Home | The not so new bathroom

We’ve lived in this house for almost 3 years now and for 3 years I’ve hated our main bathroom. Each and every single day. It’s blue, I imagine the previous owner of our house (and I hope she isn’t reading this) thought that blue would remind her of the sea. A nautical feel for when you bathe, the sea is relaxing and siren. I can assure you, this is my most detested feeling when I bathe, the colour of the walls and tiles makes me feel cold and uncomfortable. As you can guess, I hated it. I’ve long dreamt of a new bathroom, free standing bath, waterfall shower, wooden cabinet and small Belfast sink, oh yes, thats the dream. Our budget didn’t stretch that far, firstly because we’ve done so many other projects and secondly, we live in a small 3 bedroom town house, these ideas are for our forever home, whatever that means now. The third reason we hadn’t rushed into this project was because we have been thinking about a gas conversion, it has been a long thought process, but now, I think we are going to proceed. With space at a premium in our house we would do with removing the unnecessary and have an gas meter installed easily, we’ve even seen our neighbours get it installed and it’s really simple because its in our area, I”ll keep you posted on the gas conversion chat.

With this in mind, changing the bathroom at all became the furthest thing down our to do list. I also don’t use the bathroom that much, I use our en suite every day and honestly even if it did annoy Chris, he wouldn’t dream of bringing it up, he knows the next year of DIY and projects I have planned for him, why would he volunteer for an extra project. It wasn’t until we decided to host Chris’ family for Sunday lunch that I thought, surely we can’t have people come here for lunch and use this bathroom, it’s gross, yes its that ludicrous that this was the trigger.

Start the Pinterest searching…

I started by thinking – ok, lets just paint the walls white, how bad could blue tiles be anyway if I take the blue from the walls. Then elbow deep a few hours later (we were watching a movie Chris chose, I wasn’t interested) I was practically a plumber ready to install a new bathroom.

As always I had to bring it back a level, it seemed reasonable and after reading various blogs and watched a number of YouTube videos as well as copious product searches, I’d made a list of everything I needed to do in the room and I compiled a to do list:

  1. Paint the walls
  2. Paint the tiles
  3. Paint the radiator
  4. Shaker shelves for towels (and decoration)
  5. Change the toilet seat & toilet roll holder

It all seemed reasonable and surely such a small to do list wouldn’t take that long.

What I needed to paint the tiles:

  1. White concrete floor paint
  2. Clear concrete floor sealant
  3. Sand paper
  4. White Spirit & old rags
  5. Paint brush
  6. Small roller

We headed off to B&Q. This post is not sponsored by B&Q but I wish it was with the copious amount of trips that I made! Also shop around, I picked up things cheaper in Homebase as they had a 3 for 2 on paints that weekend, wish I had known that at the start of the project. I needed paint for the walls and the floor, just ordinary white paint was fine, nothing fancy, I knew I needed a lot to cover the blue, this wasn’t going to be a one coat wonder. Secondly I needed tile paint, but I looked around, I went for concrete floor paint, whats important about this is that I read people painted their tiles with chalk paint and although it looked great to begin with, it won’t last with high traffic, however concrete garage floor paint is made for vehicles to be driven over it so it’s much more hard wearing. Sand paper to give the tiles a quick sand down with a medium grain, I used 120 for our hand sander. White spirit to clean up, masking tape for prep. I also bought a smaller roller but our bathroom floor is very small so I wanted to cover it more thoroughly and not a large wall roller.

Once I got it, the preparation started. I had to remove the towel rail, mirror and shelf off the wall, as well as actually removing everything from the bathroom, I didn’t realise just how much stuff we actually had in there. Everything out, time to sand the floor. This part is not the best, the sound was not my favourite but I do have to say this part was the most important. I gave them a good sand and went through quite a few sanding sheets (I used 40 grit), now to mask the room off, this is where the room is bigger than I actually thought. I completely masked the skirting, bath, sick and toilet. I ended up ripping of long strips of masking tape and putting it on the sink, it saved me going back and forth each time. All done, I white spirited the floor to clean it, then it was time to start painting. More thin layers are better than few think layers. This preparation took so much longer than just going straight in to painting the floor, it is really annoying but well worth it in the end. Coat one done, time for dinner, movie then bed. I will start the second coat tomorrow. I started by going around the room and grouting first with a brush then let it dry for an hour then with a roller I went over the entire floor, this way I covered the grouting and made sure to get it all covered from the first coat, I didn’t do this with every coat but every other coat.

