Thank you to Floor & Decor for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own. If you missed the first post I did about the shopping experience, you can check it out here.
Hellooo everyone. It’s week three of the One Room Challenge, and it’s time to start putting this disaster area back together. That means tile! We’re laying floor tile, and we’re also tiling the walls, so *lots* of tiling. If you need to catch up, here are my first two updates about the bathroom…
Here’s baby girl showing where we were last week: ripped apart, sheetrock back up, Durock back up, new subfloors in. Happy squirrel on her new knee wall.
This is 12×24 tile, and it was an absolute B to load. Super heavy tile. The helpful employees at Floor and Decor helped me load it all in my car, and then I had some helpers to assist with unloading at home.
By the way, there are 9 million tiling tutorials out there, so this isn’t going to be one of those. Instead I’m just going to talk about the process and what I found really helpful. 🙂
When it was time to start tiling, we started by laying out the tiles in the pattern we wanted. Along with the help of two very, very nosy kitties. Since this room has lots of little grooves, we had to pick one spot to center the tile. We picked the main area because that’s the first thing you’ll see when you walk in the room.
Once we had the general idea, we took some measurements in the area to see exactly where we’d need to lay the first tile. The first tile is the most critical tile because everything else builds off from that. To find this spot, we used a square, a level, a pencil, and a chalk string marker to mark a straight line along the edge of where the first tile would lay. We marked this line down the complete length of the bathroom.
Then we used the same supplies to mark a line perpendicular to the first line. This second line is where the bottom border of the first tile piece will line up. Big ups to my dad for his patience teaching me this process!
Once we had the exact placement of the first tile, we started laying pieces out so we knew what size cuts we’d have to make. We decided to do the entire back corner of the bathroom at once and make all of the cuts in advance. This was definitely the most labor-intensive part considering the bathroom is on the third floor and the wet saw was outside. But using a wet saw was pretty wild! I liked learning that.
After the whole section was cut, we put down the tile adhesive for large format tiles. My dad said it should be a lot like a thick wet sand, and he said to only mix up enough to use on the one small area you’ll be working on. It sets up pretty quickly.
Then we just started laying! We used 3/8″ spacers. Here’s the back section and half of the middle section laid. One thing I found really interesting about cutting tile is that my dad suggested always cutting a bit under what you need. It’s not like woodworking where your measurements need to be exact (most of the time, that is). Instead, floor tiling is more forgiving because you’re usually covering up the ragged edges with baseboard and, in our case, shoe moulding.
Here’s the entire floor laid and drying. The process took about 8 hours (6 hours one day, about 2 the next), but we were slowed down a lot by having to go all the way downstairs to make cuts AND by my dad having to explain everything to me.
At this point, I was already madly in love with the floors, and they hadn’t even been grouted yet. I think going from subfloor to tile would be a huge improvement no matter what the tile, but I was IN LOVE with these floors. Then we messed them all up by grouting…
I didn’t hate grouting, but I didn’t love it. One thing my dad said was that a lot of times grout looks messy because people wait until it has dried to do the first clean. The grout float isn’t enough to get super clean lines; after you even out the grout with the float, take a slightly damp sponge and very gently run it down the grout lines. I was amazed at what a difference this made! (Note: We still did an additional wipe down not long afterward. This initial one was just to clean up the lines.)
The process was faster than I thought it’d be, but the number of times we had wipe down the floors after the grout dried was super annoying. I lost count. Check out how awesome these grout lines are, though! Ahhhh.
We also did the floor tile on the knee wall we built out to accommodate the tub plumbing. I thought the contrast would look nice against the white tub.
So with the floors done and our toilet went back in (YAY), we got to work on the wall tile!
We chose the 6×12 Pure Snow glass subway tile for the walls, with a coordinating mosaic for the shower niche. The grout is Warm Gray. The wall tile was easier in that we had waaaay fewer complicated cuts to make, but it was harder in that the tiles were smaller and took longer to cover a large surface area. I honestly couldn’t imagine the patience it would have taken to do this space with traditional 3×6 subway tile! I chose 6×12 because I hope it’d be faster, and I was a bit concerned about all the grout lines we’d have with a smaller tile.
The shower niche mosaic went in first, and then we started working our way up the wall.
How cute is Blanche?
We decided to go with a few 4″ x 18″ pieces of the white glass subway tile to cap off the knee wall. Tile as a knee wall cap wasn’t my first choice, but it was much cheaper than a slab of stone, and the 4 x 18 pieces were really the perfect size. It looks awesome.
And grouted! Wahoo! All we have left to do now is finish up the niche, caulk everything and its brother, and wipe it all down a few more times. Oh, and you’ll notice below that we went ahead and popped the shower trim on…I’ll be chatting more about that in a few weeks!
Here’s a peek at some of the paint colors I’m thinking about, too. I’m leaning toward the middle swatch (SW Rare and Radiant) and the swatch all the way on the right (SW Basalt Powder).
This was my first time tiling and my dad’s first time working with glass tile on the walls. I’m really happy with the result; that said, there are a few lessons learned I want to share:
1. Paper backing on the glass tile. I love the glass tile, but cutting it was a bit of a B. The tile is clear glass with a white-colored paper backing on it, and when you cut the tile, it rips off pieces of the backing. This obviously isn’t ideal, but once we realized that it was just the way the tile was going to behave, we were able to figure out a way to lay the tile that covered up the ragged edges. For example, for the cut pieces in the corners, we’ll cover it up with a line of caulk. There are some spots that I would have re-thought our approach had we known how the pieces would cut, but alas, I did not. We also could have camouflaged this even more by using white tile adhesive…we used gray.
2. Shower niches are not fun. I think the frustration this stupid thing caused took 6 months off of my life and at least 2 years off of my dad’s. I totally take the blame for this one in that I kind of sprung plans for a shower niche on him after the Durock went up. So, he had to cut out a hole for the niche after the fact. Since we didn’t plan it from the beginning, it’s placement between the studs ended up forcing us to make some wacky cuts to frame out the niche and still keep the tile pattern we’d established. The wackiest cut was a super thin strip along the top of the box, which was literally impossible to make. We tried. We failed.
We ended up deciding to just lower the top of the box a bit using a scrap of Durock and tiled over that. It did take about 1 1/2 inches off of the niche’s height, but it’s still tall enough to fit all of our junk. So, if you’re planning to include a shower niche, make sure you take into consideration how it will impact your tile cuts…NOT just it’s placement in the wall (e.g., between studs, height and width, etc.).
3. The ankle wall. Okay, we kind of made this name up. Remember how I said last week that we had to make a few adjustments to our plan after swapping out tubs? Well, in the process of rethinking things, I decided that I didn’t want the wall on the side of the shower to be a full knee wall (like the kind that comes up to your waist). My logic was that I didn’t want the space the tub was going in to feel waaaay closed off, and things started to feel smaller once the walls were going in and the knee wall behind the tub space was built out to accomodate the plumbing.
So we opted for an “ankle wall” instead. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it’s basically just a nub that comes out of the floor. You can see it in the pic below. (Note: It looks extra messy in the pic below because the area isn’t fully cleaned up or caulked.) Basically we just needed something for the frameless shower door panel to hold onto. I’m not 100% in love with it because of the grout line in the front, but it’s not really something that jumps out at you when you walk into the room. Truly, we should have gotten a piece of stone or a piece of tile with a finished edge for the top of the ankle wall, but we were improvising.
Oh and by the way, here’s a peek at the tub…just two gals enjoying a bath in the garage:
Until next week, when (I think) I’ll be talking baseboards, paint, lighting, and some more of the fun stuff. 🙂