Wahoo! There has been so much progress in the last 10 days! Despite a number of false starts, surprises, and slow progress at times, I am delighted to report that the tile job is ALMOST DONE! As an extra bonus, I am wrapping up the cabinet transformation in the next day or so. Which means that altogether, the bathroom is super close to being functional again and looking way improved!
Lots of observations and learnings to share here, but let’s start with the tile.
Tile: A Game of Guesstimations
First of all, Lowe’s is the worst at communication and even though I called basically every hour to see if my tiles had come in last Monday, they never notified ME and I had to go at 6 AM Tuesday morning to pick them up. Real. But the good thing is that they all arrived intact! Huzzah! We had more tile than we needed and things got started on schedule Tuesday morning.
…Until the guys started chipping away the grout on top of the old tile and noticed that the top of the old tile was attached to the drywall. Which is apparently not to code behind a shower so they freaked and we freaked and called our builder. (Freak out included an imagined situation where we’d have to rip out ALL the tile and replace it to code. OMG.)
Fortunately, our builder is incredible and the contractor guy we know showed up in about 5 minutes. He reassured us that there was concrete board behind the tile up to the shower head but then above that just drywall. Apparently, this is code-compliant and they have never had any issues with it. After much deliberation, we decided to scrap the part of the project for tearing out drywall and installing backerboard. It saved us $245 in labor and materials and also cut down on the overall project timeline. Some internet research soothed my mind: consensus stands that as long as it’s not getting wet and you’re using good thinset, tile on drywall is fine.
So the tiling continued and looks great. There are gaps at the bottom of the accent wall and top of the shower area too thin to cut pieces to fill. (I saw how many tiles got broken trying to make those strips happen. They aren’t going to happen.) So, I have decided to just paint over the shower area and add a quarter round to all the baseboards to remedy this. Not part of the original plan, but good pivots just the same.
Oh, Hey, One More Thing About Tile: Grout!
Do you know the difference between sanded and unsanded grout? I do, now! Unsanded grout is used for smaller tile joints, up to 1/8″ (aka, the spacing between the small tiles on the half wall.) Sanded grout is used for larger tile joints, like say 1/4″ (aka, the spacing between the large tiles in the shower.) Guess what I bought! Spoiler alert: Not one of each.
So I had our tile guy go ahead and grout the half wall with the sanded grout I had and paid him so that we’d be done. I have to special order the unsanded grout from Lowe’s (of course!) and it’s going to take a while, but at least I have learned something from this. And I get some street cred for doing some of my own tile work! Silver linings.
Costs: You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea
All in all, we ended up using ALMOST all of the accent tile (we have 20 pieces left over) and only one of the purchased boxes from Lowe’s. When removing the cost of the drywall replacement labor and materials, this changes the cost for the tile part of the project considerably:
UPDATED Tile Materials Cost:
21 box of Interceramic Aquarelle in Shadow gray (we had one leftover in the attic) – $96$48
- 10 lbs of Mapei unsanded grout in Avalanche – $14
- 10 lbs of Mapei sanded grout in Avalance – $10
2025 units of Alice Blue tile – $250$300
Total tile materials cost:
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
New! Glass Shelving Cost:
- Curved glass shelves – $167
Total Materials Cost: $819
UPDATED Services Cost:
Total Project Cost:
Oh yeah, see that new italicized line item in there? Well, when I realized that we were going to save oodles on the tile job, I decided to have a #treatyoself moment and reinvest those project funds into an area that I really wanted to include in the initial project but sidelined due to budgetary constraints: shelving! See, if you recall from my deck-building rollercoaster, I have learned that it’s okay if not EVERY single piece of your dream comes together at once. So I felt perfectly content to wait on figuring out additional storage for the bathroom until a few months’ worth of home improvement budget opened up. (We are aggressively saving toward the magic number I have for my mental “baby bank.”)
But as soon as those dollars from the drywall part of the tile job opened up, you bet your sweet bippy I found a way to repurpose them! My mom actually pointed me to Glass Tops Direct, which is exactly the type of little online website that only moms know how to find. I got these great bent corner shelves on a great discount to go above the toilet. At 32″ long and 8″ deep, that’s going to be a lot of storage! I look forward to hanging them after I paint and figuring out how to make bathroom “stuff” look pretty.
TL;DR: I spent more on some tile, less on some other, more on additional fixtures, and less on labor. Budgets are great for starting these types of projects, but you definitely should consider having a contingency because you never know which way the needle is going to swing!
Cabinet Transformation: LOL @ “2 Coats”
When last we chatted about my Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation journey, I had completed the aggressive deglossing process. Since then I have continued to follow their instructions to a T and it’s been smooth sailing. Except for the part about applying two coats for the tinted bond coat (which is step 2) and then being good to move onto the top coat. Because lol, nope.
Here’s the deal with their bond coat: it’s beautifully thick and goes on smoothly. But it also drips like a sonofagun and doing the sides of the cabinet doors should come with comped therapist visits. I have probably sanded and recoated the edges of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts ABOUT SIXTEEN TIMES. NOT BEING DRAMATIC.
Thankfully, I soldiered through it with my sanity intact. Along the way, I learned a valuable trick that has made the top coat go on much more easily and drip-free. Now as I paint on the milky top coat, I run my finger (or a rag) along the edges before I set each piece down so that there is no opportunity for drippage. The protective top coat basically dries like Elmer’s glue (not convinced that it is not just Elmer’s glue, tbh) and everything is easy to clean up with water.
The cabinet frame turned out by far the easiest to do and finished fabulously with no drips at all. The top coat really does smooth things over, and both it and the bond coat appear to be self-leveling. It’s worth buying a good synthetic brush, for sure, but since all the goop is water-soluble, you just need one brush for the whole project. (So spend that money on a great one!) I used a Wooster Pro Shortcut with Nylon bristles and the shorter handle actually was more comfortable and easier to control.
Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations kit is marketed as being effectively a “weekend” project. You need to allow an hour after deglossing for the cabinets to dry, 2 – 3 hours between the bond coats, and then 12 – 24 hours for the top coat to cure. Conceivably, yes, you could do it in a weekend. But that would assume everything went perfectly the first time and you did nothing else. More realistically, this is a two-week job when split over nights and weekends. This also allows for the occasional day where you don’t think about it at all. Because there is more to life than cabinet transformation projects.
Next time, on the bathroom makeover that never ends: Claire reassembles the bathroom cabinet and adds tilt drawer-front storage… WILL SHE LOSE HER MIND IN THE PROCESS?! And the mirror is removed and painting is tackled! ODDS ARE GOOD THAT SOMETHING WILL NOT GO WELL! Stay tuned!