So… I’ve put off writing this post for such a long time because tiling my bathroom floor left a really bad taste in my mouth. Not literally, but it definitely is not an experience I want to relive, even in writing. That’s probably why I’ve avoided tiling the shower floor as well. But enough procrastinating, I have lots of other happy news to share about the bathroom, so I must get past this floor tile post RIGHT NOW!
I used Hex Gloss Moss 1 in. tiles from The Tile Shop, they cost $8.99 a sheet, which is a square foot. I paid $7.19/sf and my bathroom is 5′ x 6′. That’s $215.70 for just tile and that does not include the shower floor, which is not covered in this post.
Here are the 2 take home messages from my experience using hexagon mosaic tiles on the guest bathroom floor:
- I will never buy tile from The Tile Shop again
- I will never use hex (or penny round) tile on a floor again
It won’t surprise you then, that I returned all the other tile I purchased from The Tile Shop, including another 2 cases of the green hexagon tiles I was going to use in the kids’ bathroom.
My experience at The Tile Shop
I had carefully considered all my options when choosing tile for this project. I over research, I hemmed and hawed, I drove myself crazy. In an effort to always find the least expensive way to do things, I had never even stepped foot in a dedicated tile shop. In my opinion they were always more expensive. Of course I had heard countless times that tile from Home Depot and Lowe’s were inferior to “real” tile store tiles. I guess I believed it. So I decided to do it “right” this time and headed out to The Tile Shop. This bathroom is pretty small after all, and I was going to save money by doing the work myself, so I rationalized it.
The Tile Shop was running a 20% off sale that weekend and I used it as a deadline to make my decisions. I spent over an hour looking at tile on Saturday and somehow decided it would be a good idea to buy the tile for the kids’ bathroom at the same time, even though I haven’t even started that project yet. I went back the next day with hubby to make the final decision. We were helped by the assistant manager who had worked with me the day before as well. We picked out tile combinations for both rooms. I got overwhelming approval from my Facebook followers. I resisted the urge to cheap-out and instead purchased all the corresponding products as well: thinset, grout, even matching caulk.
They don’t keep much of anything in stock at The Tile Shop, so I left $1900 poorer and with nothing to show for it. I felt physically ill. I was convinced the chick got my order wrong. I felt I rushed into a decision I already regretted. Like hello, the 3 types of tile in the kids bathroom required 3 different colors of grout and I knew from the get go that was a BAD idea. The assistant manager was pushy. The sale they were running was a scam. The one thing that kept me from totally wigging out was that there were signs everywhere boasting about their excellent, no hassle, no restocking fee, return policy. Thank goodness.
I picked up the tile a week later.
What was the actual tiling process, you ask?
I had to remove the existing tile floor first
When I was tearing out the shower pan I discovered there was a second layer of tile under the existing floor. I could tell the underneath tile was the original because it matched the original 1982 tile in my kids’ bathroom upstairs. No matter, both layers came out with the help of my trusty sledge hammer in about 30 minutes. This bathroom is on a concrete slab, just like my family room, which was my previous tiling project. Luckily the original tile was not attached directly to the concrete, instead it was laid over a bed of sand. This made it very easy to remove.
In case you’re wondering, we left the toilet and vanity in place so we could continue using them. Neither came out until I was ready to lay the new tile.
Then I had to make sure the concrete floor was the right height (and level)
If you know me at all, you know I am not a huge fan of self leveling compound after using it in my family room. I actually made a YouTube video about the experience that has been viewed over 50K times. It kills me that people leave such nasty comments on YouTube, but whatever. Anyway, I tried self leveler again in the bathroom and was very successful. And I made another video, yay!
There wasn’t so much a leveling issue, but a height issue going on in the bathroom. The hexagon tiles are very thin, obviously thinner than two layers of tile and a sand base, but in my perfect world the hex tiles would be absolutely level with the hardwood floor in the hallway. Sigh. I also didn’t want to bother with a threshold of any type to serve as a transition piece. I discuss this more in my post on Installing a Pocket Door. So what’s a girl to do? Make the floor higher.
The second batch wasn’t mixed as well as the first (dude, I get impatient) and there was a few little bumps after it dried, but I ended up sanding them down (by hand, no power sander necessary). That’s life. It was in no way a big deal, I just tell you so you don’t freak out if you try something like this and it doesn’t go perfectly. The darker spots in this picture show where I sanded.
Installing the tile wasn’t so bad… or was it?
I dry fit the tiles first. Cutting sections of the tile mesh wasn’t difficult, scissors or a utility knife did just fine. Snipping the tiles worked better than using a tile saw, but snipping did produce a bit of waste because 1/3 of my attempts failed.
Hmm… This is where The Tile Shop really started letting me down. When I went to mix up the thinset, I realized I didn’t have any thinset. I had grout, matching caulk, additives, tile, but NO THINSET. In a panic to actually complete a project while my husband had the kids at the lake, I used the same FlexBond Thin-Set that I used in the family room. I admit I didn’t take much time making this decision, all I knew was that the FlexBond worked perfectly on my last difficult tile job so I didn’t hesitate to use it again.
