Master Shower: Part Eight in a Series. Tiling and Plumber (again) and Grout.

November 07, 2020

Ah, the DIY tiling was underway and man, tiling with subway tile, no matter their size, is a big project.  Big project in that it's astonishingly slow setting each individual tile and constantly checking for level and square and alignment oh my gosh, this tiling was taking for damn freakin' ever.

All told?  I think it took me a good month plus to get the flippin’ tile up.  Whaaaatt, whyyy, you ask.  Well, work and life, such as it is.

So I went with eighth inch joints but now I wish I had gone narrower.  Those little x shaped tile spacers* came in quite handy of course though I think I dropped more than I used.  

subway tile niche tiling progress shower master bath
Look!  I made it around the niche!  That was hell.  Hot tip:  do better math than I or wait to cut your niche.

I tried to squeeze in as many rows as I could as often as I could which averaged heh, pathetically, about four rows per outing.  It was embarrassingly slow.  

I think Mike had had it up to nnnffff, ya know, enough.  Git 'er done already, dammit!  Although he kept swearing he was going to stay in the hall bathroom.  I knew he wouldn't.

tiling subway tile wall shower bathroom
Eeerrrrrgggg, sooooo close!  Just a little sliver on the left side of the door!

The tippy top row had to be trimmed horizontally as well as vertically so that was wow, a lot of running up and down two flights of stairs.  Sure, I could have brought the lil' tile saw upstairs but the idea of cleaning up dried tile dust off of everything was overpoweringly a big no.

Finally though, the tile was all in and that was probably one of the biggest butt wiggle dances I had done in a good long time.  The huge sigh of relief I belted out....
 

Holy sh*t people, the tile is done!!

But lo, what's this?  Despite every attempt to keep the unglazed hexagon tile on the floor mess-free, it turns out I dropped plenty of tile mortar on it.

Worse though?  Discovering that tile mortar stained the tiles.  Uuuuhhhhhh.

Wanna talk panic?  Sheer utter terror coursed through me, omg, what if the stains do not come out of this lovely floor you just laid?!?!  Yeah.  ......................Yeah.

In a moment of clarity, I decided to email the tile mortar manufacturer and a very nice woman named Alicia wrote me back promptly saying use an alkaline cleaner.  She listed Goof Off and Goo Gone as options first, two I didn't want to try given the nature of the unglazed-ness and their oiliness.

Her other suggestion was a 70/30 mix of Simple Green* to water, scrub with a white nylon brush but let the cleaner linger three to five minutes before scrubbing.

Despite coughing hysterically the entire time, the Simple Green worked.  Wow.  Yeah.  .........Wow!

I about drove out to TEC headquarters to hug Alicia.  

Whew.  Seriously.  .........................................Whew.

Ok!  Time to grout!  Jeez louise, I know.

So the grout came from Floor & Decor, purchased at the same time as the tiles.  They carry only Mapei* and not every color is available in each type.  Two types, one being regular grout and one being rapid set.

Originally I picked a light gray color which was subtle and in retrospect, I should have stuck with that.  Panicking about my choice of color, an incessant response ugh I know, right?, I went back and exchanged it for a darker color, silver.

To clear up confusion between sanded and unsanded grout:  use sanded grout for joints larger than 1/8" and use unsanded for joints smaller than 1/8".  You're welcome!

Turns out this silver color I chose only came as rapid set at the time I purchased so I bought it not understanding that rapid set, for the most part, means instantaneous set haha no not funny and for someone like me who is not a pro nor a speedy grouter person, that was a poor choice.

So, and yeah, people swear by this Mapei stuff but I hated it.  Well hate is a strong word; I strongly disliked it.  Especially the rapid, I mean insta-set.

After stirring up a small batch and smearing it onto a small section of wall, I discovered that by the time I was done, the stuff in the bucket was solid and the stuff on the wall was not cleaning off.  Spending an inordinate amount of time scraping, wiping, cleaning, I had to find a better, more manageable way.

And I did.  Enough.  A grout bag.*  Much like for cake decorating, yes.  

grout bag
Grout bag.  Who knew?  Tile or cake, tile or cake....

Mix barely any grout which meant math, stuff it into the bag, squeeze the grout directly into the joints, then clean up.  This sped up the process and cut down on the mess immensely.  While it still also took forever, I was able to somewhat circumvent the rapid.

Still, it took forever and a day.  But it did get done.

grout bag tiling rapid set
Finished grout towards the top there and a new line squirted in with the grout bag.


clean up grout
Wipey wipey wipey wipey.  This was, heh, a very tedious process.

Finally, the floor.  That wasn’t too difficult as it’s a horizontal surface, easier to clean up, convenient with the floor drain and such.  Dried and set, woot all the grout is done done done deee oooh enn eee done.

Anxious now as the light at the end of the tunnel was aglow, I decided to turn the water on.  Again, one of the best aspects of this fixture I bought was that it has its own shutoff.*  Brilliant.

Slowly twist the screws...swiftly water was leaking out of the shutoffs and even though the handle was in the off position, water came gushing out of the showerhead.  Along with my anger.

“I do good work,” that smirky a**hole plumber chirped, the words screaming in my head as I’m getting soaked and water is running inside the wall.

I had to call him back.  He was clownish about it.  He did show up.  We barely spoke.  He kicked me out of the room.  I heard tons of water rushing then I hear him shout he’s done.  This was way more stressful and tension-riddled than I am letting on.

He’s on the floor mopping up water with our bath towels, gee, nice, then beamingly points at everything installed.  I was annoyed he put the escutcheon and handle on, I couldn’t check his work.  Yes I should have removed the cover and checked but I could not stand a second more of him and decided for my sanity to trust that this loser finally got it right.

We choked out goodbyes and I happily flung the door shut behind him, thrilled to never see the likes of this putz ever again.

Ok!  Shake it off.  Let's get to wrapping this up!

subway tile shower master bathroom tiling grout complete
Rounding the bend towards done, it's unbelievable.  Yayyyyyy!!

Stay tuned for the last legs!  Soooo close, haha!

*The Mapei grout is a Lowes affiliate link.  The tile spacers, Simple Green, and grout bags are Amazon affiliate links.  The plumbing fixture is a Home Depot affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the “boring stuff” tab for more info. 

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