Kristen has already given you a general idea (here and here) of how the tiling and grouting went, so in this post I’ll cover the step-by-step process, I hope, succinctly. The processes themselves involved more steps than I realized, and as seems to be the case with everything else, the preparation for tiling was the most time consuming part. We’ve already covered the cement board installation, so the next step is to get out the tiles.
1. To get an idea of which tiles need to be cut, and what sizes they need to be cut in, we first did a dry-run of the bottom row. This showed us two things. First, the size of the cut tile that would go in the corner, and second, that our tub was not level. So we started out the first tile of the bottom row as close to the tub as possible and kept all the other tiles level with that. We ended up with a growing gap between the bottom row and the tub, but we eventually filled it in with caulk.
2. After we got the size of the corner tile (which translated to the edge tile on every other row), I cut tiles of that size (I think the first wall’s short pieces were 4″) for every row. I used a basic tile cutter that I got from our local hardware store–it works pretty well.
3. With all of the tiles cut, we started to stick them on the wall with the thin set mortar. This part is somewhat messy, but fairly easy once you get started. Using the trowel (with 1/4″ square groves) we spread the thin set on the cement board then scored it with the grooved side. The trick is to get enough mortar on so the tile doesn’t slip, but not so much that it pushes up through the gaps. The conventional wisdom seems to be that if you put a tile up, then take it down, the back of the tile should just be covered with mortar–that’s the ideal amount.
3.2 (Actually, kind of 2.2) Before we took off tiling the whole wall, we made sure to get at least two level rows, on the bottom, set. We let this dry overnight, and the next day we had a set base of tiles that we could tile on top of and not worry about getting the tiles crooked. We did this for all three walls in the shower. We didn’t use spacers between our tiles because they had built-in 1/16″ spaces.
4. After all the tile was set, it was time to grout. Grouting is time consuming but not all that hard. We bought the kind of grout that has to be mixed, but there are premixed grouts as well. After following the mixing directions on the bag, the grout was ready to be put on the walls. The process here is pretty similar to applying the mortar. Using the grout floater, we spread on grout (at a 45 degree angle) and made sure it got in all the spaces.
5. After we’d covered a small area, we let the grout sit for about 30 minutes before wiping off the excess. After we wiped off the excess, we wiped the tile down again with a damp cloth. That’s all there is to it. Overnight, the grout dried.
Some things to keep in mind:
–Grout dries quickly, so we did small areas instead of trying to grout the entire shower at once. Scraping dried grout off of tiles is no fun.
–If the grout in your bucket starts to become hard to work with, mix it up again. I used a mixer attachment and a drill, which is much easier than trying to stir it by hand. After mixing it for a few minutes, the grout will loosen up and be easier to work with.
1. Tiling the floor was super easy except for getting the tiles straight (as Kristen explains here). So since we’ve already covered our problem with the spaces, I’ll skip the dry-run process. After I had the entire floor covered in tiles for the dry-run, I started at one end of the room and picked up a couple of rows of tile at a time.
2. I used the same thin set mortar for the floors as I did in the shower, and spreading the mortar on was the same. The only difference is that for the floor, I used a trowel with 1/8″ V-shaped grooves (because the floor tiles were smaller than the shower tiles, this smaller groove set kept me from putting on too thick a layer of mortar).
3. After I covered a small section in mortar, I set out the hexagon tiles. These tiles came in sheets, so I really only had to get the pattern and the spaces right (I used 1/16″ spacers between the sheets of tiles).
4. After tiling in small sections, the floor was finished. I let it set overnight and grouted the next day.
5. Grouting the floor was exactly the same as grouting the shower. Spread on the grout, let it sit for 30 minutes, wipe off the excess with the grout sponge, then wipe down the tile with a damp cloth. Presto.
More things to keep in mind:
–The floor tiles we used came in sheets, so there was no cutting tiles to fit against corners or walls. I just had to pop off enough of the small tiles to get the rest of the sheet to fit. It’s important to make sure that only enough tiles are popped off to get the sheet to fit against the walls/tub–putting down single tiny hex tiles to fill in gaps sure ain’t fun.
–We used quarter round trim to cover up the gaps between the edges of the tile sheets and the walls. For the most part, we covered all the gaps.
–After the grout had dried completely (a few days), we applied grout sealer to prevent it from staining and to keep out moisture.
Here’s a quick reminder of the before:
If all this sounds too easy to be true, it’s because it kind of is, but it also kind of isn’t. The prep work (cutting tiles, getting level rows, getting spaces right on the floor) took me at least twice as long as the actually tiling and grouting. But once the prep is done, the laying of tile goes pretty quickly.
Post is linked up at One Project Closer’s Link It Up #1. Check it out here.