Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Financing and Shower Tile

The guy from the bank we've been working with called us today and said that the appraisal was complete. The appraised value was enough that they will definitely be able to loan us the money for the purchase plus the money for the improvements we want to do.

It seems, then, that everything is ready to go for the March 14th closing date. However, with all the work we've done so far, it's easy to forget that March 14th is actually when the real work begins.

Until then, we'll be inundating ourselves with knowledge of tiling, sink installation, and plaster walls. Besides the bit of rewiring we're going to have done, we think we're going to able to do almost everything without hiring contractors, which will help greatly to keep our costs down. I'm looking forward to tackling the challenges, but it's also quite intimidating; the better the quality and thoroughness of our work, the better off we'll be when we close on permanent financing (at which point the house will be re-appraised and a conventional mortgage will initiate).

I reckon now is as good a time as any to ask for tiling advice. After doing some research, it seems that tiling the kitchen and bathroom floors won't be too much trouble, but I'm particularly concerned about the complexity and tedium of tiling the shower/tub walls. Does anyone have any experience with this sort of task? Any advice, warnings, etc.? Thanks in advance!


David and Mica said...

I have just enough experience in tiling showers to be afraid of them.
We have 4" tiles in our shower and above our tub. The grout is cracked and falling out and is very difficult to keep clean. Therefore, I suggest you use larger tiles which means fewer grout lines to clean. I would also put the tiles close together (1/8" or less) and choose a dark grout color.
You need to install concrete board behind the tile. If it were me, I would remove the plaster, install treated plywood over the studs, then install the concrete board. Concrete board should be screwed down every 6" or so. You'll have a grid of screws 6" apart covering the entire board. You should also buy fiber tape and mud/thinset to seal the cracks between the pieces of concrete board. This theoretically forms a waterproof, concrete shell.
You should not use tile mud on a wall or ceiling like you would on a floor. The mud is too wet and the tiles will slide down the wall and perhaps fall off. Instead use what I call mastic. You should be able to buy it in buckets (probably 2 or 3 gallons at a time). Mastic is applied with a trowel with small "V" notches in it.
If you install tile soap holders or towel racks, do not install them with the tile. Leave a gap in your tile the appropriate size, let the mastic dry at least overnight, and then install the soap holder or towel rack using grout. I don't know why this is done, but I've seen it several times.
I hope this helps. It's been 10 years since I've laid tile next to a professional. Materials and methods may have changed, so don't take everything I said as absolute truth. Hopefully, someone at your Lowe's or Home Depot can help you also.


Nathan said...

Thanks greatly for the advice; it will definitely be heeded.

All I've read so far does stress the use of the concrete "backerboard", but doesn't mention using mastic. I was planning on just using typical mortar and mixing it up thicker for the walls, but I will certainly look into using mastic instead.

We do plan on attending a tile clinic at Home Depot soon; hopefully that will make us more confident (even if not more qualified).

Thanks again!

gid said...

Looks like David just about covered it. I agree about the hanging of shower tiles. We did shower tile in our last house, and I hated it. I have a tile saw if you need to borrow it......

Anonymous said...

I know tile shower walls look nice when they are new, but if I have my way, I'll never have tile shower walls again. I love tile floors, but the grout in the walls tends to need repair quite often to keep from cracking...then mildew gets behind it and it's impossible to get and/or keep clean. It must be the constant exposure to water that makes the grout break down quicker or something...I don't know.
I used to have the one piece tub and wall surround in our old house and I loved it...so easy to clean and to keep clean. You may like the looks of the tile enough to deal with the repairs and cleaning, but I don't. Love, Moma Lisa