View Full Version : Home Remodeling 101

Mike Seals
10-27-2008, 7:17 PM
Well, hurricane Rita did us a number a few years ago, and now hurricane Ike flooded us. So since we are swapping things around, we've decided to do some remodeling. What I'm looking for is a good site for tile work. Our sheet rockers left the other day and I'll be painting soon, but we are redoing the master bath and she wants lots of tile, ay hints?

Jim O'Dell
10-27-2008, 7:33 PM
www dot johnbridge dot com

I joined a few days ago for some questions I have with a tiling job I picked the tile up for on Saturday. They really are the SMC of the tile world. Very very helpful. Jim.


Rich Engelhardt
10-29-2008, 6:28 AM
Tile is "in" right now.
Beware of getting anthing too "trendy".

Stick with "classic" patterns that never go out of style.

Installing tile is a straight forward, fairly easy process. Messy and time consuming, but easy if you put your mind to it.

Removing tile is a horrid experience..

I'm a self confessed home improvement show/flip this house show/what's my house worth show, etc. junkie.

Some of the "trendy tile" they install gives me shivers thinking about how much of a mess it's going to be to replace it when it goes out of style.

Prashun Patel
10-29-2008, 8:02 AM
Here's a second for Johnbridge.com (tilework) and TerryLove.com (plumbing).

Between these two sites, I was able to do a basement bathroom and steam shower. You'll get a bunch of ideas on JB.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-29-2008, 8:33 AM
Taunton Press has a book......"Setting Tile" by Michael Byrne. It is an excellent reference and also lists a lot of specialty suppliers and contact information.

Justin Leiwig
10-29-2008, 8:39 AM
be warned that johnbridge.com can be a little rough around the edges. They don't pull punches and are not exactly what I would consider a family friendly environment. They do know their stuff though.

Mike Seals
10-30-2008, 1:01 PM
Thanks guys, I'm going to take a look at the sites. This is working out great, for years and years I've tried to talk the wife into letting me do certian things around the house. She always wanted a "pro". After I built some cabinets for the shop, a barn, hundreds of feet of fencing and several street rods inbetween, she changed her mind and now wants me to do it. I can't fail on the tile.

Chris Padilla
10-30-2008, 1:12 PM
A few years ago, LOML picked me up a book from the borg on tiling. It wasn't a long one, lottsa nice pictures, and got the point across. I was able to tile our small 1/2 bath using it as a reference. I think it was even a "home depot" or sponsored book.

alex grams
10-30-2008, 3:58 PM
The advice about staying away from trends is a good idea. I personally prefer a nice natural stone look. My only qualm is uneven floors that make it difficult to have perfectly co-planer tiles across them. Just takes a lot of patience, and I am probably a lot more anal about it and nitpick it more than anyone else will, especially when it is my work.

Here is a before/after of some tilework I did in our second bathroom




Mike Seals
10-30-2008, 4:41 PM
Thanks guys, alex the tile looks great, I really like that bathroom cabinet, did you make it?

My wife thinks I'm too much of a perfectionist, I am, but I've learned over time that it doesn't do me much good to be to particular. When ever I do something I dive off into it pretty deep. A lot of my friends will stop by just to see what kind of project I'm into next.

This tile work will be a bit difficult because of what she wants, but I'm already picking up some good pointers.

Thanks again.

Eric Larsen
10-30-2008, 5:52 PM
Tile is fairly easy. LOML and I did 2,000 sq.ft. of 18" travartine. It looks REALLY good (some of the tiles even have fossils in them!) I'd take some pictures, but LOML has the camera at work today.

I like working with natural stone. It's a rewarding, fun project.

Some tips:

1) Buy a bag of cheap mortar at the Borg, some cheap tiles, and practice on a 1/4 sheet of plywood. Lay 'em down, level 'em, then pull them up and wash everything off and do it again.

Make sure you're good leveling the tiles. Once you know how to get the consistency of the mortar right, tiling is easy. Too thin, and the tiles sink. Too think, and it's impossible to level them. Most books say "the consistency of peanut butter" but I think that's too thick. It's somewhere between thick pancake batter and peanut butter. When you have it right, you'll know.

2) Try to find a really good tile saw on Craigslist. Buy it. Use it. Then sell it for the same price you paid for it.

3) It is worth driving here with a big truck to buy everything: http://www.flooranddecoroutlets.com (They also have free tile classes. Call in advance, go to the class, then buy the material.) Don't use Borg mortar or grout. The mortar we used was $25 per 50-lb bag, but I feel confident I could drive a truck on this floor.

