Kitchen Renovation | "Morgue" Tile Backsplash

Last weekend, two days after our countertops were installed, we went to work on the backsplash.  The official last "construction" item of the kitchen!  It was exciting.

Mike was making a trip to Home Depot so I decided to tag along and pick up supplies for tiling.  We usually chose a local tile shop, but they are only open "bankers" hours except on Thursday's and the one Thursday we left work early to make a special trip, they were closed, no explanation.  So, Mike refuses to use them anymore.

I knew we were going to use white subway tile, so I didn't think there would be a problem finding it at HD.  The grout was a little harder.  I wanted the higher contrast look, and thought a darker gray would work.  We also wanted premixed grout since it's much easier and more time efficient.  They had nothing in the darker grays in premixed, a lot of options in the dry selections though.  I waved down a guy and asked and he showed me to the rolls royce of grout, (with the matching price tag): Fusion Pro® single component® grout.  Yes, that's two registered trademarks.  We asked if it was an epoxy, (what we used on the floor), or an polyurethane, (what we used in the upstairs bathroom), and the associate responded it's a "fusion".  Whatever the heck that means.

They only had one option of a dark gray called Charcoal and since we experienced the floor grout drying much lighter than we expected, we thought we would be fine.


This picture makes it look black.  And, guess what, it is.  Black.  Very black.

We started by installing the tile.  I can't lie, this was all Mike.  We had stayed out late with my girlfriends and our husbands the night before, celebrating one of my friend's new job and I woke up hungover and Mike had half the kitchen done.  Sometimes he scares me.

The tiles are self-spacing and had little ridges along the edges so it was pretty quick work.  The next day we were really optimistic about grouting.

Let me tell you, it was the worst grout we've used.  It wasn't helped by the fact that black grout + white tile and white everything else = mess.

After a couple feet, we finally got the hang of it, and if anyone gets stuck buying this overpriced grout, here's what worked for us.

Step 1. Tape everything off.  Put paper down on all horizontal surfaces.  Seriously, like 30% of this stuff just falls off, so save your wife the constant fear of giant black stains and do some prep.  Don't forget your brand new outlets.  Nothing is safe.

Step 2.  Wet the tile.

Step 3.  Apply grout.  Work in small sections because the grout dries really fast.  This was towards the end where Mike had some confidence, most of his work areas were smaller than this.  Tip: He found that having a spray bottle nearby allowed him to work in larger areas.

Step 4.  Wipe with lightly wet sponge.  Don't worry it's normal for it to look like you're making it worse.

Step 5.  Wipe with clean, very lightly damp sponge.  Tip: We had 3 sponges in rotation.

Step 6.  Wipe again with clean, lightly damp sponge.  Tip: The sponge needs to be almost dry at this point or the grout starts running and it's not pretty.

Step 7.  Right after sponge, use a paper towel to wipe some more.  Tip: Fold in fourths, not balled, so that you're using a flat surface to wipe.  I know that sounds anal, but if it's not, it might pull out some grout.

Step 8.  Repeat any of the steps over until all the tiles are clean.

Step 9.  Move over and do the next square foot until your arms give out or you finish.

After we were done we stepped back and were a little quiet.  The grout was still black, and even the first half of the kitchen, which was pretty much dry at this point, was still very much black.

Mike looked at me and very quietly said, "it looks like the tile in a morgue".  We both agreed.  Then we did something even weirder, and admitted it looked pretty cool.

It's way more design forward than I would have picked, but it's pretty awesome.  You'll have to wait until the final reveal, because that's all that left before we clean everything off and call this turkey done!

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