Everything seemed fine, even after the thinset mortar dried. But then the unthinkable happened…. gasp! Tiles started to come loose!! Oh crap. When I tried to lightly scrape away some of the mortar from between the tiles, you know so it wouldn’t show through the grout, the tiles would just come right off. They also popped out when I tried to clean the floor with the shop vac. Sometimes tapping the tiles with the hose made them come loose and get sucked up the vac. It made me furious!
To fix the missing tiles, I had to scrape out the mortar left in the hole, then put down a new tile with MORE MORTAR. Of course this led to more scraping of mortar from between tiles because it’s impossible (at least for me) to add one tile without having any mortar gush out. Remember I wanted to make sure those suckers actually STUCK this time. More scraping = more popping tiles = more adding tiles back one-by-one = more scraping. You see where this is going? I WAS SO NOT HAPPY!
Grouting had to be better, right?
The actual grouting was EASY, way more so than I expected with such small tiles. After the family went to bed, I mixed up a batch of The Tile Shop Pro Grout (in natural) with their Superior Flexible Grout Admixture. Using a cheap Home Depot grout float, I grouted the bathroom floor while talking on the phone to my friend Amy. The application was seamless, but of course I have a few gripes. The directions on The Tile Shop Pro Grout say to mix a small amount of grout to a small amount of admixture. No actual numbers are given. What??? And small batches of trial and error mixing is stupid! You are guaranteed to get inconsistent grout colors!
Speaking of color — I HATED the natural color. I’m pretty sure it is not what I picked out, but who the heck knows because unlike a “regular” store I couldn’t actually pick the grout up, push it to the register and buy it. I had to choose off a color chart, order it, hope someone enters the correct color, come back a week later and hope someone else loads the correct color into my car. Dude, it takes the do-it-yourself right out of a project. Apparently I need much more control over the purchasing process.
Unlike the writing of this post, there wasn’t any hemming and hawing involved in deciding if I should fix this disgusting grout color, which was blotchy, too light and looked like uncolored cement. I fixed it almost immediately. How? I painted that shit.
I’m sure the manufacturer never intended for someone to use it on ceramic tile grout lines, but they should be happy to know that it works just fine. Polyblend GroutRenew saved my life! Maybe not my life, but quite possibly the life of a certain Tile Shop worker. Just kidding. Violence is never the answer.Ironically, the color I used is called Natural Gray.
I plan to use Polyblend grout in natural gray when I tile the shower floor because I it was always my plan to make both the bathroom and shower floors match. FYI – the colors on the HD website are very misleading. I used Polyblend to grout my family room floor without any difficulties. There are actual measurements written on the bag. Go figure.
It took about 6 episodes of SVU, which I watched on the iPad, for me to paint the grout lines. About halfway through I perfected my method — paint it on lavishly, not worrying if it gets on the tile, wait maybe 5 minutes for it to dry a little, then wipe it off the tile. This gives it time to sink into the grout, where it won’t wipe off. Here’s a video showing me painting the grout lines. A video on the whole floor process is still in the works.
Painting the grout lines sucked. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s done. It took two evenings of watching TV and wanting to pull my hair out, but ever since then I’ve been thrilled. I told myself the only way I would ever agree to use small tiles, with an abundance of extra grout to clean, was if I used dark grout. That was the plan and it didn’t work out initially, but I have dark grout now and I love it! Of course I wish the grout I purchased had been the correct color to begin with, but at least there was a way to fix it!
Had I tiled the shower floor first and made this discovery I would have been out of luck, because Polyblend GroutRenew cannot be used underwater, so I’m guess it’s a no go on a shower floor.
In the end I love the hex tile floor, but I won’t be doing it again!
I’ll never shop at The Tile Shop Again
Clearly I don’t think The Tile Shop makes a superior product, and I am happy to stick with the big box stores for future tile purchases, but their customer service and professional know-how are terrible as well.
I returned all the other tile I purchased that day along with all the accompanying grouts, etc. I had a few more bags of the natural grout that I of course returned as well. I told the two men at the counter what a terrible experience I had trying to correct the terrible grout color. I also told them about my woes of getting the hexagon tiles to stick to the thinset. They asked what I used and I told them FlexBond. Apparently, I was supposed to use a specific mosaic tile thinset mortar. Makes sense of course, but why are you telling me now? I ordered everything you told me I needed, yet I got no thinset at all. Then one of them, the manager I think, checked my original order. It shows right here that you ordered, and paid for, Pro-Flex Platinum Thinset, which is mosaic tile mortar, but you didn’t pick it up when you picked up your tile. FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! I was livid. As if I had control over what they brought out on the forklift. It had been weeks and no one at the store realized the error. I paid for 3 bags! So they were just going to keep my $75. I swear The Tile Shop is the kind of store that will make me double and triple check my credit card statements to verify they actually credited my account.
As I sit here and look at 2/3 of a bag of grout that I hated, I am also pissed that the manager never offered to refund me for the opened bag. Lesson learned. Today I will be returning what is left of the hex tile because I wouldn’t put it in the kids’ bathroom if they offered to come install it themselves.
Check out other posts about this bathroom: