Posted in Adventures in Home Ownership!!

Tile is Hard!

September 26, 2014 - 9:07 am

I had hoped to be done with the bathroom tiling but, well, I ended up going on two Epic Quests this week to hardware stores to find (1) the specific mortar I’ve been using and (2) the QEP tile leveling system I need to install the large tiles. Each required checking multiple hardware stores, and the mortar ended up requiring a will-call trip to the local distributor.

Each store, of course, had to re-check the shelf when I reported they were out of stock before they checked their computer to determine that Yep! That’s out of stock! Grr. Anyway. Hours were spent, things were found, tiling continued.

Monday I posted this picture:

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I snapped this at one of my breaks yesterday: 

2014-09-25 18.49.39.jpg

And here’s the state of the wall at the moment:

2014-09-25 22.09.02.jpg

The wall tile and the travertine mosaic blend more pleasantly in person than in my crappy cell phone camera’s eye. When it’s all done I’ll take out the good camera. The Monday photo above (which was taken in daylight) has a much closer representation of the colors.

The tools and materials are all on top of the tub: 

2014-09-25 18.50.17.jpg

which is what needs tiling next. That will be my job on Sunday. Then (hopefully) grouting on Monday, and we can call the contractors back to finish up!

I found some nice dark grey slate with a rough surface finish that will complement the pebbles in the floor tile. That will be the window sill, the ledge of the wall, and the counter under the vessel sink. I made some test cuts yesterday, and after adjusting the wet saw a bit it was quite happy to cut through them. I ripped the narrow strips that will be placed under the tile where it overhangs whatever surface it’s on. This will all make more sense with photos. 

I’m learning a lot about laying tile. Mostly, it HURTS. Kneeling for hours while wrestling with thick mud is surprisingly taxing. Or, perhaps not so surprising in retrospect, but I hadn’t anticipated the physical toll this work would take.

It’s also wet and messy. I was never the kid who wanted to play in the mud puddles. Ever. I liked building sand castles so long as I didn’t get too sandy myself. The answer to almost every issue in tiling seems to be add more water or add more mud.

I have gone through more sponges on this task than in every other task in my adult life combined. Caustic mud + porous foam = goo. I’ve taken to cutting the sponges in half or thirds, and I pretty much expect them to start disintegrating after one or two uses. And there are few things more tedious than picking disintegrating sponge bits out of rapidly setting grout. New sponges are your friend.

I am developing a fair proficiency at one of the former gaps in my DIY home owner knowledge, and have amassed a set of tools for doing this work. I’m pretty sure I can figure out most any tile layout I want to in the future, and will be much more savvy in assessing how hard a given task will be going in.

Tiling will be in the “Approach with caution” set of home tasks with tasks like cabinetry work and wall modifications, not the “never again” set that includes drywall and roof work, or the “I will never pay someone to do this” set that includes changing out light switches, painting, and minor plumbing repairs and upgrades. (There is also the “too much risk if I eff up” set of tasks that involves significant plumbing and electrical changes, and anything to do with gas.)

Soon, it will be done. One more tiling push, and then the grouting, et voila. I will take a bath in my giant new soaking tub and it will all have been worth it.

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September 26, 2014 9:07 am

So impressed. Major tile work definitely makes it onto my “too physically demanding, pay a pro” list.

Jennifer Leigh

September 29, 2014 9:07 am

There is a certain satisfaction to doing it. Every time I use the upstairs bathroom I tiled it makes me smile. 🙂 I look forward to that sensation in the downstairs bath SOOOOON!

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