Cheers to the hall bathroom of my dreams that cost a little piece of my sanity! haha! I love, love the way our DIY tile turned out, but tile is not for the weak of heart. No--scratch that. Dark grout is not for the weak of heart. Dark grout looks amazing if and only if it is done properly, and boy, do you have to work fast and efficiently in order for it to look perfect when you're done. This was our second tile project ever, so we were pretty brave to do dark grout. As much of a pain it was to work with, I'm so happy with the way it looks in the space.

In this post, I'm going to share some of my tiling tips, the products & tools we used, and of course an amazing before & after of our hall bathroom. All products & tools are linked at the end of the post!

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Whenever I look at our before photos, I can't believe we actually loved it this way. haha! The before photo of the sink wall below was before we painted, and then the other before photo of the shower wall was back from when we were painting the bathroom a year ago. We thought the paint made such a big difference, and I mean, it did, but the tile is what truly took our hall bathroom to the next level.

I wish I had a better true before photo of the bathroom from when we first moved in. It had all silver fixtures, an ugly builder-grade light fixture, silver doorknobs, and silver shower fixtures--we changed it to black as soon as we could. haha! You can see the silver faucet before we ripped it out...I hated it. The only reason we had silver in the house originally was that it was included in the purchase price, and we knew we could replace all of those things later at a cheaper price than upgrading with the builder--plus, this way, we got exactly what we wanted. We easily saved thousands of dollars by DIYing simple things.

My biggest tip for tiling is to take. your. time. If you try to rush anything at all, you'll make a mistake, and tiling is not forgiving to mistakes at all. Start by prepping your walls. I cannot stress this enough. Prep your walls by filling in any holes with spackle, and then you will need to take 100-grit sandpaper to your entire wall area that you will be tiling. This helps to rough up the wall and allows the tile adhesive to stick a little better--especially if you've just painted the walls recently.

We've heard mixed reviews on this step, but honestly, it's worth doing. It took all of five minutes and it gave me a little peace of mind knowing that even though it was an extra step, it could have helped our tiling project be that much more successful.

Once you've sanded the entire wall, you'll have a bit of a mess, so take old towels or paper towels and wipe your wall and vanity. Next, you'll want to tape plastic to your countertop or drape an old towel on it. In our kitchen, we cut open trash bags and taped them to the counter, but in the bathroom, I used an old towel draped in the sink. This will protect your counters and make for a much easier clean-up. Tile adhesive and grout are very messy. Do not skip this step. I also recommend covering your shower/tub. I wish that I had done this--but I didn't think of it until it was too late.

Turn off the breaker to all outlets in the room where you will be tiling. You will be working with water, and do not want to risk getting yourself electrocuted. Once the breaker is off, it is safe to remove the screws from the outlet and pull the receptacle out of the box about an inch or so in order to be able to tile. Note: You will need longer screws for when you re-screw the receptacle back into place since the metal piece will sit on top of the tile now instead of being flush with the wall.

Once everything is prepped, you are ready to begin! I'll walk you through the tiling process for the tile wall and then how I tiled above our tub & shower surround. I actually got really lucky on the tile wall. The countertop has a small built-in backsplash, and it was perfectly level!! I was so happy because I was fully expecting it not to be level due to the new construction settling we've been experiencing, especially on our third floor.

Sometimes you have to start a row above the first level to be sure that your tiles will be straight, however, since the countertop was level, I was able to start there and work my way over. I put my tiles along the built-in backsplash as my first row, and then I went down the wall behind the toilet. For the first row of tiles, I applied the tile adhesive right to the tiles, but as I worked my way down the wall, I was able to apply the tile adhesive directly to the wall until I got to the very bottom. This made installing the tiles go very quickly!

When applying the tile adhesive to either the tile or the wall, hold your trowel at a 90° angle to create ridges with your trowel edge. This will help prevent using too much adhesive and it squeezing out the back of your tile when installed.

I was able to use the tile snapper for most of this wall, except for when I got to the edge of the countertop. It has a little lip, and of course, I wanted the tile to fit in perfectly, so I was able to notch it with the tile wet saw. When measuring for where to cut your tile, mark your tiles with a permanent marker if you're using a glossy tile! You'll be able to wipe the permanent marker away effortlessly with your finger.

When I got to the very bottom of the wall, I had to cut little slivers of tile that were about 1/4 inch wide. Thankfully I was able to do this on the tile wet saw.

Pro Tip: When cutting 1/4-1 inch slivers on a wet saw, use another tile as a scrap tile to help guide it through and push it through. You do not want to get your fingers close to the blade.

Once I finished installing the slivers, it was time to go back to the top. For these rows, I applied the tile adhesive directly to the tile to keep the mess to a minimum. I was also not exactly sure how many tiles up I wanted to go, so I didn't want adhesive all over the wall.

