KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Aug 23 2013

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Flooring challenges solved in design of luxury bathroom

Northern Virginia is the highest income region in its state, having seven of the 20 highest personal income counties in the entire U.S., including the top three as of 2009. It’s not out of context, therefore, that when homeowners residing in this region decide to have a bathroom remodeled, they decide to learn as much as possible about the process and then contract a professional team with strong credentials to handle this work, expecting nothing less than total excellence.


Such was the case for a major remodeling project of a master 350-sq.-ft. bath, where the homeowners wanted to transform the original space built in 1999 into a more spa-like environment with very special appointments. Collins Tile and Stone, a company in northern Virginia that specializes in custom tile work and kitchen and bathroom remodels, was tasked with the project. The bathroom’s well-thought-out overall design plans called for having a steam shower with a vertical wall spa and separate handheld shower, an air tub, a beautifully detailed tray ceiling, Roman Corinthian columns and LED lighting. From a performance standpoint, porcelain tile was the best choice for the steam shower; the material chosen combined impeccably with the originally selected stone floor and decorative wainscoting. And for the room’s floor, the owners were very focused on having the best possible electric floor-warming system installed, as well.


The stately house itself was only 13 years old, so conventional wisdom would ostensibly state this remodeling project shouldn’t have any of the major obstacles that surface when a dignified older home is about to be remodeled.

Not so in this case.

“This house was built with floor joists that were 24 inches (on center) apart from each other,” said Buck Collins, president of Collins Tile and Stone. “That size is almost unheard of, so we decided to get some expert advice prior to installing the flooring.”

According to Collins, it was collectively decided that initially they would both glue and then screw in an additional layer of plywood underlayment to the existing ¾-in. subfloor to mitigate any deflection whatsoever.

Another installation challenge arose with the bathroom floor’s stone “rug.” It’s border and inside marble tiles were of different thicknesses; the basket-weave design inside the border consisted of material that was 1/8-in. thinner than that which made up the border. To best meet this challenge, the installers flash-backed the inside stone to ensure that both materials were perfectly level with each other, eliminating any possible lippage. Lippage occurs when stone or tiles are not installed with a uniform level and their side-by-side edges do not result in a completely flat surface. This can result in discomfort when walking, especially barefoot in a bathroom and can be potentially injurious, as well.


The new steam shower was constructed with 13-in. x 1-in. porcelain tiles set diagonally on the walls and ceiling. Proper accommodation/movement joints were also installed.

Photos courtesy of Collins Tile & Stone and LATICRETE International, Inc.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2013 at 12:44 PM and is filed under Bath Design, Projects. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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