Classic Hex for the Bathroom Floor

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At this point in our three-room renovation, every item on the to-do feels mountainous. We’d love to say, let’s pick a shower curtain this weekend!, but I tend to make decisions a thousand times harder than they need to be. (Every person who has ever met me is shaking their heads in agreement right now.) First, I think, I must research all my favorite online stores. Then I should pop into a few of said stores to see the fabrics in person. Of course, I’m famous for switching gears, too. But what if I make my own? Yes! That’s what I’ll do. Now to find the perfect textile with the perfect weight in the perfect shade of – gray? Blue? No, definitely a pattern.

Welcome to Scott’s life. (I’m mostly kidding, but also kind of not.)

I feel as though we’re in the middle of this vortex – the eye of the storm, for sure – as our current tasks are things like tile the bathroom floors!tile the bathroom walls!install the plumbing fixtures (and hurry, because CC needs a bath, like, yesterday)! and, of course, build the PAX! but first install the bedroom baseboards!

But today I want to talk about completing one of those to-dos, because over the holiday break, we finished tiling the bathroom floor! I mentioned back here that we’d be going with traditional black hex (specifically, these guys), and at the start of this year, we were able to check that one off the list.

Our contractors installed cement board leaving us with a blank slate, but I’m going to start by saying the one thing we wished we would have done different. Below, you can see the obvious seams in the board, and we really should have mortared those areas first. Instead, we applied additional mortar into the cracks as we tiled, but because the mixture was still wet, some of the tiles did dip into those seams. It’s only noticeable closest to the tub, but I made a mental note to mention it so you don’t do the same, please!

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Cautionary tale aside, we knocked out the job over the course of four days, starting with DAY ONE: Because we’re not expert tile layers, we like to first do a dry fit. We did the same in our entryway, and we think this is definitely a stress reliever on Mortar Day, especially if you’re using squares of mesh tile. Scott is the resident wet saw master, while I call out measurements, piece together the puzzle and use a utility knife to handle the detail cuts.

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You can see below that the dry fit really highlights the individual tiles. Despite this, mortar saved the day (keep reading!), just as it did in our home’s entry.

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While we loved the all black floor, I had been campaigning for a white hex border. Before we called it quits on day one, I used a pair of scissors to cut out a 2×2 pattern of white tile (I had ordered one box of this coordinating white hex for this reason) and laid it on top of the black. Scott was immediately sold, and we started DAY TWO by cutting the black hex out and dropping the white hex in.

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Because our door jamb is pretty thick, the pattern juts out to create a little entryway! This little detail made us super happy, and YES, there will be a floor transition in our future:

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Continuing on with day two, it was time to mortar! We started along the straightest edge in the room (the tub), and without a doubt, the tile gave us fits at time. It’s so easy to become misaligned once you get started, but luckily the mesh backing is really forgiving once the wet mortar is below. We pushed, and we pulled, and we added dozens of little spacers where we needed to ensure an even overall look. (The next morning, our fingers literally throbbed from the pushing. And pulling!)

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DAY THREE. All that pushing and pulling allowed us the luxury of waking up to a floor that showed no signs of seams (just one area where it had slightly dipped into the cement board crack, ugh), and we got right to grouting! We chose charcoal gray grout from Lowe’s to blend in with the black, highlight the white and stand up to regular traffic.

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DAY FOUR. To get a head start on the wall tile, we installed ledger board around the room. The ledger would give the wall tile a level lip to sit on while also allowing our baseboards to retain their profile. We chose inexpensive MDF to mimic the depth of our 1/4″ wall tile, and once the wall tile is in, baseboards are installed and everything has been painted (baseboards), grouted (wall tile) and caulked (baseboards and tile), they’ll be nice and sealed away from potential water damage.

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Speaking of wall tile, we’ve started, and I’ll be sharing a progress report this week!

