Project Status, a Big Issue, and how we fixed it

Happy Monday!

I swear, we are moving along full force, but I can’t keep up with the blogging portion! Today’s post is going to be a bullet progress report, so get ready for a lot of information and very little detail 🙂

  • On Monday (2/12), Collin had work at night, so he spent the morning starting to patch the drywall and ceilings. When I got home from work I headed straight in to grouting. I was able to grout both of the walls and get them cleaned up.
  • Tuesday night after work, Collin and I were able grout the shower floor.


  • Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, so we bailed on house work and headed out for beers and burgers instead.
  • Thursday was my Birthday! We headed away for a long weekend of snowmobiling and snowboarding in upstate New York with my family! We stayed up there until Monday (2/20)


  • Tuesday and Wednesday I had a work trip to Syracuse, NY. While I was there, Collin continued work on the drywall and patching.
  • Wednesday night I flew in to Baltimore late, and had to head back to New York on Thursday morning to help my dad after a surgery he had. I drove up to NY Thursday morning and drove back to Baltimore Friday night. I was able to swing by the Granite shop on my way up to New York to finalize the granite thresholds that will go on the shower curb.

It was a pretty killer week, but I’m finally back in Baltimore to pick up where I left off on the bathroom.

Saturday morning (2/24/18) , Collin had work, so I was on my own. The best start to a Saturday is a trash pickup. My trash guys came and loaded up 2 pick up trucks full of demo and construction trash that was in our house. TWO pick up trucks! It was great to start Saturday feeling a little lighter and able to move around the house a little easier.

Next, I installed the faucets for the shower. I just followed directions on the box and used a YouTube video to help on some areas.


So, this is where our big mistake came in. In testing the water, I turned on the shower. Good news, it worked without any leaks. Bad news, the water was pooling around the drain area. We didn’t set the drain low enough below the tile and the last bits of the water from the shower weren’t going down the drain i.e. we would have a swamp of standing water in our shower at all times. Apparently water has a tough time taking a step up, ugh.

This is a major no-no.

Collin wasn’t home so I just continued doing some other updates like getting another coat of Spackle on the walls and cleaning up around the house.

When Collin got home,  it was time to come up with a plan. We tested the water again and my fears were confirmed, we needed to lower the drain cap. So we did what every normal person would do, and ignored it for now and headed out for dinner and margaritas <– Solves everything, right?

Sunday morning it was time to deal with it. We started by outlining how much floor we needed to remove. Yes, remove, as in the floor we just finished laying and grouting less than 2 weeks ago.

We used our Dremel with a grout attachment to outline how far we would need to remove and then used a chisel and hammer to pull up the tiles:



Once they were up, we cleaned up the area, unscrewed the drain and began to chisel away at the area around the drain to make it lower:


Next we cleaned up the area screwed the drain back in, lower than the tiles. After that, we dry fit our tiles, just placing in the right pattern and size to fit the area. We removed one or two at a time and added thinset to the floor and tiles, continuously checking to make sure they were level with the drain.


It needs a day to dry before we can re-grout the area. I’m glad we were able to resolve the issue. It only took us an hour from start to finish, and is not really costing us project time, since we can’t shower until the granite curbs are installed anyway, but smashing tiles that you just installed with a hammer is not fun. Next time I am going to be crazy careful about this.

The rest of the day was spent sanding the walls to prep for primer and paint, meal prepping and just generally getting the house in some kind of order as we start a more normal week!


The goal is to be showering in here by Friday, so fingers crossed everything goes as planned.



Tile for Miles

Guys, the shower is fully tiled.

My hands are literally cut up and I have bags under my eyes rolling in to this Monday, but the tile in the shower is done!

Heading back to Thursday, Collin had off in the morning, so we worked to install the shower floor. We were using the sliced pebble tiles that install on sheets of mesh, similar to other mosaic tiles.

First, we laid everything out to dry fit the sheets and make sure the spacing seemed even.


Once we were happy with the layout, Collin removed one row at a time and laid the thin set down, before replacing each row back in its spot:



Once it was laid, we pulled some tiles off of the sheets and used it to fill in an big gaps. The rest of the gaps will be filled with caulk.

It took about an hour and a half to get the full floor laid. We let those tiles set for 2 days before sealing them up in preparation for the wall tile.

Collin had work all weekend, so it was up to me to tile the shower. First, I marked a level line 4 inches up from the highest point on the base. It is important to get the first line of tile set, level and spaced correctly, otherwise the rest of the wall will be un-level.


I used 1/8″ spacers in between the tile. I also taped off where my center inset was going to go.


I just kept working my way up the wall:




Collin got home from work around this time and helped me bang out the top. It’s crazy how much faster it goes when you have two people. One person gets to keep laying the tile, while the other is making the cuts. We finished up around 7:30 PM Saturday night.


Sunday morning, we needed to close up the wall behind the toilet, before I could continue to tile. To do this, we needed to remove the old toilet, mount the drywall and then install the new toilet. Luckily, Collin didn’t have to leave for work until 12, so he was able to help with the toilet removal process:



Its crazy what a difference a new toilet makes. We probably should have done this replacement sooner!

