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BBQ Island & Outdoor Kitchen Reveal

September 9, 2011

I’m finally back with our outdoor kitchen reveal, and it feels soooo good to be done with this project!

After the counters were prepped with plywood, it was time for hardiebacker.  Chris used a jigsaw here to cut the hardiebacker so that it fit.  The key was to use a blade that was made for cutting concrete.  He then screwed the hardiebacker into place, and we were left with this.

Of course, that meant it was time to move on to the difficult part: tiling.  We learned quite a few lessons along the way–one of which was definitely listen to the timeshare presentation that earns you $100 free, because you never know when you might want to purchase a tile saw later in life.  Glad we went to the presentation, and glad we didn’t have to rent the tile saw.  Trust me, I am all about saving money, as you well know by now, but it really relieved a lot of pressure to know that we owned the tile saw and didn’t have to worry about rushing to get it returned within a rental window.  Chris manned the tile saw:


While I became the official “thinsetter” er. Yup.  Tried to make it a word.  Kinda worked, right?  Anyway, I used the flat side of the trowel to lay down the thinset…

and then pulled the ribbed side back across while holding it at an angle.

By the end of the day, Chris had perfected his skills with the tile saw.


We managed to get the entire counter top tiled in one day.   Chris spent a separate day tiling the edge.  We mixed our own thinset, and learned online that taping the tiles on the sides of the island would hold them in place until the thinset dried.  Think about it: normally you tile a wall from the bottom to the top so that the tile at the bottom is kind of holding things up.  We were just doing one tile around the edge, so that wasn’t really an option.  And in case there was ever any doubt about how we manage to fit these projects into our busy schedule, the picture below makes it pretty clear–sometimes it is late at night and we have to drag an indoor lamp outside to finish up.  In this case, the impending deadline of Chris’ graduation party was keeping us motivated to get finished.

Next we tackled the backsplash.  I wanted something custom and detailed, and we decided to cut the 12″ tiles down to 3″ sections, and separate each 3″ section with some rows of the same accent tile that we used in front of the sink.


Up next was grout–or it should have been, but of course, when we read the grout bucket, it said that you might need to seal the tile first if your tile is pourous.  Are you KIDDING me?  We were so ready for this project to be over, but found out we weren’t close.  Obviously slate is pourous, so we needed to seal it.  BACK to Home Depot.  Seriously relieved that it is four minutes from our house.  Otherwise I really would have pulled my hair out.  Tip: Slate tile sealant ran $40/bottle.  HOLY CRAP!  The nice guy at HD also told us we’d need to reseal it every six months.  We had an inkling that would be the case, but he pulled us aside and pointed out the Wet Look Sealer by Behr.  It is designed for natural (quarried) materials (i.e. slate even though the bottle doesn’t say slate), and with a bottle at three times the size for just $25, we said, “Yes, please!  We’ll take it.”  And let me tell you, it was the best recommendation ever.  We brushed it on with a paint brush, and it was dry to the touch in about an hour or two.  The picture below really shows what a difference it makes since the left half of the tile has the sealant on it, and the right half doesn’t.

I couldn’t believe the rainbow of colors that it brought out.

And finally, it was time for grout.  First you smoosh it in there…really good.


And then wipe off the extra with the grout sponge.  But don’t push too hard and wipe all the stuff that you smooshed in there out.  ‘Cause that would kinda defeat the whole purpose.

So, without further stalling…

Okay, one more stall….here’s what the outdoor kitchen looked like before:


And here it is after all our hard work:

So. worth. it. Especially when it was all ready for Chris’ graduation party celebration.

So what about you?  Ever had a project that ends up having way more steps that you thought it would?  No?  Just us?  Come on…humor me! 🙂

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    September 10, 2011 4:27 am

    Love the pictures showing the progression. You two did a wonderful job! I’m so impressed with the projects you tackle and learn on together!!

  2. Nancy Torrez permalink
    September 10, 2011 8:31 am

    Looks great 🙂 You two are very talented! ❤

  3. September 10, 2011 9:01 am

    WOW, you guys did a wonderful job.

  4. katiE permalink
    September 10, 2011 9:29 am

    I love your story descriptions and pictures along with way. 🙂 You guys are so talented! Your backyard kitchen looks amazing!

    • September 20, 2011 8:47 pm

      Thanks, KatiE! And thanks for stopping by and checking in on us. Miss your face!

  5. Becky permalink
    September 10, 2011 12:54 pm

    I love your grouting description! Smooshing it in there is I’m sure how contractors explain it! It looks awesome and you two should be proud!

    • September 20, 2011 8:45 pm

      Clearly! Obviously technical words would make this much less fun! Though, I could provide a much better description if somebody actually needed me to explain how to do it because they were going to try it. 🙂

  6. Vicki Mays permalink
    September 10, 2011 2:33 pm

    Katie it looks great. I love doing home projects. Was the slate easy to work with. I have something I want to use it on? Thanks for sharing

    Vicki Mays

    • September 20, 2011 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Vicki! The slate was definitely a good outdoor material. Since it’s shale (and layered), I would have expected more splintering as we cut it, but we really didn’t experience that. The one thing I would say is if you buy it from a place like Lowe’s or Home Depot, make sure to open each individual box and pull out every single tile. They tend to break during transit, and the middle tiles are often broken. The uneven nature of the edges also makes it difficult to get everything “flush.” Apparently there are special spacers you can buy to help with that, but we didn’t know. Hope it helps!

  7. September 10, 2011 8:51 pm

    It looks AWESOME! i bet you guys had a great party 🙂

    • September 20, 2011 8:48 pm

      Thanks, Gina! Not gonna lie–the party ROCKED! 🙂

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