Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bathroom Remodel Part 5: Shower Tile

Part 1: Demolition
Part 2: Plumbing
Part 3: Material selection and Floor Tile
Part 4: Shower Tile Prep

I've never actually looked forward to tiling (because, for the most part, it sucks), but this shower was an exception. Once we finished this tiling job, the world would be our oyster.

I did the tile layout in Sketchup and then transferred it to paper, where my OCD took over and I proceeded to plan out the cut list for every tile. Turns out it really paid off because even though I had ordered about 10% extra tile, it ended up not being enough with that many cuts! Luckily the store I got it from still had some extras, so we were covered.

TIP: Always buy at least 20% overage for any materials, and if your tile has a lot of cuts, make it 25%-30% to account for cuts-gone-wrong (chips, breaks). It may seem like a waste of money, but trust me when I say it is worth the peace of mind. 

Figuring out how to cut this tile was tricky. It came in 60x60cm (approximately 24" x 24") squares, so each square could be cut into four 15x60cm tiles. Initially we didn't want to risk our limited number of tiles on the score-and-snap cutter because of how poorly it cut the floor tiles. Unfortunately when we turned to our wet saw to make the cuts, it caused an unacceptable amount of chipping on the finish.

We tried everything to reduce the chipping, including turning the tile upside down, taping the cut line, and replacing the blade. None of it worked and we were pretty discouraged for a few hours while we tried to decide if we could live with that many chippy edges in the shower or if we should just buy new tile.

Eventually I decided to give the ol' score-n-snap cutter a try. What did we have to lose right? Well, it turns out that for this particular tile, the score-n-snap was an almost perfect match. It gave us clean cuts 80% of the time with no chipping of the finish! It did occasionally take off a corner, but we saved those pieces for the shorter cuts. The cut edges were a bit sharp, so we used a stone block to smooth it out. It worked amazingly well compared to the wet saw.

TIP: When using a score-and-snap cutter, be sure to score ONCE, firmly and cleanly and from edge to edge. When pressing the tile to break it, set the press at the top of the tile and apply firm pressure.