It has been a long time since I updated you on our progress in the master bathroom. I am sure you have been eagerly awaiting an update from me. I promise you that we have not been slacking off but slowly…very slowly….making progress on the bathroom.
We finished applying the KERDI in the shower shortly after my last post, but it wasn’t done in one more go like I expected. In addition to applying KERDI on the spots we hadn’t covered yet, we had to apply the corner KERDI that covers all the edges where to sheets of KERDI meet.
Since it has been weeks since I wrote, a lot of what we have done has blended into one. The smaller things such as painting the walls and ceiling (we had only primed the last post), testing the waterproofing, and adding the medicine cabinet were pretty uneventful. To test the waterproof, we stopped the shower drain and poured water into the base of the shower. Jim marked the top of the water line and we checked 24 hours later. The water was still at the line which meant our shower was completely waterproof. Phew.
At some point in the past few weeks, we started tiling. We ended up buying a wet saw. If you don’t remember from the kitchen tiling, a wet saw is similar to a table saw except it shoots out water while you are cutting to prevent the tiling from cracking and prevent sparks/fire (metal against stone at a very high-speed). We have rented a wet saw in the past when we have had to tile. In order to ensure we only rented it for one day, we would measure out all the pieces that needed to be cut beforehand and then just quickly cut them all in one evening. This time, we had gravity working against us. We could not dry fit all the tiles to see which tiles needed to be cut where since we were tiling the shower walls. In addition, the tiles we ordered were 24″ by 12″ tiles, which meant we had to cut the majority of the tiles. It made more sense to buy a wet saw so we could take our time and be precise about each measurement. Also so Jim could have another cool saw to add to his collection.
Since I have already written about tiling before, you may remember the steps – 1) apply mortar onto wall/floor 2) apply tile onto mortar 3) level tile 4) insert spaces 5) repeat. Once all the tiles are in place, the next step is applying the grout – 1) apply grout 2) smooth out grout with damp sponge that can’t have any dripping water 3) wipe tiles of any extra grout. If only the actual steps were as quick to complete as they are to write.
Instead of boring you with all the details about our weeks of tiling, I’ll just list a few highlights and lessons learned.
1) When tiling vertically, gravity sucks. Not only could we not dry fit all our tiles, when applying mortar on the wall, globs kept falling to the floor.
2) Shower spaces are tiny. Jim and I normally split up the tiling jobs – he applies the mortar and then I add the tile and work on leveling. In this instance, Jim had to do both jobs and I just handed him the tiles. I felt pretty useless for a lot of this.
3) Tiling around built-in shelves is HARD. We created three built-in shelves for our shower. With the bigger tiles, Jim had to cut out squares on the tiles so they could fit around the shelves. We also had to add trim on the edges of the tiles since they will show on the shelves. In order to keep everything in place, we needed to use clamps and let it dry. It took us a long time to finally get all of these tiles up and in place.
4) Blue tape isn’t strong enough to hold dry fitted tiles in places. We lost two tiles this way…gravity sucks.
5) 1″ by 1″ mosaic tiles and 24″ by 12″ tiles, do not require the same amount of mortar. We knew this going into tiling. We had to buy a special trowel for the large tiles since they require more mortar to stay in place. The amount of mortar that is underneath a tile helps to level it to the tile next to it. Since you use the same trowel, in theory, the mortar is level so the tile will be level. The problem is that we decided to put a row of mosaics along the shower wall. Therefore these tiles, which require much less mortar and therefore a smaller trowel, would not be level to the larger tile if we did not use the same amount of mortar. Our first attempt at this problem was to try to put the mosaics on using the same trowel and to try to level it ourselves. The end result did not turn out well. From far away it looked ok, but from up close, you could see that all the tiles were uneven. Jim scraped all the mosaics off of the wall – which was no easy task. Then he came up with the idea to use the left over KERDI to level the tiles. The plan was to apply three layers of KERDI under the mosaics to help level the mosaics to the large tiles. Unfortunately, three levels of KERDI has to be done over three days since the mortar needs to dry after each layer. Luckily, my husband’s genius solution worked and our mosaic lines up well with the large tiles.
6) These tile leveling clips are awesome. We used them both on the walls and floor. They would have made our lives easier in previous tiling situations but we didn’t discover them until now.
7) It is super hard to cut 1″ by 1″ mosaic tile, especially if they need to be cut on a diagonal. The mosaic tile we used in the kitchen and first floor bathroom were 2″ by 2″, so Jim’s fingers were at as high a risk as cutting our new mosaics. Jim needed to use a wrench to hold the tiles. We needed to cut a lot of mosaics since those are the only tiles on the shower floor.
Before we tiled the floor, we needed to put down the heating wires so we could have heated floors. We super glued them to the floor in a zig-zag manner. We also put them in the shower floor. Other then one super glue incident (Jim leaned his hand on some steaming hot glue), the wires went down easily. Now, we had a new challenge posed with the shower floor. With such small mosaic tiles, the wires would throw off the balance of the tiles. This would make it unpleasant to step on the shower floor – not something we wanted. We also want to keep the built-in incline of the shower base so water drains easily. Jim decided to put a layer of mortar over the wires so he would have a smooth surface when placing the mosaics on the tile floor. Since Jim is a perfectionist, this process took a few days. The mortar had to dry, then be sanded, then be tested for its draining abilities. There were some areas that didn’t drain as well as we would like, so more mortar had to be added and the process started all over again. After about three tries, it was up to snuff. After applying all the mosaics, all the tiles were in place!
Our last step with the tiles was to grout – as always. We kept our normal jobs of Jim applying the grout and myself smoothing it and wiping it away. We were on top of each other when working in the shower, but we figured it out. Jim had to finish up some of the grouting without me since I went out of town for Memorial Day. In the end, all of this time and work was worth it. The tile looks awesome.