Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bathroom Reno - All About the Floor and Ceiling

Hi there!  Today, I will tell you about one of the main focal points in our renovated bathroom - the floor!  I will also cover how we managed to avoid the standard basement drop ceiling ugliness with a planked ceiling.

You can read the other posts in this series to date here:
Before and Plans for the Reno
Shower Area Details
Sink Area Details
Source List

First, the scoop on the floor.  Patterned tile has really shown up in a big way lately, and after seeing a few photos of it in bathrooms, I was hooked.  They just look so interesting and classic.  Maybe a bit bold for some, but the great thing about bathrooms is that they aren’t usually big enough for something like that to get overwhelming.  So, I set out to find the perfect tile.

The first patterned tiles to hit the market recently were made of concrete, and were really expensive. I’m not sure what about them makes them with $25/sq. Ft, except maybe just being trendy, but even with a tiny bathroom that was not going to happen.  After doing some digging, I found that Home Depot is carrying a pretty extensive line of patterned tile that is printed ceramic (look up Merola Tile on their website).  A lot of the tiles lately have been printed patterns, and while it used to be that you could see the pixels if you looked up close, they have come a long way.  For example, those wood-look tiles that are everywhere are mostly printed tiles.  The big up-side to printed ceramic is the price - our tile was about $4/sq. Ft.  That translated to just under $200 of tile for the whole floor.  Not bad!  I landed on this classic, black and white print:

We ended up buying a wet saw for tiling this room, which was a huge help.  Another option is to rent one, and then try to knock out as much as you can over one weekend.  We found that a used price was worth it for us to just buy the saw; if it doesn’t get used, we can sell it for a similar price.

The one luxurious upgrade to this bathroom was installing in-floor heat.  I wrote about it in the reveal post, but since this bathroom is on the concrete foundation, it needed something to take the chill away in the winter months.  Who likes stepping out of the shower onto a freezing cold floor?!  It will serve as the primary heat source for the room, so it adds function to the room in addition to some luxury (or so I tell myself!).  It basically comes attached to a mat, which you roll out onto the floor with double sided tape, and then make adjustments to the shape as needed to avoid walls and fixtures.  The wire runs along the floor to the thermostat.  Then, you tile right over it, and really hope that it works when you are finished!  I don’t think it made tiling the floor any more difficult, other than having to be careful not to dig into the mat while you are spreading mortar.  The biggest challenge in tiling this floor was dealing with a slab that isn’t level (they rarely are).

Next, let’s talk about the ceiling.  I was determined to not install a standard drop ceiling.  I think they are terribly ugly, and just don’t hold up well.  Yes, they provide easy access to whatever pipes and wires might be running through the ceiling.  But why so ugly?  Why must it scream, “basement”?  I think I am especially turned off by them because the ones installed in our house were executed so poorly.  We had ceiling tiles that just fell down on their own!  I also think they were the cheapest of the options available, which didn’t help the ugly-factor.

In figuring out a plan for the ceiling, the other thing I needed to consider was that our exhaust for the dryer runs through this room, and we weren’t able to tuck it up and out of the way, in between the joists.  So, my options became:
- Leave the dryer vent exposed below the ceiling - our house is not really the “industrial” look, so that was out
- Build a soffit just around the dryer vent, so that the rest of the ceiling could be close to 8 ft.  I thought about this one a lot, because I was really concerned that the shorter ceiling would feel like a cave, and I was especially worried about the shower being any closer to the ceiling than it had to.  But, the vent runs through the middle of the room, and we already had to bump out the wall for the waste line, so could I really add another obstacle in the room?
- Build the whole ceiling at a height that hid the dryer vent.  As you can see, this is what I decided on, and I’m really happy we did it this way.  The ceiling is still just over 7 ft tall, I don’t feel cramped, and the continuity of having the whole ceiling at one height is simple and easy on the eyes.

So, back to not using a standard drop ceiling.  I hunted around for alternatives, and eventually landed on some tongue and groove boards that are almost a whitewash finish.  They were long enough to span the whole room (they came in 6ft lengths, where the room is 5 feet wide), so we were able to just support them on either end with metal drop ceiling track.  The track actually runs over the tile that we installed higher than necessary (tip: put the screws in the grout rather than drill through tile - not my idea, so I don’t feel bad calling it genius), but the transition between drywall and tile isn’t noticeable.  If you happen to decide that this exact solution is perfect for you, let me suggest that if you use the same product, that you order at least 10% extra for irregular boards.  They weren’t perfect.  Also, the boards only had the tongue/groove on the long edges, so these particular boards will not work for a room over 6ft.  That said, I like that they are wood, because I think they will hold up better than some of the drop ceilings, and they look 1000% better!  This isn’t our primary bathroom, so it’s not like it will have constant moisture from the shower.  To help out the situation, I did size the exhaust fan a little larger than the room required, just to help pull the moisture away.  I’ll report back after we’ve gotten more use out of it and let you know how it has held up!

I'll be wrapping up this series with a post about some of the finishing details, and then it's on to other projects!  Remember, you can find a list of all of the supplies used for this room here.


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