Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tiling a Bathroom is HARD WORK!

I spent a lot of time last week reading about how to tile and watching videos on how to tile. I have done several tile jobs in my life, but never a shower. If I made a mistake with this project, I could be looking at some very expensive water damage, so I wanted to make sure I did it right.

Although, earlier I had measured the walls when I initially bought the tile, since my brother and law did all the work to re-frame the tub, I needed to recheck the numbers and make a final decision on what I wanted to do design-wise. I laid the measuring tape on the floor and lined up the diamond featured tile alternating with plain field tile. I then figured out how small a piece would have to be cut on both sides. One of the things that I learned was to not cut too itty bitty a piece for the corners if you can help it. I lucked out -- big enough.

Using a level, I started by drawing a horizontal line the height of one tile minus 1/8 inch off the bottom of the green-board. This gave me a slight overhang on of tile. I will fill this space with caulk when I am done. According to my calculations, I had to center one tile on the back wall. So I measured 1/2 the distance of the wall, made a mark and using a level, I drew a vertical line (the red line in photo on right). Then I drew two other perpendicular lines on either side of that line between which was one tile wide. This gave me my starting place for my first course of tile.

I am using Ultralite Mortar by Mapei. It is a thin set mortar with an approximately 2 hour pot life. Although the bag gives directions to mix the entire bag at once, I did not see being able to tile the whole thing with all the cutting inside of one day -- much less 2 hours. So, I have been mixing smaller batches. One of the problems that many of the articles I read noted was that Do-It-Yourself-ers like me usually don't get the thin-set mixed thick enough. It has to be peanut butter consistency not mayonnaise consistency. When you have s scoop on your "spoon", it should hang there and not drip off. I made sure that I had everything ready to go BEFORE I mixed the thin-set. This was good because all my preparations and recalculations -- not to mention another last minute trip to Menards to pick up the right sized trowel -- the thin-set would have sat there over two hours by the time I got to it.

About half-way through the day, I realized that the 2 X 6 bull-nosed tile that I got to go around the edge was not going to work. I can't go out to far on the sides, or I would hit the mirror. Taking it into where the original tile left off didn't work either because I would have left me cutting corner pieces that were only 3/4 of an inch wide. Ugh. So that meant if I was going to fix it I had to do it quick before the thin-set dried. I popped off the 18 or 20 tiles that I had placed, scraped off the thin-set and started over. Then, back to Menards I went and exchanged the 2 X 6 for 4 X 4 bull-nosed tiles. Or I should say two Menards, since the first one did not have enough for me.

I started tiling around 12:30 or 1:00 PM and tiled into the evening and got nearly 3/4 of the job done by 8:30. At that point I was finished with my third batch of thin-set and my patience was gone. You could see the design coming together, but the hard cutting was yet to come as I had left the wall with the faucet for last.

I woke up the next morning and felt like I had been hit with a Mack truck -- every muscle in my body was screaming. However, there is no stopping now since I have house guests coming at the beginning of July. I have to get the bathroom done or everyone will be sharing the master bathroom.

I worked out where the pipe for the faucet was going to end up. I had anticipated needing to drill a whole in the middle of a tile and bought a carbide hole cutting bit. I was lucky and won the hole cutting lottery! Both the faucet and handle holes were on the edge of tiles and I was able to cut it out using my tile saw. (Yes, I own my own tile wet saw -- best tool investment I ever made!)

I kept working up the wall and cutting the tiles to fit into the corner. I got up to the design rows and realized that my rows were not matching up to the back wall that I finished the night before. By the last row of the wall, I was off nearly an inch at the top! I looked at the tile and realized that the second box of 4 X 4 bull-nosed tile was slightly wider than the 1st box. Since I was lining my course up with the bull-nosed tile So I took off the top 4 rows and trimmed the nubs off of one side of the bull-nosed tiles to make them a little smaller and narrow the grout line. By the time I got back up to the top, I was even with the back tile. Like I said, my little wet saw is a do-it-yourself-ers best friend.
No Nubs!

All in all, I am pretty happy with the job. In two week ends it went from this:

to this:

Now I gotta get rid of that robin's egg blue!

Happy tiling!

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