Patti Wagner’s little Tudor bathroom might have seem dated to some, but for the seasoned renovator and her husband, Brian, the chartreuse wall tiles represented their home’s history and character. It was the floor that was the problem.
Over the course of two months, the Minnesota-based couple gave the 47-square-foot space an in-depth facelift, stripping 89 years’ worth of paint from the walls and digging up the worn-down floor tiles. If your bathroom is in need of a refresh, take a page out of the Wagners’ book—this is one update that really makes a difference. “Anyone who is patient, not afraid to learn, and willing to take their time could do a project like this,” says Patti. They walk us through the process, below:
Prep the Surface
Before grabbing their toolbox, the couple removed the sink, toilet, and radiator. “That isn’t all that hard, but it does take some planning and effort,” says Brian. In order to remove the tiles without damaging the walls and the coved base, they used an angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut along the grout line and all the way through the existing mortar base. After that, the couple carefully removed the pieces with a hammer and chisel/flathead screwdriver. “The most challenging part for us is always getting started—we didn’t want to damage the wainscoting as we removed the existing floor tile,” explains Brian.
Work With What You Have
To pay homage to their home’s classic Tudor architecture, the couple opted for a flat-finish white hexagon tile, which also complemented the original green walls.
Cover Your Bases
From there, they put down wire mesh and poured a self-leveling concrete base to bring the floor height up. Once that dried, they used a thin-set mortar to secure the new tile. Next came grout and grout sealer (the tile itself didn’t require one).
The hardest part of the process was sticking with it. “Setting aside time to commit to the work was tough,” says Brian. “Especially when you’ve got young kids running around—once we stopped, it was hard to start up again.” In this case, especially, patience was a virtue.
This story was originally published on February 11, 2019. It has been updated with new information.
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