Category Archives: Remodeling

White Subway Tub Surround, Complete!

Yesterday I took my first shower in our newly tiled tub surround!! Hurrah!! Our bathtub still has to be resurfaced, so we’ll be saving up for that. But I love how posh the shiny white tile seems, and the graphic contrast that the dark grout brings in. (Posh is a relative term – in contrast with the pink plastic tile.)

I plan to write an in-depth post on how I tiled my tub surround, but for now, these are the finished photos. The showerhead, tub spout, and knobs came fromĀ, the suction cup caddy is from Target.

White subway tile, dark grout

Don’t scrutinize too closely – me and my razor have some more caulk to clean up off the tile. That is the hard part about dark grout/caulk – it never cleans up.

I also replaced the ancient, malfunctioning drain. We no longer have to hang a wet washcloth on the drain latch to get it to stay open!

My biggest mistake was making the hole for the showerhead too large for the flange to cover. So I’ve ordered a square flange to cover the gaping black hole.

Here is the pink tile in all her glory (backwards – this photo was taken in the mirror):

And again, the after:

And today I received a pleasant surprise in the mail – my shower curtain that was supposedly back-ordered until May! Pictures later…


I’m So Tiled Out

The tub surround tiling project is almost complete! Last weekend began with the tub surround looking like the picture below, due to the fact that I got the most work done after the little girls were in bed and couldn’t use the saw. I began the project by putting a thin layer of thinset on the wall with a wide spackle knife, then applying a thicker thinset layer with the v-notched trowel. When I of necessity had a more frantic pace, this changed into applying thinset with the v-notch trowel directly to the backs of the tiles and sticking them up on the wall. That seemed to work just as well, except on the ceiling where I had to tape a few up until they dried. Applying the thinset in a circular motion before sticking them to the ceiling worked pretty well too, as it created a bit of suction on the back of the tile.

The wet saw was lent to me by gracious friends (saving me the $44/day that Home Depot charges to rent a wet saw). However, they have their own emergency bathroom remodel and needed the saw back on Monday. I had a few precious days to cut all my tile. My solution was to put up as much tile as I could while the girls were sleeping, mark each tile to be cut with a sharpie at the “cut line”, then to individually number the spots and the backs of my tiles to be fit into the spots. That way I could cut as fast as I could.

I set the wet saw down in the tub where the mess could be contained somewhat. Even so, thinset and tile dust was everywhere. You can see some on the door in the picture above.

Thankfully my mom came to watch the kids for a few hours on Monday while I cut tile as fast as I could. Although that was 4 days ago, my fingers are still thrashed by shards of porcelain that worked their way into the thinset-worn skin, and my fingernails sport thinset around the edges (beneath the manicure my 2-year-old gave me today, that is). I finished tiling on Monday! I’ve been taking a break to get my house back in order and nurse my poor sick 2-year-old who has sorely felt the effect of Momma being too busy. We’ll see when I get to the grout. Tonight I finished scraping bits of thinset off the tiles with a razor blade, so it doesn’t peek through my nice dark grout.

So this is my first tiling attempt. My lines are uneven, some of the gaps gape, but hey, it’s my first time, and I have a 5-month-old baby who only wants Mama. So I’m pretty happy with my work!

Cemented in my Mind

And it is cemented in my mind – I certainly will NEVER forget what a pain cement board is. Ugh. But it’s done now, and my dad did the majority of it, thankfully! He also did the plumbing in the wall, which included cutting pipes and soldering new ones. Thank the Lord for my dad. We scored/snapped the cement board to size, using a jigsaw (and a few blades) to cut holes for the plumbing. The screws are corrosion-resistant screws meant specifically for the Hardibacker cement board we used.

Step two of the cement board was the mesh tape to go on the joints. I put thinset over the tape to waterproof the seams.


I also taped/mudded the corner joints which weren’t looking too hot.

And then I caulked the change of planes (ceiling to wall, wall to wall). Here’s the nice crisp finished, waterproof product:

Of course I couldn’t wait to get started! I read this technique somewhere online – and in retrospect it was a big mistake. I taped (nails work better, but not when small children are in bed) a straight edge in the center of the wall, and began working up from there. I found out later that I measured wrong and created a lot more work for myself. But here’s where it all began, more to follow.