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Master Bathroom Renovation:
Tile Troubles and Triumphs

2014 February 11
by Becky

So the last we left of, in our little-turned-kind-of-big master bathroom renovation, was here.

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Tile Demo

And here

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Removing Ceramic Towel Bars

Come Saturday morning things floor wise were progressing quickly, but wall wise?

We had a problem.

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Finding Tiles to Match

It was a problem we were all too aware of, but thought we had come to terms with. So let me go back.

We hated the ceramic towel bar holders that used to be securely glued to this wall, they were the first items on my bathroom renovation chopping block. When we put in our kitchen floors, a couple of the same white run-of-the-mill 6″ ceramic tiles in the bathroom got cracked and needed to be replaced, which was no big thing. I found the white tiles at Home Depot for $.48/each. Done! Therefore I was pretty confident knocking out these four tiles upstairs.

My first mistake: assuming.

I ASSUMED the tiles sold in February would be from the same or very similar dye lot as the tiles sold in September. I know that’s a lot to ask, especially since the tiles were part of a renovation that took place in our house around 15 years ago, but it worked just a few short months ago, so why wouldn’t it work now?

Well it didn’t. I felt like such a rookie. As you can quickly see above, the tiles DID NOT match. This was the second attempt to replace them, the first round were from Home Depot, the second round from Lowes. I even checked the ReStore for a match, but no dice. So I just put the closest match in and called it good.

We said “Once they are grouted it won’t be noticeable” and “When we get the trim up it will look better”. But I knew it wasn’t going to work, we’d never be ok with it.

So the tiles came off again. For the third time.

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Replacing Tiles

Good thing they are only $.48. I’ve thrown away eight.

I had given up and called the local Dal Tile vendor as well as my friend Catrina (she’s an interior designer), I needed the help of professionals to get this problem solved. Then Catrina wisely asked if we were keeping the tile backsplash.

Genius! The backsplash!! We were taking it out anyway so we could salvage four tiles from there!!

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Removing Tiles

Too bad they were glued, not mortared, on. While the ones on the main wall popped right off with a little prying, these were stuck tight. We had to cut, dremmel, and break the drywall to get them off in large sections.

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Soaking & Reusing Old Tiles

The tiles took a nice warm bath for several hours before we went at them with a putty knife, scraping off everything we could. We were left with a layer of adhesive, making the tiles thicker than needed, but with some fancy sanding and scraping work, we got the wall fixed.

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - Replaced Tiles

Whew!!! There’s a lesson here people, DO NOT break out tiles unless you KNOW you can find a replacement. I hated those towel bars…it was all worth it to have them gone. This has to happen ALL the time on those home improvement shows, but hunting down matching tiles isn’t all that interesting to watch.

As for the floor tile?

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - New Large Format Floor Tiles

And that’s not even with grout. Stu did the grouting on Monday night and WOW what a difference…

Small Master Bathroom Renovation - New Large Format Floor Tiles

It’s pretty hard to photograph, but the room looks bigger, thanks to large format tile and the pattern flowing the long way as well as at a 1/3 stagger. It’s from Florida Tile and was ridiculously affordable. The darker wall color also really helps, although it looks pretty blue here. The real color is a rich grey.

We’re waiting on the countertop to arrive before we pop the old one out, I’ll have another story about that next week, but our sink, faucet, and lights are waiting in the wings. There’s clearly some drywall work to be done and we have plans for that back wall…

They could be disastrous.

30 Responses
  1. February 11, 2014

    I know how you feel!! We bought a house in October and are knee-deep in projects right now! And the list seems to always grow. Like the fact that our ultimate goal is to put down our new floors…but it’s easier to paint first and not have to worry about messing up the new floors :) And then we bought a new fridge that required a wall to be moved, which also needed to be done before the floors go in. Soon though!

    I absolutely love the tile you put down in your bathroom and am glad you were able to match the wall tiles :)

    THanks for sharing your reno adventure! #SITSBlogging
    Becky recently posted..New Home Tour: The Inside – BEFOREMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      February 11, 2014

      Good thing you didn’t do the floors before the fridge!! That would be my luck :)

  2. February 11, 2014

    This looks like quite a project! DIY projects are always so rewarding though :)
    Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy recently posted..Follow your Heart through TravelMy Profile

  3. February 11, 2014

    The floor tile of your bathroom is absolutely gorgeous!!
    Ashley recently posted..DIY V-Day Cards.My Profile

  4. February 11, 2014

    I LOVE the new look!! My husband and I just looked at tiles similar to these at Lowes. I’m so glad I came across your post because now I can show him how fab they look actually installed!!! We wanted to get the same color that you have and it’s funny because our walls are also a rich grey, so I now have a great visual! Thanks for sharing! You just never know how you might inspire someone in this great big blogging world! ?xx #sitsblogging
    Ayanna recently posted..NYFW: Coach Fall ’14 Ready to Wear CollectionMy Profile

  5. February 12, 2014

    My husband and I have so many on going home improvement projects so I understand the work that goes behind those photos. I know it is such a relief to see a beautiful change in your home. Well you did a great job and you inspire us!
    Brandy Alford (rzashida) recently posted..Thriftthread.comMy Profile

  6. February 12, 2014

    You are doing such a great job! I don’t think I could stay sane during this process!
    Cate recently posted..Dove Advanced CareMy Profile

  7. Linda Johnson permalink
    February 12, 2014

    I love the floor!!
    You have inspired me to FINALLY start on my bathroom this weekend. First off I will paint the walls and I too will go with a grey color. It will work so well with my white tile. Talked the landlords into painting the vanity….Not sure what color to go with so I am talking it one step at a time. Just putting color on the walls will make a great change.