4) Small room? Big tiles! Big tiles will make small rooms look bigger. It's counterintuitive, but it works. Laying your floor diagonally will also make the room look bigger.

5) The new epoxy grout is expensive, but worth every penny. It will never stain and requires zero maintenance.

EDIT -- 6) As the space between tiles decreases, the difficulty level increases. 3/16" was a pain. 1/16" is VERY hard. Anything over 1/4" is fairly easy.

7) You'll probably need an angle grinder and a carbide hole saw for the shower fixtures.

Well, hurricane Rita did us a number a few years ago, and now hurricane Ike flooded us. So since we are swapping things around, we've decided to do some remodeling. What I'm looking for is a good site for tile work. Our sheet rockers left the other day and I'll be painting soon, but we are redoing the master bath and she wants lots of tile, ay hints?

Neal Clayton
10-31-2008, 1:21 AM
here's my tips for house works in general...

1) start with a major undertaking, with little regard for logistics or consequences of the task at hand, in my case, stripping paint from 100+ year old moldings.

2) finish about 50%, then find other things to do. carpet over hardwoods? why did the previous owners do that? rip it all out, then realize that hauling carpet to the dump is only slightly more fun than crawling around on hands and knees pulling staples and patching the holes therefrom (is that a word?), so look for something more intellectually stimulating.

3) since the carpet was no fun, what else can we demo? aha! why did said previous owners put drywall over plaster, that's a travesty. start ripping that down too. laughing at the fact that the drywall contractor hit a stud with every 11th nail (or thereabouts) is entertaining enough to get about 2/3 of that done before you realize how much it sucks.

4) scrape the loose plaster with utter disregard for air handling consequences of your actions. when the lime dust is so thick in the air that you can taste the fog it's making, that's a good stopping point. hire a couple of laborers to finish the task (neighborhood kids and their friends are likely targets), stay with friends or family while it's being done, at least until the lime taste in the air goes away.

5) decide that you can skim that plaster yourself, or at least halfway figure it out. how complicated can a trowel be? a couple days later, realize that a trowel is in fact the most complicated tool ever invented. be proud of your one wall of progress after days of work, and hire a couple of honduran plasterers to do the rest in about 2 hours.

6) sand floors, that's the easiest idea yet. plus the sawdust mixes with the lime dust to make a kind of dust goulash with a bit of a tangy taste to it.

7) finish floors, now is a good point to see progress before you start contemplating suicide. this is relatively easy so fits well at this point in time.

8) get back to the thing you started with #1, in my case getting rid of paint covered molding. problem is the new molding you've painstakingly created to perfectly match the old will not match your floor finish no matter what you do. the satisfaction from #7 was short lived, now you're snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

9) say 'screw it, garnet shellac for the lot of you' as a solution to #8. this is semi-positive since it's an excuse to buy that turbine powered finish sprayer that you've been contemplating but have no business owning since you don't have a finishing room in the shop. no worries for that now, since you're gonna use it in the house and not the shop ;).

10) realize that winter is coming back around and you really should get around to building that replacement window that your 19 year old laborer from #4 broke a few months back, or it's gonna be quite chilly in your bed this winter with only that aluminum storm window that the previous owners put up between you and the elements. put off making window until later, because making windows sashes is the definition of tedious. make more doors to gradually replace the new hollow cores the above mentioned previous owners were so fond of instead for instant gratification.

11) ok it's REALLY cold in bed now, why didn't we get around to that window again? nevermind, dig out the electric blanket. are those floors close enough or do they need one more coat of shellac?

12) when you finish #1 at some point in the distant future, replace #1 with some other project and repeat process until dead or permanently disabled.

Prashun Patel
10-31-2008, 7:18 AM
I disagree that the folks @ JohnBridge are not friendly. They're possibly second only to friendliness to the folks here. The moderators are sticklers for posting etiquette (rightly so!).

The nice thing about tile work is that for most applications, what you might lack vis-a-vis a pro in skill, you can make up with time and patience. Tilework is a meticulous art, and if you're patient, you can produce professional results.

Couple tips:

Buy a decent wettile saw. Not an $88 one. Get one with a sliding deck. It'll pay for itself in ease.

If it's yr first project, don't use marble or otherwise porous tiles. They'll pose challenges during grouting. Use something that has a 'sealed' surface.

Don't skimp on tile sealer. Get an impregnating sealer and get the $30-40 bottle, not the $10-20 one.

Buy some Tilespikes. They're plastic wedges that you can use in lieu of those cross spacers. Trust me on this one. They're a Godsend.