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