Whats more exciting than presents on your birthday? I’d say removing the last area of carpet in your house and replacing it with tile! We’re doing the master bathroom renovation in phases so that we can spread out the cost of projects as we go. Since our house is a bit of a fixer, we know that our projects are long term propositions. So we’re pacing ourselves in an effort to not go broke or get burned out.
Here are the steps we went through before the flooring was complete:
- Remove moulding
- Pull up carpet
- Pull up pad
- Remove tac-strip and staples
- Remove toilet
- Remove linoleum
- Repair sub-floor damage from toilet leak 🙁
- Vacuum entire bathroom sub-floor
- Install cement board
- Lay tile
- Clean between tiles
- Seal grout
- Make custom threshold
- High five wife, baby, and all other helpers cause we’re done!
I’ve already described the carpet removal process in other posts so I’ll spare you the details here. However, if you’re wondering what it’s all about check out my recent post, “Our Fix It Up House, Removing Carpet”. I also run through the process in the first video that kicks off this project!
You’ve seen it already in the video, but here are a few shots of the first step in this project which is removing the trim. I start with a 5-in-1 tool since it has a thin blade.
Then I use a crow bar to help as I move down the piece. I don’t pry very much with the crow bar since I’m wanting to keep the trim and reuse it later.
Water closet done!
All the trim is out, time to start removing carpet!
Time to evict some vinyl! This process is less than fun. The vinyl was glued to 3/8″ plywood underlayment which was glued, nailed, and stapled to the subfloor. Come on people, can we just use one or two methods to fasten this stuff down? I had to score the vinyl and underlayment with my circular saw so that I could remove the flooring in about 2′ x 2′ sections using a crowbar and my 5-in-1 tool.
Here are the steps I took to remove and reinstall the toilet.
Oh goodie! I don’t know about you but that is looking like water damage! You can see some areas that are going to require extra attention where the underlayment was glued down…
I cut a series of small holes so that I could verify the locations of joists. I’ll be replacing this section of subfloor and I want to make sure I can secure the new subfloor to the joists.
This wasn’t nerve-racking at all to cut 🙂 Especially since for three of the cuts I was standing on the section of floor I’m removing!
Adding blocking to support the new subfloor.
New subfloor installed with a new closet flange in place!
All the carpet and pad has been removed, just a little clean up work is left.
My trusty Ridgid shop vac made easy work of cleaning up the mess once I was finished removing staples.
Alright, with all that out of the way, lets get to installing the new flooring!
Installing Cement Board
I used 1/4″ durock for my cement board underlayment since my subfloor is 3/4″ plywood. If my subfloor was less than 3/4″, I would have needed to use 1/2″ cement board. Like always, there’s a little prework to do before just grabbing a box of screws and going to town. One thing I did to make my life a touch easier when securing the durock is locating the joists in the room and roughly marked their location with blue painters tape on either end of the room.
First you’ll need to layout your boards. What you’re going for is no more than 3 pieces to touch any one piece and for the gap between each sheet to be about 1/16″ – 1/8″ wide. Also, leave a 1/4″ gap where the cement board meets the walls. Easy enough right? Good. Ok, once your layout is complete, you’re ready to stage the sheets of cement board so you can place them in order as you trowel the thin-set onto your subfloor.
I’ve gotta say, I was really impressed with the RIDGID Gen5X that it was able to mix this full bucket of mortar! I thought for sure I was going to have to purchase a specific mud mixer for this project or mix everything by hand.
I (my wife 🙂 ) laid a bed of unmodified thin-set (’cause it’s cheaper and you don’t need the expensive stuff here) with a 1/4 x 1/4 square notched trowel. This layer of thin-set is for the cement board to sit on and insures full support under the cement board.
After this it’s time for screws. Don’t even think about using those drywall screws, they make cement board screws for a reason! I used 1-1/4″ screws to secure the Durock to the subfloor. Remember that blue tape? Use it as a guide of where to not screw down the cement board. You want to add screws 1/2″ – 1″ in from the edge and 8″ apart. Start from the center of each sheet and work your way out. This ensures the sheet doesn’t end up with a high spot in the middle of the board, which could happen if you started adding screws from the edge of the sheet.