After the first coat, my mind wondered. I began thinking about doing more than just white tiles, what about stencilling the tiles so they look like everyones super cool bathroom floors right now. I measured one of my tiles, it was 31.5cm² so I found a large stencil which was 30cm² I thought about it before ordering but thought there couldn’t be much harm, I would try it and see what it was like. This is where I began researching how to stencil but stupidly I didn’t, I thought I knew all along.

How not to stencil

Five more coats of paint go on the floor, with 4 coats on the walls, it got to the point where when we first came in from work we would get changed into our painting clothes and painted the room first, then the floor then leave to walk Piper leaving it over night to dry. I know the drying time for the floor was less and if you wanted to walk on it when it was touch dry I’m sure you could but I wanted to make sure that each layer was completely dry and hardened to the floor without it peeling. That took us to the next weekend and back to B&Q for more supplies, this time I stopped for Farrow & Ball paint for wood and metal, they don’t do tile paint but I thought it would be better than the wall paint. We came back from the cinema and I wanted to start straight into the floor (this floor became my obsession). My mum would call this, ram gansh, not thinking about it and thinking I know best. Firstly I started using a sponge but the paint was so runny, it was leaving bubbles. Then I moved on to a small brush, that was worse, the paint for metal and paint is much runner than the wall paint. I pulled out a wall paint for this where I found a sample from ages ago, much thicker but equally really difficult to work with for this project (I should say I’ve used Farrow & Ball before for it’s intended purpose and its my favourite but it wasn’t right for this!) I taped the stencil down so I thought I would leave it over night to see how it turned out in the morning. I went straight to bed then that morning jumped out of bed to reveal work from the previous night…disaster! It has bleed everywhere, my YouTubing and Pineresting to find out ways do it without bleed. Next trip to B&Q, I needed temporary adhesive but should I continue with that paint, who knew. I thought a hardwearing spray paint would work, I wanted something that was relatively quick drying and dark glue like my previous paint. I have to say, the B&Q at Holywood Exchange were so helpful, they helped me match it up after I had looped the entire painting section for about 45 minutes. This sprayed changed everything. After my disaster, I had to sand down that tile and repaint it, so I started stencilling from the other corner.

Now for the art of stencilling

What you need:

  1. Stencil to fit the size of your tiles (the stencil I bought had a quarter stencil in it which is good tiles that aren’t full but you could get two if you have a big enough room)
  2. Clear Low Tack Adhesive (I used 3 for my small room)
  3. Spray paint suitable for tiles (I used 2 for my room)
  4. Masking tape
  5. Newspaper to protect the surfaces
  6. Fine paint brush for touch ups
  7. White spirit
  8. Cotton buds

So whats important when it comes to stencilling. Firstly cover everything in newspaper, go around the entire, I covered the bath, sink, toilet and walls, with spray there can be a lot of residue spray which can get on everything. Secondly you need to pick out the full tiles first and move from one corner to the next to give it time to dry.

The best thing about the spray paint is that it drys really quickly, the one I chose was about 15 minutes to touch dry and 1 hour until completely dry, if you have a large enough room, 1 hour is reasonable to dry and spray others but my room was so small that the 15 minutes was adequate to wait then spray the tile next to it. Once the entire room is covered, you then need to start by covering the floor so that you can only spray one tile at a time, use the grout as a guide, put paper the whole way around and tape to the grout, make sure its down really tight and there are no gaps. Spray the back of the stencil with low tack adhesive, be generous, if you have an integrate stencil you want to be sure it is all completely covered. Make sure you do this on a bit of plastic or cardboard as the spray will get on the other surfaces which is tricky enough to get off. Then place the stencil on the tile, move around a little quickly to the desired location, be sure it’s all stuck down, this will help prevent bleeding. Tape down the sides, tape down newspaper all around it if there is anywhere that isn’t covered, the spray will go everywhere. Once you’re sure everything is stuck down, you can start spraying.

