Talking Tile, again

Endless planning without serious progress could be a bad habit, but mistakes in design or construction methods would be much, much worse. So here’s the second post talking about the bathroom. And to be fair, I did get a little bit done in spite of the weather.

For the wall tile, I’m planning on putting a niche into the wall so toiletries can be stored more attractively than on the ledge of the bathtub. I wasn’t sure what to do about shelving within that niche, or even if I need multiple shelves, but now I’m leaning towards putting in 2 shelves made out of marble windowsill/threshold stock. It’s fairly inexpensive and should be trouble free. I was worried that white marble shelves with crap on them would stick out and draw attention away from the beautiful tile I have, but being a quality material, it should still look fine, right? As one good friend pointed out, my crap will draw attention away from the tile no matter what I do. Plus, the marble will be flat and hide soap scum.

Then there’s indecision about the floor. My dad and I had cut out part of the floor last spring and glued down plywood to patch it. This week we cut out more of the flooring and put in another large patch of plywood. This wasn’t necessary for the bathroom, but I’m planning on reusing the random width southern yellow pine flooring in the back bedroom, and although I can buy the exact same wood from a salvage yard, it’s not cheap, so I’m better off pulling up as much of it as I can. Here’s what it looks like now:


The trouble is, the plywood is a little thinner than the original pine boards, and as you can see, the walls, plumbing and bathtub are on the pine, so I’m not really interested in gutting the room bare to make the whole room plywood. And since I did some of this this all the way back in April,  I hadn’t yet thought of making sure the floor was perfectly level for tiling. I was young and naive then, barely 26. I’m still 26.

Well, back to the floor, I found that 3/16″ lauan would make them match up, so my plan was to glue down a layer of that, and then cover everything with 1/2″ marine grade plywood, and then cover that with 1/4″ HardieBacker to get a suitable surface for the tile floor. I asked my neighbor what he thought today, and he said that I should absolutely NOT use lauan anywhere in a bathroom floor assembly. He then told me to have a wet be laid. This would basically mean 3/4″ of mortar on top of the existing subfloor. That would definitely solve the problem of leveling the floor, and apparently it would be sturdier than any of the more modern (cheaper, DIY’able) construction methods. And, this neighbor is a master carpenter, so maybe he’s offering to negotiate a discount for me. On top of that, I can see the appeal of having a professional not only prepare a wet bed but also set the tile. After all, I want to live in this house sooner or later. Budget blow of the month, or should I stick with a DIY alternate? I figure I can at least get an estimate.

Of course all of this is a bit of a curve ball. This neighbor has been unbelievably helpful. He let himself in while we were filling in the old bathroom window with cinder blocks and just started working. But when it comes to tile, the first time I asked him what I should do, he said his 9 year old could do it. The second time he said I need a professional, and not just any professional tiler would do. Then he gave me the number of the best in the area, who was at the time doing the hotel bathrooms at the Valley Forge Casino. Today I asked about that tiler, whose number is in my phone some 7 months later.

And I haven’t yet gotten any good photos of the bathroom. Here are a few. In the first one, you can see the flange on the floor where the toilet is going to go, and the piece of plywood that has taken the place of my bathroom window for the last few months. There will be two sinks with lights on the wall directly above them.


(For reference, here’s a photo from the same angle while most of the old bathroom was still intact.)

Huuuuuge bathroom!

Huuuuuge bathroom!

On the other side, the bathtub is in an alcove off center. When the door swings open it will block the wall to the right of the tub. I decided that because the original upstairs hall closet is a good depth for linens, the new one added next to the tub should be for coats and also accessed from the hall. I think I like having the extra wall space in the bathroom anyway.Image

Also in that photo you can see that the studs in the middle of the tub are extra far apart. This is where my storage alcove is going to go. So what’s everyone think?


8 thoughts on “Talking Tile, again

  1. projectbuddy

    Chad, your opening sentence contains just about the best advice anyone with an old house could receive: “Endless planning without serious progress could be a bad habit, but mistakes in design or construction methods would be much, much worse.” (Speaking from experience here!) Enjoying seeing and reading how you are progressing. John


  2. curt

    Hy Chad – looking good. Been out of action for 7 months because of a ladder accident. On the uneven floor you could use a self leveling material made for plywood like Ardex liquid backerboard. I used it in my 1st floor bathroom and it worked well,


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Thanks. Yet another option, just what I needed! That does look like it would solve the height difference problem though, and it would be thinner than Hardie backer over more plywood or a wet bed, which would both be at least 3/4″ thick. I’d have a lot of prep to get those floors sealed up though.


      1. curt

        I used foamcore strips stapled on edge around the perimeter and then caulked to the floor.
        Caulk the cracks in the floor – if a lot, use a waterproofer like redguard that’s used in showers on the floor. Then pour. When set you can trim the foamcore flush to the floor. It will be flat and level when done.


      1. curt

        7 months and I’m walking like an old man – wait – I am an old man.
        you think falling a few feet is no big deal, but it’s how you land that counts. I’ll be posting again soon. Your place is looking great!


      2. Chad's Crooked House Post author

        My grandmother refused to call 85 old. Looking forward to your next post. And you’re one of the few and the proud who think my place is looking great. Everyone else can get excited after the next weekend long sheetrocking blitz.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s