The Builder Depot Carrara Venato Hexagon Nero Strip Marble Mosaic Tile installed on bathroom floor

Saving Etta: Floor Tile Update

Saving Etta: Tile Flooring Update

Welcome back to another Saving Etta update! If you’re just joining, this is another progress report on my efforts to save a house built in 1900. The finish line is looming close, so be on the lookout for more updates to come. To get the back story and learn more about the Saving Etta project, you may want to start from the beginning.

Saving Etta - One Woman's Journey to Save a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

I’ve been dying to share the tiling update, because this is one of my favorite finishing materials to select. But, before tile installation, we completed a few tasks after the drywall installation update. All the walls were primed and sanded.

Then I had a lull in subcontractors on site, so I started painting some of the walls myself (and with the help of some friends) while we had none of the final flooring in. While this may have seemed like a good idea at the time, in the future I’ll wait until after the floors and trim are installed to paint. The first reason was I lost my painting subcontractors after they completed the priming and sanding. They moved on to another job and I never could get them back. Then there was a lot of touch up work needed after the flooring and trim carpenters finished. This meant I had to ask my interior painters to do a lot more touch up work than normal. All this to say that I have a new motto: “Vive y aprende.” Or Live and Learn. (Working with a fair amount of hispanic subcontractors has been great for boning up on my Spanish vocabulary!)

While I painted, I mulled over the benefits of hiring a tile installer versus laying the tiles myself. Originally I wanted to host workshops to teach local readers how to tile. Unfortunately, as the weather began to cool off, it became clear that I was running out of time to finish this house. I chose to outsource tile installation in the bathrooms and mudroom. But decided to install the laundry room tile and kitchen backsplash myself. I’m so glad I chose to hire a tile setter for the bathrooms. Not only did it save time, but he discovered potential issues that I wouldn’t have caught.

As soon as I could schedule the tile installation, I put it on my calendar and then scheduled the wood floor delivery during the week of tile install so the wood floors could acclimate in the house. Installing tile before wood floors made sense because wood is a lot easier to cut and manipulate than tile. But, it’s still important to account for the finished height of the wood flooring to eliminate a variety of floor heights (some variation is inevitable, but you can try to minimize the differences if you plan ahead.) With this in mind, we had to choose a variety of underlayment (backer board and uncoupling mat) thicknesses depending on each floor tile thickness. Most of the rooms we used 1/2″ PermaBase for the underlayment. But, the laundry room tile was extra thick and the only solution was to use an uncoupling mat which is thinner than any cement backer board I could find. (Here’s the full tutorial on how to install cement tiles!)

Installing uncoupling mat in laundry room

Now that you’re up to speed, ready to see the tiles I chose for the floors? Great, because I can’t wait to show you! Before we continue, I need to tell you that I worked with two generous tile material sponsors. These companies believed in my mission to save a historic house and graciously agreed to send me materials for the Saving Etta project.

While at Haven two years ago, I was introduced to Jeffrey Court’s Home Depot product line of tiles. They have a great variety of tiles for all different styles. Because I wanted to stay true to the historic nature of this 1900 house, I chose small vintage hex tiles for two of the bathrooms.

Downstair’s Bathroom Before:

The tubs for the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms were recommended by a designer at Wilkinson Plumbing Supply. They are a Bootz brand tub that is fiberglass but has a coating to make it feel like cast iron. I like how they sound like cast iron when you knock on them. They are also supposed to hold heat better than a standard fiberglass tub. The Bootz tubs are as lightweight as fiberglass and also lighter on your budget!

The shampoo niches I used are from here. The window over the tub is another Plygem Mira window with obscure glass. In hindsight, I wish I had ordered two more obscure glass windows for the other bathrooms. Instead, I installed some privacy film to cover those windows. (I’ll be sharing about this process in a later blog post.)

downstairs bathroom pre-tile

And now, I’m excited to show you the floor tiles we installed in that downstairs shared bathroom!

Downstairs Bathroom Floor Tile:

black stripes in small white hex tile field on bathroom floor

Don’t you love those stripes? I worked with my tile installer to create a striped pattern using Jeffrey Court Gardenia and Black Out Porcelain Mosaic Hex Tiles.

Jeffrey Court Small White and Black hex tiles in bathroom

Since this is a shared bathroom, I wanted it to have a basic unisex feel. Ultimately, I love how the stripes look like a rug on the bathroom floor. Apparently so does everyone else because we get lots of compliments on this floor.

Upstairs Bathroom Before:

The upstairs bathroom also has a tub, but this bathroom has two exterior walls. This meant we couldn’t install a shampoo niche because we had to leave room for insulation in the walls instead.

upstairs-bathroom pre tile

Remember how the downstairs bathroom has a unisex style? Well, this bathroom was my chance to insert some femininity into the design!

