We started with a pattern. Because the room was small, we didn't have a lot of options. We could either put a single row down the middle with 3/4 tiles surrounding the full ones, or a double row of full tiles down the middle with a 1/4 tile around the border. Because nothing in the room was centered, we selected to put in as many large tiles as we could, selecting the two down the middle pattern.
Putting down square or straight cut tile was fairly easy. For the straight cuts, we used a tile cutter, a tool that looked like this:
I questioned whether this would actually work, as it was just a little wheel that scores the tile with a flat plate, that when pushed down, cracked the tile along the score line. Much to my amazement, it worked perfectly, and I would recommend picking one of these up. Much less mess than a wet saw, and very quick to work.
So we started by laying the full tiles. The hardest part is to get them level in a room that isn't flat. Matt did most of this work on his days off, as the room is not big enough for two people to be working in at the same time. Then we did the 1/4 tiles around the perimeter. Because the home is old and the room is not square, we had to get a little fancy with cutting the tiles.
We used 1/8" spacers, to give the grout a thin and more modern look.
Now for the hard part, CUTTING THROUGH PORCELAIN TILE!!! This is maybe the most frustrating thing that we have ever done in our lives... We sought out lots of advice from friends and home improvement helpers alike, all with different opinions, so we'll tell you what worked best for us.
We started with the easiest of the cuts. We had a small square cut that needed to be cut around the water pipe for the toilet. One person had suggested using the same jigsaw blade that we had used to cut through the hardie board with. It essentially looks like a nail file for a jigsaw. It worked great in the hardie board, unfortunately, not so well in the tile. Half way through the straight cut, the blade kinked, jumped and bent in half. At $10 a blade, that was the end of that experiment. We finished the cut with the tile cutter, working very carefully.
Next we started with the second most complicated hole... the round hole for the toilet. One person suggested using a concrete bit for the drill, to drill through the tile, then to use the jigsaw to cut the circle. Well we knew how well that was working, but we were going to try it. It just so worked out that the hole for the toilet was right in the middle of a tile. Well, first shot with the new $15 drill bit, and crack, the tile split in half. Not to mention that the tip of the drill bit had melted from the work it was doing.... this was NOT the way to cut this hole.
So we went with the next piece of advice we had heard. We cut the tile right down the middle of the hole with the tile cutter, so that half of the waste hole was in each half. We would set the tile back together and grout the crack so that it wouldn't be noticed (you can see this in the finished photo at the bottom. In fact the whole thing was going to be under the toilet, so it wouldn't be noticed anyways. We then used a wet saw to make dozens of straight cuts into the tile to make the shape of the circle, like this:
We then used a pair of tile nippers that look like this, to "snip" off the tile into a nice circular pattern:
You put the flat ends on the tile and "snip" off the tile. Definitely read up before using these, you aren't supposed to really "nip" at the tile, you are supposed to grab and apply pressure to snap it, not really biting at the tile. This actually worked great to get the hole done.
The next set of holes was going to prove to be the most difficult. You see, when you put down the toilet, you need to put down a new toilet flange. Well you have to screw the new flange down through this tile, so you need to cut 6, yes SIX small holes through the tile, in very VERY close proximity to the big waste hole to accomplish this.
Well we had purchased a masonry tip, but after our last experience we knew that it wouldn't work, so we went back to the hardware store and purchased a diamond tip drill bit. This was specifically for glass and tile.
Matt started the drilling and after about 10 minutes on the first hole, crack, the corner of the tile split off. We decided that it was a split that we could deal with so he went on to the next hole. He eased up on the pressure, and had kept a wet sponge next to the drill bit. The second hole went all the way through after about 15 minutes. However, the third hole split the tile in half... Almost an entire day of drilling and another tile was ruined.
These tools were exactly what we needed, and after about 5 minutes per hole, the job was complete... frustration be... well you know what. We then cut and put down the rest of the tile pieces.
After everything dried the appropriate amount of time, we grouted the tile. Grouting was fairly easy, it's really just shoving grout into the voids between the tile, and wiping the excess off. And for the finished product, here you go:
You can see the line down the middle of the waste hole and the six smaller holes around it, boy was this job way more complicated than we anticipated for this size room, but man did it look amazing compared to the carpet that was there before! Whew.. another job done, and another post done.
To see how we got to this point check out the following posts: Bathroom Reno: Demo Day & Bathroom Reno: The Reconstruction