Plywood for a year and a half, then backerboard for a week or two, and then ...
And tile with grout. Completed!
The contractor did an incredible job. He thought about all the details, cut curves in tile to loop around the stair. Laid the the tile so it lined up directly to the middle of the french doors. Took toilet out, layed tile. Reinstalled toilet. Moved old sink around, leaving it hooked up as long as possible so I would never go a day without water and sink. And his work ethic is awesome, presence upbeat. Met him the first morning and then kept in touch over email. Three days.
I eventually chose larger then normal sized tile, 12x18 slate looking porcelain. Originally, I wanted no bigger then 6x6 slate but had a hard time finding just that - lets see if I can link back to all that anguish! I didn't want 12x12 as it was too "common" for me. I also wanted a linear look rather then scattered. I do like the over-sized ones. Went out and bought a mop last night, stil have to mop the floor ... the excess grout is turning our feet black.
Daltile Continental Slate 12 x 18 (Asian Black)
Moving along to electrical ... made an unexpected yet quick decision last night for lighting and will put in the order