Day to day, I feel like we're moving so slowly on this project and I should work harder so I have more to update on, but then I remember that oh yeah, I've got a very busy job and life outside of what I share on this little blog and it's silly to feel pressure because of it. It's not like I bother with advertising, I mostly just write here because I like to share, in case there's anyone else out there going through similar projects, in hopes that something I link to or give a tip on might be useful. And also for my family to see what I'm up to, since they live far away and I don't do Facebook. So I've completely let go of any self-inflicted pressure and our timeline on this project. I shouldn't have been so ambitious anyway, considering we've never gutted an entire room before. I blame HGTV, and bloggers, who I love reading, but who's full time job is working on their house for putting an unrealistic timeline in my head. We'll finish when we finish, and it is what it is. I'm eager to be done though, can you tell? :) But we're making progress, and are definitely coming up on the home stretch.
So, with our timeline out the window, here's what we've accomplished in the past month on the weekends and some evenings after work. But first, a quick look back at how far we've come.
The above "progress" photo is where I left you last time, about halfway through installing the tile in the shower surround.
I'm happy to report that since then we've completely finished the tile. And tiling did get easier, the more I did it. It's still hard, and nerve wrecking to be working with the thinset dry times, but I definitely felt a lot more confident as I worked my way up the wall.
We did have one difficult spot though, the shower spout, which happened to fall towards the middle of a tile, so we couldn't use our grinder to cut it out, like we'd done with the other necessary holes on the shower wall. We ended up having to buy a massive drill bit to tackle it. First, my husband drilled a pilot hole through the back of the tile (going through the back made it less likely to crack the tile), and then he went through it with the giant drill bit to make the hole for the shower spout.
Pretty darn good!
The black marks on the tile were just from a grease pen, which wiped right off. I also used the pen to keep track of my tile pattern spacing, numbering and lettering the tiles to keep them in order.
Once the shower spout tile was ready, we then put the crown moulding back up (one of the few things salvaged from the original bathroom, although I primed and painted it), before I finished the top few feet of tile. I left a small gap at the top of the tile though, because we will be caulking where the crown moulding meets the wall, bridging the gap between the tile and the moulding for a smooth transition.
Once all of the shower tile was in, we switched gears to work on the floor preparation, since we wanted to give the shower plenty of time to fully dry. First came the cement backerboard for the floor, which you lay over a bed of thinset. The thinset doesn't really do much to adhere the backerboard to the subfloor, so you still have to screw the backerboard down with backerboard screws. But the thinset bed makes sure you don't have any voids under the backerboard, which can lead to cracking of your tiles or grout. This is a good reference on laying the cement board for floor tiles. Be sure to caulk the cracks between your subfloor pieces before you put down the thinset, so you can retain the gap that allows for natural movement in the house, and won't get thinset in it.
Spreading out the thinset over the subfloor
Cement backerboard laid in the thinset and screwed to the subfloor
Then it was time to prep the floor tiles, once we let the cement board dry for 24 hours. We opted to do a dry run, laying out the tiles on the far end of the room before we put down more thinset, so we could pre-cut the holes for the toilet and heating vent. Any time you can lay things out first is really helpful, because then when you're counting down the minutes until your thinset dries, you're not having to stress about making intricate cuts with a ticking time bomb.
Our grinder worked perfectly to make the cuts in the floor tiles
Once we had our tiles all planned out, it was just a matter of spreading out more thinset and laying them out. Luckily I didn't have to do it all on my own this time, my husband and I tag teamed the floor tile. I spread out the thinset and prepped it for the tile with a notched trowel, then my husband followed me by placing the tiles and the spacers, and making sure everything was as straight and level with each other as possible. Sometimes this meant we had to pull up the tile and add more thinset under it, other times it meant he was pushing down hard on the tiles to squish them into the thinset, but they all went down one way or another, and it was so much quicker than the smaller shower tile! He also used the "quarter trick," which we'd first heard about on HGTV (but there's a good explanation of it here) to make sure the tiles were all level with each other.
A closer look at the tile. Please excuse the white powder in the corner, this same week we were also working on patching the joints in the newly hung drywall, which required multiple coats of joint compound and sanding between each coat. We definitely had some vacuuming to do before we grouted. And around this time we also put the window and door frames back up (although I still need to prime and paint them).
