Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tiling is not for the faint of heart

All our good intentions were for naught and we went into Memorial Day weekend unprepared to begin tiling. Thus, we spent the majority of Saturday learning the intricacies of tiling at a Home Depot free tiling clinic and then mounting backer board and sealing the joins, cleaning up the drywall where we removed the mirror (they didn't skimp on the glue for that) and removing thinset from the floor. We wrapped up on Saturday night around 1:30 am. 

Tackling the project again on Monday, we were ready to tile...or so we thought. We thought we would finish the shower stall in one day, but instead we didn't even finish one wall, even though it was a twelve hour day that wrapped up at midnight. 

Our twelve hours:

12-2: We spend two hours figuring out the math of how to lay the large rectangular tiles and have space for the accent tile without it looking weird.
2-2:30: Eat lunch.
2:30-4:30: We then spent two hours figuring out how to cut the tile with the tile saw and get the cuts to be straight and where we wanted them. We never get it right.
4:30-4:45: We mix thinset and discover we don't have the correct size trowel for the size tile we have.
4:45-5:15: I run to Lowe's while Mr. Awesome begins tiling with the wrong size trowel.
5:15-7:15: We think the thinset is too thick, but persevere, because what if we're wrong. A mallet turns out to be a bad idea as the tiles slip and slide and knock the spacers out repeatedly.
7:15-8:15: We eat dinner.
8:15: Make thinset again, thinner this time.
8:30: Set one tile.
8:40: Decide thinset is too thin and go thicken.
8:50-9:50: Set tiles with excruciating slowness.
9:50-10:20: Set the paper fronted glass mosaic tiles. Realize we don't have as small a trowel as they call for, but the home improvement stores are all closed, so we go with what we have.
10:20-10:50: Finish laying lower tile and realize we can't lay the tile above the glass mosaic until it sets, because it will just rip them right off the wall with the weight of the bigger tile.
10:50-midnight: Tediously moisten and try to remove the gum paper from the glass mosaic tile. Little tiny glass mosaics fall off. Reapply. They fall off. Reapply. Fall off. Reapply. Try to clean thinset from between mosaics. Mosaics fall off. Reapply. Fall off. Reapply. Repeat until we're ready to scream.
Midnight-12:30: Realize we made way too much thinset and end up having to dump the rest, because according to the interwebs there is no way to save thinset. Clean up. Wish life was like a TV show and they could do a fade and when they fade back in, the tiling is done. 

Lessons learned:

  1. Much of preparing a tub enclosure for tiling seems to be conjecture. There is no hard and fast rule about how to treat the cement board or how much space you need between the cement board and tub - the more we researched, the more we learned different people have different opinions. 
  2. Never buy paper fronted glass tile unless you are an experienced tile layer. We were not ready for that tile.
  3. Figure out the math before you're ready to start tiling
  4. You must get thinset out from in between tiles or you won't be able to grout. This is another reason you should not buy paper fronted tile. 
  5. Mixing large format tiles that require a lot of thinset and small format tile like glass mosaic creates quite the depth difference that inexperienced DIYers (like us) are ill-equipped to handle. 
  6. Tubs are not level. Walls are not straight. Be sure to determine level and make adjustments along the edges so all your tile isn't crooked. 
  7. You shouldn't use mastic in a shower. We almost made that mistake. 
  8. Conversely, you shouldn't use thinset on drywall. 
  9. However long you think tiling will take, double it. Maybe even triple it. 
  10. You will be sore. You don't know how this is possible, but it is. 

This does not look like 12-hours of work.

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