Posts Tagged ‘Tile’

Sweet, sweet completion.  After 4 full months in various stages of being torn apart, it’s put back together again and ready for guests.  Without further ado:

Paint:  SW Interesting Aqua and SW Alabaster | Tile:  Tracce del Tempo in marrone 13x13s | Sink:  Mansfield Barrett | Toilet:  Mansfield Barrett, a discontinued version without concealed trap | Faucet, towel ring, and TP ring:  Moen Eva collection in brushed nickel | Mirror:  Lowe’s

We’ve worked on it most of the last bunch of weekends, and I confess I got so tired of the project toward the end that I wasn’t enjoying working on it, let alone taking pictures or writing about it.  So, I stopped blogging about it – this is supposed to be fun, right?  Besides, nobody wants to see pictures of “and then I did another coat of white paint!” or “and then we ran out to Lowe’s again!”

We did a lot of that – the running out to Lowe’s again.  It seemed like every step that could’ve had a hangup, required another trip to Lowe’s, needed a different part, or had 8 more steps than we thought, did.  Most parts of the project weren’t that difficult, but they were almost all things we don’t do everyday.  “One off” sort of projects always take more time and effort than you expect.

But finally.

After it was all finished, it struck me how similar it was to what was previously there – it was really just a nicer, more polished version of itself.  The layout is the same.  It’s still blue, and still has neutral colored, square-patterned flooring.  The shift from bisque to white fixtures isn’t dramatic.  The mirror and vanity light were things we’d had in there before.  But the overall impression, I think, is much nicer.  It’s the little things.  Looking at the befores:

There’s no more gapping between pieces of laminate flooring, no more vague smell of mold (the old toilet wax seal leaked), no more pinky beige, circa 1985, no more shreds of wallpaper that I couldn’t quite get out from behind the baseboard molding, no more shoddy finish carpentry, more floor space, and a cleaner, brighter look.  It’s warmer, with a forced air heat register that now opens into the room, and radiant heat in the floor.  It feels more like part of the house, not part of the garage.

We still have a few little tasks left to do:  we need to install a threshold between the tile and the family room carpet, just to finish it off.  I’m also thinking about what to hang on the walls.  A floating shelf over the toilet would provide space for extra TP rolls, etc.  I admit I will probably miss the vanity storage space a little.  With the heat vent where it is, I think we made the right decision to use a pedestal sink, but it always pains me to sacrifice storage space.

We’re also going to replace the lauan door – which looks so orange against all that white! – with a solid pine 6 panel door that will be painted white to match, with a brushed nickel knob.  I am ready to give that up for now and call it a separate project.  I need a little break where I’m “done” for a bit.  We’ll eventually be doing all the interior doors in the house, and they’ll all still be there next month.

Just for funsies:


and 2012:

I’m pretty proud of that!


Read Full Post »


It has been a busy week+ in half bathroom progress.  I haven’t had time to update, because I’ve had to choose between doing the work and blogging about the work (and, well, catching Olympic swimming), and blogging was a distant third.  But here we are.

Last Saturday, we grouted the tile floor.  Grouting is just kind of tedious, but it’s gratifying to see the floor going from looking obviously in-progress to DONE in an afternoon.

Sunday, when the grout was dry enough to walk on the tile, I primed the ceiling and walls so they could be painted.

We also went to Lowe’s to buy the beadboard and molding.  4’x8′ sheets of beadboard don’t fit as well into a Subaru Forester as one might hope, but we got them home.

Monday I got up early and painted the ceiling white before I went in to work, so I could do the walls that night when I got home.

Tuesday the beadboard started going up:

The hole saw was nobody’s BFF, but we got the job done.  Since this is the only piece with holes, the hardest one was out of the way first.  We adhered it to the wall with Liquid Nails and actual nails into the studs.

The beadboard + chair rail will be about 40″ off the floor.  That will be about 6″ higher than the top of the pedestal sink, and a couple inches below the light switches and outlets.

The pieces of beadboard were not as long as the walls were, so most of the walls (all except the door wall) have joints in the beadboard.  They’re about 1/8″ wide, caulked, so there’s room for the beadboard to expand and contract a little, and the caulk should hide it.  The goal was to make it with the beadboard around the corner where the toilet will sit, so we could put the toilet in and not have to take it back out again to finish the trim work.  We also needed to put in the baseboard molding behind the toilet.

The remaining days of the week were mostly spent painting.  Three coats of semigloss paint took some time.  Yesterday, I finished the third coat of paint in the morning, cleaned out the accumulated tools, washed the floor, and the toilet went in — just as weekend guests were arriving.

