BATH REMODEL ~ The Good & Ugly

Monday, January 21, 2013

Originally, we planned on starting our renovation adventures
with our master bedroom suite.  If you have been following, you'll remember that
Mr. Heart decided it would be best for our first gut job to be on a smaller scale.
He is a wise man!  I had already begun gathering inspirational pictures
and had a good idea about fixtures and finishes, so we moved forward with renovating the
guest bathroom.  We were excited to start and for the most part it went
very well, though we have learned a few things along the way.  Possibly our new found
experience will be helpful to someone else, so I wanted to share a few things
about our guest bath remodel...

1) Will it be a DIY project and if so how much will you do yourself?
There are some contractors/decorators that aren't interested in being assisted.

2) Interview several contractors, get references, see their work (very important!),
agree on a price, and give no money up front.

3) Have a clear idea of what you want, time frames, etc., and communicate it well
so everyone is on the same page.

4) Discuss with your contractor/installers all of the materials and finishing touches
you are wanting, to be sure they have experience working with your material choices
and can accomplish the look you are hoping to achieve.

For us, this was not a project we wanted to tackle, so no DIY here.
We had a pretty clear vision for our project.  If assistance is needed you may want to
seek the help of an interior designer.  It would be sad to finish a remodel project
and it not be all you had hoped for.  We met with several contractors,
spoke with their references, and checked out their work, so we were good to go.

Most of my inspiration came through magazine pictures and I especially wanted
a light and bright guest bathroom.  As you can see in these next two pictures,
carrara marble makes for a light and bright bath…
(Calcutta, carrara, and statuary marble have many of the same attributes and it is often difficult to tell them apart.)

cararra bath inspiration

carrara guest bath

In the beginning, when discussing our material choices with our contractor and his son,
they informed us they hadn’t installed carrara marble before, to which we replied the only
thing we have heard is to use non-sanded grout for installation because the sand would scratch
the marble.  They agreed to check on how to install marble tile for any other installation

We purchased the carrara for the flooring, wall tile, wall trim, the slab for the vanity top
and all of the fixtures and accessories.  Our contractor began the tear out.  We began paying
for labor and reimbursing them for materials along the way. The contractor installed the
marble flooring and it was beautiful, all light and bright.  They did a wonderful job.
The remodel was becoming long, loud, dusty, messy, and trying at times,
but overall it went very well…except for the marble wall tile installation…

On the first day of installing the wall tile, the guys were able to complete one full wall and
the commode area.  By early evening, we began to notice the tile color was turning dark and dingy.
We all thought it may be due to the marble being damp and once the adhesive dried it would
lighten up again.  As time went on we could see the tile becoming darker and darker
with shades of brown coming through. (dark arrows.) We stood some wall tiles across the
bottom of the wall to reference the original color prior to installation. (white arrows)

carrara marble darkens

carrara marble problems

By the next morning, my heart began to sink as the difference between the wall tile
and floor tile became more and more apparent.

carrara marble problem

Our contractor suggested we give it another day to dry, still hoping it was a moisture issue.
By the next evening the tile was even darker with shades of dark gray, tan and cream.
Compared to the vanity top and the flooring, my light and bright bathroom was becoming even
more dark and dingy...

bath remodel

We were all confused.  The floor install turned out beautifully and stayed true to color.
What was happening to make the wall tile discolor?  The contractor had no answers
and continued thinking it was due to the moisture still needing to dry.
But it seemed, the drier - the darker, which was not the result we were hoping for.

So, we began reading the labels on the bags of flooring adhesive and then on the
container of wall adhesive where it was quickly noticed...
“Not for use with natural stone.”
Come to find out, this product was pigmented with a cream color and the cream was
showing through.  Also, the adhesive had been applied to the back of each tile with
a notched trowel, causing a shadow effect to show through the tile.  Marble, we learned,
has to be covered completely with the installation adhesive and not applied with a
notched trowel.  So, the darkening tile was due to the contractor using the same product
he uses for all his tile installs to also install our marble tile.  
Hmmm, we wondered, what happened to checking to see what was needed for
installing carrara marble tile as was discussed in the beginning?
Oh well, the darkened wall tile was removed.  We purchased more tile which was
then installed with the correct adhesive.