Before I installed the final row of tiles, it was time to install the black metal tile trim piece. They do make actual tile edge pieces, but I personally like the look of the black or white trim pieces that we used in our home projects. Your last row of tiles will be what adheres that trim piece to the wall.

Go slow and utilize an extra set of hands to help hold the trim piece up or use painter's tape to hold it to the wall if you're doing this project solo. I used painter's tape to temporarily hold it into place as I installed each tile, and then once the last tile was installed, I used painter's tape to help hold everything into place until the adhesive was set.

Be sure to utilize your level and make sure every other row or so are level. The last thing you want is a crooked tile wall.

 Next up: tiling above the tub & shower surround.

While tiling above our tub & shower surround, I didn't get as lucky with it being level. In some spots, it was a difference of over 1/4 inch, which would have made the tile completely crooked. I started tiling the second row first in order to be sure it was perfectly level. You can either use a laser level or use a level with every tile to make sure that the row is continuously straight.

What I wish that I had done was start on the first row, but make the gap at the bottom a little varied and filled it in with white caulk. You'll see when I'm almost done that I only had about a 1/4-1/2 inch sliver at times for my top row, and I low key hate seeing it, and would have rather a slightly larger gap at the bottom or had the smaller tiles hidden on the bottom row that sits on the surround since it would have been hidden by the shower curtain. Oh well, "next house" as Chris and I always say.

Just like any tiling project, take your time, oh! measure twice & cut once, and try to keep your hands clean.

For the tub surround tile, we used a white PVC tile edge trim so that the edge of the tile didn't draw attention to itself. We love the accent of the black tile trim on the feature wall but felt it would look a little silly here, too. I installed this the same way as I did the black tile trim. When you get to that last tile, you'll want to install the trim with it.

I was able to use my tile snap cutter for a majority of these cuts, except for this intricate cut around the showerhead and the small slivers at the top where I used the wet saw. I first started by measuring and marking with my permanent marker, and then I had a clear guide to use while using the wet saw. When cutting, use all vertical cuts. I started with the two outer edge vertical cuts, and then I did several vertical cuts throughout the distance between the two cuts to make it so easy to remove those tiny slivers with tile nippers. This will help you create a less-jagged, rounded cut. It didn't have to be perfect, since the black plate was going to be covering it, but it was still so satisfying! I was so proud of this cut that I had to take a picture and send it to my Dad. haha!

Use your wet saw outside or in your garage--do not use it indoors. It makes a mess & shoots out shards of tile!

Once you've tiled your wall, you'll want to take a clean-up break. Clean your hands, your trowel, and your space. I removed all unused tiles, the tile cutter, and the tile adhesive and put it all in the hallway out of the way. After your space is a little neater, take a snack & bathroom break, too! I'm not kidding--because once you start on your grout, you won't be able to take a break until it's finished. This will also allow your tile to set. I personally recommend tiling on Day 1 and grouting on Day 2, however, the tile adhesive we used sets extremely quickly, so we were able to grout only a few hours after installing the tile in some areas. I had to install some tile pieces the morning of Day 2 since I didn't want to run the wet saw super late the night before, but was still able to grout that evening!

Before you grout, drill the holes for your shower rod or holes for your shelves if you take your tile up higher on the wall and plan to install shelves! You do not want to drill after grouting, otherwise you risk cracking the newly installed grout, and ruining your project. When drilling, go slow and keep your drill steady and only use a carbide-tipped bit.
Use painter's tape to tape off the edge of the tile and your wall--this will save you time later. I forgot to do this on the ceiling, and we had to go back and repaint it. Oops! Learn from my mistakes.

Installing grout is a very tedious and what feels like a never-ending step. I feel like I should mentally prepare you for the photo below. Just breathe. It all gets cleaned up--I promise. When you are ready to grout, mix your grout with a mixer that attaches to your drill in a 5-gallon bucket. Be sure to use the proper amount of water for the mixture, otherwise, your grout will be too runny or too thick.

I pretty much slopped my grout on the wall with the trowel and then spread the grout with an upwards angled motion. This helps to get it into every nook and crack of the tile. When I got close to the receptacle or the edges by the wall & vanity, I pushed it in with my fingers. The grout will look all sorts of crazy, but just keep going, and get in all the cracks. If for some reason you miss a spot, you will be able to fill in small areas during the next step while sponging, or worst-case scenario, use the grout caulk to fill in a spot or two!

You only have about 45 minutes to an hour to grout before it seizes and is rock solid. Work fast and efficiently.

