September 28, 2018 – February 9, 2019

I should have made post as this project went along, so you may want to get some snacks to get through this one.  September 28, 2018 was the first day I started laying tile in the first floor bathroom, with the goal of having one fully functioning bathroom before I moved in.  February 9, 2019 was the day it officially became a fully functioning bathroom.  I still need to hang the doors, finish the medicine cabinet and touch up paint, but I no longer have to chose between the upstairs or downstairs toilet when I’m on the first floor and I no longer have to use the kitchen sink to wash my hands.  Heaven on earth.

With the exception of letting a plumber connect the shower diverter and drain in tub and having tub professionally reglazed everything else you’ll see I did by myself.  It truly is the most ambitious tile project I have ever undertaken and it tested my resolve, patience, and stretched my skills to a whole new level.  Pinterest can get a DIYer in trouble.  The idea to create a rug affect on the bathroom floor came to me via a picture on Pinterest.  I started with a very easy step, applying the RedGard to the floor and walls

The original floor was all white 1″ hexagon.  It was filthy, but otherwise in great shape.  I hated tearing it out, but the floor joist where really compromised from years of water leaks, so I had no choice, but remove.  I got the floor tile from the Tile Shop in Oakley.  I found a great sales person in Cari Branden.  From there I did a dry fit to make sure the black tile was centered and balanced.  I didn’t lay out the entire floor, just enough to

to know I had cut the mosaics to the right lengths and widths.  It was early in the project, so my confidence was high.  I put together my new Ridgid wet saw and got started.  I had the first row of white and the upper black down and at that point had planned to do all the outer white and then all the black, so I could grout the black.  In hindsight I should have used gray grout for entire floor, but I had my vision set on white on white, black on black.  Things weren’t lining up with the thinset as they did with the dry run as I realized the sink wall was not straight.  I abandoned the idea of laying all the black and just started laying rows, backing my way out the room.

Next was the white grout, trying to be careful not get any in the areas meant for the black grout.  It was November 12th when I reached this stage.  I had sold my house and was packing for my November 17th move.  I turned my focus on the walls (still had not done the black grout) as I had Miracle Method scheduled to refinish the tub on November 15 and they said I needed to have the tile work around the tub finished before they could do their part.  I had already rescheduled them twice.

Followers of my blog have read this statement many times.  My goal was not to renovate, but restore.  The orignal bathroom had 4×4 white tile and tile chair rail on all four walls.  Originally it only went up about 4 feet as there was not a shower, just the gorgeous, deep cast iron tub.  I’ve never worked with a chair rail or cove base tile and they don’t make now as they did back then.  All the wall tile came from Lowe’s, American Olean.  Just before I started this project I got to go to a training at French Lick Resort and stay in their West Baden property.  I had heard so many wonderful things about that property and it did not disappoint.  Highly recommend.  The bathroom had the same chair rail and 4 x 4 tile I had purchased.  I asked management and they told me it was American Olean.  I got geeked (did I just age myself).

I was taught to start in the center and work your way to the sides, so that each corner has the same width tile.  With the corner round I had to start on the outer corner.  It amazingly was easier to work with the corner pieces than I thought.  Even the beveled cuts for the chair rail went off without a hitch. Since I added a shower, my tile went up 7′ around the tub and it seemed like the boxes of tiles were multiplying as I was laying them.  After a full 8 hours I hadn’t put a dent in the tub area, but I had done enough to keep the tub refinishing appointment.

Miracle Method reglazed my master tub at my former house.  My friend Joan had used them and was happy with the outcome, so I didn’t shop around.  They did a good job on Inner Circle, so I became a repeat customer.   They started right after I had my bad 20181115_120545experience with Roland Hardwoods where I didn’t speak up when I knew the work wasn’t right.  For the plumbing rough-in I had to put a drain in for the water test.  Since that tub was going to be reglazed I bought a cheap one from Home Depot and it was still in place.  The young man doing the work was adamant he was not allowed to remove the drain, even though I told him it was temporary.  I knew there was rust under it, but he insisted that area didn’t need to be treated and I could remove it later.  I let it go, as I had to leave due to fumes, but when I saw the tub the next day I knew I was

right as could see that once I removed that drain it was going to compromise the edges around the drain.  I called their office and raised a fit and he was instructed to remove the drain and treat the area underneath.  Instead of buffing and finishing in 2 days he had to retreat the area and I held off the final, buffing, until after my move.  SPEAK UP is the important lesson I learned when your gut tells you something is not right.

