Last Friday, I talked about half bath demo and framing the wall and pocket door.
Once the wall was framed and the floor was clean and free of any leftover screws, we could lay backer board and then begin to tile!
We both really hated using the backer board. While it’s relatively easy to score (you really need a carbide blade for this, I discovered through reading contractor forums), the boards do tend to crumble, so it isn’t quite as easy to work with as drywall. You also do not want to lay your boards in such a way that four corners meet, so stagger them for stability. You have to leave space as well for them to shift. Otherwise, down the road, your tile might be affected. The purpose of the backer board is to make a monolithic substrate – a flat surface on which to lay tile. Contractors are divided as to whether or not you mud first. However, because we were going back with the same small mosaic tile, we were less concerned with breakage and decided to move forward. We used the appropriate backer board screws and, for stability, added them closer than every square foot. Time will tell if this was the right move.
Here’s where I’ll admit that I was desperately trying to get the job done. We host an annual Christmas party, and I was hoooooping I could have this close to finished. [Spoiler: I did not finish in time.] So I decided I could tile myself, once I finished the semester. Even though I’ve never tiled anything. Ever. We borrowed a wet saw from a neighbor who is really generous with his collection of tools, and I dry fit the tile to see how I could make the fewest cuts possible. After lots of looking and dreaming, we went with the Daltile Prologue Ceramic Octagon/Dot tile from Home Depot. The price was too good to pass up; the tile fits the feel/age of the house and the half bath and will abut the black and white lip into the kitchen (seen below). If you order tile, make sure you order more than you need – take it from me.
My husband helped me find the square of the room (don’t even ask me, it was way over my head) to make sure the tile was square. We snapped chalk lines for me to find a good spot to start. Note: Square and flush – those concepts are beyond me. Level is about as much as I can conceptualize.
Tiling this tiny space took me all day. It’s so much trickier than it looks. See those little diamonds that fit into the spaces? Impossible not to have thinset ooze out. Because we used the same tile as the previous owners, I knew I had to fix that or be left with a tile job I was not pleased with. Once I finished, there were two square-foot sections that were higher. Thankfully, Caleb (my husband) was once a bricklayer, so he redid those for me.
After allowing the tiles to dry and cure, it was time to grout! Because of the size of the space between the tile, unsanded grout is recommended. I mixed it according to instructions, let it sit, then mixed a minute longer and got busy. You need a grout float and grout sponge for this step, and while it takes some elbow grease, it is SO satisfying to see the results! Essentially, you push the grout into the spaces with your grout float at a 45-degree angle, do an entire section, then wipe with your barely damp sponge. A haze will be left, but after 24 hours, you can wipe that away with a dry cloth. I couldn’t believe the difference.While it isn’t perfect, it’s so much better than the tile job before, and I love that even with the same tile, we went with a light gray diamond in between the white hexies. The gray is subtle but adds interest – and most importantly, made it feel like I wasn’t just having to correct someone else’s bad job.
We still have to seal the grout, but other than that, it’s ready to go! I’m proud that I did this almost totally by myself, but I will also admit, out of the many home projects I’ve tackled, this was not my favorite. But I saved us some money and retain bragging rights.
Join me next week as we get one step closer to completing this project.