Sources: matte black hexagon tile: Elite Tile Retro .0875″ x .0875″ // matte white hexagon tile: Elite Tile Retro .0875″ x .0875″ // mortar: TEC Skill Set // grout: TEC Charcoal Gray 

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  • Stacy G. - January 12, 2016 - 7:02 AM

    Looks great! I love the black and white. It is very fresh.ReplyCancel

  • emily @ go haus go - January 12, 2016 - 8:11 AM

    The white border is genius. Looks beautiful. And thanks for keeping it real with the cement board seams. Good to know. Can’t tell at all in the photos!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 9:04 AM

      Thanks, Emily – it was a tip that I wished we would have known or thought of beforehand! I think a well placed bath mat will save the day though. :)ReplyCancel

  • Maia - January 12, 2016 - 8:15 AM

    You guys are so good! I love the border! I like that the mesh tile on the Elite tile looks like it has a plastic mesh backing. We picked a hex that actually had string mesh and we were cursing as the mesh literally falls apart in the grout so you end up with a lot more inconsistency as the individual tiles move around. For any first time DIYer, I’d recommend the firmer plastic mesh backing.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 9:24 AM

      Maia, you’re right! The mesh was pretty strong, although from time to time, a tiny hex would fall off, and we’d have to place it in. That didn’t happen very often – maybe only in the intricate smaller sheets along the border. But I’m with you, the quality of mesh backing will definitely make or break a tiling job!ReplyCancel

  • julie - January 12, 2016 - 9:08 AM

    The black tile with the charcoal grey grout is SO calming and glossy at the same time. Love it. You both should be so proud of the job you did!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 9:46 AM

      Thanks, Julie! We are proud! And tired. Phew, tiling is no joke!ReplyCancel

  • Erika - January 12, 2016 - 9:19 AM

    Looks amazing! The white really makes it fell so pulled together! Way to go!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - January 12, 2016 - 9:29 AM

    The floor looks so great. I love the border, and really love it at the entrance to the room. Nice detail.

    When we’ve installed cement board, we’ve always mortared the joints first, but also installed a fiberglass mesh tape over the seams that will help mitigate further settling or any sort of movement that might occur over time as the substrate shifts. So maybe I’d add the mesh tape part to your suggestion to deal with the seams first. It’s likely less critical with small tiles, but it could certainly cause large tiles to crack over time.

    P.S. Is there a tiny part of you that wishes you had incorporated words into that border? ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 9, 2016 - 2:51 PM

      I wish we had known that before we started, Kristin! Fingers crossed we’ll be okay down the road…

      And YES. We considered playing with words, but chickened out. ;)ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie - January 12, 2016 - 9:39 AM

    Omo, I want to pet your tile so much! I love the charcoal grey with the black and white hextile – it’s just so purty! Now I’m going to be dreaming of gorgeous hextile and attempting to squash my jealousy. I can’t wait to see how the wall tile turns out!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 9:46 AM

      We can’t wait to see it either – haha. We’re so close! Hopefully we’ll wrap that up this coming weekend.ReplyCancel

  • arli - January 12, 2016 - 9:51 AM

    Wow, looks GORGEOUS! Can’t wait to see the rest.ReplyCancel

  • Kirstin - January 12, 2016 - 10:03 AM

    Omg that border is so cute I can’t handle it! Really love it. Can’t wait to see the rest of the bathroom – but with this as a foundation, it can only be adorable.ReplyCancel

  • Debra - January 12, 2016 - 10:06 AM

    The white really finishes off that black tile and lends it that beautiful pop. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - January 12, 2016 - 10:45 AM

    Oh wow!!! I love, love LOVE it!!! Seriously so gorgeous, I think if I had done that I would just sit on the floor and not be able to stop touching it! (Like AnnMarie said… I want to pet your tile! LOL). The charcoal gray grout with the black tile looks amazing, and I LOVE the border, especially how it zigs and zags around the quirky room shape and into the doorway! Ahhh!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 11:04 AM

      Aw, thank you so much! Made my day.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - January 12, 2016 - 11:29 AM

    I have followed this blog for years and still look forward to your posting days! Progress looks beautiful. You two are inspirations for me to get going on our own historic home renovations.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 11:50 AM