The bowl went in pretty uneventfully, but when we sat the tank on the bowl… womp, womp, womp.  The pieces don’t match.

The bowl is white like it’s supposed to be, but the tank is bone colored.  We’d ordered white, and hadn’t checked the boxes to make sure both pieces actually said white.  What a pain.  So that is still to be resolved.  The white sink pedestal is also still on backorder, and will (really) hopefully be here soon.  The only positive that I can say for all this is that it makes me feel good about the decision to replace the old bone colored toilet in favor of a white one, rather than just buying a bone colored pedestal sink and being done with it.  I like the white with the white beadboard.  I think it’ll look great when the trim work is finished and the sink comes in.

In the meantime, we’re finishing the beadboard and baseboards, and will then do the chair rail over the beadboard.  New door casing will be part of that, again with lots of painting.  Eventually we’ll need to pick out and hang a new door, since the Lauan door that’s there has seen some better days (and even those days were not as awesome as they could be).  Solid pine is a possibility for the new doors.  Whatever we pick will probably become the standard for the rest of the house as we slowly replace the stained Lauan doors throughout.

The bathroom is far from done, but at least there’s been some significant progress, and it’s starting to look like a bathroom again!

Read Full Post »

Some unmodified gray thinset and water, some time with the tile saw, and…

here we are!

We’re using 3/16″ spacers between each of the 13×13″ tiles.

The thinset is currently drying, so we’ll be able to walk on it to measure and cut the last couple of corner pieces in a day or so.  After that, we’ll just need to grout and then the floor will be finished and ready for toilet installation.  (Yay!)

Read Full Post »

Now that the walls are in pretty decent shape, it’s time to turn our attention back to the floor.  This weekend, we made progress on the flooring under the tile.

First, the Ditra went down over the concrete slab.  The Ditra will help with a couple of challenges with this floor.  First, it provides an uncoupling layer between the cracked slab and the tile that will be laid above it, so if there’s any movement in the crack in the future, it won’t cause the tiles to crack.  It also provides a waterproofing membrane, and vapor barrier under the tile.

The upper surface has a waffle texture, with undercut dovetail squares, and the bottom surface has a fleecy backing for adhering to thinset between the Ditra and the concrete.

After we laid the Ditra (and the thinset dried overnight), we started playing with the tile layout.  A few of the tiles, maybe a third or so of the square footage, are cut and ready to go.  The starting point for the tile pattern is the triangular half tile that is centered in the doorway.  We’ll build the pattern from there.  That will be a pain when we actually lay the tile, because we want to work our way out of the room, but for setting the pattern it works better this way.

I think the average tile color is darker than the tile that we brought home to look at initially.  Only a few are as light as it was.  I was a little surprised by how dark they are, but I think it will look good when it’s done.

After playing with the layout a bit, we took the tiles out and started the next step in installation, which is the radiant heat.  We used a 3×5′ mat from Laticrete which will lay under the floor where people will walk/stand.  It didn’t seem necessary go to the additional complexity of installing it under where the sink bowl will be.

The mat is self-sticking, so with just a little wiggling and adjustment, we got it down where it needed to go.  The wires come up in the lower left corner, and are run up behind the wall to the thermostat, which will be next to the light switch and GFI outlet.  I forgot to take a picture of that, oops.

Once the wires were run, we were ready to cover it up.  It took quite a lot of thinset to bury it completely, and fill the undercut waffle pattern in the Ditra to anchor it down.

The next step will be tiling over it!

We also started thinking about paint colors.  Sherwin Williams is having a 40% off sale next weekend, so I’d like to decide by then what color I want to paint the walls.  If I really can’t, I can of course buy untinted paint on sale and tint it when I decide, but deadlines are good for me.

I laid out a few pieces of tile in the family room to look at paint cards against.  The walls used to be SW Sleepy Blue, which is the same color as the family room.  I like it, but I think I want something a little darker in the new half bath, and I’m not absolutely wedded to going with the same color card.

So back to the drawing board.

Ok, maybe not that far back.  How about one of these?

Colors from three of these four cards have been used somewhere else in the house already.  It turns out I’m pretty predictable.

We’re thinking about something from the middle (4th) row, probably on one of the two more blue cards.  Sleepy Blue is the 2nd from top, on the leftmost card.  Decisions, decisions.

Laying and grouting the tile are the only two steps left before we can install the new toilet.  Then we can re-hang the door, and be able to use the bathroom again a little bit.  That will save us a lot of walking upstairs!

Read Full Post »

We’ve finally arrived at a final decision on tile for the downstairs bathroom:

(The color on the right)

After starting out looking for something like this, then trying on a bunch of other ideas for size, we’ve come full circle.

