Master Bath Tile Revealed at Last! and lessons learned from our first time tiling


Linking this post up with the Be Bold Challenge link party. I’d hoped to have a brand new bathroom project finished in time for it, but then I didn’t. But then I reflected and decided that tiling without a clue what we were doing was pretty damn bold of us. So.

True to my word, I will not be making any kind of laughable attempts at a tiling tutorial here. There are lots of those out there, and, if you are new to tiling and contemplating taking it on,  I suggest you read all of them before you try this crazy tiling thing yourself.

But I do have a few thoughts on tiling for first timers: things I wish we had known, would do differently, am glad we did, etc.

Read more about the tiling saga here, here, and here.

1. Tile lasts a really long time, so get what you like: Most of the aesthetic decisions we’ve made for the house so far have been things that are easy to change: paint colors, furniture, etc. The tile, on the other hand, I’m certainly not planning to change…ever. We came really close to buying big black square porcelain tile, but I knew slate was what I truly wanted. It was a fair amount more per square foot, but even in our giant bathroom the difference between it and the porcelain was less than $200. I’m not suggesting you go crazy and have no budget at all–there was certainly plenty of tile that was just outside of our price range no matter how much we loved it–but do keep things in perspective and think about what a long term investment tile is when deciding whether you should spend a little more to get something you’ll be happier with.

2. If it has to be perfect, maybe hire someone else to do it: I mean, or maybe you’re so naturally good at this sort of thing that you can disregard this. I did read some first time tiling posts from other bloggers where everything turned out totally perfect looking. But those posts kind of made me want to cry. If you’re more like us, there WILL be imperfections in your finished tiling job. We’re choosing to view these imperfections as a badge of honor earned by surviving tiling.

3. Other reasons you might want to hire someone else to do it: tiling is messy, and it takes forever, and it hurts your back. I guess some people find it enjoyable, but Dave and I both…didn’t. There are a number of DIY jobs that we find pleasant even putting aside the money saved or the sense of accomplishment, but tiling not so much. It’s up there with moving yourselves instead of hiring movers. That said, we both agree that it was worth it and we’re glad we did it. I guess in that sense it’s different from not hiring movers: you can’t really point to your heavy dresser and say, “we carried that upstairs all by ourselves!” I mean, you CAN. But you shouldn’t. 

4. Spend the extra time at the beginning getting the first few tiles right: (and getting the prep work right. If you don’t start out with a level surface, your tiles are doomed). It gets easier after you’ve done a few, so don’t be scared to use the first ones to learn what you’re doing. Pull them up and try again if they aren’t right! You’re going to be doing this for FOREVER, so there’s not point rushing through at the beginning.

…and that’s all I’ve got! Like I said, I’m no expert, but there are plenty of experts out there: learn from as many of them as you can before you start. Take a class, watch videos, read blogs….it’s not rocket science; it’s just tedious and takes practice to get good at it. If you can learn from a bunch of other people’s mistakes before you start and avoid making them yourself, you’ll be in good shape. Or at least better shape than if you didn’t do that.

Okay! So! Also, our tile is all finished! Let’s take a look, shall we?



Ignore the missing baseboards and the still sky blue walls and focus on my lovely, lovely slate (that grout isn’t white, by the way. I want to make it clear that I did not choose white grout. It’s not as dark as I thought it was going to be, but it’s definitely gray):



Mesmerizing, no?

And, however imperfect our tiling job is, I am completely confident that it is miles and miles better than old, stained carpet:



So now we take a break and get Abe moved to his new room. But there is, as you can see, lots more to do in here. Probably I’ll talk about that more at some point. We still have decisions to make! Maybe you will help?

Linking with:

The Inspiration Exchange

The Inspiration Gallery

The Creative Connection

Link Party Palooza


Master Bath Tile Revealed at Last! and lessons learned from our first time tiling — 55 Comments

    • Thanks, Trina–now that it’s all over I can say that it was worth it–not sure I would have while we were still in the middle of it!

  1. That looks phenomenal Gretchen. Such a big improvement. The biggest job is behind you!!! Celebrate!! 🙂 I can’t wait to see what’s next. You will have your bath done before we even start ours. Love how it is coming along!!!

  2. Yaaaay! I’m so happy for you guys! The floors look great and getting them done yourself with the little one and boys in tow is no small feat. 🙂

  3. I dunno. I think you should have left the carpet. That’s a lie. That tile is very pretty. And I’m going to teach you a secret….I would have had no clue that your tile was perfectly laid because it looks like it in pictures. That’s the beauty of blogging. 😉

    • ha–right? nothing gets on here that I don’t put on here. And, I mean, it’s my master bathroom; even people who come to my house all the time are pretty much never going to see it except in pictures!

  4. It really does look amazing! I am always amazed that people seem to think tile is simple. It’s not easy at all and takes lots of prep and follow up. I think you did an awesome job.

    • ooh, I didn’t think of that. Although, to be fair, you ARE seeing it next to the hexagon tile; you just can’t see the hex tile in the picture ;). j/k…I’ll try to remember to put a pic of it in the next bathroom post!

  5. Great tips and great job! I am terrified to embark on any kind of tiling project. I have all the materials (except the tiles) but I can’t find the courage to pull the trigger 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience and your space, Erin

    • Thank you! I was looking back through old posts and found one from OVER A YEAR AGO about how tiling was “next on the list.” ha! So it took us quite awhile to work up the courage, too. Good luck with your tiling!

  6. I’ve tiled a couple rooms in my life and yeah, totally not something I’d want to do in a large space! You guys did a great job though. Can’t wait to see the finished bathroom!

    • Thanks, Michelle! I think a larger space, but without so many corners to go around might have been easier….but I hope I won’t find out for awhile now…on a long term tiling break 🙂

  7. I have been reading blogs for a while and you are the first one I know that has tiled! Congratulations! And, yes, sooo much better than carpet!

  8. Hi! I just ordered a sample of this tile. Looks so great in your pics and is the same look I’m going for in my mudroom. Just curious how it’s held up? Thanks so much!

    • Holding up great! I keep thinking we should probably reseal it, but we haven’t yet, and we’ve had no issues with it.

  9. Love the look of this tile! Could you share dimensions and where you found it? About to dive into a DIY floor reno here. Thanks so much!

  10. I am crazy about this floor! I want to put it in my kitchen / living room / entry. They all kinda open into each other. Do you see a lot of dirt or hair on it? Im a little worried it will be hard to keep clean. How has it been for you?

    • honestly, it does show hair and dirt quite a bit. It’s not that big of a deal in the master bath because it’s a relatively low traffic area (and one where the dogs and cats don’t go very often), but it might well drive me crazy if it were in a more central part of the house! Either that or I’d have to get better with my cleaning schedule 😉

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