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Master Bathroom Week 3: Tiling The Shower Walls

The past weeks have been crazy busy at my house.  Not only were we in the midst of Halloween, but we also had out of town guests staying with us.  Needless to say, not a lot of progress was made on the bathroom remodel.

The exciting part is that I did start tiling the walls!  Like I showed in my inspiration post, I went with a 3x6 tumbled travertine marble.  I decided to set them in a subway pattern.  

What I didn't realize was just how labor intensive working with tiny tiles like this was going to be. Because they are individual hand laid tiles, each requiring spacers, it is a LOT of work.  To put it in perspective, just doing this small, square section (less than 10 square feet) of wall took me a little less than 4 hours:
By the end of day one I was starting to get an idea of just how long this was really going to take:

The way I tackled the tiling was that I left a space large enough for 2 rows of tile along the bottom of the shower wall.  You don't want to start right at the floor since the floor isn't level.  Instead I will cut the angle of the floor into the bottom row of tiles where it will be less noticeable.  By starting 2 rows up, I was able to make sure the rows were level (I used a few boxes of tile and a board to set my first row of tile, making sure it was level.) DON'T ATTACH THE BOARD DIRECTLY TO THE WALL OR YOU WILL PUT HOLES IN YOUR WATERPROOFING!! 

 Days 2 and 3 was more of the same and I finished with this much complete (at least it looks better as the red is covered up):

 And by the end of week 1 this is as far as I had gotten.

Some specifics about this tile.  It is chiaro tumbled Turkish Travertine marble.  I ended up getting it at Lowe's because even though it was about 60 cents per square foot more than the tile shop (I paid $4.26/sqft), but I will be able to return any that is unused. I also didn't have to pay any shipping or handling and could buy it by the individual square foot.  I knew that would be important because the individual tiles are very VERY different. I wanted to make sure I could pick out the best tiles without huge imperfections, holes and cracks.  I originally purchased almost 33% more tile then I needed, knowing I would return a lot of it.  

I used 1/8th inch spacers since the variation in tile size was quite large.  I originally wanted to use 1/16 spacers (the smallest you can reasonably use) but I knew with the rough edges of the tile it wouldn't work out. 

To set the tile I used the same mortar I used to patch the walls, which is specifically designed for travertine. 

Budget for this part of the remodel:
Travertine 3x6 tiles (102 sq.ft. at $4.26): $434.52** 

Renovation total to date: $736.50

**I will probably only need approximately 70 sq.ft. so this is an overestimate of costs
UPDATED 12/16: I was able to return $119.56 worth of tile after completing the shower and tub.  This credit is reflected in the budget in this post. 
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