We’re going to do 13×13 squares of Tracce del Tempo porcelain tile.  But instead of arranging them in a grid like we’d been setting them into the room, we’re going to orient them in a diamond pattern, rotated 45 degrees.  That way we get the unfussy look of a small amount of grout, without looking like we’re putting grid lines into the bathroom.  We’re hoping the space will look bigger that way.

I want to make sure we finish the hall and stairs before work on the bathroom starts, so that we’re not living in the middle of a long stretch of works in progress. This will provide more motivation to get the hall painting finished in the next week or so!

Read Full Post »

More tile!

Oh help.  The tiles are growing in numbers!

The options have expanded to 8:

To be fair, I think we’ve decided against the verde options; they’re too dark.  So 6.  I left the two we’ve eliminated in, just to help me better appreciate the sizes.

A:  Tracce del Tempo 13×13, marrone
B:  Tracce del Tempo 13×13, verde
C:  Palladium 6×6, avorio
D:  Palladium 6×6, verde
E:  Palladium basket weave, tortora
F:  Palladium basket weave, avorio
G:  Piedmont Ivory, honed & filled travertine basket weave
H:  Berkshire honed marble basket weave

I really thought we might have a winner with the Palladium basket weave.  And I do like them:

F, E (porcelain)

Particularly the tortora color (E) on the right, which looks very warm.

C, D, E

But whoa, it’s about four times the cost per square foot of the squares of the same type.  I’m not sure I love it that much!

We also picked up a couple of natural stone basket weave tiles to see how we liked them.  They are middling in cost between the porcelain basket weaves and the porcelain square tiles.

G (travertine), H (marble)

Ok, now I’m just gratuitously playing with my tripod and macro filters, and deferring on making any kind of decision:

(G) Travertine

(H) Marble

B and A, porcelain

E (porcelain)

I really liked the idea of the near indestructibility of the porcelain tiles, but darn if I don’t like the natural stone too — although I’m not 100% sold on the smooth honed finish.

Even leaving aside the different materials and their qualities, I’m not sure which pattern looks the best, and is the best size for the room.  6×6 squares?  Large basket weave?  Smaller basket weave?

One part of me is thinking the small, natural stone basket weave.  Another part is thinking 6×6 squares, preferably of (A), are fine, and by far the most cost effective of the top contenders.  I like the larger basket weave, but the cost is a turn off — I don’t think I love it enough for the price.

I wasn’t anticipating how difficult this decision would be!

Read Full Post »

Although it took longer than expected, the backsplash is finished!

As was roughly the goal, the backsplash now blends fairly unobtrusively with the rest of the kitchen:

That’s an outright compliment, coming from these:

Before we started

At the end of the first weekend of work, the tiles were in place, and we felt what we later learned was a false sense of being well on our way to finishing.

We grouted the tiles in white, which was our first big mistake.

White grout: fail.

Not only did the grout not cover the thinset (or match it) as well as we’d intended, but it also didn’t match the
old grout lines.  About 1/3 of the way up the grout lines between tiles adjacent to the accent tiles, you can tell exactly where the new grout ends.  It shares a disappointing resemblance with a Clorox commercial.

It took us most of the rest of the week to remove ALL of the white grout, old and new, with a battery powered Dremel that kept needing a recharge, without nicking the white tiles (which are terra cotta under the white enamel).  We redid the grout with gray the second time around:

…which required pulling the stove out, but otherwise went pretty well.  After a day or so to let it set, we sealed the grout lines between tiles, caulked the joint between the bottom tiles and the countertop, and used a brass-bristled brush to scrub the residual white grout out of the shell impressions.  Then — ta-da! — put the kitchen back together after over a week in a disaster zone.

In a hypothetical next time on a project like this, I’d match the thinset to the grout.  I’m not sure why we didn’t the first time — might’ve been that Lowe’s didn’t have a modest sized container of white thinset to go with the original white grout?  I’d also give up the ghost on trying to match old grout to new grout.

All in all, though, we’re glad to have done the project.  It was reasonably inexpensive, and clearly, game, set, and match to the shells.  Such an improvement over than the old flower tiles!  This will make the kitchen a lot more palatable in years going forward.

It does, however, reopen the cabinet discussion:  to paint or not to paint.  And if so, what color…?

Paint chips are Sherwin Williams:
Row 1:  Comfort Gray, Oyster Bay, Sea Salt
Row 2:  Silver Strand, Magnetic  Gray, Unusual Gray
Row 3:  Sedate Gray, Techno Gray, Austere Gray
Row 4:  Escape Gray, Conservative Gray, Wool skein

This, of course, is a project for another day.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »