Plumbing the Depths of Tile Installation

The Gingerbread Diaries

(Direct link for the feed readers: Downstairs Bath Renovation, Week 4)

So, I did it, I got brave and looked at our original timeline to see just how far behind we are, here at the end of week 4:

  • Week 1: Take the room down to studs
  • Week 2: Build new wall
  • Week 3: Electrical and plumbing
  • Week 4: Drywall and painting

Yup, we’re behind!

Granted, replacing the subfloor was never on my list, so that bumps things back a week on its own (2 if we’re being honest, because we only have half the subfloor replaced). If we adjust for that additional task, which we’ll call the new week three between wall framing and electrical/plumbing, we’re only functionally 1 week behind.

Or something like that…

My precious! I hope I love these switches as much in use as I do in theory! | image via House of Antique Hardware

My precious! I hope I love these switches as much in use as I do in theory! | image via House of Antique Hardware

The electrical and plumbing aren’t done, yet, but I have high hopes for that to be checked off this weekend. We’ve ordered the pretty button switches and plates only to have the double plate be on backorder until April.

This, but in brushed nickel finish. | image via House of Antique Hardware

This, but in brushed nickel finish. I hope. | image via House of Antique Hardware

Todd’s looking into what our options are to speed that up (we could have the rest of the order shipped without it and fix up a stand-in until the one we want is available OR we could get a different finish and I could paint it, those are the top contenders at the moment). It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a delay we weren’t expecting.

Todd’s been working on the plumbing for the new layout this week and since that’s not something I’m all that helpful with I suggested that while he was doing that, maybe I could go ahead and get started on the tile floor. Sounds good, right?


It’s been a week of research into underlayments and waterproofing and tile sizes. See, we bought a roll of DITRA as an underlayment but they didn’t have the tape that you’re supposed to seal corners and edges with (lets ignore, for the moment, that to seal the gaps we’d also need the drywall up–details!). So I was doing some reading about installation on the manufacturers website and saw that they had a minimum tile size of 2″ to use with the DITRA. Well, the octagons are that big, but the square tiles are not, and the size of the waffle pattern on the DITRA could mean it’s not supplying the right amount of support for the smaller tiles.

Reminder of the tile we picked. Simple, not fussy, though it'll look more interesting with the silver grout we picked.

Reminder of the tile we picked. Simple, not fussy, though it’ll look more interesting with the silver grout we picked. (Yes, it’s listed as wall tile, but it has a PEI of 4, which is perfectly fine for moderate to high-traffic floors.) | Image via Lowe’s

The good news is that we get to return the DITRA (that stuff is expensive!) and don’t need the tape, either. Instead we’re going with a layer of cement board (the preferred underlayment for small tiles as near as we can tell). The cement board is water durable, though we’re also wondering about waterproofing between that and the plywood subfloor. Now I’m thinking a treatment would be better than, say, a layer of plastic sandwiched between–we’ll see what consensus we come to.

I suppose the bright side to all of this is that we discovered this NOW as opposed to when we were knee deep in tile-time. My attempt at being proactive actually let us research an area of the project we’re both pretty new to without setting the project back further. So, yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

Room of Requirement | Downstairs Bath Inspiration

The Gingerbread Diaries

Since I wandered into the eventual bathroom remodel territory on the last post, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the possibilities and what we could do with the small space in there. It’s just under 50 square feet, there’s only so many places things can go, and it’s so small that I’ve concentrated on keeping things light in there to make it feel less claustrophobic. What is the real potential of this little room?

Let’s start with where we are now, with some quick cell phone snaps taken last night.

Downstairs bath: sink corner

Downstairs bath: sink corner

I really need to add a towel hook for by the sink!

Downstairs bath: commode and etagere

Downstairs bath: commode and etagere

Downstairs bath: unfortunate window placement

Downstairs bath: unfortunate window placement (obviously I have not gotten around to replacing these tattered blinds with curtains yet–it’s on the list)

Oh, and did I mention there’s another door in here?

Downstairs bath: door to my office

Downstairs bath: door to my office

That door, I believe, originally led from the owner’s study/the back parlor to the back porch. Now it’s a completely unnecessary door between my office/studio and the downstairs bath. And, yes, this is where I want the sink to go. While we’ll very likely seal this doorway (functionality wins out over the historical footprint of the house in this case), the fact that it’s already somewhat recessed will be, I believe, a great start for a recessed medicine cabinet above the sink to come.


Click the image to go to the current Pinterest Board for this project.

At dinner, last night, Todd and I went over some of the things we’d discussed in passing about fixtures and finishes. If you notice the monkey clock in the second photo and I purchased the dancing monkey clock a few years ago through a flash sale site and we’ve agreed to keep it in the room as our accent color inspiration. Everything else will be white or cream/khaki to keep the room bright.

Downstairs Bath

Downstairs Bath by scrapsoflife

The clawfoot tub (currently hidden behind the shower curtain) needs a good scrub with a wire brush and a fresh coat of paint. Someone had the questionable idea to add what appears to be a wallpaper border to the outside of the tub in years past, that will also get removed (though if its anything like the wallpaper in the entryway, it won’t put up much of a fight!).

We’ll pick up the burnt orange color from the clock in textiles and small accessories, maybe even replace the knobs on the current etagere (just a basic one from Target, but it serves it’s purpose and fits the space nicely) with pretty glass ones like in my polyvore board. Orange isn’t necessarily my favorite color, but I think a little bit here and there would be a nice touch in an otherwise neutral room.

Originally I’d thought we’d install in-floor radiant heat in both bathrooms. I’m not sure that’s really necessary downstairs anymore (especially since it’d only be installed in the middle third of the room–less than 20 square feet; you don’t put the heating elements under or too near the fixtures, only in the open areas), though I suppose I could feel differently when there’s ceramic tile on the floor instead of the wood-look vinyl flooring the contractor put in during the bank-required renovations. Still, I think a sizable, colorful bath rug could take care of creature comforts for anyone who actually needs to shower down here.

Considering the size of the room, I suppose it’s not surprising that this remodel could be done for less than $2,000 (it’s only a bit over a grand for the fixtures and accessories, but I’m allowing for a lot of the unknowns in my semi-educated guesstimate: drywall and it’s related materials, insulation, the plumbing supplies, and whatever else pops up). Thank goodness it can all be done by Todd and I, as the biggest chunk of any renovation project is the labor.

While I’ll be keeping an eye out over the next few months for orange accents at good prices, it looks like I’ll be shopping for a new ceiling fan for my office in the more immediate future. The motor started making a grinding noise last night that’s a bit disturbing.

That’s the fun of old houses, right???