After you have grouted your entire project, it's time to sponge clean your wall. Use your tile sponges and a 5-Gallon bucket. You do not want the grout going down the drain. I had the bucket in the tub and then rinsed my sponge under the bath spout over the bucket. You want to keep your sponge on the cleaner side and be sure to ring it out completely. You don't need it very wet.

When removing the excess grout, I wiped the tile in a circular motion at first, and then I went along each tile seam with the sponge to make sure there were no missing gaps and to make sure each tile gap was filled with the same thickness of grout.

This is the longest & most tedious task, but you're almost finished...almost! Keep wiping the tile and rinsing your sponge. Eventually, your tiles will look clean and only slightly hazy. You can either take a new sponge to the tile or paper towels. I opted to use paper towels to make sure it was clean since I used such a dark grout color. Look at your tiles at different angles to make sure you truly did remove all of the grout haze.

After you've finished cleaning the tile, you'll be able to take the grout caulk to any areas you may need to fix/touch up. I mostly used the grout caulk in the gap between the tile and the tile edge trim piece. Be sure to wipe away any excess grout caulk with your finger or a paper towel, and then allow it to completely dry.

To finish and complete the newly installed tile, you'll want to take white caulk, and caulk the edges where the tile meets the ceiling and the wall where there is no trim piece. For my project, I caulked the ceiling, the bottom row of the tile where it meets the tub & shower surround, along the sides of the tile behind the toilet where the tile meets both the wall and the vanity, and I caulked along the right side of the tile where it meets the wall in line with the vanity countertop. To create perfect caulk seams use the caulk tool kit that I have linked at the end of the post!

If you're a little messy like me and got any grout on the walls or ceiling, you'll want to do some touch-up painting to really perfect your project.

Bonus: Recoloring already existing grout!
I hated the white-ish creamy grout that our builder installed. Honestly, the only reason we went with these white 12x12 square tiles was that they were included in the build when we were making our selections. Light grout just does not work well on a high-traffic bathroom floor. Even after only a year and me being a clean-freak, the grout turned a dingy, dirty beige color.

For my project, I used a different brand for our grout refresh color (too many Lowe's and Home Depot trips in 48 hours...and I lost track of the brand, and then went to the wrong store & when it wasn't in stock, I didn't want to wait for the 2-week waiting period), which is why the charcoal color on the floor is slightly darker, but honestly, I love that it's darker on the floor.

Prep your space, and I mean like really clean your floors. Then, you will want to use painter's tape to tape off areas where the grout renew will meet the trim, toilet & vanity, as well as the edge of the door. 

While applying the grout renew, it's still a little messy, but gosh it's nowhere near as messy as actual grout. I squeezed a little bit of the grout renew into a disposable plastic cup and used cheap craft brushes to paint it into the existing grout lines.

For the particular grout renew product that I used, I found it was best to let it sit and dry for about 15 minutes before using a wet paper towel to remove the excess on the tile.

After you wipe off the excess grout, you may find you need to do areas a second time. I personally did two coats on the entire floor grout, and then took a tiny craft brush and did touch-ups since it was such a contrasting color difference, I wanted it to be perfect.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for...drum roll, please!!!

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I love, love how our bathroom turned out, and gosh, what a before & after, am I right?!

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The links below are affiliate links. This just means that I may get a tiny commission, at no cost to you should you choose to purchase something. Thanks for supporting ACF!

Prep //

100-Grit Sandpaper

Hand Sander

White Spackling

Putty Knife

Painter's Tape

Tile & Grout //

Daltile Restore 3x6 Inch Subway Tile

OmniGrip 1 Gal. Maximum Strength Tile Adhesive

1/4 Inch Trowel

Mapei Ultra Color All-In-One Grout (Charcoal)

Mapei Charcoal Sanded Grout Caulk

Mapei Grout Renew (Charcoal--the perfect match to wall grout--for recoloring existing grout)

Grout Renew Colorant (DARKER grout I personally used for re-coloring existing grout)

Grout & Tile Cleaning Sponges

Grout Float

Black Aluminum Tile Edge Trim

White Tile Edge Trim

Tools //

Qep Tiler's Gloves

14-Inch Tile Snap Cutter

Carbide Edge Tile Nippers

5-Gallon Spiral Mixer (for mixing grout)

5-Gallon Bucket (get two!)

Ryobi Wet Saw

Safety Goggles

24-Inch Level

Dewalt Drill

Carbide-Tipped Drill Bit (for drilling through tile)

Hand Saw (for cutting tile edge trims to size)

DAP White Caulk

Caulk Gun

Blue Hawk 4-Piece Caulk Tool Kit

Decor & Finishes //

Wall Color: Sherwin-Williams--SW: 7058 Magnetic Gray 

Shiplap Color: Sherwin-Williams--SW: 7005 Pure White

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