well, grouting sure is easy

To be clear, the title is not sarcastic. Grouting is literally the easiest bit of home improvement I have ever done.

This piece of knowledge obviously amplifies my outrage over the previous grout job by about a billion. As a stomach-churning reminder, this is what we started out with:


For extra outrage, here’s a closeup of the grout that an adult human being was paid actual money to do:

Someone actually DID THIS, looked at it, thought “yup, that looks about right,” and moved on to the next job. (That person is a monster who deserves none of the good things that have ever happened to them, btw.) And here is the absolute weirdest part–when I started chipping away at the edges of the grout line, this happened:

THERE IS A TOTALLY REASONABLE GROUT JOB UNDERNEATH. Here’s a good summary of my reaction to this discovery:



It’s been over a week and I still haven’t calmed all the way down from this. Not everywhere is like that (some places are shitty grout only) but a LOT of it is.

So yeah, that began many, many hours of chipping away at the shitty grout lines with a screwdriver and using a weird little saw to get rid of anything that was cracked or crumbling. It was awful and the tub looked like this every day:

Oh yeah, tiles started coming off. Want to know what was behind them?

Uh… yeah. That’s how tiling is done, right? You just stick some ragged, crooked sheets of whatever to the studs, squirt some glue onto the back of a tile, and Bob’s your uncle? Gosh, why do other people make it sound so hard? At this point I started feeling really tempted to just rip down the entire wall and rebuild it–tiling stuff is actually SUPER CHEAP, which makes this whole abomination even more outrageous. Concrete backer board and thinset for this entire area would cost like $25.



I know it’s a rental and tearing out walls is insane, but just the idea that incompetence of this magnitude could be allowed to exist in the world made me itchy with indignation. Luckily, though, it occurred to me just in the nick of time that the shitty drywall job could mean there were rotting studs back there,  and I have no fucking clue how to deal with that. I also started to picture an avalanche of spiders spilling out as we removed the drywall, because as far as I’m concerned, an avalanche of spiders is like farting in yoga class–it’s something that happens to everyone, and it’s just a matter of time until it happens to you. The only way to win is not to play. Never exercise, and don’t mess with the scary empty space behind your walls.

So some of the tiles got glued right back up the terrible backing, and will probably fail again soon. Whatever. Other tiles shattered when they fell, and were replaced with new ones from the nearest hardware store. (Not shockingly, the very cheapest tiles at my local hardware store were a perfect match for about a third of the existing shower tiles.)

Here’s an important lesson I learned about cutting tiles.

That red-handled “tile saw” I purchased for $12? TOTAL GARBAGE. The shitty saw I got 10 years ago at Ikea worked better. Because we can be kind of dumb, it took James and me a half hour of screwing around with both of those before we remembered that he had his dad’s old Dremmel sitting around somewhere. It turns out the Dremmel is PERFECT for cutting tiles–you just have to constantly spray the tile with water otherwise it sparks and smells like when a dentist is drilling your tooth and makes you want to barf.

Oh, and I was readying some of the tiles for adhesive, I noticed this cool feature:

They have built-in spacers for 1/8″ grout lines! SO WHY ARE ALL MY TILES SO GODDAMN MISALIGNED, MR. SHITTY HANDYMAN FROM THE PAST? Want to see where these particular tiles went?

Yep, that’s a sheet of plywood floor underlayment they were glued to. Then above that there’s the shower windowsill, made entirely of  a 1×4 board, a quarter inch of drywall compound, and nothing else! So frugal! So totally inappropriate for a wet area!  How is this allowed to exist???? (Seriously, the top is not even smooth. It looks like crappy cake frosting up there. It’s insane.)

So after we replaced the tiles that needed it, we grouted all the areas where we’d sawed out damaged grout. There are hardly any pictures of this because it’s basically nothing.

Supplies: premixed grout, a grout float (which we didn’t really end up needing), and a sponge.

Oh, also a garbage wall that looks like this:


Step 1: Smear the grout into the cracks, and scrape off the excess with the float or a sparkle smoother or your fingers.


Step 2: Take the big yellow sponge and wipe all the grout off the tiles. This will also smooth the grout in the cracks.

Step 3: Sit back and marvel in your own competence because that’s literally all you have to do. Maybe some grout sealer in a few days? Whatever.

Check out that sweet-ass grout line! It looks like a real person did it and everything!

Optional Step 4: If you didn’t do a great job wiping off the tiles, you might have a situation like this:

If you notice this the next day, just run the shower til it gets steamy in the bathroom, then rub off the excess grout with a washcloth.

Optional Step 5: Get a little upset because you didn’t realize how white the existing grout was and you bought new grout in “alabaster,” which now looks automatically dingy. Consider getting the grout saw back out and redoing the whole thing. Notice your boyfriend rolling his eyes a lot more than usual.

The end! Maybe!
















I still really want to knock down the walls. 

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  1. Gook job. I do have palpitations about the totally wrong and yucky way your tile is glued up everywhere, but as a renter you handled it as best you could.

  2. I just found your blog through a friend who shared your “One Room Challenge: Slight Change of Plans” post with me…I want to be your friend. You are hilarious.

    1. Thanks dude! I got a lot of, um, “constructive” feedback about that post, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the best thing I’ll ever write.