The tiles on the step to our bathtub got loosened when “someone” (not me) put some noxious fluid on them and allowed it to leak. The leaked fluid ate at the grout and rendered it into sand, with the result that a number of tiles were loosened to the point of popping out. Some time ago, I removed about a dozen tiles and planned on fixing things Real Soon Now. However, first I had to figure out how to fix it (I’ve never had to do anything like that before), then get the supplies, and then find time to do it. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, right?
Anyways, today was the day to fix it. Here’s a picture at the start of the project, with the initial tiles removed :
I started to clean out the affected area, and discovered that a few more tiles were loose and had to be removed. So I cleaned and picked and cleaned and picked, and pretty soon the area to be repaired looked like this :
Examining the loose tiles, it looks like they came as a sheet with a mesh backing connecting them. People experienced in such things will no doubt mock my noobness, but this is all new & fascinating to me :
I had to clean off the wood base (looks like OSB, actually), and the back of each of the tiles. There were 46 large tiles and 14 half-tiles … that’s a lot of cleaning! Of course the cats had to supervise. Beaudelair and Eddie took turns wandering in. In the course of one of his prowls, Eddie came in and decided lay down on the pile of refuse!
The tool shown in the front was invaluable in cleaning the wood, the tiles, as well as slathering on the grout. It’s actually a “painter’s tool” that I got from Sears.
After cleaning everything up I decided to do a test fitting of the tiles, using the spacers. Always do a test fitting when you’re not sure of what you’re doing! I found that the spacers (standard 1/8-inch ones) were just a bit larger than the original spacings, so I had to replace a couple of them with the 1/16-inch ones. I picked up both sizes because I had no idea what was required, and a bag of each is pretty cheap.
I also discovered that I was using the spacers incorrectly … a fact I would have found out if I’d bothered to read the instructions on the package. Sigh.
OK, so on to applying the grout/cement (this particular product does double-duty)! I’ve seen this before on DIY shows and it always looked so easy. Well, yeah, if you’re applying it to a bare surface. Working around existing tiles for a repair job makes things a little more interesting! So I decided to set up about 1/3 the surface to see how things went. Not too hard, actually, but a bit fiddly where the edges meet existing tiles :
Putting in the tiles wasn’t very hard at all. A rather enjoyable process, actually.
Then I put on some more grout/cement and put in the rest of the tiles. Adding the vertical tiles had a few moments of interest because at this point gravity is NOT your friend. But it wasn’t too difficult.
So now I have to wait 24-36 hours for the grout/cement to dry, and then I do the grouting. That is, filling in the spaces between the tiles. I’m actually looking forward to trying that! The whole process took about 3-1/2 hours. All in all, a pleasant afternoon project. The only hard part was squatting on the floor for that time … my aged knees grumbled at me for sitting cross-legged for so long.
I’ll let you know how the grouting goes.