So you're getting it all in one shot. :)
But first, to remind you/catch you up, since it's been a couple of weeks since I posted about our bathroom renovation, this is where we started, back when we were just going to take down the wallpaper and paint the walls, and do a full renovation sometime in the future.
But then we found moldy drywall under the wallpaper, which prompted us to just move forward with the full gut and bathroom updating plans now. So we ripped out pretty much everything but the tub, and had to remove some subfloor when we found it was rotting too. Things got messy.
So we started rebuilding. We put in new sub floors in the bathroom and laundry room next door. We picked out new shower and sink faucets and redid a ton of the plumbing, including raising the shower head about a half of a foot. But we still had an annoying gap next to the tub to deal with. And it took forever for our lighting, tile and premium thinset to arrive, causing a couple of weeks of delays.
And now you're all caught up!
What I haven't had a chance to blog about is what we were doing while waiting for supplies to ship. They're kind of boring updates though, so I'll just include them here. First, we put up a vapor barrier over the studs, followed by cement backerboard. Here is a good tutorial on the steps to waterproof your shower (in fact, if you're ever redoing a bathroom, just go ahead and read everything on The Floor Elf, it's an extremely informative site written by a pro).
Caulked corners, to allow for natural movement in the house
Other seams taped and mudded with alkali-resistant mesh tape, and ready for tile
You'll also notice in the photo above that the annoying gap between the right side of the tub and the wall is no longer there. Remember that ugly gap that wasn't going to work to get the cement backerboard in the right place (slightly overhanging the edge of the tub), and if we did just install the cement backerboard correctly, spaced off the studs, it wouldn't line up properly with the rest of the drywall on the wall.
Yeah, we bit the bullet and just installed a layer of 1/2 inch drywall over the existing drywall on that entire side of the bathroom. That way, we could just use furring strips of wood to space the cement backer board off the studs, so it would be slightly overhanging the edge of the tub, as it should be. It was a pain, but now everything is lined up and clean looking.
Around this time, our tile finally was ready for pick up, but we were still waiting on our special order thinset. So I got busy inspecting and sorting tile. I didn't want to have to check for defects while doing the actual install, since I knew I'd be racing against the clock to get the tile up on the wall and level before the thinset dried. So I opened up a few boxes to look at each piece, and while I was at it I divided the tile up into different piles of similar patterns. There were three sort of different patterns, with lots of variation between them, so once I had everything all sorted out, I randomized the different variations, and packed the three patterns into separate boxes. That way, when it came to grabbing tile for the install, I could just alternate boxes, and know that all the variations and patterns would be spread out.
During this down time, I also got to play with a few of my new toys. First, this amazing tile cutter. We had to get a larger cutter, because our floor tiles are 18 inches, but I'm glad we had to spend a little more. This thing is crazy quick and easy!
Just one quick pass with the cutting wheel...
...leaves you with a nice score mark...
Press down gently and it snaps the tile in two.
It does some pretty small cuts too! And while it was a little more than we wanted to spend, we'll save money in the long run over renting a tile cutter (or buying a cheap one with blades that go dull very quickly), since we plan to eventually retile our other two bathrooms and redo our kitchen backsplash.
I also got to play around with our new self leveling laser level. This thing is SO flippin' useful! Seriously. I have no idea how people hold up a regular bubble level to every single tile. I would totally get thinset all over everything, and work so much slower. But with this thing, I just have to lean back or to the side a little, and there's my straight line to place my tile along. I also love that it has the vertical level too, which is really useful for making sure the subway tile pattern stays straight. And it wraps around corners too, which is mega helpful when doing a shower surround. Even if I was never going to use this laser level for anything ever again, I still would be happy with this $85 purchase. It's that useful!
