We ended up driving to Vermont to get the floor tile that I wanted (at a much cheaper price than I could find in Montreal) from Lowe's. On a side note, everyone is so damn friendly there we were told several bathroom renovation horror stories and given several reno tips before we even made it to the cash.
The next day, I covered the hallway in plastic to protect it from the spray of the tile saw. It looked a bit like a scene from Dexter.
Chad got to work laying the thinset and then placing and cutting the tiles. I can't offer you any tips since my job is normally handing sheets of tile and cutting rows of tile off the mesh backing if necessary with a utility knife. All while drinking a coffee and continually asking how it's going. You can see why I'm so helpful. Chad did mention that working with this smaller tile was much easier than laying large format tile (like in the kitchen and hallway) because you don't have to worry about each tile being level with the other.
Chad worked a section at a time, laying the thinset, then using the notched side of the trowel to make those little lines (I think I better stop with all these technical terms) and then laying the tile in place. He would then wipe off any excess on top of the tile.
Once the thinset dried overnight, we started grouting. While I love the look of black grout, it is absolutely the messiest thing ever. It's like spreading peanut butter all over your floor.
When we grouted the subway tile in the kitchen light grey, I felt I got a little overzealous with grout cleaning and removed too much. I thought I would be more conservative this time, remove less and then go back after it had set a bit to clean it up. After reading Daniel's post on Manhattan Nest last week about using black grout in his laundry room I very loudly cursed and wished I had read his tips before starting. Let's all learn from his sage advice now:
The thing I’ve learned about using black grout is that you really need to put a little extra effort into making those grout lines nice and crisp. The hardest part of the whole grouting process is getting the hang of rubbing the excess grout out of each individual grout line enough that they look uniform and clean. I learned this time around that getting the final grout haze off with a microfiber cloth (instead of a sponge) is much, much easier. After everything is dry, I like to go over all the grout lines one last time with my finger covered in a microfiber cloth, rubbing each line back and forth a couple times to get the edges of the grout extra-crisp.
I obviously did not do that and therefore do not have extra-crisp, uniform and clean looking grout lines. Instead, I had to go back for days after using steel wool to sand off the excess. That was super fun-lesson learned. Anyway, just a warning if you're ever planning on using black grout.
The next step was waiting for our 'almost perfect match' replacement tiles to come in. Waiting and waiting... It took a week longer than they said it would for the tiles to arrive- which meant another week without a sink since we didn't want to install the sink, only to have to take it out again in order to have access to the area. This did give us plenty of time to remove all the tiles that were damaged and had been fixed with combinations of wadded up toilet paper, wallpaper and paint. We did have a working toilet for this week, just in case you were wondering.
It was a happy day when we finally picked up the tile. When we got them home we realized that they were a pretty darn close match both in colour and size but they had these four little tabs on each side that made them slightly too big. We used what I think is a dremel tool with a tile cutting attachment and sanded all four sides of EVERY tile we needed. Thankfully it was only about 25 tiles. For all my Northern friends, I seriously felt like a stone carver-same noise, same dust-except no polar bear carving at the end.
Here was Chad before he gave up and made me sand every single tile to fit. You can see here, the new tile is a pretty close match to the existing tile. Once the tiles were sanded the only other issue was the fact that they stick out a little but from the wall due to the old glue that was impossible to remove without damaging the wall further. Chad used mastic to glue the new tile in and then the next day we grouted the area with an off-white grout so that it matched the older grout.
For those of you with eagle eyes, you'll notice that we also have a new toilet. While the old toilet had only been leaking due to what Chad swears was "improper installation" I really felt safer having a brand new toilet-and my Mom agreed with me, gifting us this stunning Kohler toliet. Yes, I just called a toilet 'stunning'. You can see we're almost there. The only thing left to do was install the pedestal sink and that required several trips back and forth to the hardware store and lots of swearing. Again, I'll have to let Chad fill in some details because all I know was that there were toggle bolts involved and screws that now have to be anchored into the other side of the wall???? So stay tuned for....the BIG REVEAL and Chad explaining whatever he had to do to make it all work (obviously not as exciting).