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Damn, it feels good to sit down for a second. If you missed it on Instagram, this weekend was a big one at the UDH! WE INSTALLED THE FLOOR TILE IN THE PRIMARY BATH!


before master bathroom floor


master bath floor tile

Long story short (HA! That never happens on this blog): A couple of years ago, my dad decided to rip out the linoleum and put down some cement board in my primary bath, assuming (incorrectly, hehe) that it would help motivate me to get the room finished faster. It also led to one of the grossest vocabulary lessons I’ve ever had.

(Also, he’d just finished helping me in the guest bath, so I suppose he just assumed the primary was the next thing on the list. Because that’s totally logical, but that’s not how my to-do list often works.)

I’d always had a plan for what it would look like; I whipped up a mood board for it and even gathered the materials, like the tile, vanity, and faucet (since they all matched the materials in the guest bath, I just bought double when I remodeled it). But, schedules shift… things like the dining room and kitchen popped up on my radar for various other reasons next, and the primary bathroom instead sat empty, awaiting its turn on the DIY chopping block. The materials I purchased were stored in the garage, and that was that… until this month.

master bathroom mood board

I don’t know precisely what it is about this room, but since the full guest bathroom is basically exactly as close to my bed as the primary bath is, it’s never really bothered me that I don’t have two functioning bathrooms upstairs (I guess I just didn’t need the variety?). I could still shower, put on makeup, do my hair, and not have to clean two toilets, so… that kind of worked well for me, and I chose to focus on other projects. But, for whatever reason, this primary bath project is THE room that both of my parents fixated on; every couple of months or so, they’ve suggested I hire someone to finish it, “just to have it done.” While I couldn’t really disagree with their reasoning for hiring it out, I still waited.

Since it’s never really bothered me that much, I’ve always pushed back and told them I’d ask for help on it whenever I got around to working on it. After all, there are plenty of other things I’ve needed their skills and expertise on instead. Not to mention, I’m a perfectionist with things like tiling, so I hated the idea of turning it over to someone else… and yet, I kept putting it off mainly because I remembered how much I frustrated myself in the laundry room when I couldn’t get it exactly right.

laundry room floor tile

There have been times throughout the last few months when I was nodding off in bed and thought it would be a brilliant idea to start the job, but by the time I woke up the next morning (when it would be a more appropriate hour to use a loud thing like a tile saw), the temptation would fade. It wasn’t long after one of these moments when my dad last suggested we get the floor tile done; he’d even arranged to hire a family friend to do the job*. It would be quick, inexpensive, and best of all, I could work on other things while not frustrating myself with tile. It seemed like a win-win, but I was still hesitant. For one, there’s an element of fear involved in letting someone else take control of a project; and for another, when it’s a task you’re confident you know how to do, justifying the expense is also really, really hard. Especially when you’re really, really stubborn.

(*I just want to note, here, that my parents are ridiculously helpful people who mean well and help me whenever I ask. I just also think it’s funny that they want to help SO MUCH, and my stubbornness is usually what stands in the way. I’m incredibly lucky and grateful for these people and they all deserve gold stars for putting up with me.)

Anyway, I finally (if not begrudgingly) agreed, the family friend came over and finished the tile work in just a few short hours, I bought everyone tacos for lunch, and one less job was crossed off my to-do list while I simultaneously spun through the house, Tasmanian Devil-style, cleaning and working on other unfinished projects, including breaking down a lot of cardboard boxes (they seem to multiply like rabbits around here, but they came in handy for protecting my hallway carpet from thinset-covered sneakers).

For the record, that yellow mirror is not staying yellow.

Easy. Like, crazy easy. If you caught my video earlier this afternoon, I pointed out a few tips and things I caught while checking the work, fixed them to my liking, and am ready to roll with grout as of tomorrow morning.

Sigh… Mom, Dad: you were right again.

(And thank God for that.)

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  1. The tile looks great Sarah, those 12x24s are the way to go.

    One thing I notices was your closet flange. I think it’s resting below the finished floor.

    One thing I learned from my plumber is to make sure the flange is at least 1/4″ above the finished floor.
    This prevents the wax ring from compressing and a gap forming between it and the toilet.

    Not a good thing…toilet water will leak onto the floor or room below.

    If anyone recommends doubling up the wax ring, politely decline their recommendation. Two wax rings still compress over tile (had this happen to me and it wasn’t pretty).

    You can use a closet flange extender ring on top of the existing closet flange. Any home store will have them.

    If you tackle the tub surround I recommend giving KERDI-BOARD a shot. That or Wedi building panels are awesome. You shouldn’t be afraid to do it, you have plenty of skill.

    Plus: if anything stumps you, your family and friends have your back :D

    Can’t wait to see the rest of the bathroom take shape.

    1. Hey Jeff! Yeah, the flange is lower than the tile now, and we had the same issue in the guest bath, so I knew that we’d have to deal with it again. I’ll have more details on it when we get around to that step and extend the flange. It’s a pretty easy fix, but good eye and great advice!

  2. I commend you for taking on this project head-on. You’re doing a great job so far. I can relate to your giving in to your stubbornness. Especially if there’s a budget involved. So just soldier on! You got our support.

  3. When I tiled our master bath, I had the opposite need – I had to get it done while keeping the bathroom functional. I ended up mortaring all the uncut tiles first to allow us to walk on them while I did all the funky cuts to fit around the cabinets and corners. It was porcelain tile, so all of the complex cuts had to be wet saw and took longer, not to mention I was doing the cuts after I got home from work each day.

    For the complex cuts, I would take a piece of cardboard, make a template for the cut, then trace it onto the tile for cutting. (I kept the saw outside due to the mess it made.)

    I replaced our toilets when I tiled the bathrooms, and used the “wax-free” rubber toilet rings that slide into the drain pipe. It’s only been a few years, but haven’t had any issues so far.