One Room Challenge: Week Three – Installing Marble Basketweave Tile

It’s lovely to have a concrete plan for a space before you dive into a project. That’s why people hire interior designers! When you’re working on your own space it’s a lot easier to make decisions as you go… but doesn’t always create the best results. That’s why this One Room Challenge is so nice! I’ve got my plan and am slowly making progress. It also encourages me to actually finish the project, rather than getting it to 90% and leaving it there. Ha!

After last weeks bathroom demo, electrical, insulation, and drywall, I was ready to tackle the bathroom floors! I was excited to start tiling again. The first time I’d tiled, I’d run into a few bumps so I felt a lot more prepared this round. I picked up another sheet of concrete board from Home Depot for $10 as well as this nifty little concrete board cutting tool which was also $10. Oh my god, you guys, this tool is amazing! It made cutting the concrete board SO MUCH EASIER. Last time I tiled, I’d used a simple box cutter and it took way longer and didn’t work nearly as well as this tool. 100% worth the $10!

I laid out the hardibacker in my bedroom and marked where I needed to make my cuts for the doorway and toilet. Then I started chugging away at my cuts. I then ended up cutting the entire thing in half, because I wasn’t actually able to get it into the bathroom in one piece.

Then I simply took my trowel and scraped out a bunch of mortar left over from tiling the Main Bathroom. I like to make lots of long grooves, but I don’t stress about making them perfect.

It took three sections of Hardibacker to cover the room. The larger sections were from what I had bought for this room and the little scrap on the right was left over from the Main Bathroom.

It was strangely wonderful to finally have this laid down. The room instantly felt so much cleaner! I just wanted to walk all over it barefoot. Ha! You can see I continued to leave the sink up. Excellent tool storage spot, you see.

After the Hardibacker was laid, I waited 24 hours and then went ahead and used the last little bit of mortar I had to tape all the seams and smooth any bumps. This was the final step before I could begin tiling the next day! Woohoo!

Tiling is kind of soothing, so I couldn’t wait to start. I dry laid the whole things to start to see how things would need to sit. Then I made all my cuts and got out the rest of my mortar, so I was ready.

I was very tight on tile for this project, so at the back of the room I put in three inch by 12″ pieces of marble. They’d be mostly hidden behind the toilet and a basket of toilet paper, but I kind of liked how it mirrored the transition at the entrance to the room. On each side of the room I barely had enough tile. I measured out where the baseboard and shoe base would be and laid just enough tile to tuck beneath that.

It was very tight on both sides. But I crossed my fingers and double checked my measurements and was pretty sure it would work out.

On the right side of the room, I was even tighter, but the longer white marble part of the basketweave would nicely support the baseboards.

At the front of the room, my tile transition strip was looking pretty good. I knew I would finish it with another fir transition strip at the edge so no one ever stubs their toes.

Then it was just time to lay it down with mortar. It looked soooo good! I really like the impact mosaics like this one and the one in the main bathroom make. It’s super easy to lay, since it’s attached to a sheet, though I did need to cut the marble mosaic tiles with a tile saw I borrowed from my next door neighbor, Erik. The hex tile in the main bathroom, I was able to cut by hand with a simple tile nipper. I was excited to get the grout in and finish it off the next day.

The next day, I opened the container of black grout I had left over from the main bathroom and got to work! I love a high contrast grout for making the colors pop out! I had about 5/8ths of a large container of grout left from the Main Bathroom so I expected to have plenty for this room. One thing I hadn’t considered though, was the depth of the tile! Even though this room was about half as large as the Main Bathroom, the tile was probably more than twice as deep. It ate up the grout and I ended up back at the store to get another quart of grout for $20. I like the Fusion Pro grout since it doesn’t need to be sealed or anything. It makes the process even easier.

Once I’d gotten that grout in, wiped up all the excess, the space looked SO GOOD. I adored the floors! They have an excellent presence and really feel like they speak to the character of the house. It makes the bathroom feel older and more authentic. And, let’s be real, it’s 100% better than the original un-stuck peel and stick tiles that came with the house!

