Taking the House by Storm

The trials and tribulations of the average gal trying to navigate through life, love and the pursuit of domestic bliss.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five Days in the Making

Holy crap. I thought it would take one full day to lay the tile floor (after the hardy board was laid down, of course). Never in my wildest nightmare did I think it would take five days.

It all started last Sunday. I had a baby shower to cohost at my mother-in-law's, so I headed out about 10:30 in the morning. I kind of assumed floor laying activities would be commencing shortly thereafter. That was a mistake.

My phone rang around 2 p.m.; Rick was calling to tell me about what would be the first of many setbacks. A little background: after much resistance, we decided to go with a pinwheel design. We found some 16 square inch porcelain tile at Home Depot for a song – about $1.79 per square foot. To give you an idea of what kind of bargain this was, the first tile we picked out at The Tile Shop was over $5 a square foot.

The problem with both tiles was that we couldn't find a 6" square tile we could use for the center of our pinwheel. At The Tile Shop, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea - utilizing 5 x 5 cm accent tiles for the centerpiece. They come in square foot pieces with 6 of the mini tiles across and down. All we had to do was cut these squares into quarters and we'd have exactly the size we needed, using 9 5 cm squares.

Now back to our show. When we were at Home Depot picking up our 16" squares, they didn't have these decorative square feet; they only had two rows of tile for accent pieces, with three of these pieces supposedly making up a square foot (that should have been our first clue, but I digress). Of course, it would be a bigger pain in the butt to have to piece together the centers, but so be it. We bought 10 square feet at about $11 a square foot and thought we were ready to get tiling.

Not so fast. Turns out the decorative pieces at Home Depot were a lot smaller than the ones at The Tile Shop, so we actually had to use 4 x 4 squares instead of 3 x 3. The Home Depot near our house didn't have these pieces, so that first call at 2 in the afternoon was to say we couldn't use those inserts; apparently they didn't have time to go up to the Home Depot on Fields Ertel. So they had gone to the Lowe's near us and found solid squares they thought would work.

I had two choices: 1) I could trust their judgment and tell them to go for it or 2) have them take a picture and email it to me; I'd have to go next door to Rick's brother's house to open it because my mother-in-law does not have Internet access (can you believe that?). Anyway, against my better judgment, I send I would trust theirs.

A couple of hours later, I get another call saying that option didn't work because the center tiles were a lot thinner than our 16" squares, so they were going to The Tile Shop where they actually picked up the same 5 x 5 cm squares we had picked out for the original $5+ tile we'd initially selected.

Anyway, I know there were more calls, but I won't bore you with those details. Suffice it to say, when I got home at 7:30 that night, scant little progress had been made because they didn't actually start gluing any tile down until 5 p.m. In addition to all the wild goose chases, Rick and Jim had to figure out how to lay out the floor.

We were using the pinwheel design on the diagonal, so they couldn't just go with a straight lay starting in the middle. They had to create a square on the diagonal to use as the center point.

On Monday, Rick went into work so Jim and I were going to tackle the floor together until I had to leave for a recording session at 1:30. Not long into it, Jim hurt his knee, which he recently had surgery on, and couldn't continue. I took over as cutter and layer while he told me what tiles to work on and put the glue on for me. We actually had an efficient system going and we could have made some great progress except I had to leave. So we had to call it a day around 1 pm.

On Tuesday, Jim was feeling better and was able to get back on the floor. We worked until 11 p.m. that night so we could finish laying it all and grout the next day. Rick woke up early to put a second layer of sealant on our decorative tiles so the grout wouldn't permanently stain them. While doing this, he discovered that one of the centers wasn't actually glued down. So we lost all of Wednesday because we had to let that tile set.

So it wasn't until Thursday that we were actually able to grout. And that's how it took five days to finish our floor. The sad part is that it isn't 100% done, either. We had to finish sealing the center decorative pieces a third time because they dulled up after the grout application. Over four weeks into it, and not one part of this project is completely finished.

But we do have one beautiful floor.


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