We are going to have to remove and reinstall the toilet again when we redo the floors in the next few weeks, but luckily, it’s a pretty simple fix.

Collin left for work around 11:30, and I continued on my never-ending tile journey:



And the end result:


It came out so good, especially as my first solo tiling project.

This morning, Collin is working on patching drywall, and tonight I am going to grout. I also have to go grab some marble to add to the top of the curb.

We are sooooo close to being able to shower here, and I can not wait!

Prepping for Tile and a Sneak Peak of Tile Choices!

Hey all!

This week’s post is going to be a high level recap of the last week’s progress, along with a sneak peak of the tile we will be using.

Right now, we are in the most boring part of the project. We are at the part where Collin has to do a bunch of work hanging cement board, patching, waiting for it to dry, blah blah blah. All this while I have stock piled all of the gorgeous tile and am itching to get it up in the shower!

The first step was to staple in the tar paper which will act like a vapor barrier:


Next, we (as in Collin) installed Cement Board all around the shower and patched all of the seams, corners and edges:


Like I said, snooze fest. But it is done and finally time for tile!

On to the exciting part! Originally, we were planning on doing white subway tile throughout the shower. Its easy, cost efficient and timeless. But when we got to the tile store, I threw that plan out and fell hard for some new tile. Unfortunately, we were at the expensive tile store, but luckily, I was able to find something similar from Home Depot.

The other concern I had was the size of that large wall. Since the house is so old, I can’t add a niche there because the framing is not 2×4, its actually more like 3×3. If a niche was added, it wouldn’t be deep enough to hold anything, once you add cement board and tile. With the wall being that large, I didn’t just want an expanse of the same tile. So after some shopping and planning, Collin and I decided on an inset of patterned tile.

Without further adieu, here are the tile selections:

Main Tile Walls: 


It is kind of a taupey grey, not too cool. and the 4×12 size is a new twist on traditional subway.

Shower Tile Inset:


Shower Floors:


Main Floors: 


And here are the shower tiles together so far (Floor tile doesn’t ship in until today):

IMG_0951 (1)

I am dying of excitement!

Now, on to Tile some shower floors!


New Plans and Shower Pans

Day 5 of Project Bathroom  and we have hit our first major issue.

Backing up, I had some plumbers come in to quote moving the drain and water supply to the back wall of the bathroom to create a tub/shower combo (See Layout Here). Since the old Jaccuzzi was still installed, it was pretty impossible for them to see the pipes or drains, but they just guessed everything would be ok.

Spoiler Alert – It’s not!

So after a long weekend of demo and clearing the area for the plumber, he showed up Monday at 8:30 AM and declared we can’t put a bathtub in the space. It has something to do with the height of the drain and that by extending it, we wouldn’t have the necessary angle for the tub to drain properly.

**Deep Breathes**

So left with no other option, I decided to make it a stand up shower. That would keep the drain where it is, but still move the water supply and faucets to the back wall.

In all honesty, Collin and I would both prefer a stand up shower, but we were adding a tub for resale value. I had the plumber take a look at where we are planning on adding a second bathroom (the old kitchen), and he confirmed we wouldn’t have any trouble adding a bathtub in that area instead. So it kind of worked out, but there was a moment of panic in there somewhere.

The plumber was all done around 11:30, and here’s what we were left with:


With the change of plans, I ran to Home Depot to pick up some new materials. I grabbed some 2×4’s to outline the shower base, tar paper, wire mesh and sand topper cement.

Quick Note here, we used this tutorial on the best way to do this: Installing Mortar Shower Pan Video

When I got home, I wanted to get the area prepped and ready for the first layer of cement. I installed the 2×4’s to outline the shower (30″ x 60″ inside) and then added a second 2×4 right on top, to make sure the curb is high enough that the water doesn’t go over it.

Once that was secure, I cut and installed 15lb Tar paper. I just stapled it right to the floor boards. The tar paper protects to the subfloor from sucking up the moisture in the cement.


The next layer was a layer of wire mesh stapled on top of the tar paper. I don’t have a picture of that, but just trust me, it’s in there.

Finally, we were ready for our first layer of cement. Collin mixed the cement to the consistency of a packed snowball,  not too wet. We laid the cement out and packed it down with a flat trowel. It was a laid on a pitch towards the drain:


After that cured for 2 days, we moved on to step 2 of the concrete. Collin installed some support backers around the perimeter of the shower, and some extra 2×4’s up where the shower door will go. Once I got home from work, we laid down the membrane (red) and nailed it in to the support backers:


We mixed 2 more bags of concrete and poured and packed it in, the same way as the first layer, at a pitch towards the drain.


You can see above, we trimmed the membrane and laid another piece of wood on top, to hold it in place and increase the height of the curb, so no water comes out while showering.

This has to cure for another 2 days, but in the meantime we picked out all of the tile!! Stay tuned for that, because I threw the old budget out the window and can’t wait to see the results!