Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Quick" Weekend Tiling

My parents have helped Matt and me out a tremendous amount the past couple years.  Since they own several rental homes that they are always trying to improve, their own house can get neglected as a non-priority sometimes.  We all know that feeling, right?  So last weekend over Thanksgiving weekend, Matt and I offered to tile their bathroom for them which they had already bought tile for.  Surprisingly, this gorgeous tile came from Costco - not your normal home improvement stop!

Matt and my goal was to have this old laminate gone and the new bathroom tile job done in two days.  The bathroom before:

However, we always seem to run into troubles as almost no DIY home improvement projects can go exactly as planned.  Once we ripped off all the laminate, we discovered a problem (which my parents had already suspected might be a problem).  The toilet had been leaking; but it had been leaking for so long that the sub floor was completely rotted out.  

We first sprayed the black mold with bleach and then cut out the sub floor around the toilet ring and replaced it with brand new plywood (which included re-framing under the floor so the plywood had something to attach to).  

Next, we checked for squeaks around the floor (which can be fun cause we just bounced around the floor) and tightly screwed down the sub floor in any area that had slight squeaks.  If you ever are re-doing a floor of any kind, I highly recommend remembering to do this step!  It's your only chance to fully get rid of those annoying floor creeks.

We then had to shorten the door trim since a layer of concrete backerboard and tiling would be raising the floor higher than before.  We lucked out that the door was already short enough that we didn't have to trim that down.  The piece cut off on the door trim shows how much the floor is raised with backerboard and the tile dry fitted to fit perfectly underneath the trim.

The backerboard is extremely simple to put down as there are even grooves in each location where a 1 1/4" #10x hardi backer screw should be placed.  The hard part here is cutting this concrete board.  It's not easily scored with something like a utility knife.  The easiest way we have found to cut it is with a grinder.  If anyone else out there has a better way to cut this, let us know!!  *Update: A savvy reader says installing the blade backwards on a circular saw results in a clean cut*

The next step is sort of two fold.  Choosing your starting point for the first line **this is crucial as if the first line is messed up/not square, then everything else will end up not square**.  At the same time we were dry fitting to find our starting point; my mom also had to decide how she wanted the tiles laid (brick pattern, perfect grid, staggered, etc).  

She decided, with our agreeing opinion, to go with a 1/3 staggered pattern.  Note that we also have the tile threshold placed in the doorway ready to go (pictured above) and also mortared into placed joint tape in between the two backerboards (not pictured).  We were finally ready to tile!  We mixed our mortar, cut our tile, and started laying tile with one of our favorite new tools for tiling... the QEP Tile Leveling spacer and clips.  The reason we used these are because we were working with such big tile in a small space.  Larger tile is truly harder to install than smaller 12"x12" tiles.  Watch a YouTube or Home Depot's video on how they work, it's pretty baller.  You can see the level spacer system below.

This is what poor Matt looked like from the tile cutter.

We cleaned up the tile (and ourselves) and let it sit overnight.  The next morning we kicked all of the clips off, grouted, and cleaned again.

We installed the toilet with a new wax ring and the vanity sink.  My parents had a working bathroom again!

Now we just need to convince them to update the vanity and cabinet .

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