Thursday, December 31, 2015

How to Tile an Accent Wall in Your Bathroom

I recently helped a friend remodel her bathroom and my favorite area of the whole room is the vanity space.  Talk about an amazing transformation.  Here's a look at the before:

My plan for this part of the bathroom:

  1. Take down that awful mirror and replace it with two framed mirrors with a storage cabinet between.
  2. Paint the cabinetry.  This piece is a nice oak cabinet that has been in the house since it was built in the 80's, my friend is just sick to death of it so I talked her into keeping it and letting me jazz it up with some paint.
  3. Add some knobs.
  4. New light fixtures and faucets.
  5. The marble top is also original to the house.  It looks to be in really good shape but she wouldn't hear of keeping it.  New marble it is.
  6. My favorite part of the entire project, a wall of tile to accent the vanity space.
For a free printable with ten different ways to update and add some flair to your bathroom and a subscription to our Cheat Sheet Postcard Series, please click here:  10 Ways To Update Your Bathroom On A Budget

If you're looking to make an impact in your bathroom without breaking the bank this project is perfect.  Tile the area above the vanity, paint the cabinet, change out the mirror and you've got an entirely new look for minimal cost.

First, remove the old mirror and take down the light fixtures (you could stop beneath them and not have to remove them but as you'll see in a minute, I thought the tile needed to go farther up).  I also wiped down the wall to clean it up a little.

Grab some mortar from your local hardware store, I usually buy one that allows for some "flex" just to be safe and mix according to the package directions (I use a handheld kitchen mixer for small batches) and use your trowel to spread it onto the wall in the area you'll be working on, remember that your workability time is short (roughly 20 minutes), cover small areas at a time until you get a feel for it.  Using the slotted side of your trowel add grooves in the mortar as shown below.

Start adding your tile.  Notice that I've got some blank spots on the right side that'll need filled in and I've had to cut the tile on the left.  When you put a piece on the wall "wiggle" it up and down, side to side gently to get it adhered into the mortar sufficiently.  I used spacers at the countertop and will again when I add the next layer of tile.  You will get some seepage (that's one of the downfalls of these mosaic tiles, they can be a real pain in the rump).  Go light on your mortar using a small notched trowel, I used what I had which made it a little messier (the tile packaging will give you the proper size trowel to use).

Now just keep building up the wall, using spacers between each layer of tile.  As I cut the tile on the left that ends at the middle cabinet I could use the little pieces to fill in on the right side of the wall in the corner.
Pay attention when you start tiling on the other side of the cabinet, you'll need to make sure your tile lines up when you get to the top.  Measure from where you finished at the top to the left, the width of a tile and mark a line down with a level.  Use that line and the side of the cabinet to determine what size to cut your starting tiles that'll line up along the side of the cabinet.

Here's when I decided I wanted it to go above the light fixtures.  It just seemed dwarfed to me.  So, I turned off the lights and disconnected the fixtures.  If you've never done this and are nervous about it go find the power switch in the electrical box and flip it off.  Otherwise, simply turning it off at the light switch works just fine.

Much better.  I still have some clean-up to do around the edges but the taller version looks so much nicer.

Now, it needs grouted.  Another messy process.  The grout you'll use depends on the type of tile, I need an unsanded grout for the glass.  Also, it's very important if you're using any type of stone (which there is in this mosaic) that you seal it before grouting.  It's a very simple process and trust me, you'll be kicking yourself later if you don't do it.  Here's what I used:

FYI, I didn't take any pictures of the grouting in the bathroom but I did a tabletop with some leftovers so if it looks different, that's why.

At this point you have your tile placed, you've gotten it sealed and you're ready to grout.  Read the directions on your grout bag, it's really simple, just follow the directions!  When they say don't do too large of an area, trust me, I learned the hard way, work in small sections until you get a feel for it and know your limits.

Here's a run-down of my process:

Grout mixed to the consistency of Peanut Butter.

Using a rubber float spread the grout at an angle into all the joints.  Again, work in small sections, when this stuff dries it's really difficult to remove.

It will look a mess.  Use your float to remove as much of the excess grout as possible then you'll clean it off using a sponge and clean buckets of water.  I usually have two buckets going with a clean sponge in each bucket.  Start with one bucket and wipe down the tile removing excess grout, switching to the second bucket when necessary.  This is what you'll be left with, as it dries there'll be a "film" on the tile.

 As a final step you'll polish it with a clean dry cloth.  Can you see the difference?

 Here it is finished.

I know we did a lot more in this bathroom that just the vanity area but can you see how you could make some simple changes in your own bathroom, without the major overhaul we did and still get outstanding results?

For a free printable with ten different ways to update and add some flair to your bathroom and a subscription to our Cheat Sheet Postcard Series, please click here:

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