Once I was comfortable with our new "toys" all that was left to do was to prep the area for our tile install. Late last week I used some tile spacers and painters tape to figure out my tile pattern. Just like with all of the prep that goes in before you can paint a wall, planning and prep are key with tiling. You want to make sure your pattern makes sense with the size of your tiles and the space you've got to work with, and do it before the tile is stuck to the wall. The last thing you want is to end up with little slivers of tile in the corners or at the bottom because of poor planning.
So I really took my time, figuring out how to lay things out with tape ahead of time.
The final step was getting all of my tools laid out. Tiling is intense, stressful work, especially if you're new at it. You've got short window of time to smooth out the thinset on the wall, run a notched trowel through it, place the tile and spacers exactly level and repeat over and over. It's kind of like cooking a big meal with multiple pots bubbling on the stove and two things in the oven, while you're trying to set the table and prep a salad, and have everything timed to be done and ready to eat at the exact same time. Basically, tiling is like cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, multiple times over as you work your way up the wall. It's stressful, yo!
So I prepped. I got everything laid out and easy to reach by setting up a card table and covering it with plastic, right next to the tub.
My pre-sorted tile, tile cutter, paper towels, pencil and sharpie for marking the cement board, China marker for marking where to make cuts on the tile (very useful! it wipes right off), scrubbing pad and old toothbrush (also really useful for getting wet and getting rid of any thinset that squeezes out through the grout lines), scissors that I didn't need and chapstick (because I can't live without it).
On the floor next to me I had the bubble level, laser level, bucket full of clean water and a microfiber sponge, garbage bag, plastic joint knife and notched trowel. Inside the tub I had handy my bucket for thinset, trowel, tile spacers (we used 1/16th inch for the grout lines and 3/16th inch along the bottom of the tile above the tub), a microfiber rag for drips, and a small ruler for quick measurements of tile cuts. I also covered the floor next to me and the entire inside of the tub with plastic, to protect it from thinset drips, and put an old moving blanket in the bottom for comfort when kneeling.
Then, finally, Saturday morning I was ready to tile. Freakin' finally! We used one of the best thinsets too, Laticrete 317, as recommended by The Floor Elf in his rundown of the different thinset brands out there.
Annndddd, this was how far I got on Saturday. That's because every single one of the bottom row of tiles needed to be cut. And not just cut, but cut at an angle because our tub both slopes down toward the front and isn't level along the back edge. Fun times, I tell you!
It was really tedious, but I used my little painter's tape trick to get all of the tiles in place one-by-one as I cut them, so I wasn't having to rush to make the difficult cuts while my thinset was drying.
The next day things started going a little faster, but it was still tedious work.
Do you remember that football cheer, "Be aggressive! Be-e aggressive! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!"? Yeah, well I had "be obsessive" running through my head over and over to that cheer while tiling. Put up the spacers, gently hold the tile up to the wall, check the leveling, gently slide the tile up until it barely touches the thinset, check the leveling, press the tile into the thinset, check the leveling....yeah, a lot of obsessive checking of the leveling was going on.
Look, it's a tile!
Yup, I've got my thinset and a trowel too!
Another way I was being obsessive about keeping everything straight was by marking off a grid with the laser level before placing the tile. The vertical lines helped me keep my subway tile pattern straight, and meant I didn't have to turn the laser level with each tile placed. and the drawn horizontal lines were just me making sure I had references to where higher rows were going, since I could only look at one row at a time with the laser. Planning, planning, planning!
The tiles going up the left side aren't in the subway pattern because I just taped them up to use as spacer guides for drawing my grid
For the straight cuts, my tile cutter worked great, I could just pop out and make a quick cut right next to the tub. But for the more difficult rounded cuts around the faucet holes, we used an angle grinder with a diamond blade to make the cuts.
Yes, our garage is a mess. I think our next big project will be building some workbenches and storage solutions, to get things organized out here.
It's not a great picture, but you can see the rounded cut being made. The diamond blade was pretty cool, it sliced through the tile like butter!
While I was busy crouching in the tub with my bucket of thinset and boxes of tile, my husband was hard at work on the electrical.
