Introduction: Glass Tile Bathroom Renovation

We bought a builder home...and with it we got 2.5 builder grade bathrooms. I.e., cheap, basic, junk. This instructable describes tips for working with glass and marble tile.

Step 1: Demo

Take pleasure in the demo. Take care around your shower spout, temp control and shower head not to damage plumbing behind the wall. Replace your water shut off valves if they drip at all when off. I waited for the drip to stop, finished the bathroom and had to replace after I turned the water back on and they would'd stop dripping. Smash good and have fun.

Step 2: Prep Floor and Wall for Tile

I removed the tile and drywall backer ~6 inches past the bathtub in the middle of a stud. None of walls are outside walls so there was no need to insulate. I added a sister stud to give the cement board a little more bite where it meets the old drywall. Next you'll need to install a vapor barrier, I used 6 mm plastic and attached with staples to the studs and a bead of caulk to the rim of the bathtub.

Next install cement board, yes cement board. Drywall is not appropriate for tile backer. I used hardibacker for the wall and durarock for the floor. I prefer working with durarock as I found hardibacker difficult to cut/trim when needed. It does create less of a mess than durarock but that's what shop vacs are for. The hardibacker was not level with the drywall and I attempted to feather the difference with the mortar in the joint. I placed self adhesive mesh tape and filled the joints with mortar feathering out the edges. I applied two or three coats where the drywall/cement board joints were and feather out about 15 inches. There was still a dip in that part of the wall but it is hardly noticeable with the tile up.

Grout, mortar and cement board are permeable to water - though none lose strength when wet. To prevent moisture from moving from your shower to plastic moisture barrier you need to waterproof the cement board. I chose hydro ban by laticrete as the reviews indicated it covered with less coats. Red guard is the other popular choice. Use a roller and brush to apply. I did two coats. Now your ready for tile! Or are you.....

Step 3: Plan Tile Layout

Not going to spend much time here, see my other tile instructable for more detail on planning a tile layout. One tip, make a story pole. This is a straight piece of wood with the tile length and grout space marked on it to help you plan tile layout. I didn't use a pole but I taped the tile to the wall...and broke a few when they fell. The goal is to not have a sliver tile at the top bottom or near the inset shelf. Play around and be sure you have final layout before starting to tile. I ended up doing a half tile on the tub and was left with a thinner than half tile at top of wall which I think looks good and was best option. Story pole would have helped with layout.

I used a running bond pattern on the shower wall with 3 x 6 glass tile with white paint on the back. The floor was hexagon marble tile on a mesh backing with an offset pattern. The door jam has full tile ending there with 1/2 tile in between.

Very Important: Your walls are not level/plumb. Draw a straight line (use plumb bob) from ceiling to bathtub and then measure distance from pencil line to corner. Draw an arrow indicating which way the wall or out. The reason this is important is that if the wall in not straight and you use a full tile in the corner then as you go up/down the gap between the corner and the full tile could get much (~1 inch) larger or smaller leaving you with a sliver tile half way up the wall which will look terrible!

Step 4: Lay Tile, Glass and Marble Tips

See other instructable for tile process. This step has tips for glass and marble tile laying as I had some learnings and things I wish I could do over.

In no particular order:

  • Use correct trowel size, I started with 1/4" I had from previous job but I spent far to long cleaning mortar our of joints that squeezed up when laying tile.
    • I switched to 3/16" quarter way up the wall and never looked back.
  • Don't tile inset shelf until wall tile reaches same level. This will allow you to line up the grout lines for one continuous line.
  • When you cut glass tile with a wet saw or a score cutter the paint on the back can chip off. This is visible on the finished tile. I wish I would have done this as these blemishes are visible and don't look all the good.
  • Marble is very soft, cut slowly.
  • The mesh backing leaves some spaces to big/small. When laying if tile space is off cut backing with razor blade and space appropriately.

Step 5: Enjoy

Install trim, toilet, vanity, light and mirror and your all done.