      That’s so nice, thank you, Suzanne!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 11:53 AM

    Love love love this floor – it’s gorgeous! The guy who sold us our house used black and white diamond tiles on our bathroom floor, and it’s classic which I love. HOWEVER, he used white grout and now half of it is black from use. It’s so gross! You guys are so smart to use black grout — if I ever reno a bathroom, I will definitely be doing dark grout myself!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - January 12, 2016 - 12:20 PM

    I really like the addition of the border. Can’t wait to see the wall tile.ReplyCancel

  • Kacie - January 12, 2016 - 2:42 PM

    I love the dark grout, and the hex tiles look beautiful. What type of floor transition do you think you’ll pick?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 2:49 PM

      We’ll choose a wood transition to match the floors as closely as possible, but we do have a dip to our hardwood floor that’s going to make it challenging. What else is new?!ReplyCancel

      • Rachel S - January 12, 2016 - 3:07 PM

        I am obsessed with marble transitions into bathrooms. They are so chic. And that one slice of marble is cheap! Consider it maybe?ReplyCancel

        • Kim - January 12, 2016 - 3:15 PM

          I wish! We actually have a marble transition already, leftover from our entryway. The problem is that we need something that we can flex a little better, since our floor slopes a little. This old house, I tell you!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - January 12, 2016 - 4:30 PM

    You guys are machines! This looks really great!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - January 12, 2016 - 8:28 PM

    So so so good! I can’t wait to see the rest go upReplyCancel

  • vanessa - January 12, 2016 - 8:44 PM

    Wow. This looks amazing! So much patience and hard work but the end result is worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Lillian - January 13, 2016 - 4:25 PM

    Would love to know how you handle cutting the hex tiles for the edges. We did the same tiles in our laundry room, and cut each little hex by hand with the wet saw, but there has to be a better way! It was such a pain and the cuts are really hard to get straight.

    Any advice?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 13, 2016 - 4:37 PM

      We used the wet saw for the edges as well. We started along the bathtub, knowing those those were the most important, since they wouldn’t get covered by baseboards, but I will definitely say that the tiles along the perimeter of the room are no where near perfect! But – the baseboards will cover that up 100%.

      I think it’s just the nature of the beast when it comes to tiny delicate tile.ReplyCancel

      • Lillian-Marie - January 14, 2016 - 10:05 AM

        Darn. I was hoping you guys had found a magic trick :)

        Our original bathrooms had a tile baseboard, so we decided to replicate that to stay true to its history. Unfortunately that means all of our edges show!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - January 14, 2016 - 10:13 AM

          This might be a HUGE pain, but using tile nippers on each individual tile could help? Sometimes nippers are unpredictable with what they’ll take off though. We used our sparingly – only if the wet saw left a little edge we needed to take off.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 13, 2016 - 5:33 PM

    I’m so relieved your tile job turned out better than ours. You would think having the tiles on a mesh sheet makes installation easier. Nope. Our seams showed.
    I think using the spacers saved you. We didn’t think to do that.
    We still point fingers at each other as to who’s to blame for our botched job.
    That Power Ball win will fix it though. We’ll have a professional re-install it. (Fat chance but I can dream)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 13, 2016 - 7:42 PM

      Haha, good luck, Mary! :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - January 14, 2016 - 10:54 AM

    We had a similar problem with laying hex tiles. I want to warn you they’ll probably pop up and you’ll be patching them in forever.ReplyCancel

  • Shavonda@SGStyle - January 17, 2016 - 11:12 AM

    You guys! The floor looks fantastic!! I LOVE the white tile border. Such a great choice!!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - May 23, 2016 - 1:15 PM

    I noticed that you chose the matte finish tiles, we also chose the matte finish for our project, did you have to seal the tile before grouting? I’ve read some conflicting opinions online about potential to stain the tile with grout.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 23, 2016 - 1:18 PM

      We didn’t seal the tiles, and they look as good as new! :)ReplyCancel

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