How to Tile a Window Alcove to Protect from Pet Damage
Hello, glad you stopped by. This post is about home repairs but it is exciting to get them done, isn’t it? Like any home, ours needs some fixes that I am slowly working on. As we have this week home I convinced Hubs to tackle the front bay window alcove. The alcove on the upper story and large so whenever pup can get away with it, he loves nothing better than to leap up there and be heard. Unfortunately, it means lots of repetitive damage to the gyproc. I don’t know how to tile, so Hubs tackled this project for me and taught me how as we went along.
Here is the before picture that shows a tiny portion of the damage from our big pup. The mess is everywhere on the surface.
Enough tile to cover the surface.
Tile edging to outline the edges of the tile
Premade mortar for attaching the tile
Trowell for mortar
How to Lay Tile – Measuring for Tile
Start by measuring the alcove and then purchase enough tile to cover it. Give yourself a few extra tiles in case you make errors. We needed about 25 square feet of tile for our front window alcove. As the surface is comparatively small we found enough matching tile at Habitat for Humanity, brand new in a box. They are plain white and so bright, I love them.
The shape of our window alcove is rectangular with two angled 45 degrees outside edges. After buying all the supplies, we chose to take our time and do the project in stages, taking extra time to make it as perfect as possible finishing it. We took four days to do ours, a couple of hours each day.
We did the tiling in the following steps; measuring and shopping, cutting and fitting, mortar and adhering the tiles, and finally grouting.
How to Lay Tile
The first step is to fit in tile edging all around the outside edges of the area to be tiled. Trim any tile edging pieces so that they fit perfectly to the shape of your window alcove.
Once the edging is placed and fits around the outside edges the next step is to find the center of your window alcove. Make a pencil mark and draw a center line from the window wall to the front edge of the alcove. To make sure the line is perfectly straight we used a long level, making sure it’s lined up according to the level bubble. You want the center to be as perfect as you can get it, as all your tiles are laid starting from center.
Measure and mark the back side of your central tiles, then line up the middle of the first tile to the middle of the pencil line. Using cross tile spacers put in the first vertical row of tiles. Add the spacers, push everything tight. Use the level to double check everything is still level. Adjust if needed and then work your way along in one direction until you reach the edge.
Once you reach the edge, return to the center row and continue in the other direction.
Yours will be different depending on the size and shape of the tile and the opening, but the process will be exactly the same. By starting in the middle and working outwards, you’re assured that the two outside edges are identical. This is important as the lines would look off kilter if you didn’t do it this way.
When we got to the outside edges ours looked like this.
The end tiles have to be cut and fitted to the angles of the wall. To do this first measure the vertical distance from the center of the tile spacer to the wall (actually to the tile edging on the wall which makes a small difference), Then take the horizontal measurement from the inside of the spacer to the wall (with the tile edging) The picture should help illustrate what I mean.
Once you have the measurements mark them on the tile and then draw a line from one point to the other. This will give you the cutting mark.
I made a paper template that we could quickly test the marked-up tile to assure ourselves it was correct before cutting. Doing a paper template made it possible to fold and size it, unlike the unfoldable tile.
We repeated this process for each tile as each one is a tiny bit different because walls aren’t always perfectly square.
How to Lay Tile – Cutting the Tile
Hubs has a very old wet saw, but it did the job. Make sure to wear gloves, earplugs, and eyewear. To cut the tiles he ran the tile through the saw, just following the pencil mark he had made earlier. It’s really surprisingly simple and took around a minute per tile.
Once cut he fit the tiles into the spacing, and continued with the next tile. For our alcove Hubs had to cut 6 tiles, the rest are fine as they are.
The hard two steps, measuring and cutting the tile are all done. It took a couple of hours, we stopped here and continued the next morning.
Applying the Mortar
Mortar is a cement based product used to support and adhere to the tiles. Its got a sandy type texture and typically paired with grout when doing tiles.
Before you attach any tiles you need to mortar the tile edging into place first.
Using a trowel apply a thin layer of mortar on the window ledge. The mortar should be about 1/16 to 1/8th of an inch thick (like peanut butter on toast). Apply it first with a flat trowel and then remove the bulk of the mortar with a trowel that has notches on the edge. Place your tile edging in place.
Once the tile edging is attached work from the center removing each vertical row, apply the mortar to both the back of the tile and the surface of the window alcove. By placing the mortar on both surfaces you are more likely to have even adhesion (prevents cracking). Always apply a thin layer of mortar with the smooth trowel and then go over the surfaces again with a notched trowel.
Continue the process doing one or two tiles at a time, always making sure your spacers and tiles are square.
He completed one vertical row before returning to the center and starting the next one.
He applied the front pieces of tile edging before finishing the last row.
Once you have all the tile edging and tiles in mortared in place let dry according to manufacturers instructions. We let ours dry overnight.
The final stage of the tile project is grout. Grout gives the tiles a finished look by filling in the gaps between the tiles, locking tiles tightly and adding some waterproofing. We purchased unsanded white grout for this project as our spaces are narrow and the tile is thin. We mixed the grout a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t dry out. The mixture recipe varies by product so its best to stick to manufacturers instructions.
To apply the grout start at one end, put a large blob of grout on your tiles and using a sponge-like trowel, called a float (sure I knew that without looking it up lol), push the grout into the tile cracks without protruding over at all. Once you have all the grout in place use a large wet sponge to wipe off all the tile surfaces and excess grout.
Here is another solution that prevents our hardwood floors from getting wet around pups dogs dishes. Its a couple of months old now and I am really loving it.
When we purchased our home it had badly damaged floors in a horrible orange colour. We had them resanded and coated leaving them a natural colour. Of course pup is really hard on real wood floors, but it has an extra hard top coat and the scratches don’t show with the light colour. Getting the floor redone is just going to be part of our lifestyle, as I’d sell our home before my big boy.