Disclaimer--he's an electromechanical engineer, who knows what he's doing. Hire a pro if you don't have the skills to mess with electrical yourself!
I know I only briefly mentioned that our new lights had arrived after almost a month last week, but I didn't share what we actually picked. First though, a reminder of what we used to have. Again, not a great picture, because I didn't realize when I took this photo that we'd be doing a complete overhaul. But you can kind of see that we used to have the ugly exposed bulb "Hollywood dressing room" style fixture.
Since I don't have a good side view photo of the bathroom, here's a quick mock up with our new vanity and the old mirror (which we just planned on reusing and painting the frame white) to scale.
Finding lighting was a difficult task. I'd actually planned to do an entire post about it, and had been saving a ton of lights in a bunch of open tabs in my browser. But then Firefox crashed at one point and wouldn't restore my session. So I looked in my history, and in one month's time I'd looked at over 1,800 lighting webpages, so I kind of gave up on trying to find what I was going to link to.
But I did pin a few things on Pinterest, so lets just go with that.
So anyway. I searched and searched for new bathroom vanity lighting. And didn't really find much I was overjoyed about. I found some that were just alright, like these basic four light fixtures.
And then I found this fixture. With a bit of vintage feel, a bit of industrial-chic. And I really liked it. Except for the fact that it was probably not wide enough for our 48 inch vanity. And my husband pointed out that it wouldn't give off very much light, since the shades were metal. Boo! It was the closest thing I'd found to light love so far.
But then I found this. Loved! Except it was like $400 for just one sconce.
But it got me thinking...what about sconces, since regular above-mirror lighting options just weren't doing it for me. What if we just rotated the existing mirror?
So I started searching. And boy did I find a lot I liked as far as sconces went! Rustic-industrial-vintage, whatever you wanted to call it, I liked it!
Unfortunately my husband was less than enthused. Not only would sconces mean more work for him with rewiring things, but he wasn't feeling anything with an industrial vibe. He said the lovely wire cages I was finding looked like they belonged in an elementary school gym. Double boo!
But luckily we found a middle ground. I found some light fixtures that still had a bit of the vintage sconce shape to them, in brushed nickel that would go nicely with the faucet and shower fixtures we'd already picked. So it was a compromise, I got the sconces instead of over-vanity lighting I wanted, he got something other than industrial-chic. Win-win in my book, especially when he said he really didn't care that much about the lighting, as long as it didn't look like it belonged in a gym!
And now here are the fixtures all wired up on our wall!
In case you're wondering, that ugly red messy looking box in this photo is the ground fault box. You actually are required to have it accessible, and not behind drywall, and we discovered it when we took down the wallpaper behind the old mirror. To keep it accessible, but not in our way though, we've repositioned it further back on the stud, and made the access point be on the wall in the laundry room, covered by a nice clean plate. Much better than it hanging out all visible above the bathroom vanity!
And with the electrical done, hallelujah, we could put up drywall! We still need to tape and mud the seams, but finally, at last we have two separate rooms again!
Whew! I told you this was going to be a really long post to get all caught up!
And I'm not done with tile yet, but as of about 11pm last night, this is where I'm at. Sorry for the funky blue tint, the lamps have florescent CFLs in them. Our tile is really white with light grey marbling.
My goal is to finish tiling the whole shower surround almost up to the ceiling, leaving a space for the crown moulding, by the end of this week. That definitely means some more late nights, since I'm obsessively slow, and have a pesky little thing called work taking up most of my days.
But then hopefully Saturday I'll be ready for grout, Sunday we can cut and lay down cement backerboard on the floors and get everything prepped for tiling the floor the following weekend. Yes, I know, I know. I keep sharing my plans and everything goes slower. Whatever, I've still gotta have a plan in mind, even if I know it will take longer than I think!
Have any of you ever tiled anything before? Was it as stressful for you as it was for me, with the thinset dry time hanging over your head?