Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's a Love, Hate Relationship

You know when you get an idea in your head that you just get set on?  Well, that is what happened to me with the idea of subway tile in our bathroom.  It is perfectly classic, yet somehow modern; exactly what I wanted for our master bathroom.  However, in my blind decision to use it for our shower, I never stopped to think about the dreaded install of it. Boy was that a mistake.

Eric and I are no longer what you would call beginner tilers.  We have mastered leveling tiles on uneven floors, figured out how to do complicated cuts and have a knack for creating straight grout lines.  Knowing this, I didn't think that subway tile install would be a problem at all.  What I didn't consider was that our 12 x 12 squares of tile would require precision to install the likes of which neither of us were prepared for.  In retrospect, buying individual larger subway tiles verses 12 x 12 squares of connected subway tiles would be a much easier way to go.

Tiling started on Saturday afternoon with a plan.  We laid out some tile trying to determine where exactly our boarder would be positioned on the wall and jotted down some measurements.  Once we knew that, we installed our bracer boards on the shower walls.

We always install these level boards when tiling vertically to brace our initial row of tile with.  This sets us up with a perfect grid with which to place all of our tile according to.  With that in place, we set to work by mixing up our white Flexbond mortar (white because our grout will be white).  We spread the mortar on with a 1/4" x 3/8" trowel in small segments and began placing tile.

I thought the subway tile was hard to install until I got to the accent/border tile.  That was even harder.  Every little square wanted to go in its own direction.  Plus, in retrospect we were using too large of a trowel...  For the boarder, we should have used a 1/4" v-notch trowel at most.  You live and you learn, right?  Well, after a couple hours of very aggravating install, we got one row of subway tile and one row of boarder tile installed.  We then stepped back and realized just how bad it looked.  We had mortar squeezing through our grout lines, the boarder/mosaic tiles were not perfectly placed.  Basically it was a recipe for disaster.  Thinking that maybe we were being a bit too critical, we decided to give it a day to grow on us.  Unfortunately, the next day it looked even worse.

We tried to scrape some mortar out of grout lines and salvage our work, but it was no use.  After 48 hours of staring at our work and noticing the imperfections more and more, we decided to rip the boarder our on two walls.

This is what we were left with:

Yikes.  In the process of removing the boarder tile, we did a bit of damage to the hardiebacker.  We also loosened up some of the subway tile so we removed that as well.  To repair this, we spread on a little mortar to flatten back out our surface.  Tonight, I will paint RedGard over the mortar again and this weekend we will go full force tiling the shower.

The good news is that one wall remained unscathed.

So you can get a bit of an idea of the look that we are going for.  At least we know that it can be done.  Surely, we can duplicate this work on the other walls.  We shall see this weekend!

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