William Wallace by way of a wet saw

Saturday morning, Matt’s bathroom looked like this.

Shower with cement board

It’s not just Saturday. The bathroom has looked like this for the past several months while our attention has been on finishing the drywall in the rest of the basement.

By Saturday evening it looked like this.

Tiled bathroom and shower floor

Beautiful tile. Finally progress!

I’ve tiled before, and I actually enjoy doing it. It’s not hard work, but it does require planning.

My Dad and I spent several hours in the morning laying out the shower floor, carefully fitting and figuring. When we finally spread out the mortar, we had a really good idea of how everything should go.

The marble mosaic hexagon tiles that we used on the shower floor are all on a mesh backing that basically makes them into 12×12 tiles. It’s important to  pay close attention when you join the sheets to make sure the gaps between the tiles are consistent. Despite our best efforts, I did still have a bit of difficulty keeping everything perfectly straight all the way across the floor, but I was able to adjust the spacing on the individual hexagons, and I think it will all look okay once it’s grouted.

Here are two lessons I learned about how to work with mosaic tile:

  1. Don’t start with your first sheet tight to the wall. Keep it off an eighth or even a quarter of an inch. This will give you more room to make adjustments on your other sheets as you progress across the floor.
  2. For areas like the drain, remove all of the tiles that come into contact with the drain. Lay your (mostly) full sheet as you usually would, and then insert individual tiles (or pieces of tiles) into the gaps as necessary.

On the main area of the floor we used actual 12×12 tiles, which were a piece of cake to install. The biggest piece of figuring we had to do was determine where the middle of the floor was and then centre our tile along that line.

The only sour bite in our cake was cutting out for the toilet. I know other people have used dremels or other tools to get nice round circles. We used the wet saw, which only cuts in a straight line. With lots of patience, lots of back and forth and even trading off cutting duties between my dad and me, we got the tile cut on the first try.

Tile cut around toilet flange

The cut of the day

It’s not as smooth as it would have been with another tool, but it will all be hidden under the toilet. That works for me.

What didn’t work for me was the William Wallace/Gene Simmons makeup I had going on after using the wet saw all day. All of the tile dust mixes with the water from the saw and from my waist to my hairline I had a dusty grey stripe in line with where the saw blade had sprayed me all day long–attractively along only the right side of my face.

Cutting tile on a wet saw

Thank goodness for safety glasses

Next step is grout and then I can move onto the walls. Who knows, someday we might even move on to installing the actual fixtures and using this bathroom.

What’s your tiling experience? Any tips for keeping things straight and even? Or cutting a curved line with a straight saw?

9 thoughts on “William Wallace by way of a wet saw

  1. It must be a nice feeling to get some tiles down, it’s very rewarding work.
    I have never seen a hole cut in tiles using a wetsaw, very inventive. My tip for round cutting larger holes is use a 4″ grinder with a continuous diamond blade to get close to your line, then finish it neatly to the line with tile nippers. Don’t snip at it, just a gentle rolling action will snap a nice clean line. Its worth paying top dollar for Rubi Nippers if your going to do loads of work. For small holes like taps, you need diamond core bits.
    Keep up the work. Lovin’ the blog!

    • Thanks for the tip. The night before I was trying to remember to call my dad and tell him to bring his hand grinder. Of course, I forgot and he didn’t think of it. We had the nippers out, which helped too. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

  2. such great tips! We learned a lot of this when we did our backsplash for the first time, but it was a little bit more of a simple pattern. I love the hexagons, they look really difficult to keep perfect! The bathroom is really starting to take shape…you will be using it before you know it!

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