On Friday evening we started laying tile! I was a bit nervous to cut the tile, so I laid an ‘L’ of whole tiles, and then called it quits for the night. Saturday morning I was brave enough to try a cut, and the tile saw my friend lent me worked beautifully and easily! Gil cut the rest, including the tricky round hole to fit around the toilet drain, while I laid them. We spent the rest of the day having fun, letting thinset set, and cleaning up the other efficiency in prep for the tenant to move in. In the evening I painted the wall behind the toilet.
I already knew the new toilet was going to be a tight fit. The distance from the wall to the closet drain was one inch less than the instructions said it needed to be, but my measurements showed it within a half inch of ok. On Sunday morning, with my tenant moving in next door and the thinset solid under the tiles I ‘grouted’ the tile directly under where the toilet would go with silicon (since I had no time for my grout to set up and be sealed – we needed a toilet pronto), and half an hour later came the moment of truth! It was tight, but it just barely fit! We made one quick trip to Lowes for longer closet bolts. Then we used 2 wax rings, since the flange was now at the base of the new tile. The wax ring with the rubber flange-thing in it we stuck in the closet drain, the plain wax ring we put around the drain at the bottom of the toilet. It took some pressing and tightening to get it not to wiggle, but in the end, solid and leak free!! I had forgotten to plumbers-putty the bottom rim of the toilet, so after pouring enough water in the bowl to verify leak free flushing, we pushed a bead of plumbers putty under the base as far as it would go, and then silicone caulked it. At the advice of a good friend, we left a gap in the back unputtied and uncaulked so that if leaks developed in the future, we would be able to see them. All that was left was to hook up the water and inaugurate the toilet!
After this we fit the blocking between the studs for the sink to bolt to and patched the wall. Yesterday (Monday) we spackled and painted the patch. I didn’t do a great job with the spackling, it is pretty bumpy, but most of it will be hidden by the sink. I may have to smooth out the parts that show – I got careless with the desire to be done.
Some notes: the Italian porcelain tile, grout, paint, and sink were from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (about $35 for all – used or donated left-overs). The rest of the supplies were from Lowes, about $550 or so worth. The toilet was the single greatest expense, at $270. I wanted to get a low-flush one from the ReStore, but they didn’t have any when I was serious about it, and I feared the ones I had seen there were first-gen low-flushes that didn’t flush well. The one I splurged on is lovely. It is one piece, so dirt doesn’t hide where the tank meets. It uses 1.4 gallons per flush, and flushes beautifully. And, of course, the tank takes up much less space than the old one, making the bathroom seem more spacious. I have to admit that my reasons for purchasing a new toilet bordered on the aesthetic, but there is at least a flimsy bit of ecological reasoning to underpin it!