Fail to Fabulous Bathroom Tile Tutorial

5 Materials
1 Week

Let’s be honest here, projects do not always go as we have it pictured in our heads. In this tutorial we will see the agony of defeat and then the elation of success.

To start with, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this bathroom, but we knew the pink and green tile had to go. So we came up with this brilliant idea (or so we thought) to carefully remove the 2 rows of pink and green. 

So equipped with a grout removal blade on the Craftsman multi-tool we proceeded to carefully remove all the grout around the 2 rows of tile. I then tapped each tile with a hammer to loosen them for removal. 

This portion of our idea was successful, what remained was this wire mesh that some sort of cement base that was about 1/2″ thick. This was removed with a hammer and chisel until only the mesh remained.

Next we attached 1/2″ thick tile backer board to the mesh that was on top of the dry wall. So far so good…

This was exciting, we were ready to adhere the tile. Using a notched trowel the tile adhesive was spread over the backer board the the glass mosaic penny tile was pressed into position.

So far so good, then this is where our idea took a turn for the worse. We decided that to make the shower more up to date we would remove all the grout between the 4 X 4 tiles and grout the entire shower with a charcoal grout. Once again using my trusty multi-tool I began to remove all the grout …. I soon learned that this was not such a great idea, not only was it very time consuming but it filled the room with dust. We could only bear to work on it for an hour at a time. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it seemed like 2 months. 

Finally we grouted it, and it looked horrible. In the process of removing the grout we had chipped some of the tiles and at times the multi-tool would slip and scratch the surface of tiles and once it was grouted it showed every flaw. I was not a happy camper. This fail set me back about $75 (the tile I choose was on clearance.) But now what? The only remedy I could think of was start over … We removed the tile and drywall down to the studs and began again. I made sure this time we made a niche for the all the bathroom products, put up the water-resistant dry wall and then began to tile …

We did need to make one small adjustment as we tiled. The edge of the bathtub, where it would meet the tile had a lip on it that would prevent the tile from sitting flush on it. Luckily we were able to find a base tile that’s intended to be like a baseboard type tile where the wall tile meets the floor. It worked perfectly over the lip of the tub and we just cut it on an angle at the corners. We used 1/8″ spacers for all the tiles, I really wanted the charcoal grout line to stand out.

We used a rounded over tile for the edge of the shower niche and around the window seal area. In the corners of the niche we used pennies as tile spacers.

It took us about a week to complete all the tiling. We are not professionals for sure, but over all we are very please for the way it turned out.

Now for the grout … (this makes me smile) … This is definitely a 2 person job (at least for amateurs.) The grout is spread on with a rubber grout float, pressing the grout into space between the tiles. Then pull the float across the tiles going on a diagonal to remove and excess grout. Follow the directions on the packaging, I believe ours said to remove excess grout after about 20-30 minutes with a sponge. This is where its handy to have 2 people, one to apply the grout and one to remove the excess, this we were able to do in an evening. The following day using a clean cloth we buffed off the remaining haze. After the tile has cured for a few days a sealer was applied.

Yippy skippy, it’s finally finished and We LOVE the way it all turned out! If you would like to check out the full bathroom renovation please go to our website

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Maureen
    on Jun 30, 2019

    Your bathroom redo looks awesome!! I love subway tile. It never goes out of style. I agree, change the shower curtain..maybe put in a glass door??

  • Tammy Hall Roberts
    on Jul 1, 2019

    Love the shower curtain!!! Where did you find it?

  • 21712699
    on Oct 30, 2019

    I need to take tile and drywall from around the tub. I am worried. I will not be able to reach or do anything behind the tub. Will this be a problem? Can I just drywall up to the edge of the tub? Any suggestions?

    • Krafty Kathy
      on Jun 18, 2020

      Under the tile around the tub you will need a water resistant backer board not dry wall. You could have drywall above the tile tub and shower surround if the ceiling is tall. You would need those tiles with rounded edges or bulldoze tile to cap the edges where it meets the wall. Even if it is a tub without a shower , a tiled "backsplash" would protect the wall from water damage.

      Yes it can be tough climbing in the tub to tile the back wall. Use a canvas drop cloth to protect tub and give you a bit of traction. I used a stool or chair instead of a ladder .

Join the conversation

2 of 91 comments
  • Candace
    on Jun 19, 2020

    This is gorgeous. You saved yourself so much money. I’m having a new glass tile shower put in replacing an existing shower and the least expensive bid I got was $7200 just for labor. You are very very talented.

  • Charise.
    on Jun 25, 2020

    You did an amazing job. ...tough way to learn a lesson, but the end result is fantastic!

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