This Tile Floor Is My DIY Kryptonite

You may remember the last time I had anything to say about the tile floor in the master bathroom it was something along the lines of, “this floor makes me want to pull out fistfuls of my own hair and throw screwdrivers at innocent bystanders” (one of those things may actually have occurred) except you wouldn’t have understood that since I was screaming unintelligibly the whole time.

And while it might have been looking good from afar…


Hiding through that doorway was this…


And I know the title of this website is “DIY Diva” but let’s be clear that on some days that’s a question rather than a statement. On those days you can find me doing things like cleaning out refrigerator or willingly doing laundry to avoid cutting a seven inch hole in the middle of the very last 18″ tile I have.

I’m telling you, I put the hoover dam of mental blocks up about finishing this floor. It happens sometimes when I hit a point in a project that I can’t wrap my brain around– the next thing I know I’ve found a dozen “more important” things to do and all of the sudden its four weeks later and the floor still isn’t finished. When I found myself folding socks on the weekend I knew something had gone terribly, terribly wrong in my life, and it was time to get my priorities straight again.

To tackle this beast of a cut, I started with a cardboard template.


Technically I tried measuring on the tile directly first, but it became apparent very quickly that I would need something more foolproof.


In the end I had this:


I marked the location of the hole with pencil and then went 1/4″ outside of it with a red crayon-thing that I found laying around the house.

I’d read about using a ceramic blade on a grinder to cut a hole in the middle of a tile, and it sounded like a good idea to me.


I stole this trick from some friends: make a ring of plumbers putty around the hole and fill it with water to keep the blade cool when cutting.


So far, so good. I did several passes with the grinder, taking just a little off each time. I learned this trick when cutting a large circle out of sheet of plywood on my table saw… you can, in fact, cut a circle with a straight blade if you remove just a little bit of material on each pass.


Okay, I’m using the term “circular” loosely here. Also, after several minutes, things took a turn that was decidedly worse. By which I mean, this happened…


I had one minute of absolutely losing my shit (hey, it happens) and then remember that this was going under the toilet and probably no one would see that crack if I could refrain from picking up the two pieces and hurling them into the road.

Here’s what happened: You can see where the tile cracked was just where I was beginning to break all the way through it. I got a little greedy once I thought I was on my final pass and I forced the blade too far down trying to finish the cut faster. Bad idea.

I was incredibly conservative when I finished it off– making five or six more passes– and it actually worked beautifully, if only half the tile wasn’t missing.


My recommendation is to just barely let the blade touch the tile once you’re close to the bottom. Or perhaps just order enough tile so you have a spare one on hand.

The good news is…


You can hardly see the crack. And it will basically be under the toilet and I figure anyone whose face is close enough to the toilet to see it probably has bigger problems.

Thus ends the great master bathroom floor tile cutting adventure. While it was not my favorite house-finishing project so far, all that’s left to finish off this floor is a little grout. Who know, there may even be a second toilet installed in this house before too long. The excitement really never ends here, folks.

15 Responses

  1. While I”m not happy your last tile cracked, I am actually smiling to know this kind of shit happens to other people. Kudos to MM for helping keep you calm and to you for restraining from chucking the tile into the middle of the road once it cracked. I would have thrown it and smashed it into 100 pieces before the instant regret kicked in–think SNL Mr. Bill and “Oooooh Noooooo!” realizing it was the last piece of tile.
    How would I know this??? I prefer not to answer that question.

  2. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!! It’s done!!!!!!!!! I’ve never cut tile much less a circle in the middle of one (obviously deprived adulthood)! However, I have worked on other projects (especially involved sewing) where the project gets torn to shreds and dumped in the garbage and THEN I realize the solution! Aaack! MM and you did well!

  3. Despite the crack, it looks wonderful. Glad to have seen what tools and techniques you used; that will come in handy for sure.

  4. Congrats to you and MM for keeping/retrieving your cool and carrying on. It looks great, like the rest of your home! You are so inspiring. 🙂

  5. Ah yes the hole in the middle of a tile situation! We haven’t tackled the bathroom yet but I’ve read all about this. I’m going to be giving all of these tiles to FM though because he knows how to run the water jet at work…perfect for cutting holes in tile! OK sorry to rub it in your face. Glad it worked out for you in the end.

  6. WOW! I have finally just finished reading the Memorial House from beginning to end. What an incrediable job you and Mystery Man have done.

    Congrats! May you soon be moved in.


  7. I obsess over EVERYTHING I make, and when it’s finished,that becomes my TV for a while. I sit there night after night with a beer, admiring my work. Then it starts. “Hey is that a… sure as hell is! Man, what a screwup!!!!” Here’s the kicker. Not one soul ever looks at it that closely. To a point that someone buying the house with all the furnishings still would not look at it that closely. MysterMan is right. The only person who really knows is the one who made it.

  8. Just looking at what you had to do made me shiver. Of course, the kiss of death was “the last tile”. Nothing like upping the stakes, but you managed to make it work anyway.

    Plus, you’re right: anyone who notices that crack after the toilet’s installed has more problems than we need to get into…

  9. Love your finished product! I can’t see the crack you mentioned at all, but I have realized that you have much more patients than me. Kudos on a great job! – Lily

  10. My uncle taught me to cut holes in tile with the tile resting on a bed of sand. Good trick.

    I bed no one notices…;-)

  11. My uncle taught me to cut holes in tile with the tile resting on a bed of sand. Good trick.

    I bet no one notices…;-)

  12. Great job, next time (if there is one) mark the tile and cut it in a “stop sign” pattern to avoid cutting a circle, lets face it all that work an no one will see the perfect circle 🙂

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