Newly Tiled Master Bathroom

Newly Tiled Master Bathroom 
contributed by Home Hinges

Part 1 of 3 (all parts are in the post)

Last fall my Wonderful Hubby, a.k.a. the Sports Addict, and I along with our five rugrats bought and moved into a home with three bathrooms including a large master bathroom. For eight months the master bathroom was a wonderful place to “powder our noses”, brush our teeth, shave, and so forth. But every morning for eight months the Sports Addict and I would trot/streak down the upstairs hallway in varying states of attire to the kids bathroom to shower.

Why you ask?
Let me first explain that we love our home. It is truly the house of my dreams. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect, it means it has tons of potential. This was definitely the case with the master bathroom. You see, despite having a spacious layout, and all the other essentials including a jetted tub, our master bathroom was missing a shower.
The Showerless Tub
Yes I do mean one of those thingies that spray water at you. This wouldn’t seem so strange had our house been built in say…1937 when people still took baths as a way to get clean and not just a way to relax with a book and aromatic candles.(I don’t think people really do this either. We all just wish we could.) But our home was built in 1995, a good year for me and a good year for showering.
So why no shower for fifteen years of this home’s life?
That is a question for the original builders and all of its subsequent owners, but my guess is money. estimates the average cost of a bathroom remodel is between $15000 and $18000 across the United States and that is just for a 35-40 square foot bathroom. My master is probably around 75-100 square feet.  Big OUCHIE for the pocketbook.
Back on topic.  So the Sports Addict had been gently suggesting I focus my energy on rigging up some kind of shower for our bathroom since we moved in. After a lot of thought in design and cost I finally came to the conclusion that:
  1. I would have to do it myself if I wanted to get something half decent in our price range (about $1000)
  2. I have expensive taste so my version of half decent is probably more intense than other people’s version of half decent
  3. If you are going to do all the work for half decent you might as well go for AWESOME!!
So with all this knowledge and scanty budget what did I do?
Start rippin’ the walls off baby!!


The naked tub
I took the sheetrock off the walls around the jetted tub. (They were just painted greenboard.) The above picture was taken after I started putting up the DensShield as the backer for my travertine surround. More on that in the next post.
I decided to keep the jetted tub. It still works well and it would’ve been too much work and a huge waste to remove it. I realize it’s a little unconventional to have a shower over a jetted tub, but it’s also a little unconventional to not have a shower in the master bathroom. And remember—super minimal budget for bathroom redo.
Slightly Frightening Old Faucet
So with the walls torn off, and my bathroom a dusty mess, I took a moment to freak out and then started the reconstruction.  (See Master Bathroom-Reconstruction, the next part in this three part series.)

Part 2 of 3

In my previous post on the master bathroom I left everyone (including my husband) hanging, with a dusty, dirty, demolished bathroom.  There are probably a few other “d” words my grandpa might have used, but lets keep it clean.
After all the dust and destruction stopped, I was suddenly faced with the daunting task of putting it back together again.  This is where I started to panic and called Cath several times for reassurance.  (Sorry Cath for waking you up on several mornings.  Your “of course you can do it” encouragement is always helpful.)
The first problem I ran into were some electrical surprises in the wall.  Surprises are a natural part of any remodeling project and need to be considered in the overall plan.  This particular surprise was a no-no in the electrical world.  Wires had been spliced together, nutted, and wrapped in electrical tape, but they were free within the wall.  They should have been in their own junction box for safety.  This means my kid’s bathroom now has a new outlet, but that is the subject of another post.
Once the electrical was addressed we could move on to plumbing the shower head and valve.  Since we weren’t taking out the tub we could just use the same drain.  (Thank goodness because I don’t particularly like sewage lines.  They’re kind of icky.)  Using PEX, I teed off the hot and cold waterlines of the roman faucet and ran them up the wall to the new valve.  We used PEX connections here as well.  I really enjoy doing PEX.  It’s quite fulfilling.

PEX parts artistically arranged on concreteDSC05110

Once the plumbing was done I started the prep work for the surround by putting up DensShield.  At first I went to that big box home improvement store and got cement board, but quickly realized it would be impossible for me to work with it on my own for the simple reason it is heavy as sin.  It took two men at the story to lift even a single 3’x5’ sheet.  Problem!   Starting to freak out again, I quickly called the Bathroom Whisperer aka Dad (should have done this first) and he told me about DensShield, a gypsum product coated in fiberglass made for tile and stone.  The “big stores” by me don’t sell it, but you can easily find it by calling a drywall store.  It cuts and hangs almost like sheetrock except you get little fiberglass itchies sometimes.  It is more water resistant than cement board, tons easier to work with, and very easy to tile on. (Note: Choir of angels singing in background here.)

This picture was taken after I put up all the DensShield and siliconed all the seams.  You can see my exciting new valve and the protective plug for the shower head poking out of the wall.

