Installing the Tiles
With the basic work done on the shower unit, it was time to turn my attention to making it look pretty. I had, as a part of the planning process, already worked out what tiles I would need to finish off the job. First though, I had to cover up the walls with Hardy Tile Backer Board, a special composite board made to be installed in places that could suffer moisture and dampness like behind tiles in a shower. I am not sure exactly what is in the board but it really is heavy. It comes in a 3 x 5 feet size and each board probably weighs at least 50 pounds. Luckily, I would not need too much of this stuff and what I had to install would be cut to different sizes. I bought enough to complete my project along with a tub of mortar premix to patch other areas.
Cutting the Hardy Board was a real bitch. I had to cover my nose and mouth and wear safety glasses as it made a huge cloud of white dust and the only way to cut it was with a carborundum blade in my old saw. It had to be screwed into place and the screw holes had to be countersunk in order for them not to stand out as they would not pull into the board on their own. It took two layers of this board in order to bring the surface even with the back of the existing tile. In between the boards, I carefully filled in any holes or rough patches with the mortar premix. I also repeated this process after I had installed the top layer of board so that the tiles would have a level surface on which they would be affixed. It took a couple of days to install the board and I finished it up by finally caulking everything with a joint or opening to prevent any chance that the water might seep into the wall.
With the Hardy Board in place, it was time to turn my attention to installing the tile. I had discovered in my searching in the store, a product called SimpleMat, which is a Tile Setting Mat that comes in 9 x 12 inch sheets and comprises of a special sheet material with the ability to glue itself to the wall side and to have the tiles glued to the front side just by pressing them on. Just the ideal thing for my project and would save me having to deal with thin set mortar. The tiles that I chose were named Pacific Sand and were brown in contrast to the existing 4 x 4 yellow tile which I could no longer buy or match. They came in a 9 x 12 size which allowed me a 1 1/2 inch space between the new tile and existing. Searching around, I found a trim piece named Crackle Fantasy Glass Decor that fitted very nicely between the new and old tiles to give it a very finished look.
I marked out all of the cuts and then went to Home Depot and rented a wet saw for four hours. It took me less than an hour to make the cuts and put them in place. The hardest cut was around the shower valve which required a four and a half inch circle cut between two separate tiles. I got over it by making a series of cuts and then using a pair of tile nippers to finish it off. It didn’t have to be super smooth looking as it would be covered by the shower trim. I had a couple of areas that required some extra thought as I knew that I could not match the damaged wallpaper that had been in the way of removing the tub. So, I had bought some 6 x 6 tiles with trim to finish off those areas. With the tiles finished and the saw returned I finished up for the evening and planned out what I would do the next day.
I was looking forward to working the following day as I would be finishing up the hard part of the remodeling project with the grouting in of the tiles and the cleaning up of the whole bathroom. All that remained was to install the grab bars, the shampoo holder and the sliding doors.
In Part 5, I will explain in detail the installation of the grab bars and sliding doors during the remodeling.