I love that the black grout adds so much contrast and drama to the floors. It makes it feel so much more dynamic. You can see here below how my little trim pieces at the top of the bathroom turned out. I don’t think it looks that bad!

I’m just so ecstatic to have real floors in this space for the first time ever. It’s like Christmas morning walking in here now! I will say, that marble tile is COLD underfoot in the mornings though. As a dedicated slipper wearer, that’s fine for me. If it was a bigger space, I’d have considered using one of those electric heated floors underlayments. It would definitely be worth it in a bigger room. This tiny little one though works just fine as is.

I can’t wait to show you how the space looks with all the beadboard and trimwork next week! It’s such a huge transformation for this little room and so, so much nicer to get ready in!

Have you done any fun tiling projects recently? How did they turn out? Are you happy with the end results? Do you like contrasting grout or more subtle grouts better?

Be sure to check out the rest of the participants in the One Room Challenge! There are so many cool spaces shaping up, I’m ecstatic to see the final results of all these spaces in three weeks!

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Laying 1″ Hex Tile in the Bathroom

I thought walls were a huge step, but, baby, I’m falling head over heels for my tiled floors! The floors were something I’ve just been dying over for months. I found dozens of complicated multi-colored tile floor patterns that I wanted to try, before finally settling back down and going with a clean, classic, and readily available option from Home Depot (my home away from home). I’m still saving those ideas of fun multi-colored patterns for the future though! There’s still the upstairs dormer bathroom and that has got to take shape eventually… so finger’s crossed! My inspiration for this room just got me all kinds of giddy about the tile I’d picked, but seeing it finished is even better!

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I bought three cases of the tile at $53 bucks per case. I ended up returning an entire case of the tile in the end and only using the first two cases, or about 18 SF of tile. Saving that extra money was almost as exciting as the tile itself! And I’m allllll about my tile! I picked this tile for the spacing of the flowers. You can get options with more or less space between the flowers, but I preferred this since it had enough that you’d easily see the flowers in the small bathroom, but not enough that you’d feel dizzy! Here’s the shot from the website showing the tile in all it’s ungrouted professional photo glory.

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Including the tile, here was my short Home Depot shopping list compiled here for you. That’s it! Tiling isn’t so bad, y’all.

Once I gathered the supplies and completed the prep work in the bathroom I came home from work one night in mid-November ready to tile! I finally turned on my ancient furnace which helped keep the house above freezing, which was a refreshing change. After that, I went ahead and dry laid all my tile so I could assess how it would fit in the space. I used this dry lay to also take the tile nippers out and make all my cuts. Luckily with 1″ hex tiles, a quick nip will cut through the tile pretty neatly. Not every one was perfect, but plenty were good enough!

Then it was time to start setting the tile. I carefully picked up my dry laid tile and stacked it sheet by sheet in order of how I’d place the sheets. I made a pile of all my cut tiles I could pull from as needed. Then I popped open my thinset container and used the flat side of a thinset float to spread out a thin coat (about 1/8″) before making grooves with the v side. This is the same process I’d used to lay the HardieBacker during prep. Then I had to actually lay the tile! It all started off smoothly.

First, I spread my thinset about 14″ deep across the back end of the floor by the shower pan, made my grooves, and laid a sheet of tile. Then I back filled any cut tiles and moved on to the next sheet in the row. I did this for the first and second rows without issue. It started to get warmer in the bathroom as the furnace heated the house and as I worked my way across and down the bathroom floors, my thinset started drying at the edges before I could lay the next sheet. Not dry-dry, just drier… I tried working faster and faster, laying the tile as quickly as I could. The room felt hotter and hotter as my efforts increased in speed. By the time I finished I was sweating heavily and the last sheets had a couple spots where the spacing didn’t feel perfect. After tweaking them to make them better, I began to clean up and realized it wasn’t just the little bathroom that was hot. The whole house was oddly warm. I checked the newly installed thermostat: 86°F. Apparently the thermostat went rogue and decided it should feel like a tropical island in November in Portland, OR! So if the tile’s not perfect perfect, I blame the thermostat!

In all, the dry lay and then wet lay of the tile took most of the evening for even just this small room. I was pretty excited to return the next day and finish up with grout! I left the heater on at a more reasonable 70°F temperature to keep the tile and thinset warm enough to set fully overnight. but already things were looking pretty good! I wish I’d taken more pictures of the ungrouted tile, but I’m a terrible blogger and an undivided focus DIYer, so I only took this one overall shot when I finished.

Berrybrier | Ungrouted Tile.jpg

The next evening, grouting I was much better though! I poked any thinset to make sure it was fully set in place (it was!) and double checked the heater was at a more reasonable temperature (it was!), before cracking open my pre-mixed grout. You can get mixable grout for cheaper than the Fusion Pro stuff I used, but I didn’t want to worry about mixing multiple batches or making it the wrong consistency. I figured for my first time grouting, I’d take the easier approach. Also, I’m lazy. Ha! I debated white, grey, and black grout options, but ultimately, picked up a gallon of the charcoal which is the black Fusion Pro option. Black hides the most, I decided, and dingy grout is no one’s friend! I got a little nervous when I opened the container though, because it looked kinda blue! Also shout out to my filthy partially sanded kitchen floors photobombing below.

Berrybrier | Fusion Pro Grout in Charcoal

Once I actually started grouting, the grout looked more black. That was better! Whew!

Grouting was easier than laying the tile, just take the grout float and smoosh grout into the open space between the tiles, smoosh over a few times to make sure the gaps are fully filled. After smooshing, wipe away the excess and you’re left with something that looks a little crazy. You have to let the grout set a minute or two before wiping up the excess though.

Berrybrier | Groat Float

But then you just dip a sponge like this in some warm water and ring it out really well and wipe up the excess grout. This sponge helpfully had a more abrasive side I could work at any tough spots with.

Berrybrier | Grouting Sponge

As I wiped with the damp sponge, it started looking like a real floor pretty quickly! If any water started to pool, I wiped it up with sponge and rung out the sponge again before making another pass.

Berrybrier | Wiping Grout

After the first wipe down, it looked better, but it definitely needed another go round. By getting the majority in the first pass with a slightly more than damp sponge, I found a damp sponge could get nearly all the rest of the grout haze on the second pass.

Berrybrier | Grout Cleaning

That second pass got 95% of the grout haze and all of a sudden the floors looked DONE! It was momentous for sure! I’d not had a proper bathroom in a long while at this time and no bathroom meant I couldn’t actually stay at the house since there was no where to shower! Sure there was still some grout haze on the tile, but I would get that after the grout and tile set fully. It was really looking close to done in here. Walls, tile, who needs paint and toilets anyways?

Berrybrier | Freshly Grouted Tile

There was one casualty of the grouting though: my hand. If you’re using dark grout, wear gloves! The grout stained my hand and finger nails and no amount of soap and water could get it off. After a week though it slowly faded away… thankfully!

Berrybrier | Grout Hands

This felt like a small price to pay for floors that made me want to drool with happiness! I adored the high contrast look and classic feel. The dark grout was practical, but also seemed more contemporary. Overall, this project was a 2 night success! 5 out of 5 stars, would recommend. Significantly easier and less annoying than drywalling. And arguably, way more fun to pet! Because petting tile is a thing right?

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The high contrast floors feel so clean and classic don’t they? I just love black and white floors. Gwen’s kitchen floors makes me drool with envy. Black and white can go modern or traditional. Here I think it walks a nice middle line, just like me. This floor also reminds me of my Oma who had black and white hex floors in her Jack and Jill bathroom at her house in Berkeley. Hers was white with black dots only, forcing you to make the flowers with your brain. Something I have many memories of staring at that floor and doing! It’s funny how little things like this can remind you of someone. 20 years later, I’m still staring at hex floors. And loving it!

Berrybrier | White and Black Hex Flower Tile Floors.jpg

Have you ever tiled anything before? Did you think it was a difficult or easier DIY project? I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to tile more things soon! If you’re getting ready to tile, better check that thermostat though. Can’t have another one going rogue!