CONCRETE BEAUTY

October 1, 2017
This spa bath was designed to fit into a small space with contemporary style, and without giving up a tub. Create your own designer mosaic tiles following these steps.

Dear Debbie;
I am remodeling the master bath in my townhouse, and I would like to replicate the custom bath you created on one of your TV shows. The bathtub was part of the shower, deep and small. You used cement on the walls to create mosaic tiles. Readymade tubs don’t fit through my doorways, and the deep tubs are too big for my small bathroom. I’m getting a bit desperate and now studying DIY pool and pond books.
Kiyoko

Dear Kiyoko;

I know it is frustrating when you can envision what you want, but can’t find it anywhere. This is how so many DIY projects get started. You are right to do your homework first, and search out the best way to build your dream. This was a very special bathroom renovation we did with stunning results as you can see here. However, building the concrete steps and tub require skill, so I advise using a professional who works with decorative plaster. The first job was to open up the drywall and add sheets of Durock around the bath area to avoid any water leakage. To fashion the small tub, a high shower base was moulded out of concrete, and the inside covered with white tiles.

The homeowner’s dream did not stop there. He wanted the walls covered in pearlized glass mosaic tiles, but his budget couldn’t handle the high cost of these designer tiles. I devised a clever plan to create these beautiful tiles inexpensively. You will need self-bonding cement and a plastic checkerboard grid of the type that is used over neon lights in office buildings. You can find this at lumber and hardware stores. The grids are usually in panels of about 3’ x 4’. Start at one corner of the wall and mark off the shape of the grid with a pencil. Check with a spirit level to be sure the tiles are straight. Use these as guide lines for how much cement to apply to the wall at one time. Cement dries quickly. Apply the moist concrete about ¼” thick with a trowel and smooth it out with a damp foam roller. Press the grid into the wet concrete and remove to create the mosaic shapes. Apply wet concrete to the next section, and repeat over the wall surface. You can cut the plastic grid with a sharp knife where a smaller piece is required. Let dry overnight.

To bring the concrete tiles to life, apply a coat of high adhesive primer with a deep-pile roller. Be sure to get into all the indentations. When the primer is dry, wipe over the surface with moss green paint on a flat kitchen sponge, leaving the white paint behind in the dented lines, replicating the effect of tile and grout. Wait four hours. Dip a flat sponge into iridescent green gel and apply it over the surface lightly so that it does not cover up the white grout lines. For added effect, highlight a few of the tiles with metallic apple green and metallic emerald green using an artist’s brush. Seal your work with a coat of varnish applied with a thick pile roller.

The pearly tones of the tiles have a calming Zen-like effect when mixed with the stainless fixtures. This is a bath that will never go out of style. Enjoy your new tub.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie’s new website, www.debbietravis.com.