Bathroom Reno: Stage 4 – Prepping the Floor

Well, the last update about the bathroom…a long time ago…was about our painted toilet (which is still holding up fantastically, thank goodness!). The next step in the renovation was what we were dreading the most…the floor.

Neither of us had ever tiled before and we knew starting out with natural stone was going to be a challenge. I totally understand now why the labor costs so much to have someone professionally install tile. They earn every penny! Not that that makes us willing to hire out the work…no, we are suckers for punishment. Anyway, here’s how to take a floor from regular ol’ sheet vinyl to gorgeous marble tiles in 10 steps.

Sidenote: Our house is on a concrete slab. The prep work will be much different for a house on a crawlspace or basement!

1) Look long and hard at your current floor. Think of how much work it’s gonna be to take that up and tile it. Then think about how much you’re gonna love that new floor. Put on some tunes, it lessens the pain!

2) Start scraping the vinyl off the floor. This is the worst part in my opinion. That vinyl was clinging on to the slab for dear life! After trying numerous tools and vinyl adhesive remover, we settled on boiling water and a small metal hand scraper. About 8 hours and a veeeery sore hand later, most of it was up.

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3) Fill any cracks in the concrete with concrete repair caulk.

4) Check to see if your concrete is level. Take the longest level or straight board you have, lay down on the floor, and see if there are any gaps bigger than 1/4 inch in the concrete. If so, you will have to level it before putting down tile. Very slow grades in the concrete are ok, its the more abrupt ones that will cause issues. Think about standing on a tile where one corner is not supported by the floor beneath it…major cracking…and the last thing you want after doing all that work is a broken tile from the uneven subfloor! If you do have some unlevel spots, then…

5) Prime the concrete in the unlevel areas. They sell latex primer that goes with the concrete leveler found in the flooring section of any hardware store. The latex primer assures that your concrete leveler will stick to the floor. It also helps the leveler not soak in to the porous concrete so that the leveler doesn’t wind up being an unlevel surface itself.

6) Level the concrete. Now you just mix the concrete leveler with water, pour some on to the unlevel areas, and spread it around with a trowel til it’s pretty evenly spread. It will do the rest of the work for you.

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7) Lay out your tile. In such a small area, we knew we were going to have to do a lot of cutting for the edges. Plus, with marble, every tile is different, so you want to make sure you get to pick and choose which tiles you want to use where depending on their color and how they look next to each other. Make sure you use your tile spacers here so that your cuts are accurate.

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8 ) As you are picking up your tile,  number the bottom of your tile with a sharpie or wax pencil and number the associated spot on the floor with the same number. This is a life saver down the road when you are putting them back in place.

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9) Cut the tile. We bought a $80 wet tile saw from Home Depot that has worked great for us. Don’t settle for tile nippers or a tile scorer thinking that it will turn out looking professional. It’s worth it in time and the finished product to get the wet tile saw…or, even better, borrow one!

10) Sit back, pop a cold one, and call it good for the day (all the prep actually took us closer to 5 days with all the dry time in between the primer and leveler). Next up is the actual tiling!

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3 Responses

  1. So far, so awesome, and YEAH, wet saws are a life saver! That tile is just gorgeous, by the way, and I can’t wait to see it installed.

  2. Yay! You’re back! I was wondering where you guys where. 🙂

    Ugh, tiling. *shudder* I’m still recovering from tiling our countertops! lol But really – great advice. We will definitely be checking back when we do our own bathroom floor tiling!

    ~Chelsea

    • Thanks, it’s nice to be back! We actually just finished up a completely life-consuming 2 month project on the house…now I gotta catch up on the blog to get everyone up to speed!

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