Monday, January 7, 2013

These pretzels are making me thirsty

I always think of that episode of Seinfeld when something is making me crazy, and this bathroom certainly fits the bill. This remodel is going to drive me insane. Literally, I think.

I started trying to lay the tile floor on New Year's Day. As I posted, it took forever to get started. First we had to take the toilet out. Should be easy enough, except it wasn't. When we turned off the water we didn't immediately unhook the hose from the toilet. This resulted in what I'm sure would have been hilarious if it wasn't happening to us: we kept taking water out but the water level wasn't getting any lower. Finally I noticed that water was still coming into the tank, so B turned off the water to the house. Things went slightly more smoothly after that in that the toilet came out without further incident (although the hole the previous owners cut in the new plywood they put around the toilet was far too large, but you're crazy if you think I'm going to delay things even more to replace it).

So I had to go to Home Depot to get a new valve and a five gallon bucket since I couldn't find a clean one and it was too cold out to clean the ones I could find. It was a later start than I wanted, but not too bad. I got the whole tiles laid just fine, but then I started trying to use the score and snap tile cutter to cut the tiles for the other spaces. After the third broken tile, B forbade me from using it again. I went back to Home Depot and grabbed a new cutting wheel. When I got home, I found that it was the wrong size. Then I took a two day break before going back and getting a different cutting wheel, which didn't work any better than the last one. I know (well, I found out) that those cutters don't do very well with small cuts--they're best for cutting a tile in half--but it was breaking the tiles I was trying to cut in half, too.

In the meantime (before the two day break), my mortar dried up, therefore I was done for the day. And it was a quarter of a bucket of mortar, too, so I'll have to go out and break that out of the bucket or buy yet another five gallon bucket.

The day after I laid the tile, two of them came up. Great. Today a third came up. I don't know what I did wrong, but in looking stuff up online I think the mortar may have been too dry. It was definitely thicker than a peanut butter consistancy. I'm trying to think of a food to compare it to. The closest I can come is frozen ice cream. It was hard to mix and not that easy to spread. I knew I should have ignored the bag screaming at me "DO NOT ADD ANY MORE WATER." This is what the tile looks like now.

Then today, I thought that even if I couldn't work on the floor (which, by the way, tomorrow I will be buying a ceramic-cutting jigsaw blade and, come hell or high water, I will be cutting the two tiles I need to put down to install the toilet) I would go ahead and prime the walls. So I had B haul up the five gallon bucket of primer, which I stirred up and started putting on the wall. From the beginning it wasn't going on right. The roller wasn't turning consistently and the primer was very thin and full of tiny bubbles, like I had whipped it with a whisk instead of just stirring it with a piece of wood. I switched rollers and that helped a little bit, but the bubbles were still there. So this is how the first (incomplete) coat of primer looks.

I know there are people out there who love to DIY, but who also know that there are projects that they don't want to take on or can't do as well as a pro and choose to hire it out. I am starting to think that flooring is that task for me. I have never laid a floor that I'm completely happy with. I can do it, but it just never goes as smoothly as I'd like, it never looks as good as I'd like and it takes forever. I don't have the money to hire someone to come finish this, although I desperately wish that I did. I'll just do my best, buy more mortar (for $30 a bag, ugh) and mix much smaller batches. B is understandably not thrilled about the idea of laying tile in the kitchen after this (although he has done absolutely none of the work) and I can't say that I blame him or that I disagree. But that's a bridge we won't be crossing for a while, so we'll deal with that then. Maybe I will magically become a tile pro in the meantime. I can always hope.


  1. There's always the shoulda, coulda, wouldas with DIY, but here are a few things I've learned:

    They sell pre-mixed batches of tile adhesive/mortar. Makes things a little easier on beginners (and there are a few for floors). I know this doesn't help much on your current floor, but you may want to consider this for any future projects (because once you swear you'll never do another tile project, you almost always will).

    You might want to consider buying an oscillating tool with a tile attachment. it keeps the cuts a little steadier where a jigsaw is harder to control.

    Your primer may not have been mixed enough, the temperature wasn't right, or the nap on your roller was not suited for primer. Any of these might cause bubbles. I wouldn't worry about it too much if you don't actually see them drying as bubbles on your wall; primer can be a little sloppy.

    Good luck, and thanks for stopping by :)

  2. I'm a glutton for punishment, so I bought more of the powdered mortar mix. But I mixed much smaller batches, like five pounds at a time, and added a touch more water once I saw that it was still too dry. This isn't the first time I've sworn off floors but I'm already thinking it might not be so bad to just tile the entryway floor, too. I'm still wary of the kitchen floor just because it's so much bigger than a bathroom floor.

    My dad has a rotozip with a diamond blade, so I went up tonight and used that. It worked like a charm. I want one now.

    I'm assuming the problem was with the mixing. I've also decided I need a mixer drill attachment. With as much as I paint I'm sure it'll get used. It took probably ten minutes to stir it up with just a long stir stick, but obviously that wasn't good enough. It did dry smoothly, so that's something.