Tile floors are great. They’re a classy and timeless touch in any kitchen or bathroom, and can turn an ordinary 1/2 bath into a conversation piece or pleasant surprise when showing a home. Unless you choose a crazy or super-trendy color, you’re going to have a floor that will stand the test of time and a change of ownership. Sometimes, however, tiles chip and crack. The downside of a tile floor is that these can be a hassle to repair correctly, with all the re-grouting and deft touch that’s required. For minor repairs, calling a repairman isn’t an option as the price tag for even a couple hours of work can shock you back to linoleum.
Our DIY expert, Marilyn Osborne, discovered this the hard way. A call to the plumber to replace a leak in her bathroom resulted in a few tiles having to be pulled up in order to access the pipes. Unfortunately, the tiles were cracked in half, leaving a noticeable gap in the tile floor. Further complicating matters, the tile in the bathroom had been discontinued. It was looking like the entire floor would have to be replaced. A trip to the flooring store showed the price for labor and supplies to be $1,600 – not an unreasonable price, but too much at the time.
Thinking there had to be a better way, Marilyn took to the internet. A quick Google search turned into an idea for “accent tiles” – basically replacing the broken tiles with tiles that had a design on them, and replacing a few others to complete the look. The result, as you can see below, was a stunning update to the bathroom floor for a mere fraction of what a full replacement would have cost.
Here’s how she did it:
1.) Search out and find unique tiles to match the floor. Have your measurements and either a piece of old tile or a picture of the bathroom handy so you can ensure they match. For this project, Marilyn found hand-painted Tibetan tiles on eBay for cheap. 12 tiles ended up costing her $75.00.
2.) If you don’t have them already, head to your local hardware store to buy “glass and tile drill bits.” These bits should fit most any drill on the market today, but are made with either ground tungsten carbide or diamond tips to ensure a clean hole is drilled through the tile and grout. A normal drill bit will skip, jump and otherwise completely mangle and destroy your tile and just plain old take longer to do the job. If you’re a rookie working with less than ideal equipment, there’s a good chance you may break a drill bit. With patience and a steady hand, you can remove the tiles more or less in tact by drilling through the grout. Once you’ve drilled through the grout, gently wedge in putty knives and tap them in with a hammer. Have faith, the tile will pop off the floor. If you drill straight through the tile, you won’t be able to re-use it. New drill bits and new grout should end up costing around $35.00.
3.) Gently and carefully re-grout the area where you removed the tiles, grout your designer tiles and carefully place them in the desired area. For Marilyn’s project, she placed four of the tiles in front of the vanity and installed a row of new tiles along the lip of her shower. Marilyn recommends choosing a spot in the middle of the floor for a major tile accent, and choosing an area along a set of cabinets, shower, tub or door jam for of accents. As you can see from the pictures, the bathroom is transformed from a plain old bathroom to one with a splash of exotic designs and color.
ESTIMATED COST FOR PROFESSIONAL FLOOR REPLACEMENT: $1,600
COST FOR DIY TILE FLOOR FIX-UP: $110
Interested in more? Check out the archives on our blog or our website http://www.capecodhouses.com to find your dream home.