Emily Winters: Bathroom Renovation, Day 11 (Serious Progress)

A radical burst of energy overcame us on what would have otherwise been a lazy Saturday, and voila, the bathroom went from rough-edged and unusable, to happy and almost-totally-functional before our eyes. The day seemed to last forever and we got a miraculous amount checked off the list and made decisions on the fly.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in this post, so keep on reading to learn more about:

  • Installing all of our shower hardware!
  • Painting (and repainting)!
  • Caulking the bathtub!
  • Installing the floor tiles (and grouting them, same-day!)

Sneak peek?

Oh yes, we're tiling.

If Day 10 was all underlayment prep and came across like calm before the storm, Day 11 was the hurricane. Check it out now!

Relaxing baths are overrated. Completing the shower has been a high-priority item since I tore out the old one on Day 1, and even though it’s the 11th day we were able to dedicate to working on the bathroom, in real-time it was about 35 days since I had a good shower (and I was getting pretty moody). A big goal was to finish off the finishing details in the shower, and get then see how far we could get with the floor.

1. Getting Caulk-y. I added a bead of premium bathroom/kitchen tub and tile caulk along the 1/8″ gap between the edge of the tub and the bottom of the tile, as well as along the edges of the ceiling. Pete knew that it was best to fill the tub with water to weight it down while the caulk is curing, which is why you see it filled.

With the caulking gun, I made my way around the tub and down along the front edges quickly, then went back over the whole seam with my finger to smooth down extra blotches. After it dried for a few hours, Pete carefully went along the edges with a razor blade and cleaned up a little remaining excess from the tiles.

We left the tub filled all day while it cured. How is that water so blue? It was a completely overcast day in the neighborhood.

Caulking the bathtub. Tip: Fill it up first to weigh it down.

2. Seriously, it’s a real shower now. While the caulk around the tub did it’s thing, I moved higher on the shower and installed the shower head, surround for the faucet, and the tub spout. All pieces are finished in brushed nickel, were threaded securely with PTFE tape, and also caulked with the same tub and tile formula that we used around the tub itself.

Finishing touches in the bathroom.

Finishing touches in the bathroom.

A simple curtain rod bought from Amazon arrived earlier in the week; despite my searches for something that would be track-mounted on the ceiling, I never found anything that I really liked, so I went the safe route with a tension rod that was pretty but not permanent in case I do someday find the right ceiling mounted system (maybe at Ikea). At $20, the curtain rod was a good deal, as was a clear shower liner that I attached loosely on a few tracks that we had from the old shower curtain. If all went as planned, I’d be showering in there before bedtime.

Finishing touches in the bathroom.

3. Fresh paint is (almost always) happiness. Before I installed the floors, I also gave the freshly patched, skim-coated, and sanded walls a fresh coat of paint using the leftover Benjamin Moore from when I originally painted the space when I moved in, you’ll see this color make an appearance in the next few pictures of us installing the floor, but don’t get to attached to it (that’s foreshadowing, can you taste it?).

 4. Onward with the wonderful floors. Quick remind: I bought many, many square feet of a special order vinyl resilient tile from Home Depot. In person, they’re great. Sized 12″x24″, they’re a great proportion to the bathroom, and while they’re a “concrete” finish (that’s their product name too, FYI), they have a warm glow about them. Lots of light brown undertones and splashes that really complement the hardwood floors in the hallway, and a nice texture which definitely fools the hand/eye/bare foot into thinking that they’re ceramic or porcelain, not vinyl. At $1.69/sq. ft., I technically spent under $150 doing the entire room when you crunch the numbers and count the leftover tiles (bought 90 sq. ft/$150 to have a little overage in case of errors).

I started by critically evaluating the best way to lay the tiles. This is one thing I’ve been debating since the day I bought them: From the entryway perspective, should they lie horizontally or vertically?

Bathroom tile planning.After seeing it laid out both ways, we decided to install them so they appeared horizontally when you enter the bathroom (like as shown in the above left photo). To plan further where the tiles would sit, we decided that we wanted the tiles to run centered back to the toilet, and evenly to the door, so we measured and marked two lines in pencil on the subfloor that we could work off of. Starting directly where they intersected, we aligned that first tile evenly along one line and straddling another, knowing that it would be installed squarely and evenly.

Lining up the first tiles.

With both of us installing, we made great progress quickly.

Bathroom flooring installation!

Recycling some of the same 1/8″ spacers that we had used for the subway tiles in the shower, we left gaps between each tile for grout. These tiles have slightly beveled edges to allow grout to sit nicely, and as you’ll see, the addition of grout really helps to make them look less like vinyl and more like something of premium manufacture.

Using 1/8" spacers for our floor tiles.

The tiles were highly-sticky, it didn’t take much to get them positioned and adhere strongly to the surface. The spacers were essential to allow us to quickly position and maneuver each tile before they were permanently stuck at the wrong angle (we didn’t want to be wasting any tiles unnecessarily, and happily, we didn’t).

Bathroom flooring installation!

We were also cautious to brush down every surface before installing each tile. While the primed underlayment was essentially flawless (no residue from old tiles, no dents), there still seemed to be dog fur and dust settling on it as we moved along.

Within an hour, the floor looked like this:

Bathroom floor installation!

