Replacing individual tiles with accent?

numbersjunkieFebruary 1, 2013

I am planning to update our main bathroom. It has white 4 x 4 tile in an offset pattern. We have a 3 handle faucet and I want to replace it but the remodel plates are so big and the faucet options are limited. I don't think I could get more white tiles that would match exactly so I started thinking about removing some tiles and replacing them with accent tiles.

How hard would it be to do that? Has anyone done it? I really don't have the funds to replace all of the tile (ceiling too).

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We are actually in the process of doing exactly the same thing ... replacing the old (as in, 1959) 3-handle faucet with an all-new Grohe system. I don't know how old your bath is -- ours is an old style mud job, but the plumber has so far had no trouble replacing the fixtures (we did have to cut out the wall behind the old fixtures and he had to go in from the back -- hopefully yours is accessible?) and we plan to "patch" the old, can't-be-matched aqua tile with a beautiful small glass mosaic. Here's a link to the thread where I first asked about removing a few select tiles. If your tile job is of a later vintage, it might be easier to "pop them off" :) We also considered, worst case scenario, using faucet hole covers (polished chrome to match the new faucets). We figured that would be an obvious patch, but so will the mosaic glass... we're not fooling anyone but we're not trying to, just wanted something fun and pretty, a little "bling" -- I think it will work!

Here's a photo of what we want to do (we'd just be cutting the square-foot sheet of mosaic into the pieces we need to fill whatever area needs filling by the time we're done):

Here is a link that might be useful: Earlier thread on removing a few tiles

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:54PM
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Thank you so much ctlady! Sounds like we are trying to do the exact same thing! My tile is about 26 years old and in perfect condition, but the earlier thread gives us a good plan of attack. One concern I have is the thickness of the accent tile - so it will lay flush. Did you find someone willing to do the job? Please let me know how it goes!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Well, we haven't actually DONE it yet so I'll let you know. I think the tile guys were willing to deal with getting the old tiles out and the replacement, just not with drilling the new holes higher up for the plumber...the tile store ordering the mosaic (a mere two sheets) determined the thickness shouldn't be a problem, and they can always build up the back so the glass is level with the ceramic. The owner also suggested instead of a few tiles or a row, to think of it sort of the way people do about the backsplash above a cooktop: take a square and fill it so it looks more like an intentional decorative element. I also considered using metal decorative tiles, or hand-made porcelain ones, but I fell in love with the glass mosaic so that's what we're doing...

I'll keep everyone posted. What I DO know is that we do not want to mess with the bullnose edge tile, given the very thick old mud job. So we will stay in the center area somehow... I'm also thinking I may buy some extra mosaic and frame it for the wall, just to tie things in a bit... I have a perfect spot to hang a square foot of framed mosaic glass :)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:37PM
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ctlady, these may be too contemporary for your bathroom, but maybe not.

You could also think about framing your mirror (or a new mirror) with that tile. It would be gorgeous!

Here is a link that might be useful: vertical accent tile

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Olychick -- those are stunning! The bathroom (from 1959) is going to end up an eclectic mix, with quite contemporary sconces flanking a (new) mirror, but over a pedestal sink etc... not sure what the final effect will end up being. I, too, am busy trying to think where else I could use that mosaic ... we have a dormer window in the room and I even thought of tiling the walls of that, so you'd have a soft, sweep of BM Palladian Blue walls and then you'd get to the dormer and hit BLING! Still mulling what to do but I do think I need to repeat the mosaic somewhere else in the room, even if I just hang it on the wall in a frame. (The owner of the tile store suggesting cutting the extra tile into smaller, miscellaneous sized pieces and framing and hanging them as a "collection" which I thought sounded neat, too.)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:07PM
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ctlady - did you get any quotes to redo all the tile around the tub? I am thinking maybe we should bite the bullet and go that route. We went through the basement and there were only a few border pieces of the tile left by our builder. Manufacturer is no longer in business. And white is not white - they are all a little different. Starting to wonder how much it would cost (labor) to just redo the surround and ceiling woth new tile.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Numbersjunkie -- no, we never considered ripping it all out so we never got a quote for that. We did rip out the first floor tub and tile surround (same vintage mud job) a few years ago and it was expensive to do in relative terms -- probably a third of the cost of the total remodel was the demo (we took out the tub as well in that case), and it was a TINY bathroom. For this one, we didn't dare even try because of other issues (like the mid-20th-century heating system, radiant heat with hot water running through copper tubing in our ceilings ... we've been lucky so far but thought a full demo on the second floor was really tempting fate!) I expect the labor would also vary depending on the part of the country you're in, and how busy the contractors are.

I AM wishing I'd looked into whether it was even feasible (which I doubt) to demo JUST the one wall with the faucets (leaving the rest), then redo that wall in mosaic... but I thought that might look odd even if the contractor could pull it off without demo-ing the heating system at the same time :) The mosaic sheets arrived today and are GORGEOUS so I am really hoping we can make them work...

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:22PM
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