This pictures shows a section of removed tile compared to the new tile that was installed
with the proper application, the bathroom was looking light and bright again...

bath remodel problems

We were glad the problem came to light before more tile had been installed.  We felt bad for
us in having to buy more marble tile and felt bad for them in their time and hard work.  So, we
absorbed the cost of the tile and they absorbed their labor.  We moved forward together,
the project was finished, and we were all very happy with the end result.

Moral of our remodel story…
They are professionals, but no one can know everything.  So, ask questions and be satisfied
with the answers.  Ask more questions, check and re-check, because you can never be
too involved in the process.  Most of all have realistic expectations.  There will be problems
and when they arise there will need  to be fair solutions for everyone involved.

Here is a glimpse of the finished guest bathroom, you can click the picture if you would
like to see the finished project...


Have a remodel story you can share, if so please do!
Thanks so much for visiting, please leave a comment so I’ll know you did.


  1. Wow, I can't believe it made that much difference!

  2. It's so pretty! It's great that you were kind enough to absorb the cost of more tile and that they didn't charge you for the labor for that day.

  3. Morning Cindy,
    That is really amazing that adhesive and how they applied it made such a difference. They evidently didn't do
    a great job of checking it out for sure, but thank goodness yall were able to figure out what the problem was.
    and it came out so beautifully. All those lil tricks of the trade make a huge difference that is for sure.
    These are all very good tips.

    Have a good day hon,
    Blessings, Nellie

  4. Who knew about the tile that is crazy. I was shocked to see the difference. I am glad it was figured out and you now have your beautiful tile in your bathroom. Ahh it is a beauty!

  5. It looks beautiful, Cindy! I would have been so confused seeing the color of the marble darken that way. I'll bet that tile installer doesn't make that mistake again.

  6. Too bad you had to pay for that mistake of theirs but the end result is beautiful Cindy.

  7. Your bathroom is gorgeous. Marble is my favorite and it just looks so stunning. I'm shocked over the discolor issue. So glad it was resolved! I found your link on BNOTP and am now following you.


  8. Disaster averted (thank goodness). Your bathroom is stunning, and I would love to have ours look just like it! :D
    Your marble is so pretty!
    If it makes you feel any better, we are getting ready to have our kitchen counters ripped out because our granite was installed improperly. It's a mess, and I'm so grateful we are going to be able to replace it. (But I dread the process.)

  9. We had a similar problem with the installation of the carrara in our guest bath. (Also have it in the master bath and another guest bath, but the problem is only in one bath.) Some of the wall tiles turned yellowish, and we never did figure out the problem. This could be it!! The floor was fine.

  10. Wow Cindy.. great job and it looks fantastic. I really can appreciate your hard work and the good, bad, ugly thing. I've got the carrara marble in my kitchen and just love it. I'd like to have it in the MB too. Great tips .. and the good, bad, ugly.. yep! Happens to all of us.


  11. Beautiful bath now! I know from experience what you're going through.

  12. Wow, tough lesson for the tiler and your pocket. But it looks amazing! xo

  13. this is such a great job! its very fabulous and amazing..i love the style and the designs is pretty great..

  14. WOW, I sure am glad it all worked out. I think everyone has a contractor story of some kind. I had a guy show up completely drunk in South Florida to pour my concrete that was site to see. Can I tell you, he did an amazing job, no lie LOL!!!!!

  15. So sorry that ya'll had troubles with the tiles! I know that was disheartening! So glad it worked out in the end! The marble is beautiful! LOVE your new bathroom!

  16. The marble is gorgeous and I guess we all expect the professionals to know what they are doing. Thanks for sharing this information. We want to redo our master bath but at this point, I would just be happy with it being painted. I pulled the ugly wallpaper down a long time ago and the bare white walls looked so much better that we have lived with it far too long. Sweet hugs!

  17. Wow, your bathroom is gorgeous! I would have been sick to see the color change, probably wouldn't have been able to figure out what the problem was, would have let it go, and been unhappy ever after. So, yay for you for sticking with it and making it right. Great job!

  18. Cindy, I would have been sick seeing the marble change colors. Your bath turned out beautiful and I appreciate you sharing it at the Open House party. xx, Sherry

  19. Oh my, what an experience. In the end your bathroom turned out beautifully!!
    Mary Alice

  20. Love the look, and I would never get tired of it, classic. Glad it was redone, love the lighter muted look.

  21. Great tip. I never would have know that! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  22. cindy this turned out BEAUTIFUL! What color grout did you end up using? I think it compliments the Carrara perfectly.


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