This is the week I’ve been waiting for, the week we go and finalize our tile choice and install it. Yesterday, I told you about my 5 favorite faux marble tiles for under $3/s.f. We’ve narrowed it down to two but this week was the end all be all and I was pretty excited.

Our bathroom design is very neutral. I plan to use different textures to draw interest and the only accent I’ll have are some gold/brass fixtures. I wanted the tile to be very subdued, light and calming. I didn’t want it to feel like a cave and I wanted very little glass to keep clean. I also wanted it to be a faux marble-but a good looking one. We wanted a porcelain tile rather than real marble because we are doing a steam shower. We didn’t want to worry about the tiles popping off the wall because they never dried out. Real marble is porous and might have had an issue. It also doesn’t handle hard water very well. Porcelain does. It’s strong, easy to maintain, easy to clean, never needs sealing and is also (relatively) lightweight.

Here’s the tile we chose: Carrara Matte Gray Porcelain Tile by Terra Cerra coming in at $1.69/s.f. Total bargain! Honestly my favorite – how great when the price is right too?!

Here is a picture of it in the store
Here it is from Floor and Decor’s website. Pretty similar to the photo I took right? It also has the grout color I chose here: Mapei’s Avalanche.

They make it in a polished version too – for those who want a shiny, reflective surface. I did not. I wanted it to glow. So I chose a matte finish. And let me tell you: it glows.

Mike also decided it was time to upgrade our tile saw. I’ll never say no to a new tool…

We chose to tile in a staggered pattern at 1/3. This should help minimize any lippage. Porcelain is pressed into it’s shape and that can cause the center to be slightly thinner than the edges. When you place a tile this large and porcelain at 50/50 you end up with the edges of one tile lining up at the center of the other tile which means the thinnest part of the tile is next to the thickest part of the other tile and this causes lippage. TCNA recommends a 30% or 1/3 pattern when laying any tile 18″ or larger.

via: TCNA Managing lippage
We followed the Floor Elf’s ( advice on attaching tile to the ceiling. He calls it the bulls eye or target method. It works. But to be certain they stuck Mike used 2×4’s that we ripped in half (here they are still shown as 2×4’s eventually they were all 2×2’s) and planks spanning the benches to hold the tiles in place over night while the thinset cured.

Schluter-Kerdi recommends unmodified thinset to set your tile and that is what we used. Mapei Kerabond to be precise. We started our line at the top of the shower shelf, so that horizontal line wouldn’t fall mid tile and tiled to the top of the wall leaving the last row not done. Then we tiled under the shelf down to the floor and the other walls and benches. We then tiled the ceiling. After the ceiling we tiled the top row on the walls. Waiting to do the top row eliminates the gap between the ceiling tiles and the wall and it also helps support the ceiling tiles by the wall tiles.

The linear drain is almost impossible to find. It’s at the back, on the floor (obviously).

Last, we tiled the floor. We waited until the next day to do that. We only waited because we didn’t want to work around all the sticks that were supporting the ceiling – it looked like some sort of Indiana Jones obstacle course. You can see that we used the same tile everywhere, this goes with our calm/serene design vibe. By choosing a linear drain we were able to use large format tiles for the floor. Also, the same amount of psi is on small tiles as large tiles for the ceiling. So, if you get really good coverage of thinset on the tiles you shouldn’t have any trouble with them staying put once they are cured.

We used Schluter-Kerdi’s sealant around the can lights, steam heads, rain heads, shower bar supports and plumbing, and the Kohler DTV+ display. You can see here that the bench and the shelf fall at grout lines. This was totally intentional. Because I am OCD and because details really make a difference in whether the shower looks diy or pro. Take the time to plan and measure and trust me it will be worth it.

The tops of the shelf, benches, and around the sidelight and door will have quartz that matches the counters. Hopefully we will get our quartz guy out here soon because then we can start taking showers in here and wrapping it up! If we could do anything differently we would have probably tried the leveling spacers. I think we may try them on the floor. These tiles are large and minor lippage can be noticeable.

I have some more good news, at the end of the week, this happened:

And then we left for Maui.

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  1. You did an amazing job with lining the pattern of the tile on your ceiling! I’m hunting for faux marble tile, and your review of 5 patterns was really helpful. I’m in Canada, so I’m not sure I can source the one you chose, but it’s really what I’m looking for- soft and subtle, yet sophisticated!!

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