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Planning a Primary Bathroom Tile Installation

Planning a Primary Bathroom Tile Installation

This project is part of the One Room Challenge for which I am a featured designer this Spring. A big thank you to Linda of the One Room Challenge and media sponsor, Better Homes and Gardens for making this event happen. I'm so grateful to be a part of it!

Because there's SO much tile in this room, I wanted to take this week to focus only on that.

Vanity Wall Tile Plan

Let's start with what the vanity wall will look like and how I planned it out. I planned two arches, one over each sink. These would be made from 2" hexagon tile. Both the white and the pink are tile from generous sponsor, The Tile Shop. I needed to know how each thing would be sized on the wall in order to make sure the scale would look right, and where to place electrical, plumbing etc before tiling the wall. To do this, I mocked up the layout in photoshop. You can see in the photo below, that I played with the height of the vanity light to see what I liked best. In the end, it was decided the light would be somewhere between the two heights. Because I thought it through like this, we were able to make sure everything was set up "just so" to make this wall happen.

Vanity Wall - primary bath - Bari J.

Lights from sponsor, Hudson Valley Lighting - Mitzi - Hope Vanity Lights

Pink and White Hex Tile -Bari J. One Room Challenge - Tile Shop

A peek of the installed tile above!

Shower Walls Tile Plan

For the shower I chose cement tile from another generous sponsor, Zia Tile. The plan is to not connect the dots as might be a typical installation but rather to offset them and not connect. You'll have to stay tuned for what we ended up doing. But what I'll say, is when you have tile in hand, lay it out a myriad of ways to make sure you're seeing all the patterns it creates when you move it around to different configurations.Zia Tile

Tile Considerations

This room has a lot of tile! After two other big tile jobs here and for a client, I have learned so much I want to share with you. This room has a full wall of tile over the vanity, the floor is tiled, the shower walls are tiled and the bathtub surround is tile. So, here's a few things to think about when working with tile:

  1. Choosing proper tile for the application. When choosing tile, always make sure to check that it's rated for the place you want to put it. Not all tile can go on a floor or in a shower. Some is rated for walls, some is rated for floors. If you have a steam shower, you have to be careful not to choose something very porous or it will mildew badly. Take all applications and uses into consideration. For us, we chose cement tile for our shower walls. This means we will not only need to seal it before grouting, but we also have to add a wax finish once it's grouted before using the shower so that it doesn't stain with calcium etc from the water.
  2. If you have different tile thicknesses that meet up, how will you make sure they are even?Case in point, where our vanity tile meets up with the shower tile. We used ceramic tile at the vanity and cement tile for the shower. The difference in width was 1/4". So for the vanity wall, the dry wall is thicker. There was an extra piece put on to raise it up. That way when the shower tile goes on it will meet the vanity tile.
  3. How will you finish any raw edges?There are two points in our bathroom where tile doesn't meet other tile or the wood floor of the bedroom and closet. In those spots we had to find a way to trim that out.

The cement tile edge at the other side of the shower was tricky. The cement tile is 5/8". I initially wanted to do a Schluter edge for the transition. This is a metal solution. The piece of metal trim slips behind the tile and has a cap that finishes the edge. However, I couldn't find the size and color that I needed locally, and it was going to be many weeks before I could get it, so I needed another solution. I ended up going with a thick marble trim from The Tile Shop. It had a similar look to what we have on the counters plus it's super neutral. 

The entire bathtub surround tile needed a finished edge as well. This was easier. The Imperial subway tile in matte ivory that we chose from The Tile shop had matching pencil trim. Easy. Done. That's what I chose.

  1. How will you manage transitions in flooring to other rooms? Our bathroom meets up with wood flooring in the bedroom and closet. There were several issues to think about. 

First, as I mentioned in a previous post, that flooring had been raised to meet the flooring in the hallway which is very thick Flagstone. That means the bathroom floor had to be raised to meet the wood height. New cement was laid on top of the foundation to do this. 

Second, the room's walls area all angles. The doorway is not parallel or perpendicular, for that matter, to anything else in the room. There are two parallel walls from the shower window to the bathtub wall. For this reason, the tile was started at the shower wall (also because it's the farthest from the door) and it goes in a straight line to the other wall. However, this meant at the closet doorway and the door to the bathroom itself, the tile would need to be cut at an angle. Which also meant there would be tiny tile cuts. To keep that from looking wonky, we added a wood T transition that sits between the hexagon and the wood from the bedroom and at the closet as well.

  1. Choosing the right contractor. I have learned this the hard way. And, I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: be sure you ask the tiler you hire not only have you worked with this material, and have you done this kind of installation, but also, "HOW do you plan on doing this installation?". Ask to see photos of their work. Ask for references. Ask how long each part of the job will take. And, know yourself how anything complicated needs to be done. Do the research yourself so that you will know when talking to a contractor if they are experienced enough for your job.
 Be sure that you visit all of the other featured designers for The One Room Challenge and follow the hashtag on Instagram too!
Media BH&G | TM ORC

 One Room Challenge

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1 comment

  • MaryB

    Excellent post! So many great points to think about! Thank you. _

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