Why not screw into a joist?
If you attach the cement board to the subfloor and the joists you essentially put the cement board, subfloor, and joists into a bind and remove the ability for these items to expand and contract through seasonal changes. This will eventually cause your cement board to fail and split (usually at a seam) and thus cause your tiles/grout to crack… Bummer dude.
Before you’re wrapped up with this step, you’ll need to tape and mud the seems of each sheet. You’ll want to use alkali-resistant fiberglass mesh tape along with latex fortified thin-set. Everyone has there own approach, but the way I like to install mesh tape is to plop (yes plop) a bit of thin-set along the joint line and spread it out just a bit so there aren’t huge lumps along the seam. Then I grab my tape roll and “embed” it into the thin-set with a 4″ or 6″ putty knife. The first foot or so you’ll need to be sure to drag the knife toward the tag end of your tape (away from the roll) until the tape is held pretty well by the thin-set. After that, you just lay the tape down off the roll and embed it into the thin-set with your putty knife as you go. When you get to the end of your seem, stand the putty knife on end and press down firmly against the tape. Pull the tape up at a sharp angle to tear it with the blade of the putty knife. Have fun and repeat for all the other seems on your floor!
Our tiles are 12 x 24, so we chose to use polymer modified thin-set and used a 1/2″ x 1/2″ square notched trowel. We played with a few different layouts for the tile until we decided on a 1/3 offset brick pattern. For the space and tile size this was the arrangement we liked the best.
Now, before you get to mixing thin-set and slappin’ down tiles, you’ll need to make at least a few reference lines so that your tiles start out straight (and hopefully end up that way).
The diagram below shows how to check your center lines for square. I know your bathroom is probably not a simple rectangle, so work with me here 🙂 First mark a center line for the two “short” walls and for the two “long” walls. Where the two lines intersect, measure 3′ away from the intersection in one direction and 5′ from the intersection in a perpendicular direction. Now measure the hypotenuse. If it comes in at 4′, your lines are square. Otherwise, adjust accordingly.LAYOUT LINES, Master Bath Remodel, Flooring
This is what it looks like when you lay out your reference lines… And you don’t realize your picture is being taken. And yes, the shop vac is supposed to be in the shower…
After my center lines are square, I use a framing square to layout the first row of tile. I then mark 4″ in from the left corner of each tile from the current row as a guide for the left side of each tile on the next row. I repeat this process as I complete each row. You could just draw all of your lines at once, but my method seemed like it’d be faster. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.
With the first few rows laid out, it’s time to cut a few tiles and mix my thin-set!
Ok, first check out this video on the tools I used for tiling, proper consistency for thin-set, and laying tiles along with grouting.
Oh, gee…the last time I saw the tile saw it looked like this…
Alright, about 30 minutes later and I’m ready to rock! This is the RIDGID R4040S and it is a total champ. I’ll go into more detail in a dedicated review, but this was the first project of many with the guy and I’m stoked to have the tool in my arsenal!
Here’s a quick video on cutting tiles with the tile saw, cutting a round hole for the toilet with an angle grinder, and how I went about cleaning up thin-set between the tiles after everything was cured.
With the tiles ready for the first few rows, I mixed up my thin-set and got to work. I laid out enough thin-set for three tiles to be installed in a “corner” arrangement and then use a straight edge to make sure they’re all flat relative to one another. What I mean by that is there are two tiles in one row and then the third tile is in the next row down but still against one of the two tiles from the first row like this.First Three Tiles, Master Bath Remodel, Flooring
Get these first three as close to level as possible while still being coplanar to one another. Here’s your southern translation “make um all thu same hite and flat acros thu top.” Now, you’ll see lots of folks make pretty swirly patterns with the thin-set while they’re troweling it onto the floor… Don’t do that! You want boring nice-n-straight lines. Why? Because with all those pretty swirlies you’re increasing the odds for air pockets to get into your thin-set and that means you’ll not have even support under your tile.
I laid out about 3 rows at a time and then marked the tiles for the end of each row to cut. This allowed me to reduce the number of trips outside to the tile saw, and since the layout I used is a 1/3 offset brick pattern, everything repeats after 3 rows. This made it easy to keep track of which tiles go where.