I set up shop in the garage since it was still cold and randomly snowy here.  A tarp behind the wet-saw kept the water from spraying everywhere. Thanks to grandpa’s old drill, which I received as a hand-me-down, (see note*) I had a drill with enough strength to mix my little batches of thin-set using my newly purchased 1/4″ mixing bit.  I’m pretty sure my little battery powered drills would’ve pooped out with this task.  (*Note: Tools are my favorite hand-me-downs.)
As a mother, doing little batches of thin-set was the only way to go.  It would be a shame to be pulled away to watch Nickjr with The Missies and have a large batch go to waste.
Other Important Note: Anyone who knows my kitchen, the measuring cup that has “Not for food” written all over it is once again really NOT FOR FOOD!
Finally, super thanks goes to my wonderful husband for letting me take over his parking spot in the garage…again.  He seemed more happy about it this time.  Probably because he’s really excited to get his own shower.
The actual tiling.  Nothing says AWESOME quite like real stone.  There are lots of wonderful tiles out there, but once again I have expensive taste.  This is one time when I could get what I want and stay within budget.  I chose 12”x12” travertine stone tiles for the majority of the shower surround.  The store I bought it from directly imports stone from all over the world and as a result their prices were a lot better than other places I went.  In the end I got the travertine for $2.75 a square foot.  To add interest I picked out 4”x4” tumbled travertine tiles to add as a decorative row for $3.15 a square foot and then I splurged on 5 little stone mosaic flower tiles that were $5.00 a piece.  (For a full breakdown of all the cost see part three of this series.)

First row going up

Cath and I tiled her tub surround a few years ago using white, porcelain subway tiles all the way to the ceiling.  Compared to that, this actually went rather quickly and smoothly.  Travertine isn’t as scary as it sounds.  It may rhyme with Wolverine, but that’s where the similarity ends.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a ton of time and work and I had a serious case of “man hands” by the end to prove it, but overall, not too difficult.

About half way done…and a long way to go.DSC04565

Of course there is always a certain level of mess involved in these things.   By the time it was done I just threw away the two pairs of pants and two tee-shirts I wore while tiling because I didn’t want to send them through the washing machine.  Projects like these are why I don’t immediately get rid of those pants that make my backside look large or that fit well when I first put them on but look awful by the end of the day.  It’s far more satisfying to completely destroy them first…then throw them away.
To see the results of all this torture watch for the next installment.

Part 3 of 3

My home has seen fifteen years, several families, but no master bathroom shower…until now. Granted, there has been a lovely jetted tub in the corner, which was fun the two times I used it since we moved in last August. But neither the Sports Addict nor myself are tub people. Obviously the people before us had to be tub people, but that sends us in an entirely different and disturbing direction I don’t want to pursue.
But after all the demolition, reconstruction, a little blood (projects like this can be rough on the knuckles), sweat (a lot more of this than is allowed in photos), and maybe a tear or two, we finally ended up with a beautiful shower that makes me smile every morning.

So Pretty!

So the ultimate question that the Sports Addict always asks— “How much did it cost?” Remember I was working on a $1000 dollar budget. Usually a laughable amount in terms of bathroom remodels, not to mention that I also decided to redo the vanity since the countertop really needed to be replaced.
(Note: I can’t ever just do one project. It always stretches into something else.) Usually at this point the Sports Addict is sadly shaking his head because I’ve gone three times over budget…BUT NOT THIS TIME! I skimmed in under budget. Can you believe it? I still can’t.
The Breakdown
Plumbing and Fixtures: $446
Prep for Surround: $118
Stone Tile: $384
Misc & Tools: $18
Shower curtain: $16
Rod: Free from Peaches though I think I better pay her for it
Total: $982
Within this same budget I tiled the vanity countertop and painted the vanity a chocolate brown. Luckily I already owned the paint. It was one of those rare finds in the “oops paint” section of the Home Depot near me. (For more on the vanity project see the post Vanity Fair and Beautiful.)
In conclusion, this bathroom is only done for now. There are still more things I would like to change. For example, as beautiful as it’s green, marbled, linoleum is, one day I hope not to tread my little tootsies over it anymore. I think I’d also like to do something with the toilet area, which resides in it’s own little closet on the other side of the vanity…and down the road I might even take out the jetted tub one day and just make that area a fully enclosed shower… and maybe a few other things, but don’t tell the Sports Addict any of this because he starts getting nervous and calculating in his head how much it will cost and then he gets really jittery.
So needless to say we are very happy with our current bathroom and intend to enjoy it for a long time to come. At least until the next budget cycle.

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. >I agree that having a shower into a jet tub is weird at first but looking at the after pictures it looks completely acceptable. I don't think I would even question if I was looking at your house. The tile is beautiful and it's fantastic that you did the front of the tub as well. I really enjoyed your post; it was humorous.

  2. >We have the same thing! A master bathroom with only a tub. Our house was built in 1985. We have been wanting to do exactly this and now I think we can totally conquer it. Thank you!

  3. >What a fantastic job! Amazing that it was all done just under $1,000! I really need to do mine but the thought of tiling is rather daunting to me as I have never tackled a project like that before. I managed to refinish the tub, paint the walls and put up the beadboard but that is it so far. *sigh*

  4. >Thank you so much for the wonderful feature. I'm honored you like my bathroom remodel enough to share it with your readers. I put a post up on my blog today to let anyone coming to my site know about Remodelaholic. Thanks again for the love.
    April from