Monday, April 14, 2014
I'm not a tiling rookie but I would still say I'm no where near an expert yet. I've done two small floor projects and one project up around a tub surround and that is it until this project. In those three projects I've always felt that the first tile mortared was the hardest. There is a sense of permanence that makes me agonize over things because I know that once they set up, they aren't coming out in one piece. I spent many a day working on other things in this project pondering the best way to tile the shower. But the day before we left for our trip down to Dallas, I overcame that hurdle and stuck up the first tile. This was my progress at the end of the day. It doesn't look like much but I had to set everything up and the details of the shower niche ate up a lot of time.
I started by putting tile on the bottom, then sides, then top of the shower niche and putting a cut piece of the floor tile between the two tile pieces that makes up each side. That way it is supported on both sides and the back mosaic tiles which I installed next. Originally I was going to install the wall tiles up to the edge of the shower niche but they don't have a really nice edge when cut. So I got some bull nose tiles and edged the shower niche with them. As you can see and what I quickly found out, if I had planned on using them from the beginning, I would have probably made the shower niche and inch shorter so that the top corner joints would look like the bottom corner joints. As it was, I don't think it looks too bad and could have looked worse. I think it will look better once I get the field tile on the walls.
The field tile is 9 x 12 subway like tile that I'm going to put on a staggered joint which explains why I used little pieces close to the shower niche. I installed the board underneath the niche to get a full row of tile installed with the proper spacing and to help hold things up until it set up. This will allow the row lines to line up with the bull nose lines so they appear to be in the row. The only problem with this is that I still have two and a partial row to do underneath that board. This will mean I will have to install the level boards two more times. Ideally you would only do this once and work up. I just wasn't confident that I would end up with the proper tile spacing when I reached the niche and then I would have either staggered joints or a big wide grout joint now up in plain view.
The biggest relief is that the permanence of the tile is over with now that it has been there for a week. I can't change what is up short of pulling off the cement board and starting over which I am not going to do. So when I start tiling again, it is just filling up the field which is pretty straight forward work now that I have two rows up straight and level. Once I get up past the niche where I can put up a dozen whole tiles at once instead of just a few before having to cut some, I will probably apply the mortar directly to the wall to speed things up. So far I am just 'back buttering' the tile which is to say I'm applying the mortar to the tile back and then sticking it to the wall.