Upstairs Bathroom Floor Tile:

I still used the vintage hex tiles, but added a flowery look using Jeffrey Court Floral Terrace Mosaic Tiles.

Floral Terrace small hex tiles installed in bathroom

My tile installer was so thankful the flower pattern comes pre-assembled. He told me, he’s had to pick out and place the flowers in hex tiles on other jobs and that it’s a tedious task. Kudos to Jeffrey Court for making his job easier (and going easier on my budget.)

Jeffrey Court Tiles Floral Terrace on Bathroom Floor

Master Bathroom Before:

The master bathroom is the only room with a stand up shower. This meant I needed to coordinate the floor tile with the shower floor tile and wall tiles. (I’m going to keep you in the dark on those other tile choice for now, but stay tuned!)

master bathroom pre-tile

Ready to see this amazing floor? I’m so in love with this tile that I plan on using it in my own master bathroom.

Master Bathroom Floor Tile:

Check out this stunning tile from The Builder Depot. The official name of it is: Carrara Venato Polished Hexagon Nero Strip Marble Mosaic Tile, but I prefer “the most stunning hexagon tile I’ve ever laid eyes on!”

Beautiful marble outlined black white hex tiles in master bathroom

I fell in love with this tile when I saw it in one of our local tile showrooms, but the price was way out of my budget. When I saw my friends at the Builder Depot had it in their selection, I jumped on it immediately.

The Builder Depot Carrara Venato Hexagon Nero Strip Marble Mosaic Tile installed on bathroom floor

Aren’t you in love with that hexagon tile?

Laundry Room Before:

Long before I bought the Saving Etta house, I’ve longed to use black and white cement tiles somewhere.

laundry room pre tiling

Luckily, this laundry room presented the perfect spot to showcase Avington Tiles from The Builder Depot. Before you rush over to order all the cement tiles they carry, I need to warn you there is a bit more labor involved to install them. In particular, you have to seal them thoroughly before you can grout. This could mean 5-6 coats of sealant before it is no longer porous. (Here’s all the information you need to know about cement tiles and how to properly install them.)

Avington Cement Tiles laid in laundry room

I was glad I chose to personally lay this tile, because it took a little more time during installation. This freed up my tile installers to finish the bathroom floors, mudroom, and to start on the tub and shower surround tiling.

Black & White Avington Cement Tiles in Laundry Room

Mudroom Before:

This is the room that gave me the biggest challenge design-wise. That chimney you see in the background is the original 1900 chimney. I fought with almost all my subcontractors to keep it in the room. For this reason, I didn’t want a tile floor that would compete with the original beauty of the old brick. Other requirements for this tile were for it to be durable, easy to clean, and not show dirt.


Ultimately my own mudroom played a big role in tile choice. We have dark gray tile in our mudroom and I love that it hides dirt fairly well.

Mudroom Floor Tile:

When I saw the Jeffrey Court Castle Rock tiles, I knew I had found a modern looking tile that would hide dirt and would also not compete with the chimney.

mudroom jeffrey court castle rock hex tiles

One of the things I love about this tile is that it has approximately twenty different printed patterns. Why does this matter? It matters because the tiles look more realistic when two patterns aren’t side by side (telling the world that they are printed instead of naturally occurring.) Despite the multitude of pattern, I separated all the tiles into piles with their twins. Then I made sure the installers chose from different piles as they installed them on the floor.

Installed Castle Rock Hex tiles gray in mudroom floor

Was it worth the wait? What do you think about all my floor tile choices? Any favorites?

Disclosure: I was provided with building materials from Jeffrey Court and The Builder Depot for the Saving Etta project. This allowed me to put in tiles more fitting with Etta’s history. I’m grateful for their support of this project. Despite their sponsorship, I was not told what to write. All opinions and ideas are my own. As always I’m very particular about the brands I chose to work with and you will always be notified if you are reading a sponsored or compensated post.

Five Great Tips to Grout a Shower

At first, tiling a space in your home can seem overwhelming and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Doing a tile project on your own can save you a lot of money and give you a lot of satisfaction.  Recently we renovated an entire bathroom in our basement that included tiling and grouting a shower floor, walls and bench.

Brittany has shared several posts on how to tile a backsplash, how to seal tile, and how to tile without mortar. See those posts for full step-by-step instructions on how to tile.

Today I wanted to share 5 Great Tips to Grout a Shower. When you are tiling a large space, it helps to have some ideas on how to prepare and work for the best results.


