On Wednesday, I grouted the tile for our master bathroom floor.
(Incidentally, is “grout” a verb? Or should I be saying, “I put in the grout,” or “I installed grout,” or something like that instead? Whatever the case, I have now typed the word grout too many times and it’s lost all meaning to me.)
I’ve never done something like that before. In all our home renovations, we’ve only done tile once, and we hired it out. So I’ve helped lay wood floors, scrape popcorn ceilings, build + install cabinets, patch drywall, and more, but I’d never messed with grout.
And you know what? I enjoyed it a lot more that I expected to!
Part of that was
probably definitely the two full hours I had to myself. David was out of town for work and I needed a break from being the only parent for a minute. But part of it was the mindlessness of the process. I mean, once I got into the rhythm of it, it wasn’t hard. My body is sore all over, because it’s hard work, but it’s not the kind of hard work you have to think a lot about.
Which meant I had some time to ponder. And I was reminded of a few things.
1. There’s not one right way to do things.
Before I started, I’d watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials, each claiming to the The Right Way To Grout Tile.
Well guess what, YouTube handydudes? You all did it differently. If there’s only one right way to do it, and you’re all professionals, how come you didn’t follow the exact same procedure, huh?
Because everyone does things a little bit differently, that’s why. And THAT IS OKAY. What works for one person may not work as well for another. You do you, boo.
2. Having a good team to rely on makes a difference.
David did a great job installing the tile. He worked really hard to ensure that everything was spaced perfectly and placed just so. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to meet the high standard he had set.
Yet despite the anxiety that thought gave me, it was also reassuring to know that he’d set me up the best way he knew how. If he hadn’t done his job well, my grout would’ve made everything look that much worse. Because he did a great prep job, my job was easier.
Also, there is no way I would have been able to get anything done with children under foot. Big shout out to my friend Sarah for watching Ryan while the girls were at school so I could pound this project out.
In case you haven’t already figured this out, friends, let me tell you: everything is easier when you’ve got good support people in your life. Everything.
3. The right tools help you work smarter, not harder.
We had already purchased everything we thought I’d need ahead of time. Come to find out, as I was doing my grout research, I would need a big bucket of water and probably some microfiber washcloths. I did not have those things. (To be fair, I’m sure David has a bucket somewhere but I had no idea where to even start looking.)
A quick trip to Home Depot provided me with bucket + washcloths. I figured I was set.
But then I didn’t do a great job at wiping the grout off the tiles right away. Or maybe I let it dry too long. Either way, on my second pass I found myself trying to scrub lots of light grey grout residue off matte black tiles, and it was NOT going well.
Luckily, I remembered some little scrubby cloths I had gotten for a sponsored post a while back. I snagged one, and sure enough, it made quick work of the extra thick grout haze. I never in a million years would’ve guessed that a recipe post that talked about our dish-washing system would’ve helped me finish the bathroom floor. Go figure.
Way too often I use tools that are not great for the job I’m trying to accomplish. Like when I used the shop vac for our rugs for like a year. Or when I didn’t have sharp enough knives to cut anything much harder than a cucumber. And then I use a better tool and think why wasn’t I using this ages ago???
I’m slow, y’all, but I’m learning. Good tools help you make more effective + efficient use of your time.
4. Finished is better than perfect.
As I mentioned before, every time I looked at David’s beautiful tile job, I got nervous that I would mess it up somehow. But our bathroom renovation was stalled until the grout was done. Pretty much everything else—toilet, shower fixtures, lighting, mirrors, vanity, all of it—was waiting on that one thing. I was afraid I’d do it wrong.
Fortunately, I did all right. I’d like to think that you can’t tell by looking at the floor that a complete amateur did the grout, although I’m sure there are a few spots that aren’t quite pro quality.
But who even cares!
For one thing, my labor was free fifty-free. For another, I now feel more confident about grouting the massive expanse of subway tile on the walls. And for a third, now that the floor is done, we can install a toilet. We can get moving on the sinks. We won’t have to share a bathroom with our gross children anymore. HALLELUJAH.
Sometimes, even if you know it won’t be perfect, you just need to get the job done already.
5. Learning a new skill and doing something all by yourself is so empowering.
I grouted my floor. I did it. All by myself. And it looks SO GOOD.
There are not word for how proud I am of myself for figuring it out and making it happen. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I conquered something like this. When did I last master a new skill? Start something I’d never done before, finish it, step back to look at it, and thing, “Dang, girl. You’re amazing!”
I should try to do new things more often. It’s fun and it feels really good.
Additionally, I should let my children master new skills too. The satisfaction of figuring it out and knowing you did a good job is priceless. Part of my role as a parent is to enable them to experience that.
All told, it was a weirdly enlightening and satisfying afternoon. Who knew home renovation could be so illuminating?
So tell me friends: when was the last time you learned an important life lesson from something random + mundane? And have you ever messed with grout? If you haven’t, you should; it’s surprisingly fun!
(If you’re curious, we chose these tiles for the floor, spaced 1/8″ apart, and used this premixed grout in Natural Gray. I love the combination. The grout is light enough to provide some contrast without being stark, and it has warm undertones to keep the black + white palette from getting too cold. Plus: premixed. Yes please. Anything to make this process easier.)