Part of me just knew that I could tile. I’d never tried it before, and I don’t think I’d ever even seen it done in person, but I was very confident. I was determined to show my less confident counterpart that we could pull this job off beautifully!
My favorite part the tiling process was picking out the perfect flooring. We had so many choices. I might have mentioned this is an earlier post, but I gravitated toward a mosaic tile as it has an “antique” feeling that I love. While I absolutely fell in love with a marble mosaic basket weave tile, this bathroom was just too large for the $15.00 per square foot price tag that type of tile carried! My next choice was this very pretty porcelain hex tile with a much more reasonable price tag at Home Depot.
The preparation to tile ended up being a lot more intensive than I could have imagined. We decided to lay our floor tile on a cement backer board. The previous tile floor was put right over two layers of plywood subfloor. To get to the correct floor height, we had to removed the top layer of plywood subfloor and add a thinner plywood layer with an even thinner cement board on top of that.
As you can imagine, ripping out the old subfloor was much more difficult than laying down the new subfloors. Of course, the nails that were used were about 3 inches long! Lots of sweat, and out with the old and in with the new.
Jake pieced together our first layer beautifully.
Next, came the cement board layer. It was my job to hand Jake the special cement board screws while he did the hard labor. We were learning so much about tile prep here!
We then taped the seams of the cement board floor and started to lay the mosaic tiles. We learned that you need to spread the mastic with a trowel with the correct notch based on the size of your tiles. I believe I used a v-notch 1/4 inch trowel for this job. It was super fun and gratifying. Jake made all of the tile cuts on a little tabletop tile saw we bought for cheap at Home Depot while I applied the mastic, trowelled it, and laid down the mosaics. I enjoyed putting the little spacers in between each row to get them perfect.
It took me much longer to lay all of the tiles than I could have possibly imagined, but I did complete this step all in one day. I didn’t want the mortar to dry somewhere I didn’t want it, so I just kept going! I found it was most important to make sure I didn’t spread the mortar too thick so that it would squeeze up through the tile spaces. If any mortar did come through, I’d be sure to wipe it off of the tile face. I had a feeling it would be much easier to clean up now than when it dried.
I was so thrilled when this step was completed!
Over the next couple of days, I started to spread the grout. I learned that you need just the right consistency to make the grout sturdy enough, but also easy enough to spread. And I learned that two rinse buckets are better than one. I must’ve made 20 trips up and down the stairs to dump and refill my bucket. I chose to do all the dumping outside so that no sand would make it’s way into our septic tank.
We went with a light grey-beige grout. Do yourself a favor before you do this job and invest in a kick-butt pair of rubber work gloves. My hands were ruined after an hour of working with this sanded grout, but look how pretty:
After I finished grouting the floor, we moved onto prepping the tub walls to be tiled. We made furring strips for the studs so that the tile would overlap the top of the tub. Then we installed 3/4″ cement board and got tiling!
How pretty is that? I have to admit, this was another job that I really enjoyed. It was very gratifying, but once again, took longer than I’d guessed.
We couldn’t decide on a good place to end the tile on the left side of the window, so we opted to tile the entire wall. It would make a pretty focal point of the bathroom. We had to get a little creative when tiling around the places where the window trim would be.
Once I finished laying the tile, we grouted in the same color as the floor. We were almost done! I’ll update you on the very last finishing touches in the next post! Before I sign off, one last close-up of the gorgeous subway tile accent wall:
And my beautiful bull nose corner: