished surface that isn’t completely level because often grout can be slightly lower than the tile surface. We’ve seen this on our hearth and fireplace surround, which isn’t an issue there. But having narrow lines on the floor keeps the level really consistent, which we want on our kitchen floor. 4.) CHOOSE MORTAR-COLORED GROUT We considered a lot of different options for grout color, but kept going back to the idea of a standard mortar color to really play up the brick. We didn’t want a super dark color and that didn’t seem to go well with the colors in the brick. But we also didn’t want white or really light because then the grout would’ve stood out more than the tile itself. We wanted the hint of the herringbone pattern, but didn’t want the pattern to stand out more than the tile (and compete with the patterned wall tile) as it would have with very light grout. We went with a mid-gray color called Iron that felt a lot like mortar in traditional brick. The mid-tone is perfect for durability as well because too light will stain. Another tip when it comes to choosing grout color is that it always looks lighter when finished and dried than the swatch on the package. So, if you’re deciding between two, go with the darker shade. We’ve experienced that time and again, so we knew to go with a grout that looked slightly dark on the swatch and it ended up perfect! 5.) VARY THE BRICK COLOR My final tip is about the color of brick. What made us love this tile most of all is the color variance that feels like real brick. Each tile itself has different shades, but whole tiles are also different colors. Some are overall a lighter tan, some are redder, some are much darker. I love the dimension this adds to the finished floor instead of them all being around the same color. BUT, that also means that you can’t just lay the floor straight out of the tile box. You need to get it out, spread it around, and pay attention to the color as you’re laying it. You don’t want to lay it in a pattern, but you want to be conscious of the colors. This will take laying them slow, stepping back and looking at what you’ve laid. You want to make sure sections of the floor don’t feel overly dark or light and really mix up the colors as randomly as you can. I think that’s my favorite part about our floor. You can see all three of the main colors in every section you look and it feels really mixed. To me, that also contributes to the age and character the floor provides! Now, who’s ready to see all of the gorgeous sage cabinets, the copper sink, that blue and white tile all layered on top of this lovely brick backdrop? Me too! I am officially GIDDY to see this space keep taking shape. And I have a glimpse for you! Our cabinets just arrived and we sat one of them out against the tile to see the color mixing. I feel like I need a drum roll for this moment…. PERFECTION. Color mixing is my favorite part of design. But it can also be the most nerve-wracking! I knew Escape Gray was the right color, but I was worried to see it actually on all the cabinets. Many times before, I knew I had the right color, but then you see it on a whole wall or in a different finish and it changes it. But these feel exactly as I expected: the perfect blend of green and gray. In certain lights, they look greener and in others, grayer. And that’s what I wanted! I wanted green, but really neutral feeling that went with most other colors. My mom came and saw the house when these were sitting out right after delivery and kept saying, “Wait, are they green? Oh no, they’re gray….wait, green?” I was so happy because that’s the exact feel I wanted. And against the brick floor, it’s just SOO GOOD. In the photo above, the kick plate hasn’t been installed yet since the cabinet is just sat in place. But it will be soon! The cabinets will be installed in the next week and I can’t wait to see that (and show you guys!). Thanks for checking out our new floors and for following along with this Burrow journey. As I reflect over the last four houses and our story and adventure that has taken shape as a result, I’m so grateful to be doing this house and to be taking you guys along for the ride!