Friday, April 18, 2014
The Hard Part Is Over
On day three of the shower tiling job, I lowered my tile support board another two rows first thing and then re-waterproofed the old holes. While I was waiting for that to cure, I started tiling the back and right walls up to where we were planning on putting the accent tiles and then putting in the accent tiles. Because there wasn't much cutting involved, it went pretty smoothly and I was pleased with everything. I must say though that the narrow grout lines sure take a lot more work to keep straight and looking nice than wider grout lines were you have more room to fudge things to get them to line up. I stuck two tiles up above the accent tiles to see how much of a gap I was going to end up with at the ceiling. It really isn't too bad. I think I'm going to grout it and use some white caulk to seal it up and see how it looks. If it doesn't look good I can still fall back to the quarter round idea. In the afternoon I worked on putting in two more lower rows all the way around.
This was a lot trickier and time consuming. I left a little extra room to make sure I had the room to get the grout lines lined up on the tiles. This meant I had to use more shimming but in the end it was worth it. Finally I started tiling up on the left wall which meant cutting around the shower rough-ins. I wasn't sure how I was going to cut all the holes at first but I did some internet research and came up with a two pronged attack. For the small holes, I bought a diamond hole saw bit. It worked easily. For the larger holes, I couldn't find hole saws that size and had I been able to, I'm sure they would have been way expensive especially when I only had two holes of one size and a third slightly large hole to do. After research, I found I could buy special tile cutting blades for my 4" hand grinder. The blades ground right through the tile but cutting 5" and 5-1/2" holes with a 4" diameter blade wasn't the easiest thing to do. I held the grinder up vertically and sort of swept the hole circumference. By shear luck, the tiles lined up such that I never had to cut more than a semi-circle in the tile. I'm not sure I could do such a small hole in the middle of a tile with that method. With experience, I got better. I found that if I scored the semi-circle and then cut a slot in the discard portion to relieve stress before finishing my cut, I ended up with fairly good holes. It was time consuming and it took me the rest of day three to get halfway through the fixtures.
On day four, I removed the support boards and waterproofed the holes for the last time. I then got started cutting three more tiles to go around all the hand valves and body sprays with the hand grinder and hole saw. Once I got above them, the rest of the left wall went smoothly and I soon was complete up to the ceiling. I then cut the last row of tile to size and grouted them in place.
Despite having a line on the liner and beveled screeding rails for the sloped concrete shower pad, I soon discovered that I had a couple low spots where the concrete would hold water if it got beneath the tile. I ended up using the leftover mortar from my wall tile to flatten those spots out. Once it hardened up, I will mortar over it with my notched trowel as normal and nobody would know the difference. I cleaned up things and called it a day.
It's hard to tell but on day five, I added a row of bull nose tile on the left and right walls to give things a more finished look. I also had to cut the last piece of wall tile up next to the shower curb in the background. Then I spread mortar over the shower floor and laid all the whole pieces of floor tile. They had built in grout spacers on them so it was pretty easy to get them all lined up and looking nice. The hardest part was just figuring out how things would lay so that I could get a nice fit around the drain and not end up with a tiny sliver of tile up next to the wall. Once all the whole pieces of tile were laid, I quit early for the day to let things set up so I could get closer to the far edges when measuring and mortaring them in place.
My wife was packing to leave for a week long conference in Florida and she was taking her mother with her and I was looking at a week of taking care of the kids myself. So on day six, I made a concerted effort to finish laying the tile on the shower floor. I didn't think it would take me more than a couple hours but cutting and measuring all those tiles and then tiling the shower curb ended up taking my most of the day. I struggled with how I was going to do the shower curb. Option one was to make the tiles on the side of the curb overlap the 'flat' top tiles of the curb so that you see the more finished edge of the tiles. (I say flat because it looks that way but in reality it is slightly sloped towards the shower for any splashed water to drain inwards. ) However, one tile wasn't wide enough to fill in the gap on top so to make things look symmetrical, I would end up with three grout lines running the length of the shower curb. It just seemed like that was inviting more places for potential problems. Option two was to do like what you see in the picture. Overlap the flat tiles over the side tiles. I would end up with only one grout line running the length of the curb but the cut side of the tiles would be exposed. I decided to go this way because frankly the exposed tile edge didn't look much worse than the finish edge did because the finish edge wasn't colored gray like the face of the tile. I'm going to smooth the edge out with a tile stone and probably call it good. I frankly don't think once the shower is done, the fixtures and glass door is in place, that your eyes will ever look down in that direction. Worst case I could paint the tile edge after I get done grouting but I don't think it will come down to that.
So as I write this, it has been a week since I stepped foot in the shower. Next up on my agenda is to tile the floor which should be easy compared to the shower and grout it so that I can at least get the toilet set back in place and functioning. It gets old walking down the hall in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Once the crapper is working, I can go back to grout the shower and get the fixtures all mounted so that we have our master shower working again. After that I will need to build the vanity and get it plumbed up. Finally after that, there is lots of little things that need to be done but can be done in a working bathroom. I have to trim around the baseboard, door and window, hang bathroom fixtures like towel rack and toilet paper holder things. I also need to hang some artwork on the walls to admire, touch up paint, put the ceiling fan back together and a myriad of other things. Despite this lengthy list, I feel with the shower now tiled, the hard part is over and the end in sight. I can't wait.