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(Almost) Painless Tile Update

(Almost) Painless Tile Update

Installing ceramic tile can be a messy, difficult job – even when you hire a pro.  It’s even worse if you have an entire bathroom worth of tile to remove before you can install your new tile! A complete demo job may not be required, however.  With some careful planning and a good installer, you can update your tile with very little headache.

The owners of this home had selected basic beige tile when they built the house more than a decade ago.  It was the least expensive option at the time, and it has served them well.  But, they were tired of the bland look and wanted an upgrade.  The only problem, aside from the cost, was the in-floor heat they had installed under the bathroom floor tile.  Taking out that old tile meant replacing the heating under it…and, that’s not cheap.  So, we came up with another solution.

Bathtub tile update

Instead of taking out ALL the tile in the bath, we (and by “we” I mean my fabulous tile installer) carefully chiseled out particular tiles and replaced them with glass mosaic tiles.  He had to work very carefully so he didn’t crack the adjoining tiles.  The homeowners did have a few extra tiles stashed away from the original installation (which is a good reason to always hang on to the extra tile when you complete a project!), but they didn’t have enough to replace dozens of tiles that were cracked or chipped!

The installer removed one row of tiles around the bathtub backsplash, and every other diagonal tile around the walk-in shower.  Once he cleaned out the old mortar behind the tiles, he was able to install new glass mosaic tiles in their place.  The glass adds a bit of sparkle, a bit of color, and makes the entire space feel completely updated.

shower tile update

In order for this solution to work, keep in mind that we had to select a glass tile that would fit within the existing space left by the tiles we removed.  You would think that a 1″x1″ tile is exactly 1″x1″.  You would be wrong.  Often, this is a “nominal measurement.”  The little tiles may be only 3/4″ or 7/8″ square.  Or, they may be 1-1/8″ square.  Be sure to measure carefully, and account for the grout joints in your planning.  For best results take a sample of the tile you are considering into your bathroom to see if it will fit properly.  Consider, too, the thickness of the tile; glass tiles are often thinner than their ceramic or porcelain counterparts.  A good installer will account for this, but it’s still something to be aware of.

Also, be aware that your installer may need to remove other tiles in the area to complete the job properly.  Around the tub in the pictures shown here, the installer ended up removing the top row of tile, then re-installing it later for the best fit and look.  He was careful during demo, and was able to reuse most of the tiles again.  These types of projects don’t always go as planned, so keep an open mind, and be willing to change course mid-stream, if needed!  Too many cracked tiles may mean that you need to replace more than you bargain for.

Still, if you want to update your bathroom or kitchen tile, but you don’t want the hassle or expensive of a complete re-do, look into this smaller update.  It may be the best way to get a fresh look on a budget.

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