The makeover of our master bath is underway. It's been a few weeks since planning kicked off, and I actually have some tile & cabinet progress to report!

Industrial Bathroom Makeover: Part 2 – Tile & Cabinet Beginnings

So here we are! Part two of the personalization/renovation of our master bath is underway. It’s been a couple of weeks since the planning phase kicked off, and I actually have some progress to report!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been rolling at quite the pace I’d like. My injury mid-January meant several days of limited movement and even more days of drug-addled ineptitude. But despite the setback, I managed to order and pick up all our materials, get three estimates and hire a tile guy, and get the first steps of the cabinet makeover complete. I’d say that’s progress!

Here’s where things landed, cost-wise:

Tile Materials Cost:

  • 2 box of Interceramic Aquarelle in Shadow gray (we had one leftover in the attic) – $96
  • 10 lbs of Mapei grout in Avalanche – $14
  • 20 units of Alice Blue tile – $250

Total tile materials cost: $360

Cabinet Materials Cost:

  • Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations in Dark – $75
  • Nylon brush for no brush stroke lines – $10

Light Materials Cost:

  • Farmington 4-light Vanity Fixture – $205

Paint: No cost due to using leftover paint and paint materials

Total Materials Cost: $650

Services Cost:

  • $550 ($130 in additional materials (hardy backer, mortar, spacers, etc.), $420 for the actual labor)

Total Project Cost: $1,200

I used Thumbtack to find three tile teams who gave me estimates. I had no real idea what it would cost, but my initial research suggested somewhere around $800 so that was my rough budget. Of the three folks who came out, the final estimates ended up being all within $40 of each other. I ended up going with a handyman who is excellent about communicating with me about the process and timing. After the deck project, I have a new, deep appreciation for contractors’ ability to answer questions and respond to email.

I have a gut-feeling that when we’re all done here, this update will add a solid $3 – 5k to the value of our home. Especially since it’s a new build, the more high-end bathrooms are expected and these touches should really give it the polish the home deserves.

Ordering Big Tile. Sigh.

The process of getting the tile has been… interesting. First, I ordered the 2 boxes I needed of the large tile from Lowe’s. This was after some serious planning: I did my math and knew that we needed EXACTLY 27 whole tiles, or 21 whole tiles and rather large chunks of another 6 for the corners. Our builder left a pack of 12 in the attic, all in perfect shape, so I thought I would buy two more boxes for a total of 36 tiles. That should give me PLENTY of room for a few dinged edges or bad cuts.

So I wait the week+ for the tiles to arrive at Lowe’s, ready to get the tiling job started the next day. LOLOLOL. Before we even lift the tiles off the dolly, I notice that an entire corner of one box has been damaged so badly that the broken edges are visible THROUGH THE CARDBOARD. We opened both boxes and found that only 7 tiles of the 24 were salvageable, which is pretty atrocious. Less than 30% of the product that I paid for that was usable. 

The staff at Lowe’s was basically less than helpful on top of this. But they managed to reorder the two boxes and I asked them to order a third as well for backup. I’m reasonably confident that in another 36 tiles I can find 8 that are unbroken and can be used for the project. But geez louise! Get it together, Lowe’s.

Ordering More Little Tile. Yay?

I used Tile Bar’s online calculator to find out how many boxes of the small accent tile I’d need and ordered that. Then, of course, I pivoted my plan for the layout slightly after the first tile team came out for their estimate. Obviously, if the accent tile in the shower was available, I would have opted for that as my accent tile on the pony wall. But it’s been discontinued! So I picked the one from Tile Bar that I loved and forged ahead. Well, as soon as I showed this tile lady my chosen accent tile she made a grossed out face and said, “BUT IT’S BLUE!” Um, yeah, lady. I have eyes. This is not an accident. Very poor form.

ANYWAY, not a great move on her part, but she did have the excellent suggestion of adding a second row of accent tile, this time using my selection for the pony wall, into the area above the shower. I loved this idea immediately and knew it would really tie the whole thing together.

Tile Bar shipping precautions
Yes! This! This is how you protect tile for shipping. Thank you, Tile Bar!!

The only problem? I had already ordered all my little tile and it had already shipped. So I placed a second order with Tile Bar to get another pack of the tiles I’d need to complete the second accent row on the wall. Glad to pay the extra expense to make the whole thing look more “on purpose” and coordinating.

Prepping & Deglossing the Cabinets

Even with my injury, I have been able to make some progress with my Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit. I bought the kit at Home Depot and had them tint the base to the “Castle” color, which is a dark gray. It comes with a good instructions booklet and a DVD, which I will never watch because this is not 2008.

Before states of the cabinet in readiness for DE-GLOSSING
Before states of the cabinet in readiness for DE-GLOSSING

Step one is to remove all the cabinet hardware, doors, and drawer fronts. This was easy until I got to the hinges which were installed with a strange square-shaped screw top. Fortunately, we had the right drill bit and those came right out. Rustoleum suggests you use little jars or baggies to contain all the hardware from each piece and to label them accordingly. Surprising even myself, I actually did this. I know, very impressive. All together I have nine pieces to transform along with the cabinet frame.

With everything removed, organized, and the frame taped up, I started the deglossing process. The instructions tell you to use the provided scrub pad and the deglossing solution to really scrub at the existing cabinet finish. The deglossing goop is very thin and pretty stinky, but it appears to be mostly soap? I think the scrub pad is responsible for the slight difference in the finish of the cabinets, not the deglossing solution.

Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Deglossed Cabinets
This is what de-glossed (and sanded!) cabinets look like!

However, studious creature that I am, I read several “failed” cabinet transformation stories and picked up on a common theme: sanding. Even though you’re not supposed to HAVE to sand to use the kit, it seems to be a universal trend for non-peeling finish months and years later. So I did a light sanding on all the drawer and door fronts before de-glossing to really ensure a good adhesion for the bond coat. Even though it still looks mostly the same, this is serious progress. I swear.

Up Next: Tiling and Cabinet Painting

The second batch of tiles should arrive today, which is great because the tiler starts tomorrow. I hope to make some progress with the bond coat on the cabinets this week and over the weekend, so stay tuned!

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