making over the upstairs bathroom, part 1

In addition to the kitchen, the upstairs bath needs major help in terms of improving its style and function.  It's pretty bare bones here as you can see.  The one good thing going for the floor was the fact that the old vinyl was already torn up.

Upstairs bath, before.
The 1/4" luan board (the plywood type subfloor you see) was sound and very level, making it okay to leave as is.

You can see where there's been moisture hitting the plywood next to the tub over time.
The eyesore of the bathroom is that ugly old vanity.


Before we can address that vanity, we needed to put in a new floor.  Conveniently I have easy access to all types tiles and after lots of deliberation, I picked a nearly black porcelain.  So, I figured, let's tile the bathroom ourselves!  Easier said than done.

Inititally, I got myself all psyched up for attempting this project.  Then I got totally scared that I'd completely botch the whole thing.  But then, after reading up, watching you tube videos and talking to experienced tile setters, I regained my confidence that we could really try installing it ourselves.

The first step was laying 1/4" cement board over the existing subfloor to provide a sound water resistant base for the tile.
We dry fit the pieces in place first.
Then, once all the pieces were cut to size, with a utility blade for straight cuts and a diamond blade grinder tool to cut the curve around the toilet flange, we set the board with a thin layer of thinset and then mesh-taped and mudded the joints to unify the pieces.  We borrowed an auto-feed screw driver to secure the board firmly to the subfloor.

We realized after the fact that we could have made our thinset a little thinner, but oh well.
Once the board thinset cured overnight, it was time to do a dry fit of the tile - which means I spent several hours figuring out where to lay the tile in relation to the room, including making all my cuts with a wet saw.  The tile I selected is Daltile's Concrete Connection in Downtown Black.  It is mostly black but has subtle brown swirls through it.  It has pretty variation and isn't trying to look like fake stone or something cheesy, characteristics surprisingly hard to come by!

A tile installer I work with recommended using full tiles at the door if possible, and except for the notch around the jamb, I did so.

Dry fit in progress.
I worked myself out of the door....
The little strips on the right will mostly be hidden by the door.
A few nights later, it was time to actually set the tile with thinset.  I mixed it a little thinner compared to how I had done with the cement board, and it made troweling much easier.  I laid the first full row you see below and worked to the left towards the toilet.

Tile setting in progress.
I had a bit of a hard time.  I felt like I couldn't keep a consistent thickness of thinset under the tiles.  As a result, there are very slight height differences between some of the tiles.  A few tiles that seemed way off, I pryed up and re-mudded.  Attemping tile setting myself definitely increases my respect for the tile guys who have such finesse with the trowel.  But in the end, after several hours and some moments of frustration, I was done!

Everything in place! (Now the vanity looks extra hideous.)


So exhausted!

(The "haze" on the tile is just dust from the wet saw cuts.)

Even though the floor is far from perfect, I still feel pretty proud of myself.  It came out pretty well for an amateur, I think!

Next on the agenda for this bath:
-grout the tile! (This should also help mask some of the irregularities.)
-find or make a threshold that will cover the 1" height difference between the hall floor and the tile
-paint the vanity cabinet a shade of red
-possibly replace the countertop if there is leftover material from the kitchen
-paint the walls
-reinstall baseboard behind toilet
-reinstall trim around window
-replace light fixture
-reinstall toilet

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Annie! Looks great.



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