I should probably make a throne joke

{ Saturday, October 30, 2010 }
It seems that the tasks that have taken the longest in our bathroom have had the least impact, but those that have been quick have made a big difference and so it is for grout. Aside from the long dry times involved (a couple days for the mortar to set before grouting followed by a few more days for the grout to cure), this went fairly quickly and of course makes a huge difference in how the tile looks.

I have to be honest, I almost hurt myself patting us both on our backs after we got to this point. We had walls and floors--almost done! In fact, this project languished for a few days while we thought about what to do next. I thought we'd just drop the toilet and vanity in place and call it a day, no need to rush. After a couple days, we started to remember some of the little details. Like moulding. Floor moulding is nice to have.

So there was painting, measuring, cutting, nailing down and caulking of the moulding to do. THEN we could finally drop the toilet in. Twice. We did have the foresight to buy two wax rings because we thought we might need a second try at getting the thing in and we were right. Centering an awkwardly shaped (and heavy!) piece of porcelain onto a hole that you stop being able to see midway through the process isn't the easiest thing, but I think the thing's sealed up now. I hope, hope, hope that it is since I have no plans to repeat this remodel anytime soon.

We sort of thought we were on the home stretch at this point since all we had left to do was the vanity. Oh boy, what a headache that ended up being. I'll tell you all about it next time!

A-tiling we will go!

{ Thursday, October 14, 2010 }
Before the recent blog silence, I mentioned that we were remodeling our bathroom. I'm excited to share with you the first update on the work we've been doing.

Why is it that the work that takes the most time while remodeling a room is the stuff that makes the least difference in how it looks? I could show you step by step pictures of how we spent the first couple weeks into this bathroom redo, but they'd honestly all look the same. After days and days of patching drywall, taping, mudding, mudding, sanding and mudding some more, followed by primer and two coats of paint, all you can say is, yep, there's walls there! We're limited to doing all of this work on weekends in between social/family obligations and a few hours of naptime snuck in during the week, so its been slow going.

Moving on to the part I've been most excited for--tiling! We chose large (12"x12") porcelain tiles that were affordable without looking too cheap. Even though we were told it would be more difficult, we were committed to laying them on the diagonal because it really dresses up our budget tiles. The first step in pulling this off was to carefully plan the layout. We first found the center of the room, then drew diagonal lines out from there and finally outlined the position of the first tile in the center.

Next, it was time to mix up the mortar, which was just like using a huge hand mixer.

One tip we read online that really helped us was to use a piece of 1"x2" lumber screwed into the subfloor to lay the first row of tiles against. We carefully lined it up where the edge of the tiles would go and used it as a guide to get the first row of full tiles down.

We let those dry overnight, removed the 1x2 and then the real fun started. We did a sort of dry run by laying all the tiles into place before mixing up more mortar. We were lucky enough to borrow a tile saw and the boy was a superstar tile cutter.

Marking the tile cuts was a bit more challenging than it would have been if we had just laid the tiles straight across, but we were able to make use of a homemade tile marking tool--two pieces of 8 1/2"x11" paper strategically cut and taped back together in a 12"x12" square (you can see it in the picture below). This guy was folded into the shape we needed, then placed on top of the tile to be cut for easy marking.

The boy did the cutting with the saw which put me in charge of making the odd shaped cuts with tile nippers. I attacked this job with vigor (and no gloves) until I felt something strange on my hand and realized it was a blister that had opened up. I ended up with several of the worst blisters I've ever had and the boy had a little scratch from a jagged piece of tile, but otherwise we ended the day unscarred with a floor that looks eerily similar to the "dry run" picture above, but now those suckers are stuck down--hopefully for a very long time!