Friday, February 18, 2011

Bathroom progress - Retiling shower wall, Part 2

After Seth demoed the tile wall, we bagged all the rubbish that was sitting in the tub (which we had lined with  drop cloth to prevent the drain from clogging) and took it outside.  

Removing the wire mesh
That wire was not easy to remove.  Not to worry if you're retiling a fairly new home... apparently this was the old-school method (pre-1960's or so, I believe).

Wire mesh behind the tile wall... stinks to remove.
This photo was taken right before we removed
the wood piece right along the tub.

After removing the remaining wood along the tub with a pry bar (apparently an incomplete update by former owners?), my dad used a circular saw with a masonry blade to cut the remaining wire and make a nice, clean line with any remaining plaster on the area at the top.

We left that particular area along the trim because it was very secure and if we removed it, we might have to remove the trim around the shower.  I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say it looked like a bomb went off. I nearly fell apart thinking about how I would be cleaning it up for weeks as the dust slowly fell, but instead closed the door had a private cleaning freak-out with my dust pan.

Installing concrete backer board
Next, we cut two pieces of concrete backer board to size, and screwed 'em in.  Here's my dad in action:

Installing concrete backer board
Side note: His butt was on billboards for blue jeans once.  No lie.

Moving on...

Applying the tile
After applying the tile adhesive with a trowel in a small area, we pressed each tile firmly into place, starting at the bottom left and working across.  You might notice from the photos that we didn't have to use spacers because our 4 x 4 ceramic tiles had spacers included.

We took special care to line the tiles up with the other two walls. It which wasn't super-easy (and called for several adjustments) but it really helped to keep the new wall from looking different from the rest.  If you tackle a project like this yourself, don't get discouraged if it takes awhile to put first few rows of tile.  The pace will pick up about 1/3 of the way through because you already have the first few rows set as guides.

We used a tile cutter for the corner and top tiles (about $20 at a hardware store). Make sure to grab some extras because butterfingers here broke quite a few.

Finally, at about 10:00, they were all on the wall!

Grouting the tile
After letting things sit for 24 hours, it was time to grout.  (In the meantime, we took baths, watched church live streaming, and were very careful to keep any water from getting on the walls... knew you would ask.)

Make sure you wear latex gloves when applying the grout, or you'll wash some skin off your hands along with the grout.

Seth started on Monday while I was at work.  I got a call.  He was frantic.  The directions said to wait 10-20 minutes after grouting, then wipe off with the surface a sponge.  So he grouted the entire wall and waited about 20 minutes.  But it wasn't coming off.  Then he screamed something about it getting harder with each passing second and hung up.

There's a reason I'm telling you this, other than to share the turmoil I put my husband through by signing us up for this project.  Don't wait too long to wipe the grout off your tile! Wipe the area off with a damp sponge as you work in sections (instead of waiting to finish the entire wall).

As we say in the south "bless his heart".  After an hour and a half of painful scraping, most of it had come off the tile.  I'm so proud.

Done!  Thousands saved.  Here's a finished shot (and a little peak at our new shower curtain).

Last, I grouted in the corners and filled them in really well--pushing the grout as far back as possible to make sure it was thoroughly sealed, and smoothing with my finger.  I also grouted the two surrounding walls, which made a tremendous difference in making it all of the walls look like they were installed at the same time. You really can't tell they're different!

Anyone else tried tiling a bathroom yourselves?  Similar horror stories to share?


  1. It looks like white grout - is it? If so, you can clean it with white vinegar or white vinegar mixed with a little water and toothbrush. Learned this the hard way as my parents put white grout in the FLOOR of their bathroom... and they live in Alabama... which means ALABAMA RED CLAY! Lesson learned... ;) But the vinegar is seriously a life saver!

  2. It is white, Ericka. Thanks so much for the tip! I found a great cleaner at the hardware store, but would love to go the natural route. Can't wait to try!

  3. Impeccable. Very nicely done be it covering the wire mesh or grouting the tiles and corners

  4. Bind mind, my business is throughout this presenting on backing our patrons victimization short conservative wishes, that we have payday loans costa mesa associate inclination to region unit near to screen the stock for your state of affairs at nevertheless purpose some individual support men and women.