Shower Redo- From Scary to Serene

Remember a while back when I showed you this picture?

Well we finally demolished our old master shower.  It had bugged the bejeezus out of me since day 1 of living in our house.  It was your basic square porcelain tile, which would have been fine (but boring) if it would have been in good shape.  Let’s just say I would have rather spent the money on something more fun than a shower that only my husband and I see.  But we had no choice and I’m about to show you why.  (Note: I’m kind of embarassed to put this picture out in the online world, but since it no longer exists, I guess that is a little redeeming.)

Every time I stepped in this thing, I felt like I was back at Bates House, my freshman co-ed dorm.  Those showers were so disgusting you had to wear flip flops.  Now, I try to use non-toxic chemicals when I clean, but I made an exception for this bad boy.  I’m talking toothbrush, straight bleach.  You could barely notice a difference after over an hour of scrubbing.  It’s hard to tell in this picture, but in many places between the tiles, the grout had completely worn through.  I began to worry about compromising the walls behind the tile with moisture.

Since Day and I know nothing about tiling a shower, we called in for reinforcements.  I called my bro-in-law who had recently redone his guest bathroom and asked if he could come visit and help.  He is a DIY junkie (like me except with tools and actual know-how) and offered graciously to help during the Thanksgiving visit.  I already told you I had the best in-laws in the world, right?

Now let’s talk a little about the tile I picked out.  After some pinterest searching, I had been lusting after the big rectangle tiles.  I think they look more modern, and since our bathroom floor tile (not pictured but picture green quatrefoil tile reminiscent of the 1970s)  is more on the vintage side, I thought it might be a good choice to keep our bathroom from looking too dated.  They were somewhat of a splurge, but after my experience with trying unsuccessfully to clean grout on the previous shower tile, I wanted as little of it as possible in my new shower.

The tiles were supposed to arrive on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I ordered them from a local tile shop and called them on Weds afternoon when I had not heard from them.  They told me they did not know why, but the tiles were not on the delivery truck, and due to the holiday would not arrive prior to the following week.  Panicked, I explained that my relatives were coming in town to help the next day and the tiles would do me no good next week.  She said she would see what she could do and call me back.  Hubs and I went to Home Depot and Lowes to find a suitable replacement.  Neither store carried the rectangle tiles or had anything with a modern but neutral look.  Luckily, the tile lady called me back and told me that some relatives of the owner were coming to Greenville from Florida for Thanskgiving and they would stop by the manufacturer (in Georgia) and pick up my tiles. The owner would deliver them to my house on Thanksgiving morning.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Isn’t that amazing?  I’d like to think that this is an example of the benefits of supporting local businesses over big box stores.  If we would have special ordered something from Lowe’s or HD, as much as I love those stores, there is no way they would have gone to that much trouble to make sure the shipment got to me on time.

So anyway, prior to his arrival, Zeph talked to me about the demo part and I told him Day and I would attempt to have that done before he got there so he could get straight to the technical stuff.  I watched some videos and demo looked simple enough.  A little tap tap tap with a flat bar and the tiles pop off like butter.  So we tapped tapped tapped and got a big fat wake up call.

No, mold wasn’t our wake up call (Thank God!).  Those black marks were from the flat bar.  Our dilemma was that behind the tiles was cement backerboard, which meant those tiles were not going to detach and we risked doing damage to the wood frame if we tried to pry the whole shebang loose.  So much for getting a headstart.  We waited for the expert.

Zeph was able to cut just above the tile, which made the whole thing much easier to pry loose.  At first they were taking the big chunks of debris through the house, but then they realized they could drop them out the window.

Since Day, his father, and Zeph were doing most of the work, I only got to stick my head in for a few minutes at a time.  Hey, somebody had to do the hosting since the rest of the family was staying with us as well!  Here are some pictures I got when the guys were outside mixing or cutting.

Here is the drywall installed.  Next, Zeph and the boys starting mixing the thinset and placing the tiles.  Once Zeph needed to cut some of the 12 x 24 tiles, we hit another roadblock.  His tile saw was made for 12 by 12 tiles.  It would only cut about 4 inches down the middle of the tile before the arm of the saw blocked it from going further.  We thought we were going to go spend extra money on a larger tile saw (and we were already over budget with having to replace the drywall due to the cement backerboard fiasco).  So Zeph cut 4 inches down one way, and 4 inches down the other way, leaving 4 inches in the middle.  He then scored the remaining 4 inches and tried to snap it in half on the corner of our brick patio.  It worked!  It wasn’t a perfect cut, but it made the tile 12 x 12 so that Zeph could use his tile saw to make more accurate cuts.

Here’s the man himself, putting up the tiles.  He used a board at the bottom to make sure the tiles were level, in case our bathtub was not quite level.

Although he had to leave before the tub surround was completely done, he finished all of the complicated stuff and left us with grouting and putting on the new fixtures.  Davison’s dad helped us with the grouting.  I actually like grouting.  We used very small spacers (1/16) so it was pretty easy.

Then we had to caulk.  You would think that we would have been done in no time, but I’m here to tell you that we’re not so good at finishing projects.  We went almost six weeks without a shower.  Well, not without a shower at all, just without our master shower. I’m not a fan of caulk.  The tinted one the tile shop gave us worked fine.  But we were worried we wouldn’t have enough so we used white caulk from HD around the top of the tub.  And that stuff was not forgiving.  We still haven’t gotten all of it off where we got excess on the tiles and it wouldn’t come off.  But since there’s no telling how long it might be until we take on a process that tedious, I’m going to show you my new shower/tub surround anyway.  Luckily, my mother scrubbed the tub for us or we might still be using the guest bath.

Sorry for the weird shadows and poor lighting.  It’s completely awkward trying to get pictures in that bathroom.  Unfortunately my husband is a pragmatist and he wouldn’t let me replace the plastic showerhead with something pretty. The caulk in the corner isn’t as dark as it looks in the picture.  Here’s a closeup of the tile.

I adore it.  It’s got so many different shades of tan and gray. I feel like I’m at a spa instead of in the movie Psycho.  So here’s a final before and after for comparison purposes:

And after:

Ahhhhhh, happy showering yall!

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