I love integrating light into my projects. Especially when it’s subtle and inconspicuous. I love the reaction of my audience when they are admiring a completed project and believe they have taken it all in, and then I reveal something unexpected. Something that is simple but exciting. This is my art.
My most recent project was a complete remodel of our bathroom. I knew I wanted to go crazy with tile. I installed tile halfway up the walls, and to the ceiling (and including the ceiling) of the tub/shower, and along the floor. This will look really nice. However, I needed a wow factor in the tile. I decided to integrate an accent line of tile parallel to the floor around the room.
When evaluating the accent line, I chose a 6″ frosted green tile as the focus piece.
I wanted the tiles to glow. The frosted tile was perfect for this.
Check out the accent tile!
I quickly moved on to the LED selection. I tried a bright white LED strip. This looked just ok. It lit up the tile just fine, but the bright white light washed out the color of the tile. I moved on to a warm white LED strip. This was perfect.
Warm White LEDsBright White LEDs
One advantage that the particular Bright White LED strip had over the Warm White LED strip is the water proofing. The Bright White strip I ordered came in a sealed housing. The Warm White strip was completely exposed. Since this was going to find residency in a shower, which can experience a bit of humidity from time to time, I needed a water proofed version. The Warm White was available in a water proofed version. However, the up charge for this jacket made it cost prohibitive.
I ended up ordering large clear electrical shrink tube.
Before installation, I would insert the LED strip into this shrink tube and by means of a heat gun (high powered hair dryer), the shrink tube would conform to the shape of the LEDs. This extra step saved me a ton of dough.
I did some experimenting with the setup before settling on this design.
Trying out the look
Testing the Look
Success! It looks great!
Except for one thing….you may notice from these pictures…the excessive height of the glass tiles in relation to the porcelain tiles. I didn’t like that one bit. So on a cold and snowy January day, I spent an hour out in my driveway trimming a 1/4 inch off of each tile. To save my fingers, I had to swap out the water with fresh hot water every 15 mins. Eventually, I finished, and the look was exactly what I was going for.
Trimming the glass tiles
Phase I was to install the glass tiles and everything below. This gave me space above the green tiles to install the LEDs. In order to achieve the “glow” I was looking for, I decided to mount the LEDs above the tiles and point it down into the glass. If I had installed the lights behind the tile, I would see the little LED light through the glass.
After wrapping the LEDs with the shrink, the width of the strip became too large. The strip needed to be hidden in the grout line between the glass and the porcelain tile. In order to make this happen, I utilized a rotozip to create a channel just above the glass tiles. This allowed the circuit board of the strip to live within the wall and the LEDs to sit just outside of the wall.
Next, I needed to figure out a way to keep the LED strip in place. I used screws and large washers to keep the strip in place.
After finishing the rest of the tile and the grout, here is the final product. Let me know if you like it!