Saturday, December 29, 2007

Miles of Tiles

If you follow my blog with some regularity, you know that I usually have a number of projects in progress at any one time.....and another dozen or so in the planning stages. My bathroom is one of the up-and-coming projects.

Other than the upstairs (which was never really finished) the bathroom is the only other room in the house that has been messed with. We can thank The Flipper for that. The bathroom was gutted. Thank heaven removing vintage hex floor tiles is pricey, or I'm sure they'd be long gone too. The original plaster, wall sink, toilet & medicine cabinet all bit the dust under her reign. In her defense, I will state that she did add a shower....and at least when she slapped up that drywall, she removed the window trim and reinstalled it after the drywall was up. For this, I remain grateful.

When the shower was added, the tub surround needed to be made waterproof, so The Flipper tiled it. Again, to her credit she chose basic white tile and somewhat vintage black trim. It's just really, really white. When I moved in, there was a crappy plastic (yes, plastic) base strip where the drywall met the hex floor. I couldn't live with that, so that was immediately replaced with the black ceramic sanitary base you see in the photo.

I detest the drywall & it was not installed well, so plans to tile the lower half of the the rest of the bathroom quickly made it on my "to do" list. It took me many trips to tile stores and big box stores before I was able to track down matching white 4x4 tile. In true Flipper form, the tile was the cheapest white tile sold at Menards. $.09/tile. That said, this is a simple bungalow and the plain tiles fit in fine. It's not the blunt edge, a tinge off white restoration tile, I would have chosen......but it is fine (really. It is. This is me talking myself into it.).

Then things got tricky. In order to match the existing tile spacing around the tub, I need to add 2" (in addition to one white 4x4 tile) from the black base tile at the floor up to the first tile above the tub. No problem, I thought.

I quickly found a .5" wide, vintage green sizzle strip at Menards. The plan was to stagger two strips above and below a row of white tiles....adding 2". I bought a sample of this tile to try out at home. When I went back to buy what I needed, the store did not have that color. I asked if I could special order it. Nope. In fact, the sales person that was "helping" me used the "I have worked here 5 years and we have never carried that color" approach to customer service. Whatever.

I let the whole tile thing slide for a few months. Then this past fall I made a trip over to a local shop that custom makes art tiles. They also custom make replacement tiles to match damaged vintage tiles in restoration projects. I was prepared to plunk down some serious cash for some artsy strip tiles. I rationalized that my bathroom was pretty small and the white tiles were very cheap, so custom accent tiles would be fun and not put me that much over budget. I described what I needed to the gal working in the studio. I told her I was looking for a vintage inspired, creative design to add 2" to the white field tiles - the sky was the limit on design. She kind of shrugged and looked at me. I ended up leaving the studio with samples of a very expensive, skinnier version of what I originally found at Menards. Disappointing.

So, once again I sat on the project. Then right before Christmas I was at Menards again. On a whim I decided to check the tile. I spotted vintage green, 1" strip tiles that had a very subtle Venetian glass shimmer to them. Very simple. They were on sale. I bought them. Problem solved. I'll use a row of white tiles above the black base, a row of green tiles, a row of white, a row of green and this will bring us up the existing row of white tiles above the tub.

Of course, these new tiles will join the wall sink , my salvaged black ceramic fixtures, the new bathroom light , the replated hardware & my salvaged medicine cabinet in waiting for their project to start. I still need to hunt down a pair of vintage tub faucet handles.


Greg said...

Man, sometimes finding the materials is more work than doing the installation.

We are in said...

That's a pretty creative solution that you've come up with. I also think it's a pretty cool thing when procrastination works in your favor.

StuccoHouse said...

The funny thing is that this room is tiny (3'x7' with a tub alcove)...and by far has taken me the most amount of time assembling everything. I'm loath to admit it, but I really love tracking down just the thing I want for my house.

Procrastination is my middle name :-)

Sandy said...

I love that green! Happy New Year!!!

Jennifer said...

I like the final solution the best of all! That green color is striking with the black and white.

I hear you on talking yourself into things... I have talked myself into leaving the fake marble tub surround tile that our PO left for us. It took a lot of talking. Maybe if there is time left and I find REALLY cheap real marble tiles in teh same pattern I will cover them up. BUt likely, it iwll stay the same!

StuccoHouse said...

The new tile didn't take that much talking. The reason I'm a bit snobby about it is the pure white color and the beveled edge. Both are a dead give away that it's new. In my mind I'd love to have a vintage bathroom (like the one in my last house). The current tile is too white for the 1920's (which would have been more gray-white)- you can tell if you compare it to the original bathtub & my salvaged sink. That's the thing. I'll get over it, because I couldn't justify tearing it out. That said, the black & green combo is very 1920's....and the sizzle strip is something that was pretty typical of those old funky bathrooms. I think it will work.

-finis said...

Does anyone know of any tub refinishers in the Twin Cities?

Our main floor bathroom is a near clone of yours--same size, hex tiles, tub...

I'd like to save the tub but the finish is worn through on the bottom and it has many knicks and impact dings that pierce the enamel.

I've heard that in-place tub refinishing is a messy, nasty business and not very eco-friendly.


'25 Bungalow

StuccoHouse said...


I my had my tub refinished in my last house - approx. 10 yrs ago. I used a local company called Surface Doctor. They sanded down the tub & applied the finish and it peeled immediately. They came back and redidi the process & it lasted maybe 2 yrs and started to peel again. I would not use them again.

That said, I think there are better companies and possibly better chemicals now. I am aware of both Surface Renew & The Tub Guys that locally use a two step urethane process and have good reps. I'd ask a lot of questions about their warranty - I think 5 yrs is normal. I personally would also check if they belong to the BBB and check references.

My tub now is fairly worn. Refinishing will be my last resort - but I will never get rid of the tub, so I'll do it eventually. Even under the best of curcimstances, once you start that process it inevitably needs to be redone.

I use carnuba wax on it now and that works pretty well.

Hope this helps....let me know if you do it and how it works out for you!

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