Master Bathroom Remodel Part II {Laying Tile}

I know it's seemed like forever since my first master bathroom update, but that's because it has taken us so much longer than we expected to get through the second phase of this project - the floor.  We've still been working away on it pretty much every weekend, but things have slowed down due to other commitments, mainly Matt's job and homework, training for the Spartan Race + selling my Jetta/buying my new Mazda 6.  We've had so much on our plates these past few months, but we are determined to get it all done before Matt leaves for his training in Oklahoma City in a couple of weeks, so the end is now in sight!

Moving on to the master bathroom... when I last posted about this project, we had completed all the demo and built our new shower, which is amazing by the way, and I can't wait to start using it again!  The next step was re-tiling our floor, and it was all on us - no contractors to help!  Neither of us had tiled a floor before, so we really didn't realize what we were getting into.  I guess I figured that it would go quickly, because it isn't a huge space, but I think that actually hindered us more than helped us to be honest.

We literally started with nothing but our wood sub-floor, which just needed to be cleaned up a little.  The next step was to lay the cement backer board, which comes in 4 ft x 6 ft sheets.  In order to make sure they all fit together nicely before we adhered them to our floor, we did a dry-fit, meaning, we cut all of the pieces out and laid them down together to make sure they worked before doing anything else.

I got this idea from my friend Patricia who did this in the walls of her kitchen - I love the idea of God's Word being part of the foundation of a home.

Our toilet room when we started the floor - I'm not sure why, but I kept taking photos of this area to show the progress, so I thought I'd include them in this post for you all to see.

After the dry-fit, we mixed our first batch of thin-set and started laying the cement backer board we had pre-cut.  This went fairly smooth, and we were able to get the board laid in one night, even screwing it in.  After you adhere them with thin-set, you also have to screw them into the subfloor with about a gazillion screws.  In reality, it was more like 60 screws per sheet, but that is still A TON of screws, especially when you're laying like 8 or 9 sheets!


Once the backer board was dry, it was time to begin fitting our tile.  We used the same 12x24 inch porcelain tile for our floor that we used on the walls of our shower.  Our tile guy who did the shower told us to start by lining up our grout lines to his grout lines and make the floor tile seem like it was continuous with the wall tile, if that makes sense.  After watching countless YouTube videos on how to tile a floor, I've learned that usually people start tiling in the center of their room and go from there.  In our case, we needed the tile to line up with tile that was already in our shower, so our starting point was along the edge of our shower.

There were pros and cons of this.  The pro is that we had something solid to push against {the shower curb} to make sure the tiles were tight and straight.  The cons - it took us a little longer, because we could only tile in one direction.  Also, everything is relying on that first line {the curb of our shower} to be straight.  If it is not perfectly straight {which we've come to realize nothing in a house is ever perfectly straight}, our tile will slowly start to shift, and will end up really not straight near the end.  There's a lot more technical stuff that goes into tiling a floor properly than I originally thought.  There was a lot to think about!  


We used 1/8" grout spacers, which is what our tile guy used in our shower, and we did the same thing that we did with the backer board - a dry-fit.  In the main portion of our bathroom, we laid out as many full tiles as possible, and then started measuring the end pieces to be cut.  We ended up renting a wet-saw from Home Depot {which makes a terrible mess by the way - our garage had about 2 inches of dirty tile residue water in it} and we actually pulled an all-nighter and worked from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am to get the tile cut and laid into place in our bathroom!  We {Matt} returned the saw at 8:30 in the morning and we slept for the rest of the day pretty much!  But that was a huge step for us.  The tile was all cut and in it's place, we just needed to mix our thin-set and actually stick it to the floor - easy, right?

Here's where it got tricky.  We started doing our thin-set with the first row of tiles we laid - the row along the shower curb.  It did not go as smoothly as the YouTube videos showed.  I guess it's because this was our first time doing it, but they made it seem so simple and quick!  Not for us.  We were stressed and worried about time {the thin-set would dry pretty quickly in our bucket, and we'd need to re-mix a whole new batch after only 6 tiles!}.  It was also SUPER messy!  We were dropping globs of thin-set everywhere, kneeling in it, stepping in it, it was all over our tiles!  

Needless to say, the process actually went a lot slower than we expected, and each night we were only able to get a few rows done.  We ended up getting better at it as we went, but it got sketchy once we were done with the main portion of the bathroom and tried to move into the toilet room.  We basically ended up getting backed into a corner {literally} and it was really difficult to work.  Since you're not able to step on tile that is still wet for 24 hours, we really had to break up those smaller areas and let tile dry before moving on just so we could have an area to stand while working!  Let's just say that this part of the project that I expected to do in one day ended up taking us about 6 days {which equals about 4 weekends, since that's the only time we could work on it} to finish!  Slow is an understatement, but man, did it feel good once it was all done and in place!

So, we added an extra step into the mix for our project.  Remember when I said it was a complete mess when we were laying the thin-set for the tile?  Well, we didn't do that great of a job cleaning it up between the tile joints, so it dried like that.  Matt ended up having to go buy a special tool to chip the dried thin-set out of all the joints so we could fill them with grout.  Word of advice - try to clean up your thin-set as you tile, and don't let it dry in places you don't want it to {if you can help it}!  

The last step, and most enjoyable step I might add, was grouting.  I don't know if it was the most fun because it was the final step, or the quickest, or because I was actually supposed to make a mess, but I really enjoyed this part.  It was so quick, in fact, that I did it all by myself {it only took about two hours} while Matt was at work!  It went so fast that I only needed one bucket of grout for the whole bathroom.  It was getting a little dry by the end, but was definitely still working.  It was a little arm workout, too - you have to press the grout into the joints in little strokes, and make sure to get it in everywhere.  I only did about a 4 ft x 4 ft area at a time, and then I would stop to wipe up the excess.  The hardest part is how dirty the water bucket keeps getting because of all that excess grout.  I had to empty and refill it about 10 times, but I cannot tell you how amazing it was to see that floor finally finished!

The grout looks dark here, because it's still wet, but over the next few days, it dried to a light gray/beige color that matches the tile perfectly! I could not be more happy or excited for the next {and final!} phase of this bathroom remodel, which is putting in all of the final fixtures and decorative touches. We've already been going much faster since the floor has been completed, and I can't wait to share with you the big reveal hopefully in a few weeks. We're racing the clock right now - we have less than two weeks until our friends get in town - so we'll see what we can finish in that time - wish us luck!!

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