04 August 2005

Quick drying

If you want to stress me out, put me in a 2.5′ x 5.5′ room, lay down some thinset, and tell me I’ve got to get it right before it dries.

Such was the situation earlier today. Laura and I finished (just barely) laying tile in our bathroom. It is clear that the work was done by a non-professional, but all and all, it took only about $100. We choose to tile our bathroom because it came with half vinyl (in the water closet) and half carpet (between the shower and basin) flooring. The carpet showed lots of wear considering it is only three years old. It just isn’t a good idea to put carpet in a place where there’s so much moisture. But that’s what your stuck with in tract housing developments, I suppose.

The project started Monday evening with a trip to Loew’s to purchase of a few tools (trowel, float, etc… it all came in a bucket for about $20), some concrete, and tile. We figured the bathroom to be 40 square feet and bought two boxes of 20, 12″x12″ tiles. That night I removed the carpet, vinyl and baseboards. Here we are in the midst of the removal:

Then we prepared the concrete subfloor which had glue and paint that had to come up. This was probably the most labor intensive part and we scraped at the floor, I with my putty knife and Laura with a metal spatula. This went into the night and was finished the next morning. Then it was tile cutting time. Fortunately a neighbor has a power tile cutting saw we borrowed. That saved time and headache. Laura decided to take the kids to the park while I cut the tiles because it is difficult to do with Abigail being curious and, in her mind, helpful. By the time they got I home I was finished with most of the tile cutting and stopped for the day. It wasn’t until the next morning that I mixed the concrete.

This is the dry fit:

Starting to put down the concrete and lay tile was stressful to say the least. I was in a cramped water closet, sweating like I do and trying to make it fit correctly. Once I got down the first five tiles I started to get the hang of it. But just I was finishing the water closet I began to realize the 25 lb. bag of cement wasn’t going to work, so Laura went to buy some more. This is the fault of that under-helpful associate at Loew’s who claimed 25 lbs. would easily do 40 square feet. This led to one of the most noticeable mistakes in the tiling — an uneven grout line. You see, I would’ve caught the mistake before the tile set if we didn’t have to spend an hour to get and prepare the next batch of cement. Laura says she doesn’t notice and I suppose that’ll have to do.

Getting there:

I seemed to get in my groove again at about 12:30 and the tiling seemed to be proceeding quickly. With about three rows of tile left I asked Laura what time it was — oops — 1:45. I had a flight to catch for a job interview. The flight left at 3:oo, which meant I needed to get in the shower. We quickly tried to finish the tile (Laura laid the last few as I got into the shower) and I made it to the airport in time. That’s the nice thing about Tucson. It only takes about ten minutes to check in and go through security. I still had time to wait before boarding the plane as I got to the airport 30 minutes prior to departure. It was a rushed day, but nice to accomplish something.

Of course, it isn’t done yet, there’s still grout and baseboard to replace, but that’s another day.

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