Custom cutting the pieces that would run along the wall and beneath the baseboard, we optimized what we could and had very little scrap. It was much thicker than other vinyl tiles I’ve encountered (installed or removed), it was still easy to cut.

Thick vinyl resilient tiles.

Using the same technique you’d use with most other vinyl floor installations, it was easy to measure and score each custom-cut piece on the fly with the help of a straight edge and sharp utility knife blade (the vinyl dulled these blades quickly too, we probably rocked through three during our simple two-hour installation).

Custom cutting vinyl tile.

A simple snap, and it was ready to be installed.

Snap, custom-fit vinyl tile.

We cut each piece so that the cut edge would hide beneath the baseboard trim. No cut edges would be exposed to grout or to the eye, because it was important to keep the manufacturer’s beveled edges in tact to properly accept the grout. Here’s an example of how they began to fill in along the wall that the vanity would eventually sit against; we just made sure that each tile extended close enough to the drywall where we knew the rough edge would be covered by trim.

Floor tiling.

With the floor installed, I was having second thoughts about the paint color. The above picture is a good representation of how different the wall gray looked from the tile gray; a totally different family of grays in my opinion, and I knew I had to fix it pronto. I originally expected the existing gray of the room to look nice with the grout color, the white tiles, and the brushed nickel fixtures… but against the floor, I wasn’t feeling it so I decided to splurge and buy something new.

I still liked the idea of gray. I love how it flows with the other rooms in the upstairs of my house and with my overall paint palette – but I thought it needed to be lighter, a rare statement from yours truly who loves her saturated jewel tones.

Of all the color swatches I picked through, it came down to three options on a single Behr paint strip:

Behr, Irish Mist. New for the bathroom.

Irish Mist was the lightest I’ve gone on the gray scale in my home, but against the flooring sample I had brought with me to the store, it felt really fresh, warm, and complemented the room without overpowering it, so I chose it on the spot. Back at home within a short hour from having left (I can make decisions at Home Depot in zero-to-60), I immediately knew it was a better choice. Brushed on beside the existing gray, it was dramatically lighter, lighter than I thought it’d look, but still really nice.

New bathroom paint color.

Side note: Most of the rooms in our house are painted in a Satin finish, but word on the street is that it’s always best to use something a little glossier in the bathroom because of the extra moisture in the air; I always go semi-gloss at the minimum, but know some places really try and push consumers and DIYers to use high-gloss. Choose what you will, but keep that in mind.

While I was out on my lighting-like paint run, Pete draped rags over the new tiles and painted the ceiling, using the same semi-gloss white straight out of the can that I used when I installed and painted some baseboard trim in my office (it was practice for when I’d have to do the same thing in the bathroom in a few days), so the single $25 can of paint will have effectively served multiple projects: bathroom ceiling, office baseboard trim, and bathroom baseboard trim, window trim, and door trim.

New bathroom ceiling paint.

With the freshly re-painted walls and ceiling drying, we were losing sunlight as we began grouting the tiles.

Grout time!

Instead of using the same pewter grout that I had bought for the subway tiles, I decided to go lighter at the last minute, picking up this new Delorian Gray grout during the same Home Depot quickie earlier in the day).

Our grouting float is pretty big, and those 1/8″ floor gaps were pretty small. Opting to keep the tiles as clean as we could and avoid using the float, we decided to use putty knives to get the grout directly into the gaps. We still operated as though it was a float though, pulling the knives diagonally over the lines to minimize the chance of it digging anything out of the cracks.

Grouting the new bathroom tile!

Like you saw in the preview at the top of the post, I started grouting in the back of the bathroom closest to where the toilet would sit, and then worked my way backwards towards the doorway. Less opportunity to step in the curing grout.

Grouting the new bathroom tile!

Within 15-minutes flat, we were almost done. Just before it was ready to be wiped down, we carefully went through the room and tried to gather excess with the putty knives and ease the clean-up. Also, note the lighter wall color in these grouting pictures? A big improvement, but still certainly gray. Paint’s easily changeable and I knew if I made a bad impromptu decision I could fix it, but this, I like.

Cleaning up excess grout.

Without wasting much time, it was time to clean the grout off the surface of the tile with a damp sponge, just like we did when we were grouting the shower wall.

Finishing the floor grout.

Finished, I snapped some pictures the following morning in the daylight (only now realizing I forgot to snap a shot of the whole room, sorry!).

Grouted bathroom floor.

Grouted bathroom floor.

In any case, how’s that for one-day turnaround?

More to come next week, it’s practically finishing touches from here!

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.



41 Responses

  1. Good grouting is an artform, it's great to see the tilers in this article taking the time to do it properly and choosing an appropriate colour. I do a lot of Tiling and Bathroom Renovations in Goodwood and one of the most overlooked things in tiling is the colour of the grout used.

  2. My name is Michael from the Semaphore tiling and bathroom renovation experts
    and I love this bathroom renovation. You guys have done an outstanding job with the tiling and grouting. Grouting is never easy, and getting the consistency of the grout just perfect is essential for a good clean up and an amazing finish.

  3. new year says:

    thanks for sharing with us that awesome artilcle you have amazing blog.new year 2016 happy new year 2016 ghh

  4. Shelly says:

    We're those tiles ceramica natural grey? I bought those for my bath and I'm contemplating grouting. Love the grout color!!!

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About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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