Sunroom Unveiling and Installing Porcelain Tile

April 30, 2015

After finishing the pantry a month ago, we decided that we liked the idea of concentrating on one room at a time; doing a little bit of everything – drywall, taping, painting, flooring, etc. That way each task was small and enjoyable and in the end – ta da – a finished room. Maybe not the most efficient way, but much more interesting.

After the pantry, we finished off the two storage rooms upstairs (on either side of the dormers, utilizing the sloped ceiling space). Not very interesting as the rooms have a door, one plug, one light and are drywalled but not taped or painted. But it is nice to have a place to store stuff out of the dust.

In the last month, we have been concentrating our efforts on the sunroom and now it’s time for the big unveiling.

View to sunroom French doors from living room

View to sunroom French doors from living room

(Oh yes, I still have a nice scaffold in my living room. But look, it doubles as a handy tool storage area. What more could a girl want in her living room.)

Are you ready to open the doors??????   Ta Da

South and east sunroom walls

South and east sunroom walls

Yes, the sunroom is a bright, sunny yellow. I love the way it looks with the while trim and window boxes. And wait, it gets better. Only 2 ½ of the walls are yellow, the other 1 ½ are bright blue. As sister Laverne pointed out, sort of like the Ukrainian flag. However, the inspiration for the color theme came from a resort in El Salvador. (The paint man at the local hardware store is beginning to wonder about this house. First lime green, then bright yellow and now brilliant blue. Maybe I should ask for a beautiful purple next.)

Blue on north wall adjoining living room

Blue on north wall adjoining living room

West and north walls - yellow meets blue

West and north walls – yellow meets blue

The wall between the living room and sunroom has a bank of small windows inserted between the 16 inch on center studs. We really wanted this wall to be full of windows but the structural engineer said we could have a door only. I think the small windows inside the studs work just as well. And since this is a 6 inch wall, these window boxes provide a nice place to display treasures. Two of the sills for the windows face into the sunroom and three face into the living room.

The ceiling in the sunroom is tongue and groove pine. The main ceiling of the house will be done in this pine. We like the look of real wood and are not particularly fond of taping drywall, much less on a cathedral ceiling. Our rough calculations showed we had purchased enough pine to do the main ceiling with some to spare, so we decided to do the sunroom. (hope our math is correct!) We gave each board two coats of clear coat before putting it up. And the half piece left over was converted into pretty plant boxes for my wheat grass.

We installed 6 pot lights in the ceiling with LED lights. The lights are on 2 switches so that you can use either bank or both, depending on what you are using the room for. When doing the lighting for each room, we have a discussion on how we see the room used, where and how many lights are needed. Even though the LED lights take very little power, we still try to limit the number of lights used to only those needed for the task.

The flooring is a 12 x 24 inch porcelain tile. After tiling this one room, I am so glad the whole house is not tiled. What a procedure.

I won’t claim to be an expert at installing ceramic/porcelain tile; however, the following describes how we decided to install it, after much research. There is lots of information on the internet, some of it confusing and some of it conflicting. Everyone tells you how but no-one explains why. Choosing a method would be easier if you knew the why. Whether we chose the best way or not is yet to be seen. We are hoping that the extra work and expense will result in a solid floor that does not crack.

  • Level the floor. We sanded down a couple of joints and used levelling compound on a couple of other spots. This sounds simple but it is incredibly hard to figure out if a 13 foot by 18 foot room.
  • Install cement board (Hardie Backerboard) – Make sure the sheets don’t end on a joist as you don’t want the cement board to be tied into the floor joists. The sheets are screwed in every 8 inches into the subfloor(we used the same screws we used to install the plywood subfloor 1 ¼ inch wood screws). We were told we didn’t need to apply tape to the seams if we covered them, and the screws, with thin set mortar. They were not specific if this process was separate from applying thin set mortar to attach the tiles; but we assumed it wasn’t and filled the joints as we attached the tiles. The screws were flush with the floor and covered with thin set as we tiled.
  • Plan tile layout – we went with a staggered row. Prior to gluing down the tiles, we cut and place the first four rows, with 1/8 inch spacers. Once we were satisfied with the layout, we removed the tiles and chalked lines for each row of the first four rows. We figured if we could get these first rows right, the rest should stay square.


Cement Board installed and first four rows of tile

Cement Board installed and first four rows of tile

  • Lay tile – We did the first row then let it set to insure we had a solid base to work from. Then we layed two rows at a time – apply thinset, set the tiles, insert spacers. After a couple of days, the room was done.
  • Grout – a day after the last tile was layed, we grouted the entire floor with a soft grey sanded grout.
  • Seal – 48 hours after the grout was finished, we sealed the grout and tiles with a grout sealer.

At long last the room was done. All baseboards and trim painted, installed and even all the little brad nail holes touched up with paint. I think we did a masterful job. Hank and Frank rule! (Inside family joke, but based on one of the kids’ favourite children’s stories, Hank and Frank Fix Up the House.)

For now, we have decided to use the sunroom as a dining room and living room. A nice dust free room to relax in. One would expect the room to be very warm with passive heat entering from all the windows. However, the windows are triple pane, argon filled and let in very little heat, which we hope will make this room very nice to use even in the hot sunny summer months.

South and west walls - living room area

South and west walls – living room area

North wall, living room area

North wall, living room area

Sunroom Dining Area - first supper in the sunroom

Sunroom Dining Area – first supper in the sunroom


About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
This entry was posted in Construction, Dining Room, Sunroom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sunroom Unveiling and Installing Porcelain Tile

  1. sheila says:

    I see it already has Hana’s approval. Bold bright colors, quite a difference from my zest for white. I like it, and hope to enjoy a beverage relaxing in there soon.

  2. Love the bright colours.

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