Several people told me I could have gotten the reglazing done cheaper, they charged $650, but the final product looked awesome and I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if one process is better than another.  I would use them again despite lower pricing elsewhere.

Since I’m through about half the pictures, I will make this a two-parter.  Stay tuned as you haven’t seen the hard part yet.

We Make a Great Team

Tom returned to help me with more projects in the kitchen.  I’m trying to get the floors cleared in the living and dining rooms and a major pile in the way are the boxes with the cabinet crown moulding.  Tom will hang that for me, but the backsplash, which will go to up to the ceiling above window needed to be installed first.  I am about burnt out on tile projects (still need to finish first floor bathroom and haven’t started the master), so when he offered to install it for me I jumped.  At that time I told him I was doing a small subway on mesh tile and he said he could knock that out in a couple of hours. Well, I got the mesh part right.

MSI Bianco Arabesque 9.84 in. x 10.63 in. x 6mm Glazed Ceramic Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Tile (10.95 sq. ft. / case)After going to the Tile Shop, Floor and Decor, and Lowes I found exactly what I had in my mind at Home Depot, MSI Bianco Arabesque mesh tile.  It was only $7.89 per sheet in the store (higher price online), but I had to go to 3 different stores to get enough for the project.  TIP: unless you go to a place like the Tile Shop, that will get you multiple cases from the same “lot”, always open the boxes and check the coloring of your tile.  The first Home Depot had the full quantity I needed, but despite all stating they were Bianco different boxes had different tints forcing me to go to multiple stores in hopes I’d find enough of the one I liked.  The tile I selected looked to have a tint of blue around edges, while the other looked brown like this image.

I decided on a charcoal grout due to the dark gray, marble-like, streaks that run through my quartz counters.  I got the grout from the Tile Shop.  They carry Superior Pro-Grout Excel, which is fast setting, color consistent, stain-resistant, and features excellent crack and shrink resistance.  I also thought it would compliment my blue cabinets.  The first thing tackled was putting the knobs on the cabinet doors.  Tom had the perfect measuring gadget for that.  We still need to do the pulls, but mine are longer than standard, so his gadget didn’t work on those.  I was much more concerned with the tile.

I left Tom to work on his own, but after a couple of hours saw that my choice of tile was posing more challenges than the subway he thought I was getting.  I decided to jump in and basically from the stove right I laid the tile and from the stove left, including working around the window he handled.  He has measuring and eye balling and precision cuts down to a science.  It took about 6 hours and we actually worked together on the section above the window.  I handled all the grouting the next day.  The end results are pretty fabulous I think.  Exactly what I envisioned.

Tom also connected me with the best painter EVER!!!!!  I met Teresa Ferrari last year and she will be running a new coffee shop opening in the Camp (Camp Washington for those not intimate) very close to my house.  I had no idea she has a painting business.  She came dressed in what I would consider “good jeans”, a nice sweater, and suede boots and when she left you wouldn’t have known she spent 3 hours painting.  Not a drop on her, not a drop on the floor.  20190104_170626.jpgWell not until Milo, my dog, decided to step in the paint and track it around the 1st floor.  She didn’t tape down dozens of plastic drop clothes.  She got all the closets, the guest bedroom, the hall, touched up all the bad spots left by the other two I paid to paint, and painted the trim in the kitchen.  I am so sorry I didn’t know about her sooner.

There is a saying that God my not be there when you want him, but he’s always right on time.  After the devastating set back with my floors, Tom and Theresa have been an absolute delight and I feel brought into my life just at the right time.  I truly feel our paths were meant to cross in order for us to do something even greater together.  I think Theresa and I should apply for the First Time Flippers show.  Just throwing that out into the universe to see where it lands.