My husband and I recently completed a tile shower and floor remodel. While many of our friends were on vacation, we were fixing bathroom of our rental house. The repair on the tub had failed and the tub was completely cracked to the point that replacement was the only fix. The repair was needed because the tub was not originally installed correctly by the builders.
I can honestly tell you that while it wasn’t our favorite way to spend our vacation, it not only saved us a lot of money, but we learned a lot too. I hope these 22 tips help you on your next bathroom adventure too!
22 Tile Shower and Floor Remodel Tips:
1. Drying Times are Going to Kill you.
Since this house was a rental and our goal was to rent it out as quickly as possible we worked on a very tight timeline. One of the hardest parts to deal with when working with tile is drying time. Mortar, grout, and other materials all need time to dry. So make sure you allow enough time for each part to adequately dry before the next step.
2. Don’t Rush Drying Times.
We rushed the drying time on our project and totally regretted it. We squashed tile grout lines, cracked a tile, and messed up our design. In the end it added a couple of hours of work and a lot of stress. We learned the hard way to go by the worst-case scenario not the best-case scenario in regards to drying time. If the directions say 30 to 60 minutes then allow for the full 60 minutes when planning.
3. Use the Tile Placeholder Religiously.
The tile placeholders are the key to a straight bathroom. Use them and often if needed. Without them your shower and floor will not line up.
4. Use the Placeholders to Scrape the Mortar out of the Lines.
You want your grout to form great lines. If the mortar is in the lines you cannot easily grout. Instead of having to chip it out after the fact (like us), run the placeholder through the lines to make sure they are all clear. Twenty minutes of work when it is wet will save you hours when it is dry.
5. Divide and Conquer.
My husband cut the tile while I placed the mortar. Later I washed mortar off the tiles while he mortared. By dividing and conquering we were able to reduce the time spent on the project.
6. Mortar and Grout Dry Quickly on Surfaces.
While mortar and grout do not dry quickly once in place, know that when it is on top of the tile it dries very quickly. It is also the same when you are waiting to place the tile.
7. Have a Tile Sponge and a Kitchen Sponge.
The tile sponge we bought from Home Depot was great. The only issue we ran into was when I was washing the grout off the tile. In that case, a kitchen sponge with a scrubby part was very helpful. It was much easier to get the tiles clean.
8. Measure the Shower Handles for the Tile.
We had to cut the tile around the handles after the fact because the tile was too far out for installation. So make sure you identify that everything will fit and measure it before you install the tile.
9. Make Sure You Identify Pipe Types Correctly.
We were delayed a day when we misidentified a Pex pipe. So when in doubt if it doesn’t look like the pipe you are working with, google it!
10. Have a Towel and Bucket Around.
We learned the hard way that things happen when you least expect it. Unfortunately that means water can suddenly start leaking. So have towels and buckets around all the time. This way you are good to go if the unknown happens.
11. Buy a Nice Tile Saw.
We learned the hard way. My husband borrowed a cheap $100 saw during his first project and it was horrible. So the deal was if he did this project he got to get a nice, new saw. We bought a really nice $499 saw and it worked like magic!
12. Compare Lowe’s and Home Depot Material Prices.
I found this out the hard way when I went to get grout and Home Depot was out. I found that Lowe’s was actually $15 cheaper. If you have time, definitely shop around to see who has the best deal. You can do this online too.
13. Darker Grout is Better for Dirt.
We chose a darker grout because it does not show the dirt as much. This is also much better for cleaning. Keep in mind not go too dark as you don’t want to make it look as if it’s dirty from day one.
14. Grout That Matches the Tile.
Our tile had brown marks throughout it. This was a life saver because when we got some of our brown grout on it, it blended.
15. Know That a Custom Pan is Really Heavy.
We laid a custom concrete shower pan. This was awesome in allowing us to use the entire space. The downside of this is that it is very heavy. In our case, it was on a first floor slab foundation, so it didn’t matter. When on a second story however, we installed a much lighter fiberglass pan.
16. Double Check that You allow Enough Clearance to Cover the Pipes.
We made the mistake of not pouring enough cement over the pipes so we had a bump. So make sure you build a high enough step into the shower that you can account for having to pour over the pipe.
17. More Flexible Design = Cheaper.
We have learned over the years to go in with a general idea, tile the shower, and then pick out our tiles.
18. Order Glass Doors Through a Glass Company.
We bought our first glass shower door through Home Depot. We had to special order it and install it ourselves. This time we got exactly the door we wanted through a glass company, and they installed it for us.
19. Tile Can Crack While Setting.
We had a few tiles crack while they were drying. If it is at all possible, check the tile during the drying process. We were able to catch one breaking tile early in the drying process.
20. A Miter Saw is Needed for Molding.
We found out the hard way that no saw works as well with molding as a miter saw. Although we have every other tool in the book we still had to buy this saw. It’s totally worth it, but just an added expense you should keep in mind.
21. Use Very Small Finishing Nails.
If you use large finishing nails you will crack the molding, so make sure you use the smallest ones possible.
22. Use White Molding Boards.
We use the white molding boards. This way we do not have to paint them after they are up or in the house. Then you just need to use white caulk to fill in the molding holes. While this is more expensive, it is much easier to finish the project.
This project sure seemed to feel like it went on forever. While there are slight imperfections and mistakes made, the bathroom still looks amazing!
We certainly weren’t perfect with our savings, but we were able to do the shower for less than $3,000 even including the $800 in tools we bought. That was still a savings of over $3,000 from the cost of hiring a handyman who quoted us $7000. Plus, we will still have the tools for years to come!
Have you ever done a tile remodel? What tips did you learn?1