  • Grout (We like Mapei UltraColor Plus Rapid-Setting Sanded Grout or Polyblend Unsanded Grout)
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Grout Boost or VanHearron’s Grout Once
  • Corded drill that will accept a mixing paddle
  • Mixing paddle
  • Metal spatula
  • Grout Float
  • Grout Sponge
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Silicone Caulk
  • Rag
  • Buffing rag
  • Sponge
  • Water

5 Great Tips to Grout a Shower

1. Use Grout Boost or Grout Once

These are liquid products that mix with your grout instead of water so that you don’t also have to seal the grout. Follow the instructions on the package to prepare your grout (usually involves mixing, waiting and mixing again.)

Then apply the grout as usual. Then you don’t have to spray your grout with a grout sealer afterwards.


mix grout with grout once sealant in ice bucket

2. Work in small sections at a time.

This is not the time to apply all of the grout at once and remove the extra after you are done putting in all the grout. You have to apply small sections (4′ x 4′) of grout. Then go back to remove the excess grout on that same section right away.

Don’t wait too long or the grout will become dry and difficult to remove from the surface of the tile. As you’ll see below, I wiped off the grout with a damp sponge while the other area on the left was drying. It helps to move relatively fast so your grout doesn’t dry too quickly.

Five Great Tips to Grout a Shower

Read more

tiled and grouted marble subway tile backsplash around utility sink


You may remember years ago when I installed Smart Tile adhesive tiles in our laundry room. Well, truth be told, they weren’t looking so smart after 3 years and a water leak. I had a few leftover marble subway tiles from our kitchen backsplash and decided to use them to freshen up the laundry room. While I was at Lowe’s I decided to try Mussel Bound tile adhesive used for tile setting without thinset mortar. I figured this would be a good place for a trial in case I didn’t like the product.


To remove the Smart Tiles you are supposed to use a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the adhesive. The tiles on my wall were already peeling off and they came off very easily.


There was some minimal damage to the drywall, but if I had used the hairdryer it probably would have come off cleaner. To minimize any issues, be sure to clean your wall with a mixture of TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) and water using the instructions on the package.

Wipe the walls clean with a damp sponge after cleaning.


Ready to start tiling with less mess?

(Contains some affiliate links)


Optional: Grout Shield


Before you begin, layout your tiles and spacers to determine the height you desire for your backsplash. Transfer this height onto the wall around the sink. Read more

Mosaic Tile Coasters | Pretty Handy Girl

Mosaic Tile Coasters | Pretty Handy Girl

Want an easy and inexpensive gift idea to give out as a hostess gift for those upcoming holiday parties? How about Mosaic Tile Coasters? They are quick and easy to make. Last month, for my Lowe’s Creative Idea I created a unique lamp shade with mosaic glass tile. I had some leftover sheets and decided to make these coasters with the leftovers. Follow along to learn how to make another great Lowe’s Creative Idea.


Mosaic Tile Coasters | Pretty Handy Girl


Begin by cutting your mosaic tile sheet into coaster size squares.

Mosaic Tile Coasters | Pretty Handy Girl

Trim off any excess mesh. Read more

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Want to make a lamp shade that will bring some style and bling to your home? All you need are a few mosaic tile sheets, a lamp shade top piece, and some thread. In no time you’ll have a beautiful Mosaic Tile Lamp Shade!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Cut up the lamp shade to expose the top ring.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

This is what you should be left with:

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay out your mosaic tile sheets. Cut the mesh to the height you desire for your lamp shade. The lamp shade I created was small, therefore I only needed a 6 inch height to cover the lamp bulb.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay two sheets of the tiles side by side and stitch the two sheets together at the seam from the mesh side.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Wrap the tile sheet around the lamp shade top ring and trim the excess tiles off.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Stitch the open ends together. I found it easiest to slip a paper towel roll into the center to support all the tiles while stitching it.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Stitch the lamp shade ring to the top of the mosaic tile tube. Loop the thread through the tile mesh and the lamp shade ring around the entire circumference.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Your lamp shade should look something like this:

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Attach your lamp shade to the lamp and admire!

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Lights out…

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

…and lights on. I love the shadows cast by the tile lampshade.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Enjoy a unique and beautiful lamp shade in your home. The mosaic tile lamp shade adds a touch of class and bling to our mudroom.

Make Your Own Mosaic Tile Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl


Want more creative lighting ideas?  Subscribe to the Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine:


Or view more creative ideas from the Lowe’s Creative Idea bloggers !

There’s also a magazine app so you can have inspiration on the go! And, don’t forget to follow Lowe’s on Pinterest or on Instagram!

PHGFancySignDisclosure: As a #LowesCreator, I was provided with a Lowe’s gift card to purchase supplies for this post. I was not told what to write. All ideas and words are my own.