It’s been a little while since we checked in with the girls’ bathroom, but the tiling is this close to being done so I thought we were due for an update!
In our last update, we shared the tile combination we were planning on using for the space–this very budget subway tile (it’s on sale!) and ceramic chair trim and then we splurged a bit on the cement floor tile, but now that it’s in–I love it more than I even thought possible. Can we just ditch the vanity and toilet and stare at the tile all day instead?
A good quality wet-saw (we have and love this one from Kobalt!) will make the job infinitely easier and give you precise cuts which means a lot less waste and frustration. We also opted to use pre-mixed mortar to lay the tile which helped the job go a lot faster (and meant running upstairs and outside to get more mortar was not even a thing).
In our case, we were advised to lay the wall tile before the floor tile due to it being a level basement concrete floor underneath, and the softer nature of the cement floor tiles we were laying. We’ll be adding some sort of baseboard or vinyl quarter round to bridge the gap. Mostly, but not always, you’ll want to lay the floor tile first and then the wall tile so that any water that drips goes onto a horizontal tiled surface, instead of continuing down vertically which can cause mold or damage to a subfloor (especially in an upstairs environment). Some people recommend laying all the wall tile besides the bottom row, and then the floor tile and then the bottom row of wall tile–which kind of makes my brain hurt. Whatever you do, the most important tiling-bathroom advice we were given from the pros we talked to was make sure you cover your water bases.
One thing we neglected to get a good picture of was the in-floor heating. We’ll write more about that in a later post, but since we’re laying concrete tile over a concrete slab in a basement, the floor is very prone to being cold. And not just regular cold, but make-your-ankles-ache-whenever-you-walk-on-it, cold. So we added 10 square feet of heating coil (this one, controlled by this thermostat) on the floor before adding the tile, through the middle area of the bathroom. This will keep the floors warm and pleasant to walk on, especially during our long, cold winters.
Now, as far as the concrete tile goes, we had some extra steps to do before we could grout (hence all the ungrouted tile in these photos). The cement tile needed cleaned thoroughly and sealed a few times.
Above is how the tile looked after it was laid in place. While cement tile is characteristically prone to tonal and color variations, there was some dustiness from mortar there that needed to be cleaned off before we could seal it. We picked up this Tile & Stone Cleaner which is a neutral, PH neutral cleaner safe to use on unsealed (and sealed) cement tile.
We sprayed the cleaner on, wiped it with a sponge and then rinsed it off with warm water and a clean towel. After it was thoroughly dry, it was time to seal.
We used this Miracle Sealants 511 Porous Plus Penetrating sealer and this little applicator and tray we found at the hardware store. You use the applicator sponge to apply it, keep it wet for 3-5 minutes and then wipe it off with a clean, white towel. Before sealing, cement tile is very prone to staining (hence installing it after the wall tile and using only white colored towels to clean it). We worked in sections so that we made sure it stayed wet.
It’s advised to repeat the process at least 3 times, 1-2 hours apart, until water beads up on the tile. Then we’ll repeat it once more after grouting. The good news is the tile looks infinitely better, while still having that smooth cement tile feel.
And even though there are still a lot of little things to do in here before we hang the mirrors and start accessorizing, I am always one that gets re-motivated in a project by pulling out and just looking at the accessories. Chris obliged.
I think I might be done putting a time table on this project, mostly because it keeps getting blown out of the water, but it’s getting grouted today. And we have the toilet. And vanity. And all the faucets. So…I mean, we’re really really close. I think. ;)