Leave for 15 minutes (or the time specified by your spray paint) then left the stencil and start into the next one, making sure not to step on to the new tile while it dries. Remove the news paper from around then 15 minutes later you can lift the stencil carefully to unveil your newly stencilled tile!

Moving on to the trickier tiles

When you have all the full tiles complete give yourself a pat on the back, you’re almost there and reward yourself accordingly. I chose a glass of prosecco for my accolade then its time to move on to tiles that are a little tricker.

If you have two stencils, this would make this a little easier but the one I had also had a quarter tile so I was able to work with that for the tiles that one quarter was suitable for {ideally at the side of the toilet}. When you start to work with these tiles you need to start cutting, make a note of the largest tiles first, I started with the radiator a cut little slits for the pipes then I could easier tape those bits back together again then cut slits for the next pipe. The for tiles for example around the toilet, I began to cut the edges off, I started with the largest one then it was slowly cut down until there was very little left. If you have a few awkward tiles, I’d highly recommend not cutting but used more of the low tac adhesive and really making sure what you can have stuck down is stuck down, then use masking take to tape it down so it a flat as possible,make sure there are no gaps, if there are spray a little of the adhesive on to cardboard and brush it on to any of the stencil thats sticking up.

Once your completely done stencilling then its time for the tidy up, if you follow any of my instructions the most important is to make sure its stuck down really well, be generous on the adhesive and be sure the floor is well covered with paper then you should be fine, it took me a few tiles to find my own way of doing it first so I had a bit of bleed around the tiles. I then took some white spirit, cotton buds and an old rag, I pain stakingly went round each of the tiles and tidied them up as best I could. A  cotton bud is perfect for this to lift any of the drips and because you have used concrete floor paint it won’t lift it, just be sure to run the rag over the top to lift off any excess. Don’t beat yourself up about this, it will need to be touched up and it’s also DIY so it won’t be perfect by any stretch of the imagination so it’s best to try your best to make it tidy. Here you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel, you’re almost there!

The seal of approval

Once you have completed the tidy up, then give the floor a hoover, get up as much dirt as possible then run over it with white spirits as well to be sure its completely clean. Now you are ready for your clear seal. I think this is really important as it just protects all your hard work. I used the same small roller I used for the white paint as it was perfect size for the floor and gave such an even finish to that paint. For this varnish, it did state to use a brush but hey I’m a rule breaker, I liked the roller and it was quicker. I put it on in the evening and let it dry over night, this was it we were almost there. I wanted a matt finish (just like those gorgeous tiles I’ve seen before) but unfortunately couldn’t get one so I had to settle for gloss, now its done I actually really like the gloss, it’s not too shiny and makes the tiles look less hand painted and more expensive that what they really were.

After we finished the tiles, it was time to complete the room with a little bit of decor. I painted the radiator (Farrow & Ball Down Pipe) and the two shelves we made from some spare wood and shaker style pegs for our towels. Lastly we changed the toilet seat and toilet roll holder. A few candles added in for good measure and we are done. I’m still tempted to paint the bathroom cabinet the down pipe but I’m not sure if it would look too dark, what do you think?

In total we spent less than £250, the thriftiest DIY project I have done to date. I now enjoy this bathroom and love showing people it, I often find myself leading people into it and before we know it we’re on the floor checking out the tiles.

It’s not finished yet, once we get our gas conversion we will be changing and maybe retiling the shower (goodbye weird blue flower tiles) but if we can get away with repainting them we will and changing the sink so we have some extra storage underneath then the bathroom will be complete. On to the next DIY project after that….whatever that will be.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this, if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your stencilling stories or how you have updated a room on a strict budget!

Lashings of love,

K xo

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