    I cannot wait to see your the final pictures of your new bathroom remodel.

  8. February 12, 2014

    We are in the process of creating our dream home too! Where are your cabinets from? They’re so clean and simple!
    Carrie @ Chockababy recently posted..Say No to Husband BashingMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      February 12, 2014

      I wish I knew where the cabinets were from Carrie, they are just cheapy builder grade that we primed, painted, and added new hardware to. I tried to find something I thought would work better but found everything to be SO expensive (or SO much work) that I just kept the old one. I’m so happy with the result! See my process pics here.

  9. February 12, 2014

    I LOVE that new tile!! I’ve never really seen bathroom tile like that before.
    Bridget McGahen recently posted..Challenge Pose: HeadstandMy Profile

  10. February 12, 2014

    Love that floor tile!
    Cassi recently posted..Clothed or NakedMy Profile

  11. February 12, 2014

    This new floor tile is “to die for”. I LUV it! My ex-husband & I laid terra-cotta tiles in our last home and it was challenging to say the least. But, when done, very rewarding! Great job! <3 #SITSblogging
    Brandi recently posted..Hola Fellow SITSers!My Profile

  12. February 12, 2014

    Wow, LOVE those floor tiles. And great job figuring out how to get wall tiles that match – what a challenge!
    Carrie recently posted..DIY Photo Canvas That Looks Exactly Like The Real ThingMy Profile

  13. February 12, 2014

    Looks great. Now you can help me with the bathrooms in our Florida condo!! They really need a boost.

  14. February 13, 2014

    Our house is 124 years old. We still have the bathroom remodel left to do since buying it 2.5 years ago. Partly because we’ve had more pressing things to do and because I’m not sure exactly what I want to do yet. Yours looks incredible! Can’t wait to see the finished result!

    Erica recently posted..Roast Pork and Potatoes with an Easy Sour Cream Sauce #SlowCooker #RecipeMy Profile

  15. February 13, 2014

    Removing tile. You are brave! I have some I would love to remove. Huge hideous 12″ ceramic all over the fireplace. Yeah, the fireplace. I have hated them since we moved in 8 years ago, but still haven’t figured out what to do with it. Wanna come over and help? ha ha
    Audrey recently posted..Candy Cane Hearts and Panettone Bread PuddingMy Profile

  16. February 13, 2014

    This looks great!! Wow! Haha great tip though! I’d much rather learn that the easy way {from your story} than the hard way!

    Adore your blog too! Your family is too cute!!

    {Visiting from SITS! We’re in the same comment love tribe!!}

    Caitlin recently posted..My Famous Watermelon MargaritasMy Profile

  17. February 13, 2014

    I love the new look especially the floor tiles. Good luck with your DIY project. Coping with the Big C – The Sits Comment Love Challenge

  18. February 14, 2014

    I am so impressed. Tile is so difficult to work with and takes so much patience. I always leave that task to the hubby. Speaking of which I noticed three loose tiles in the bathroom this morning. Guess I know what he will be doing this weekend.
    Ann recently posted..Our Secret – Living With A Depressed TeenagerMy Profile

  19. February 15, 2014

    I love the floors! This sounds like every single reno we’ve done in our 70s fixer upper. Nothing goes smoothly and we’ve had a lot of “learning experiences”.

  20. June 14, 2014

    Superb post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?

    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate
    a little bit further. Cheers!
    basement contractor in Ontario recently posted..basement contractor in OntarioMy Profile

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  22. April 29, 2015

    The floor of your bathroom is looking beautiful and I love your choice. I think bathroom tile is the most important thing in making a beautiful bathroom. Simply I love your bathroom renovation.

  23. January 12, 2017

    I understand the frustration that comes with home renovation but it looks like everything is coming together pretty well. I really like the way the flooring in the bathroom compliments the tiling on the walls. Thanks for sharing.
    Trenton recently posted..Tis’ The Reason For The Season 2016My Profile

  24. April 16, 2018

    Very nice job!! I like everything about it. Good ideas and a big improvement!!

  25. June 9, 2018

    I can say only Gorgeous. Check out your floor tiles, they are amazing. But how could you manager in just two weeks?

  26. July 16, 2018

    Your renovation project is awesome. I was searching for some great information for my bathroom remodel. The new tile is great and with your tips are so helpful. I have benefitted from your blog.

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