The way I extended my pattern from previous rows was to measure from the left side 4″ and make a mark. I then used a framing square to extend the mark about 16″ as shown below.
Here’s how things are looking after a few evenings of work. I could have done this all in one night, but the baby’s room shares the wall with our bathroom and every time I scraped the trowel across the cement board she’d fuss… So I was limited to about 2-3 hours each evening after work before the baby went to sleep.
I was able to finish this corner while wrapping up the last few rows.
However, I left this corner unfinished until the water closet was completed. As you can see, the tile leads into the water closest. With the layout we’re using, I felt it’d be best to leave the last pieces of these rows out until the water closet was done.
Here’s my first time notching a tile completely on the tile saw and I’ve gotta say, it turned out great!
Once the water closet was tiled, it’s now time for grout. Basically you get to spread mud all over the floor!! 🙂 but then you have to clean it up 🙁 Ok…there’s a little more to it than that. Scoop up a bit on the end of your float and start working in into the spaces between each tile. I work in sections about 2′ x 4′ so that I can spread and clean up the grout before it gets too dry and crumbly.
What a mess! I should have let Annabelle do this part 🙂
Making a little progress. This is how things look after the first wipe down.
Next up in the project is to seal the grout. For this I used one of those bottles with the little brush on top along with Aqua Mix® Sealer’s Choice® Gold. The process is riveting no doubt and basically like coloring inside the lines which is just so restrictive. 🙂
Custom Transition Strip!
Time for a little woodworking! There are lots of ways to work with areas where two dissimilar flooring materials meet. The easiest to install is a transition strip that sits on top of both flooring sections and is either nailed or glued in place. The downside is you have a raised section in your floor to walk over and it’s of course not nearly as pretty!
I chose to make a custom piece to blend the two flooring materials together. First, I needed to make some measurements. The slot between the tile and hardwoods is angled in two directions. First, from left to right the slot is about 3/16 wider at one end than the other… This is the point that I realized the door casing I reference my hardwood flooring off of wasn’t square! Oh goodie. I also needed to make the transition strip thinner on one end than the other and angle the edge closest to the tile. Got all that?
The first cut was to taper my piece of flooring without a taper jig… No problem! Grab a sheet of plywood a bit longer than the board you need to cut.
Mark the taper you need on your board and use double sided tape to secure it to your piece of plywood. Line up the mark with the edge of your plywood and let er’ rip!
Tada! You now have the most time consuming cut complete!
For the next two cuts I’d recommend placing painter’s tape on the finished surface of your flooring so it’s not scratched by the table or fence.
Next is to cut the angle on the bottom of your piece. For this you’ll set the blade at the appropriate angle and make your cut. Run the piece you’re keeping along the fence to keep your fingers safe. I’d seriously recommend using a push stick here.
The last cut (which I don’t have a photo of) is optional depending on how wide you want the caulk line to be. I chose to make my seam be equal to my grout lines which are 1/4″ wide. What you want to do is make the edge facing the tile 90° to the bottom of your board. You’ll want to cut just shy of the top finished surface as to not create a sharp edge that could splinter. Just run the board through with the finished edge facing up and the blade at 90° to the table. Now you have your transition strip! Go do a test fit and see if it needs to be adjusted anywhere. Of course it doesn’t though cause you’re awesome and do things right the first time every time, right? Yeah I’m not always that lucky either 🙂
Time to glue this guy in place. I used construction adhesive by Loctite and applied a liberal amount to the Durock and then put the transition strip in place. I checked after the first few minutes to ensure things hadn’t shifted and then let it set for several hours before checking it’s rigidity. That thing isn’t going anywhere! Transition strip done!
The final piece of this project was to caulk around a few items along with the seam between the tile and transition strip. I used a ceramic tile caulk by Polyblend that gives the effect of grout with the flexibility of caulk. This is critical when you want to use this approach to transition between dissimilar materials like wood flooring and tile. It allows the wood to expand and contract through the seasons without being just regular white or gray caulk (We chose the same shade as our grout.) I’m stoked with how well this caulk is holding up and it looks great!
The grout’s finished and we’re really excited about how everything turned out!!!
Thanks for joining along, and as always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!