I still haven't picked out paint colors yet, but I didn't want that to hold up my project. So I decide to go ahead with tiling the floor in my side room and in front of the exterior door. I needed a lower tile floor in front of the exterior door, since the hardwood floor obstructs the door from opening. (Thanks dry core and hardwood =p !) The tile will allow for heavy traffic between the outside and my storage room as well.
Lowes always has a great selection of unique tiles, including the ones shown in the pics. They were manufactured by Ivetta, they're named "black slate" (although they definitely have a gray look more than black. They're 6x24" and come in several different patterns. They're porcelain and have a slight texture to them. I didn't want smooth tiles and these have just enough to help avoid being slippery when wet.
Tiling the floor took a couple days since there was a lot of cutting along the walls and door frame. My floor wasn't exactly level either so I recommend a floor leveling compound if it's really offset.
I can't describe how much I like these now that I've installed them. They just make the room look better than if I'd use smaller tile or large square ones. These just flow better into the room that's about 6x8' and give me a feeling that the room is bigger for some reason.
I learned a few valuable lessons with the mortar mix. Never mix more than you think you can use in a couple hours. I was slowed down by several uneven spots in my floor and had to reapply a little mortar to the backs of the tiles. So I ended up with wasting some mortar since it set up too quickly in my bucket.
After a day, I added the grout. My god, the only thing I hated was having to get clean water over and over as I cleaned the excess grout off. Even that was starting to take too long. I would fill in the spaces, clean off areas with grout that setup, and then have to hurry with new buckets of water. By the time I finished the last few tiles, the grout was getting to hard to use any more. But I made it with a little more muscle and sweat.
After I finished the grout, I wet the floor with a damp mop a couple times a day, for 3 days, to make sure it dried slowly. And finally, a week later, I added grout sealer to make sure they kept their color and resist staining.
I didn't see the color difference until looking at these photos. The tiles were a bit dusty while I installed them. After grouting and cleaning, the slate colors came out.
I can see installing the baseboard is going to be a challenge though. Check out the floor transition from the Dri-core to the tile so close to the door. I'll need to adjust the baseboard trim for the 1 inch drop down to the tile. Otherwise I'll end up with a taller baseboard on the right side of the door and a shorter one over the tile on the left side of the door. I have some theories on how that's done but we'll cross that threshold after I finish the flooring.