In the first part of this tutorial I showed you how to frame up your access panel and get the magnetic latches on it and all lined up. So right now you should have an access panel in the side of your fancy-pants tub and a box of tile just sitting there and laughing at you. If you don’t have that check out the link above. I’ll wait.
That post is the meat and potatoes of building your access panel. This one simply describes the basics of installing your tile as well as placing an insert, if need be, into the access panel.
The biggest thing you’ll need to pay attention to as you install your tile is the perimeter of your access panel. You don’t want to get thinset into it or otherwise block it. If you do – it simply becomes a wall with a lot of pieces.
When you tile around a jacuzzi or heated tub you need to have an access panel in order to work on the motor or heater or fix any problems that may suddenly appear with your brand new fancy-pants uppity bathtub. You also need access to any outlets. This is required by code – DON’T SKIP IT!
Many bathtubs can have access panels on the backside of the wall in a closet or something similar right next to the bathroom.
If you have a tub like the one pictured there – this isn’t always possible. When that’s the case you need to create one in the tile installation itself and magically make it disappear so no one knows it’s there.
Anyone who reads my blog (and lets be honest – who doesn’t?) knows that I am a diehard SpectraLOCK junkie. For those who don’t know what that is, SpectraLOCK is an epoxy grout made by Laticrete. It is stain-proof, pet-proof, and bullet-proof! (Don’t try that, it’ll really piss off the wife…) If you don’t know any of that – you need to read my blog more! So just like everything I love – it changed.
Laticrete has recently come out with SpectraLOCK Pro Premium grout. A little birdie told me that this will replace the SpectraLOCK pro grout in the near future. Given that, I need to figure out how to use it – because it works differently than the stuff I’m used to. The difference in the workability may very well be due to the temperature, humidity, hangover flu bug, or any number of factors on the particular days I was working with it.
But it just doesn’t feel ‘normal’ to me – you know? It seems like it tightens up (gets stiff) and starts to roll out of the grout joints more quickly than the other stuff did. So, as with any installation product, if it begins to cure faster than you can use it you should just mix up smaller batches. And being the awesome DIY crowd you are – it’s probably a good idea for you to know how to do that anyway. So this is the best way I’ve found to do it.
I’ve finally gone and done something worthwhile! Well, that’s a matter of opinion, I guess, namely mine. I have written complete manuals on properly building and waterproofing your shower utilizing the different waterproofing methods.
Each manual describes a specific method so you don’t get bogged down with a bunch of information you don’t need for your chosen project. Not sure which method you want? Not sure which methods are available? Didn’t know there were different methods? Start with the free manual here: Shower Waterproofing Manual. That will help you decide which one you want to use based on time, skill and cost.
Once you figure that out you can get the manual that is specific to your particular project. Although these are all mostly completed it’s a whole process to get them ready for you guys. It’s difficult to describe but it includes half a watermelon, platypus eyelashes and a full moon – weird, right? Let’s just say I’ve been writing the damn things for close to two years – it’s not a short process.
Anyway, I do have two of them all finished up, uploaded and ready for you to devour!
I have the complete shower manual utilizing the traditional waterproofing method for walls and floors. This will walk you through the entire process for complete shower floor and wall building and waterproofing. If you are going to have a tiled shower floor and walls and need to construct the entire thing – this is the one you need. You can get it here: Complete traditional shower waterproofing method (Price goes up next week!)
And I have the manual using the traditional method for just your shower walls. If you already have a tub or pre-formed base (like acrylic or Swanstone) this is the one you need. You can get it here: Traditional waterproofing for your shower walls
You can always just click the yellow highlighted ‘Library’ tab at the top to see what’s currently available. If you have any questions just feel free to ask them in any of the comment sections on the site. I always answer them – I’m just super cool like that. I will add the new manuals to the library section as I finish them up.
There are numerous really cool mosaics and liners which can be installed as an accent into your main field tile to add a unique touch to an otherwise standard tile installation. These are products such as glass and natural stone mosaics, individual painted tiles, or custom accents.
The biggest problem with these, however, is they are oftentimes not the same thickness as your main tile – they are usually thinner. This is especially true of most glass mosaics. I usually solve this problem with Schluter Ditra. Although I use ditra as my example in this post, you can also use regular 1/4″ backerboard if your inserts are significantly thinner.
See that glass (and metal) mosaic right there? (Photo 1 – You can click on it for a size larger than a small dog) It’s setting inside the main linear mosaics I’m installing on a backsplash. See how much thinner it is than the surrounding tile? That’s what we’re gonna fix. When you have your tile installed you want it all to be on the same flat plane without either tile sticking out (or sinking back). The best way to do this is to have an additional substrate behind your thinner tile to bump it out flush with the rest.
I get a LOT of questions from my readers about basic shower construction. I understand that my readers don’t consider this stuff basic and there’s no problem with that. The problem is that I end up answering the same questions over and over and over… So, to save what very little is left of my sanity (which is a number roughly equivalent to absolute zero) I will cover some basic things here so I can simply reply ‘read this’.
