DIY Ceramic Tile

DIY Ceramic Tile

When we moved into our almost complete home seven years ago, we made quite a long “to do” list.  With so many projects on the list, tiling Fun Son’s bathroom was pretty much at the bottom.  Both upstairs bathrooms had not-so-pretty linoleum tile squares as the flooring.  Yuk!   Spunky Daughter’s bathroom linoleum tiles were actually separating and gaping open between them.  Double yuk!

I guess you’ve figured out which bathroom got top priority.  Yes, SD’s bathroom was tiled long before we got around to this one.  You might remember (if you’ve been faithful to visit from the early days of my blog) that this time last year, we were beginning this bathroom tile project (perfect for cold weather!).  But…I got side-tracked and started cleaning out and repainting Fun Son’s bedroom. 

There’s a name for this condition – twirling!  Do you twirl from thing to thing, often without finishing one project before beginning the next?  It can even be small things, like house-cleaning, laundry, baking…you know, everyday stuff like that.  And it does happen every day around here.

I’m sure they have medicine for that!

To prove my diagnosis, I’d like to point out that I’ve done it again – just now.  It applies to writing, too!  Twirling back to the tile project, here’s the bathroom before we started again this time.

Original Linoleum Tiles

The first step is to remove the toilet (thank you, HH!).   You want to turn the water valve off behind Mr. Toilette, drain the water out, and disconnect the water line before removing.  Those little things we clean around on each side of the base – the little caps that come off and the dog tries to eat – remove them and put them in a safe place.  The caps cover the bolts that hold the toilet in place.

Remove the nut from the bolt on each side.  Lift Mr. Toilette straight up, off the bolts.  HH set ours inside the tub so he didn’t have to go down the stairs and drip yucky toilet water all the way.

Next step is to remove any shoe molding around the baseboard edge. If you’re careful and leave them in one piece, you can use them as a pattern for the new shoe mold you install after your tile is complete.

Removing Shoe Molding

That was some grungy shoe molding on the back side.  So glad it’s gone!

After vacuuming the floor well, lay your concrete backer board.  There are several brands you can use.  We had some remaining from tiling SD’s bathroom, so we wound up with a hodge-podge look.  That’s the way we live, folks!  We don’t waste anything in The Land of Making Do.

Concrete Backer Board

Follow the directions for installation of whatever board you choose.  Notice I snapped a chalk line to prepare for tile placement.

Before mixing your mortar, lay out several tiles to decide which way you like it.  Do you want a full tile at the doorway and a partial tile at the other end of the room?  Or, the opposite. Some people work from the center point of the room, which means most if not all tiles around the edges are cut tiles.  In our case, each end of the room would have had a two-inch piece of tile.  We didn’t want that look – sort of choppy, we thought.

Laying Out Tile for Pattern

We decided we like the look of full tiles along the doorway, with one tile centered in the width of the opening.  HH cut the threshold piece and set it in place.  (I set it into mortar after finishing with the tile pieces.)  With this configuration, the edge tiles from the toilet wall to the tub were the same cut measurements.

While planning not to tile myself into a corner, I laid the tile from the right side of the door to the apposite wall and returned on the left side of the room back to the door.  It actually worked pretty well.

Since I was doing this project while my camera was broken, I was using our old point and shoot.  I took pictures to demonstrate marking for cut tiles while under the cabinet edge, and they turned out dark with failed attempts to clearly lighten them.  For better clarity, I took a few tiles upstairs while writing this post to take some shots with my new camera that arrived after completing the tile project.

For marking along a straight wall, place a tile upside-down beside the tile already in place next to it.  Place another tile on top and line it up with the tiles set in place around it.  (While you are tiling, you’ll be working your way across the floor, so one or two tiles beside the new piece should already be set in mortar.)  Mark a Sharpie line along the tile edge.  For a large job, I recommend setting all non-cut tiles in mortar in the interior of the room, leaving the edge pieces to cut and set the following day.

Marking Straight Tile Cut

This is how you mark for a corner tile cut.  This time, you’ll lay the tile to be marked face up at the front cabinet edge in the spot where it will be set in mortar.  Lay two full tiles along both cabinet edges, allowing for grout lines, and mark the corner exposed as you see below.

Marking Corner Tile Cuts

The portion of the marked tile you see in the picture above will be the waste.  The remainder of the tile is the “L” that fits around the corner after turning the tile 160°.

I worked my way around the edge of the room and back to the doorway, as planned.  You’ll want to check each tile for level as you lay it in place in the mortar.  Hammer areas gently with a rubber mallet as needed.  Check for level with the tiles beside as you work, so your floor will be level all across the room.

Tile Set

I was thrilled to be finished with this part – over half way complete!

The next day, I added the grout – without taking any pictures.  I’m very talented at not taking pictures – especially with our point and shoot camera!

Grout is mashed into the cracks between tiles by using a thick flat applicator that resembles a trowel.  Why didn’t I get a picture of that thing?  After mashing and spreading grout, use a large wet sponge to remove the excess.  Rinse the sponge often and keep wiping until the tiles are clean and the grout lines are smooth.

I remembered to take a picture of the entire floor when I was finished.  Notice there is no shoe molding added yet.

Bathroom Floor Tile Complete

Shoe mold isn’t required, but HH and I like to add it, since our edges aren’t always cut exactly straight.  We’re not pro’s, and we prefer not to flaunt that!

HH was motivated to finish, so he cut and installed the new molding the next day.  We had some pre-painted molding left over from previous projects, so it was easy-peasy to put it in and paint the wood-filled nail holes later.  You’ll need to clean the baseboard well and possibly repaint them for freshening up, as I did.

Soon after completion, you’ll want to seal the grout with some recommended sealer.  (I used our leftover sealer.)

While the door was off, HH cut along the bottom edge to clear the new threshold.

The builders had installed the door before the molding was sanded and painted properly.  As this was their general practice with every door upstairs, we work on the door frames as we work inside each room.  And, with the freshly painted baseboard, it glowed in comparison to the other woodwork.

I took a few more days to sand and paint the trim…then painted the door, and now that the paint is dry…it’s all put back together.  Also, the new camera arrived, so this picture is not dark and grainy!

DIY Ceramic Tile

Of course, with baseboard, door frame, and the door freshly painted, I’m thinking about painting the vanity with some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I really like the Duck Egg Blue, but I’m not sure I’d like it with the red shower curtain.

Oh, and my recent $5 find at Hob Lob clearance section…a perfect note to our guests.

Bed and Breakfast Ready

We want to give folks a chuckle, so I’m thinking the sign should stay.  The vanity needs to go with red, but I don’t want it to be red.  I like the neutrality of French Linen I used on the medicine cabinet garden seed storage in the laundry room.

I’ll keep you posted on my decision on that.  But, first I should probably twirl back to finishing a curtain project I started before my camera broke.  The window treatment tutorials need to be clear, so I was sulking waiting for the new camera to arrive.

If you have a tile job you’re planning, here’s a video to watch that is very detailed and complete.  Even with this long post, I could never cover all the detailed considerations and techniques of laying tile.  It’s nice to see how others do things, so that’s what I provided in this post.  But…you need the full monte, so here it is.

This tile contractor covers everything very well!  Since the video is rather long, I expect you’ll watch the entire thing only if you are planning a tile project in the near future.

If so, please tell me about your tile project.  I really want to know if you’re planning one.  Good luck!

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