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I painted my bathroom tiles about 3 years ago with the intention of replacing them eventually and the time is now. I am actually shocked they were still in near perfect condition when I tore them out a few weeks ago! You can read about the painted tile in this post. This is where this bathroom started before it was painted, not terrible, I just wasn’t in to the large brown builder tiles.
I removed the faux wood floors that were made from MDF in my closet with the intention of bringing the same tile from my closet into my bathroom. The closet was easy because the floors were floating and not glued down. I installed the new tile in the closet and then took a hammer to the bathroom tile to see how hard it would be to remove.
Well that hardly made a dint and I hit it hard a lot of times!
Then I tried a hammer and a crow bar to try and wedge it under the tiles to pop them off.
I gave up on the crow bar and continued hitting it with a hammer. I did get one big chunk, which I was excited about but I still hadn’t got a whole tile removed yet!
Everyone told me how hard it would be to remove the tile, but it turns out it was A LOT harder than I even imagined! A friend let us borrow the hammer tools they used with this attachment to remove their tile and Tyler tried his hand at it and was successful, but it was still a lot of work and a VERY dusty job!
I’m a flight attendant full time so I had to leave for a 3 day trip. While I was gone Tyler got to work on the tile and got most of it removed.
All that was left was the tile right around the toilet. It was hard for him to remove because the baseboard was still on the back wall. I tried to remove them all before I left for my trip but when I painted these tiles I replaced the baseboards as well. I didn’t know any better and I attached them with construction adhesive, brad nails and caulk. There is no need for glue when installing baseboards, just FYI! Learn from my mistakes.
The toilet lived in our shower for a couple weeks while I worked on the bathroom floor.
I did have to remove the wooden wall slats I did in order to remove the baseboard. They all would need to be cut down anyways because the new tile would be a little higher. More about the wood slat wall in this post. I glued these onto the wall as well, but mostly because I was scared of hitting a water line with brad nails since I was installing these behind the toilet.
These were on pretty well so I had to use a hammer and pry them off. They did damage the drywall of course, but I planned to put them back up, so no big deal.
Tile and mortar removal is a very messy job! You need to wear breathing protection and goggles!
Tyler removed all the tile for me but left the mortar for me to handle. Probably to prove a point because he told me over and over how much of a pain this was going to be. I knew it would be hard but I thought he was being a little dramatic. Turns out he was right. I used this smaller Milwaukee hammer drill with a sharper blade than the tile remover tool had to try and get the mortar up. First I sprayed the mortar area with water to help prevent dust from flying as much.
After trying a few tiles I did end up putting on some gloves. This was killing my hands!
The gloves didn’t help much and this was also really hard on my back. I’m pretty sure they put this mortar down with black magic! I didn’t get very far before giving up for the night and going to have wine with some of my friends for happy hour! I only got about this far…
My neighbor convinced me to go rent a tool from Home Depot for about $100 for 4 hours.
But that turned out to be a huge waste of time and money, it did pretty much nothing so I returned it.
I finally got frustrated and googled if I could just lay tile on top of dried mortar and what I found was that you can as long as the mortar is pretty level and is on well, and trust me, it was! So I smoothed out the area where I tried taking the mortar off and where I hadn’t the best I could so it was more of a slope and not a drop off, if that makes sense. The mortar was only about 1/8in thick. Plus I was using the Schluter uncoupling membrane which is supposed to help with leveling.
I cleaned up dust and debris and started cutting the membrane. There were some tricky cuts but it wasn’t too hard. You can just cut this stuff with scissors or a razor knife.
To lay the uncoupling membrane you just use mortar and trowel it like you would tile, but you want it to be a little more runny than when you install tile, but it still has to hold the trowel grooves. You also don’t want to use premixed mortar with this membrane, it won’t dry and your project will be ruined and you’ll have to start over. Premixed mortar requires oxygen to dry, the kind you mix yourself uses a chemical reaction to dry. I also sprayed the cement slab with water before laying the mortar so it wouldn’t suck all the moisture out of it, causing it to dry too quickly. I left some space where the shower is because I will be bringing the shower out a little further than it is now.
I got to work laying more tile. I ended up doing this in sections but if you can I recommend trying to knock it all out at once so your tile is easier to level.
I bought this awesome wet saw for the project and I’m extremely happy with it!
If you ever lay tile on the floor you’ll want knee pads and your bad will be sore for days!
I got the main area done.
I didn’t bring the tile all the way to the vanity because I planned to removed the vanity and tile under it. It would have been easier to remove the vanity before starting on the tile but I was trying to keep our bathroom mostly functional as much as I can so I worked in stages.
Once the remaining tile around the toilet was removed by Tyler I got to work on that space.
In the process of installing the tile in the toilet area, my trowel fell off of my mortar bucket just right and the corner broke one of the tiles. I was so frustrated! But I was able to remove that tile and replace it with a new one. These tiles are really durable, but they aren’t as strong when they haven’t been grouted yet.
I reinstalled the back piece of baseboard before the toilet went back in and the wood slates with construction adhesive again.
I did have to trim each slat down just a little since the floor was just a little higher because of the uncoupling membrane.
Tyler got the toilet installed with the help of a friend. This photo made me laugh!
He also got my new bidet installed. I wasn’t sure of this but everyone who uses one says they will never go back! So I figured why not give it a try. It has a hot water attachment but our toilet room doesn’t have a hot water valve…so cold it is.
I also got this new super cute toilet brush! Way nicer than the ugly basic ones!
It was now time to remove the old vanity so I could finish the floors. I started by emptying it out.
I scored the caulk line of the sides of the counters that were separate pieces and removed them.
This wasn’t too hard with the help of my handy dandy trim remover that helps not damage the drywall. You just wedge it behind with a hammer and pull.
These pieces were shockingly heavy! I knew I couldn’t be able to remove the whole double sink by myself!
Our friend, Andrew, was over and volunteered to help. We seriously have the best friends! This piece was caulked onto the cabinets so I scored the caulk line and we pulled up on it but it wasn’t moving. We ended up using my trim remover tool to pop it off and that worked! Tyler and Andrew carried the sinks outside and we sold that part to someone on Facebook marketplace along with the faucets. I don’t know that I could have lifted this, they struggled with it and they are big guys!
There were several screws holding the cabinets together and into the walls. I unscrewed them and was able to get the middle piece out on my own.
In order to get the other two cabinets out we had to cut the back of the cabinets with a multitool to get it out from around the pipes. I let Tyler handle that part for me, plumbing makes me nervous!
Then I laid the rest of the uncoupling membrane and the tile. I had JUST enough of the membrane left with just a small piece extra! I was happy about that because its over $100 a roll! It was worth it to me though because it also helps with waterproofing and prevents the tile from cracking. The tile the builder put in in my kitchen is already cracked so I didn’t want to risk the crack continuing through this tile I’m laying.
Then I grouted and I was done with the floors!
I installed most of the baseboards with the exception of a few pieces I can’t install quite yet because of trim that will be delivered soon.
This was my first floor tile project so it’s definitely not perfect! And I’ll be honest, this hexagon shape is a little harder to work with and get the spacing exactly perfect, which is why I wanted to go with a lighter grout so it wouldn’t be as obvious where my mistakes were, but overall I’m happy with how it turned out. I still have a long way to go in this bathroom though, so stay tuned for some exciting projects and a reveal!
Bathroom links can be found here.
Up next, the bathtub tile.