If you’ve been channeled to this page by one of my smart-ass comments please take no offense to it, I’m here to help. Please understand that I currently have over 12,000 comments (questions) on this site (seriously) which I’ve answered – every one of them. I’m just trying to make your life (mine) easier. I will continue to answer every question I’m asked, I’m just super cool like that. If, after reading through this, you still have questions feel free to ask them in the comments below.
You can also download my shower waterproofing manual which should answer a lot of questions and cover basic techniques and methods you may be confused about. Go ahead, it’s free. So without further ado (doesn’t even look like a word, does it?) let’s get on with it. (For all my readers who feel the need to correct me: I KNOW it’s actually ‘adieu’ – I was being facetious. Thanks. )
One of my readers has handcuffed me to the radiator in her basement and won’t let me go until I describe how to build a corner shelf in her shower. And she keeps giving me dirty looks. I guess I’ll do it, then.
See those little shelves right there? (You can click on it for a larger version) They’re made from the same tile that is on the walls – it matches that way. If you have a two-walled shower with only exterior walls it’s nearly impossible (or at least not very probable) to build a niche – frozen shampoo sucks. It’s also difficult to build niches if you have two exterior walls and one wall with all your plumbing – not much room there, either. So a corner shelf, or shelves, may be the way to go.
And they’re easy to make. And I don’t have pictures of the process.
The only difference in the way you install the tile on your walls is that you need to only install up to the row beneath where you are placing the shelf. You need to install tile up to that point on both walls that meet the corner. The bottom portion of the shelf is going to sit on top of those two rows directly against the walls in the corner. The next row of tile is then cut around and on top of the base shelf piece to lock it into the wall.
First decide how many shelves you need. Cut a full tile diagonally, corner-to-corner, in both directions. This will leave you with four identically-sized triangles of tile – these will be your shelf base, the part that’s locked into the wall.
I’m gonna start this just like I do everything I write – by talking about myself. Actually I’ll be talking about this monster in front of you – the FloorElf. Actually I’ll be talking about… nevermind, just read the damn thing.
When I started this blog I did it mainly as a general information point for proper procedures. Big deal – an online encyclopedia, it’s been done, and the number of readers, subscribers and comments reflected that. Nil, zero, zip, I was screaming into the void and not helping anyone, or so I thought. I then found a curious little blog called Ittybiz.com. It’s a blog about marketing.
Normally blogs about marketing are as exciting as blogs about tile. You know, like a root canal. This blog, however, was a bit different. This one had the word shit in it – a lot. And it made me laugh my ass off. The woman who writes this blog is a wealth of knowledge about marketing, something I needed, and you need to wade through her humor and rants (all of which is concisely directed) to get to all that knowledge.
When you tear out and rebuild your shower walls you are left with a transition between the old, existing drywall and the new stuff – cement backerboard or drywall (if you’re using kerdi). Whaddya do with it? And how do you do it? And why am I the one asking questions – that seems backwards.
If at all possible, when you remove the old stuff you want to cut a straight line down the drywall to make for a clean transition. If it isn’t straight or was simply torn out without any regards to actually rebuilding it, then find a spot where you can cut a straight line from top to bottom. You want to have a level line for your transition.
So before you begin you want something similar to that horrible graphic right there I just created with a bottle of scotch and my toes. The left side is looking into the wall cavity with one stud, that big brown looking thing? Yeah, it’s supposed to be a wall stud. You are not allowed to give me crap about my lack of Photoshop skills!
Another request from one of my readers, this time concerning weep holes. As you may know I answer every question I’m asked here on my site when I sober up get home from work. I have tried to explain in the comments section several times where to create weep holes in a tub or shower (acrylic base) tile installation and now realize it’s a difficult thing to do with words.
So when Kurt asked me to clarify exactly where they go a stroke of genius hit me! (Yeah, I’m slow sometimes) I have pictures. Well, not exactly pictures of the weep holes themselves, but I can at least let you know where they are.
When you have a tub which does not have specific spaces for a weep hole you need to ‘create’ them in your caulk line. Let me back up here a second and explain what weep holes are and why you need them.
I am not writing this to tell you why your tile is cracking or why your grout is cracking – I have other posts that may tell you that. (Click on the pretty little links ) If you happen to have Schluter Ditra as your substrate, this post will tell you why either one of the above may be happening.
While Ditra is my preferred membrane for floor tile installation (as well as countertops and tub decks) it absolutely needs to be installed correctly. The two main techniques for this are fairly simple:
Make sure the cavities (waffles) are filled correctly
Install it over an approved substrate (and with the correct type of thinset mortar)
In my previous post I beat you to death with the reasons why you absolutely need a soft joint (control joint) in certain tile installations. Sorry about that, I have a hard time expressing how important they are without being a dick. They”re important – really. So now that I’ve properly reprimanded you it’s time to show you how to do it.