OK – so the tiles are laid and the floor has been grouted. It’s been a really long couple of days wrapping this project up, but I’m happy to say it’s almost done. We just need to seal it and caulk around the edges, tub, and toilet. Since this was such a big undertaking, I thought I’d break down the laying of the floor into two parts. Also, really sorry about the quality of pictures right now – I forgot to take my pictures off my DSLR last night, so having to use iPhone pics in the meantime.
Let me first talk a little about the tiles we used and the process of cutting and laying them.
Groutable Self-Adhesive Vinyl Tiles
A number of factors were involved in choosing this particular type of tile for our bathroom floor.
You’d think after what we went through ripping up all those layers of vinyl and linoleum, that we’d be running away screaming from anything remotely similar. But the fact of the matter is that vinyl self-adhesive tiles really are a great option for most people for a number of reasons. It’s a low-cost investment. It’s EXTREMELY easy to install. It’s durable, flexible, and is “easily” removable if you’re a person that changes their mind fairly often. It’s also not quite as cold on your toes in the morning during the winter months.
The problem in the past with these tiles is that they were extremely low quality. You had the option to purchase “luxury vinyl tiles”, but it was going to cost you an arm and a leg. And at that point… you might as well just tile the floor with actually tiles. Recently, companies have started marketing new groutable vinyl tiles. They’re thicker, stronger, and have a slightly rounded edge giving you the option to grout. So really, why wouldn’t you? Vinyl tiles over time can shift and have some adhesive come up between the cracks making them a nightmare to keep clean. It’s not always a good long-term solution. By grouting, you can prevent all of that from happening, but still keep things within your budget. It’s also a great way to keep dirt and moisture from getting trapped down there – yay for no more mold!
So for only $.30 more per square foot, we bought two boxes of these tiles (Armstrong tiles in Crescendo) and a bag of 3/16″ tile spacers from Lowe’s. Armstrong actually recommends smaller spacers, but I didn’t read the back of the box ahead of time. NOTE: Having since grouted, I think it looks fantastic so I’d disregard their recommendation and opt for the wider spacers.
Tiling is kind of a huge pain in the butt. Seriously. And to make things WAAAAAY more complicated on myself, I decided the tiles just absolutely had to go diagonally. Let me give you an idea of how much of a pain that is. When I first laid out the pattern before sticking any tiles down, there were only about 10 tiles that would fit in their entirety. The rest of them (around 25 or so) would have to be cut in some way.
First, as I described, I laid out the pattern of whole tiles. I used a laser level to keep things straight – my new best friend for projects like this. Once I was satisfied with the design, I peeled the paper back from the tiles and starting laying them out using the 3/16″ spacers in between tiles. With all the full tiles down, I went back and started cutting the smaller oddly shaped tiles using the leftover paper backings for pattern tracing when it came to some of the really strange shapes. This process took several hours spread out over the past two nights.
I don’t really have any advice for this stage – it was pretty trial and error for me. If something didn’t fit right, I just kept shaving it down to the right shape/size with the exacto knife until it fit. Oh and for those wondering, cutting vinyl tiles is a piece of cake. Score the top as deep as you can, then bend the tile until it snaps. I promise this works on curves as well as straight edges. I ended up having about 10 tiles left over so I went around at the end and replaced a couple that just didn’t fit quite right. Once the tiles were all down, I swept the whole area clean and then walked around on them for a bit to make sure they were pressed down and adhering well to the floor below.
Check back tomorrow for all the grouting information as well as the big Before & After!