Grout came next (between continually working on patching the drywall on the walls). I was in charge of the actual application of the grout, and my husband was the time keeper and scrubber. I mentioned it before, but we opted to use epoxy grout, which required scrubbing with a sponge 20-30 minutes after the application, and a second scrubbing 1 hour later with a scrub pad. Considering we went through almost 4 boxes of grout on the shower walls, all being mixed and applied at different times, there was a lot of clock watching, so I was really glad there were two of us for this step.
Scrubbing the grouted tiles
Following the grouting of the shower came the grouting of the floor. We used a very similar method of me mixing and grouting and my husband doing the follow up cleaning. But we first used a grout release treatment on the floor tiles, since they have more of a matte finish, and we wanted to be sure scrubbing the excess grout off wouldn't be too hard. So we gingerly grouted and scrubbed barefoot, so we wouldn't get the grout release all over our shoes.
Grouted, but not yet cleaned
Scrubbing the excess grout off the tiles
As you can tell, we ended up going with the lighter grout option. I agreed with most of the comments that it looked cleaner, and would go better with all of the light elements in the room than the darker grout. And since we used epoxy grout, which is stainproof and a lot easier to clean than standard grout, I'm less concerned about the light grout not coming clean.
Once we were done with all of the grouting (and gave it the minimum 12 hours of dry time), we were able to put two coats of primer on the drywall, since by this point we'd gotten the seams between the drywall pieces mostly smooth. We still need to go back and do a bit more filling in some spots before we paint the walls with color, but we needed to get primer up before we could move on to the next step.
And that next step was beadboard wainscoting. I was so excited to get to this step, because it's making the room look so much more polished and finished. And I've just always wanted to have beadboard in my house!
Installing the (rot-free PVC, perfect for bathrooms) baseboard over the beadboard
Once the beadboard went up on this wall that the toilet and vanity will go on, my priority was to start painting it. It's a little hard to see in the photo below, but I first had to use a small foam brush to get in the ridges of the beadboard, then I finished with a foam roller over the whole thing. So far I've done two coats of semi gloss, but later, once we have the chair rail trim up, I will be finishing with a coat of polyurethane, for extra protection from water splashes.
There was one main reason I was prioritizing getting this one wall painted though. So we could put in our toilet! Seriously, who knew a toilet could make me so excited? We still need to replace the flusher handle, get a new toilet seat, and trim off the shims once we're ready to caulk around the base. But it's a toilet! On the main floor of our house! For the first time in a couple of months!
This was how the other side of the room was looking earlier this week. We've since put up the final piece of beadboard and the baseboards.
As for why the chair rail trim isn't up yet, it's because we were still planning out what we are doing with the mirror. I want to make a mirror frame out of the trim and integrate the mirror in the chair rail, kind of like this:
I've got the vanity and mirror location all taped off (the blue tape represents the thickness of the chair rail trim, once it's in place), now we just need to make a mirror frame before we can put up the trim piece, and I can continue painting.
So now you're all caught up on what we've been doing in the past month. It's actually quite a lot, considering we went on vacation, and taking into account that there are dry times involved before we can move on to the next step. So far though, I think I'm still the most happy about just having a toilet again!
And one of these days I really need to switch out the florescent CFL light bulbs we've got in the work lights in the bathroom. I'm getting tired of looking at all of these pictures that have a blueish tinge to them. Here's a couple of shots in daylight, where you can see the tile colors much better.
As far as our next steps go, the other night I picked up some paint samples, and need to get them on the wall, so we can see what they look like in different lighting situations. They look a lot brighter in the cans than the paint chips, so it will be interesting to see what they look like on the wall.
And other than building a mirror frame and putting up the chair rail, we've still got to do some more touch ups on the walls, decide on a color and paint the walls, prime and paint the window and door trims, touch up the nail holes on the crown moulding, replace the toilet handle and seat, put up the sconces, order plantations shutters and install those, install the shower hardware, install the vanity and sink hardware, caulk pretty much every nook and cranny in the whole room, install the toilet paper holder and towel bars, replace the light switches and outlets with white ones and install the cover plates....and probably a ton of other little things that don't sound like much but they all take time. Plus, you know, actually decorating the room with curtains, towels, and accessories.
But still, we are definitely getting there! The hard parts are over, now it's mostly just lots and lots of little things. Maybe next time I update we will actually have a fully functional bathroom with a sink. Maybe, but no pressure, ha!